Vaeyra. Breathless!

The opening lines of our parsha feature an impassioned divine promise of freedom, an end to the harsh slavery, and the heady vista of national redemption. But when Moses and Aharon deliver the message, the Israelites are deaf to these ideas; they are too broken by slavery: “They did not listen to Moses, because of their shortness of breath and hard labor.” (6:9) I have been thinking about this “shortness of breath – קוצר רוח”, translated by others as “crushed spirit.” When one is short of breath, one is simply struggling to survive, to continue living. One has no time for grand hopes of the future, one is caught in the pressures of the moment. The people of Israel cannot envision their incre

Shemot. Eyes Wide Open!

"Living is easy with eyes closed; misunderstanding all you see" (The Beatles) At the start of Shemot we meet Moshe who will become perhaps the greatest Jewish leader of all time. Reading the verses that depict his earliest experiences, we look for the ingredients that shaped his formidable potential for leadership; what made him so special? This year I noticed a recurrent theme, more accurately, a repeated verb. It relates to Moshe’s sight: יא וַיְהִי בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם, וַיִּגְדַּל מֹשֶׁה וַיֵּצֵא אֶל-אֶחָיו, וַיַּרְא, בְּסִבְלֹתָם; וַיַּרְא אִישׁ מִצְרִי, מַכֶּה אִישׁ-עִבְרִי מֵאֶחָיו. יב וַיִּפֶן כֹּה וָכֹה, וַיַּרְא כִּי אֵין אִישׁ “…When Moses had grown up, he went out to his kinsfolk and

Vayechi. The Keys to Redemption

The belief in the Redemption is a central axiom of Jewish Faith. If we listen closely to our parsha we might discover its origins. As Joseph neared death at age 110, he asks his family take an oath: “I am about to die. God will surely remember you and bring you up from this land to the land that He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” So Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will remember you (pakod yifkod); and you shall carry up my bones from here.” (Genesis 50:24-25) Out of all Jacob’s sons, Joseph is probably the most acculturated to Egypt, and yet it is specifically Joseph who requests that his bones be returned to his birthplace - Eretz Yisrael. From where did he dra

Vayigash. Tears of Reunion

Do you get emotional? Do you ever cry? What situations make you cry? Our discussion this week will probe the emotional finale of the Joseph story, after all the hatred, the intrigue, manipulation, Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers, and Joseph and his beloved father Jacob are reunited in tears. Bereshit describes the scene in which they meet in the following way: “Joseph prepared his chariot and went up to meet Israel his father in Goshen. He appeared before him and fell on his neck and wept on his neck a good while.” כט וַיֶּאְסֹר יוֹסֵף מֶרְכַּבְתּוֹ, וַיַּעַל לִקְרַאת-יִשְׂרָאֵל אָבִיו גֹּשְׁנָה; וַיֵּרָא אֵלָיו, וַיִּפֹּל עַל-צַוָּארָיו, וַיֵּבְךְּ עַל-צַוָּארָיו, עוֹד. The text

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