Vayeshev: Sibling Rivalry

December 08, 2017 By: rabbi jay kelman
The Talmud records that one who has no dreams for a period of seven days is called a wicked person (Brachot 55b). Dreams represent our innermost thoughts, our concerns of the present, and our aspirations for the future. One must never cease to dream of the wonderful possibilities that may await us, constantly looking heavenward as we try to improve the status quo. The story of Yosef teaches us that some dreams are best not revealed. Yet it was...
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VaYeshev: Time to Grow Up

December 23, 2016 By: rabbi jay kelman
Perhaps no Biblical story fascinates us like that of Yosef and his brothers. Its twists and turns are full of drama, intrigue, tragedy, violence, sex, cunning and pathos, and features common folk and royalty alike. It even has a happy ending—everything to ensure a best seller. The Torah’s interest lies not in the excitement of the story, but in the multifold lessons derived from its proper analysis. The Torah is well aware that...
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Vayeshev: Look Out the Window

December 04, 2015 By: rabbi jay kelman
  Why was it that Abraham and Yitzchak had only one child who would remain within the Jewish people while Yaakov merited that all his children would be part of the Abrahamic covenant?   We should not expect the Bible to answer this question. The Torah describes  selected events, leaving out many others, and leaves the interpretation to us. It is extremely rare for the Torah to offer “commentary” on its...
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VaYeshev: The Sounds of Silence

December 12, 2014 By: rabbi jay kelman
It takes much thought and hard work to learn when to speak up and when to remain silent. Often, we find ourselves in trouble because of a loose and fast tongue that spoke too soon. Of course, at other times, when the occasion demands that we summon the courage to speak out, we are often nowhere to be found as we merrily mind our own business. "And Yosef brought a bad report to their father"(37:3). While our Sages affirm that...
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Vayeshev: The President and the Viceroy

November 22, 2013 By: rabbi jay kelman
One of the messages I try to hammer home to my students is that everything in the Torah can be understood as editorial comments on current events. Greed, temptation, family problems, substance abuse, heroism, war, loyalty--you name it, it is right there in the Torah. The Torah has little interest in history, only recording that which is morally relevant for us today. This approach is encapsulated in the rabbinic observation that thousands of...
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