Chayei Sarah: The "Conversation" in the Field

"Isaac went out to the field towards evening to converse in the field; Looking up, he saw camels approaching. Looking up, Rebekah saw Isaac. She alighted from the camel and said to the servant, “Who is that man walking in the field toward us?” And the servant said, “That is my master.” So she took her veil and covered herself… Isaac then brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he took Rebekah as his wife. Isaac loved her, and thus found comfort after his mother’s death." (Genesis/Bereshit 24:63-67) This is a touching scene. Yitzchak is in the field. He looks up and sees a caravan in the distance. At the same moment, Rivka, riding on the camel, looks up and sees a distinguished loo

Vayera: Hospitality - A Family Project

Some years ago, I was on a Birthright style Israel tour, and we spent the night at a Bedouin encampment in the Negev. The Bedouin host graciously served us sweet tea and spoke about their lore of an "open tent" and their culture of hospitality. It was a wonderful presentation. But I wanted to scream out: This is OUR tradition too! Should we bring Jewish youth to Israel to learn hospitality from the Bedouins? Welcoming guests is our Jewish heritage; let's learn it from our sources, from Avraham Avinu! The Parsha opens as Abraham is sitting at the entrance to his tent. God appears to Abraham. Now, a private audience with God is a pretty auspicious event, and yet, while Abraham and God are in c

Noah: Social Influence and Religious Isolation.

“Noah was a righteous man; he was blameless in his age” (6:9) “You alone have I found righteous before Me in this age” (7:1) Noah was undoubtedly a righteous man. But the Rabbis noted that Noah is always described as righteous “in his age”. What, they wondered, does this qualifier indicate? Was he only righteous relative to the corrupt generation in which he lived (but objectively not so perfect)? Or perhaps, Noah’s righteousness manifested itself in his formidable ability to retain his personal morality notwithstanding the degenerate and violent society that surrounded him; perhaps it is an accolade which indicates how uninfluenced Noah was, impermeable to the awful state of his environment

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