Parashat & Current Events

Mikeitz-Chanukah 5780

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Mikeitz-Chanukah 5780

Pirsumei nisa, our duty to propagate HaShem’s miracles, constitutes a major element in many mitzvot. When reading the Megillat Esther, we publicly proclaim that HaShem saved us from Haman and Achashverosh. At the Pesach Seder, we lean in comfort as we consume our matzah and drink wine to proclaim that we were freed through HaShem’s great miracles in Egypt. Yet there is no mitzvah in which pirsumei nisa is as emphasized as it is at Chanukah.

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Vayaishev and Chanuka 5780

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Vayaishev and Chanuka 5780

On Chanuka we extol and celebrate two miracles which HaShem had brought about in those times for Am Yisrael: the seemingly impossible military victory over the super-power Greece and the miracle of the oil in the Bet Hamikdash. However, it appears to me that we are missing the real implications of the holiday: the regime change from the Greco-Hellenistic governmental agenda and values to a proactive Torah regime of king, kohen gadol and Bet Hamikdash which returned to center stage in the life of the Jewish nation in the holy land.

Today we might be witnessing a Chanuka replay where there will be a regime change of extreme proportions.

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Vayishlach 5780

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Vayishlach 5780

Following his wrestling match with the stranger (Bereishiet 32), Ya’akov returned home enjoying a sense of victory, “intact physically, emotionally, and with his wealth” (as Rashi comments). Yet a heavy cloud darkened his joy, for his brother Esav was waiting for him with 400 men.

The unavoidable encounter would not just be between two quarreling brothers, but would be a conflict between two worldviews destined to influence the entire course of history. Ya’akov prepared a gift for Esav, prayed and, as a last recourse, readied for war. He also divided his family and property into two camps so that should Esav smite one, the other could escape.

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Vayaitzai 5780

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Vayaitzai 5780

The report of Ya’akov’s departure from Beer Sheva is seemingly superfluous when the important factor in the now developing episode is that Ya’akov went to Charan. Rashi explains that the Torah is informing us that not only does the arrival of a tzaddik leave a deep spiritual impression on the environment, but so too does his departure leave a deep spiritual abyss in the people. Ya’akov’s departure from Beer Sheva and Eretz Yisrael left a gap which would not be filled until his return 22 years later.

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Toldot 5780

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Toldot 5780

Rivka suffered during her pregnancy and went to obtain advice at the yeshivah of Shem and his son Ever. There she was told that, in her womb, she was carrying twins who would become the forefathers of two nations and two opposing cultures. These twins would change the course of history, and the younger would surpass the older.

Why didn’t Rivka seek advice from the greatest spiritual figure of her generation, her husband Yitzchak? And why did she act to divert her husband’s blessings?

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Chayai Sarah 5780

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Chayai Sarah 5780

Jewish tradition relates that God put Avraham Avinu through ten tests. The ninth was the “binding of Yitzchak” (Akeidat Yitzchak), and the tenth was the real estate negotiations between Avraham and the Hittite Council of Elders for the purchase of Ma’arat Ha’machpela as a burial site for Sarah.

Logic dictates that in an ongoing series of tests and trials each one is more challenging than its predecessor. So, what was the focus of Avraham’s last test that caused it to be more difficult than the Akeida? Was it the necessity to deal with worldly matters of “real estate” while in the midst of a profound emotional crisis at the loss of his beloved Sarah? Perhaps! Was it his being taken advantage of by the unscrupulous Efron the Hittite, who charged 400 shekels for a burial site that was not worth nearly that much?

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