Vayechi: The Inconsistent Truth

December 21, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"And they said, should they make our sister like a harlot?" (Breisheet 34:31). So ends round one of the debate between Yaakov on one side, and Shimon and Levi on the other, over the killing of the people of Shechem for the rape of Dinah. The Torah moves on to record Yaakov's return to Beit El as the family enters a new phase in their travels. It is on Yaakov's deathbed that we hear his response: "Shimon and Levi, the...
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VaYechi: Excellence in Exile

December 29, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years, and the years of his life were one hundred and forty seven years" (Breisheet 47:28). As the Torah has already told us that Jacob arrived in Egypt at the age of 130, the first half of the verse is redundant. Knowing that Jacob dies at 147, we can easily deduce that he lived for 17 years in Egypt. Therefore, our commentaries point out that the verse must be discussing the...
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VaYechi: Family Ties

January 13, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One of the recurring and unfortunate themes of the book of Breisheet is that of sibling rivalry and even hatred: Cain and Hevel, Yitzchak and Yishmael, Yaakov and Eisav, Leah and Rachel, Yosef and his brothers. In fact, we often see better relationships with non-Jews than with our own brothers. Thus, Avraham and Malchitzedek, and Yosef and Pharaoh, seem to have had good relationships without any hint of bitterness. While it...
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VaYechi: The First Grandchildren

December 25, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“On that day Jacob blessed them saying by you shall bless [the people of] Israel saying, 'may G-d make you like Ephraim and Menashe (48:20).'” While Ephraim and Menasheh are no doubt worthy candidates to serve as a model of blessing why are they specifically chosen? Why not Avraham, or Moshe and Aharon? When we think of the founding fathers (and mothers) we usually do not name Ephraim and Menasheh amongst them....
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Vayechi: 17 Plus 17

January 02, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Sefer Breisheet begins with the grandeur of creation, detailing the many new life forms, and with great hope for the human race. This hope was to be short-lived, with story after story of man's pettiness and propensity for evil. By the end of the book, the theme is that of death, and the stage is set for the enslavement of the Jewish people.   The opening verse of this week's parsha, “Jacob lived in the land of...
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