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Shabbos – A Day With Hashem: Singing with the Angels

13 Kislev 5774 – November 15, 2013
Why is it so important to sing specifically during the seudah? If we understand this minhag and how to fulfill it, we will discover an amazing new aspect of Shabbos.

The Greatest Fight Of All Time

I’m sure you’re familiar with the Rashi, but did you know there’s another explanation as to why the malachim ascended and then descended?

Accomplice To Evil

12 Kislev 5774 – November 14, 2013
Shechem, the son of Chamor, set his sights on Dina. He carefully laid a trap to entice her out of her tent, and then kidnapped and defiled her. When Yaakov and his sons heard what had been done, “they were extremely distressed . . . [and said] ‘So shall not be done!’ ”

What Was Yaakov Afraid Of?

At the beginning of this week’s parshah we learn that Eisav was coming with 400 men to attack Yaakov and his family. We are told of the many preparations that Yaakov took before this encounter. The pasuk says that Yaakov was very afraid, for as it is written: “vayira Yaakov me’od, vayeitzer lo” (Bereishis 32:8). Rashi tells us that this fear was not for his own life; rather this fear was that he might have to take other people’s lives. In Rashi’s words: “shema yehareg es acheirim.”

A Time To Dream

6 Kislev 5774 – November 8, 2013
Like our forefather Yaakov, we too need to dream especially at times of transition and change. Whether we are embarking on a new career, getting married, graduating from one educational level to another, or considering retirement, it is critical to take stock and reflect before making that transition.

Parshas Vayeitzeh: The Mystery Of The Ten Lost Tribes

What in the world happened to the Ten Lost Tribes? How could we lose ten out of twelve tribes, 83% of our peoplehood?

Vayeitzei: the Tears of Yaakov and the Tears of Esav

5 Kislev 5774 – November 7, 2013
Are we really meant to applaud Yaakov's behavior?

The Sensitivity Of A Tzaddik

When Yaakov met Rachel at the well, he experienced conflicting emotions. He felt tremendous joy at having finally met his bashert, yet he raised his voice and cried. Rashi explains that he cried because he came empty-handed. He said, “My father’s servant came with ten camels laden with gifts and finery, and I come with empty hands.”

Stones To Tefillin

The Magen Avraham, in siman 42:3, says that one should not reverse the straps from his tefillin (shel yad and shel rosh), making the part that was originally tied as either a “yud” or a “daled” into the opposite end – which is either wrapped around the fingers, or just left hanging down. The reason for this is because the part of the strap that was tied as a “yud” had more kedushah.

Shabbos Mevorchim Kislev

29 Heshvan 5774 – November 1, 2013
On the 25th day of Kislev the holy light of Chanukah shines upon us to conquer the darkness, and proper adherence to its mitzvah purifies our souls. It is written that Chanukah is an extension of Rosh Hashanah and thus a most effectual time for teshuvah.

Parshat Toldot

Esav truly thought he was getting the better part of the deal. He considered that as a hunter, whose life is constantly at risk, it was likely he would die before his father anyway. Therefore, when an opportunity to sell the birthright presented itself he jumped at it and immediately profited from the sale.

Toldot: a Conversation for the Ages

What does the parsha teach us about the nature of heritage?

Was Yaakov Obligated To Respect Yitzchak?

28 Heshvan 5774 – October 31, 2013
After Yaakov received the berachos from his father and was leaving the room, the pasuk says, “Vayeitzei Yaakov mei’eis penei aviv, Yitzchak – And Yaakov left the face of his father, Yitzchak.” Rav Meir Simcha of Davinsk wrote in his sefer on Chumash, Meshech Chachmah, that the reason why the pasuk used a strange wording – leaving his face – is because the Gemara in Yuma 53b says that when a talmid leaves the presence of a rebbe he should not turn his face to leave; rather, his face should remain in the direction of the rebbe. Rav Meir Simcha continues by citing the Gemara: Rava acted in this manner when leaving his rebbe, Rav Yosef. Therefore the pasuk is teaching us that Yaakov followed this same process.

Chayei Sarah: What Makes for a Successful Life?

21 Heshvan 5774 – October 25, 2013
What Rashi's take on Sarah's life means to us.

Middos: Central To All Avodas Hashem

21 Heshvan 5774 – October 24, 2013
The Torah tells us Eliezer’s system: “And it will be that the maiden to whom I will say, ‘Please give me to drink,’ and she will answer, ‘Please drink, and I will give your camels to drink as well.’ She will be the one You have proven to be the wife for Yitzchak” (Bereishis 24:14).

Why Do We Daven?

Rabi Yosi ben Rabi Chanina says that the avos where misaken the tefillos. The Gemara quotes a braisa that supports this view and cites pesukim from which we derive that Avraham was mesaken Shacharis, Yitzchak was mesaken Minchah, and Yaakov was mesaken Ma’ariv. Rabi Yehoshua ben Levi disagrees, saying that tefillah was instituted to correspond to the korbanos.

Parshas Vayera: Under The Tree

15 Heshvan 5774 – October 18, 2013
The great scholar and ethicist, Rav Yisroel Lipkin of Salant zt”l, was once in the home of an assimilated Jew in Vienna. The man’s daughter was an accomplished pianist.

An Act That Echoes Through Time

14 Heshvan 5774 – October 17, 2013
Avraham Avinu was commanded with a supreme test, and one of the greatest challenges ever presented to man: “Take your son, your only son, the son that you love…”

Is Bris Milah A Mitzvas Assei She’hazman Gramma?

The Gemara in Kiddushin 29a derives from a pasuk in this week’s parshah that women are exempt from performing a bris milah on their sons. The pasuk says: “ka’asher tzivah oso Elokim” (Bereishis 21:4). The Gemara takes from the word “oso” (him) that women are exempt. The Rishonim there are disturbed by the following question: why is it necessary for this pasuk to be written in the Torah when it is a mitzvas assei she’hazman gramma (time-sensitive mitzvah), which women are exempt from performing?

Shabbos – A Day With Hashem: The Inauguration Festivities

8 Heshvan 5774 – October 11, 2013
The special days of Tishrei have come and gone. But hopefully, we managed to elevate our level of spirituality so that we now feel closer to Hashem, even if just a little bit. I think that now is the right time to approach an extremely mystical aspect of Shabbos.

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