Vayetze: The Complexity of Chesed

November 16, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The Torah is a most complex work, and nowhere more so than in sefer Breisheet. Story after story lends itself to multiple and contradictory interpretations. The Torah often leaves out crucial details as it narrates the stories, and rarely passes judgment on the actions of the protagonists. Was Avraham correct to go to Egypt when famine struck Israel? Was it appropriate to enter a peace deal with Avimelech? Did Yaakov act correctly in...
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VaYetze: G-d is Against Me

November 24, 2017 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The experiences of history have made our people a nervous lot. Whatever nervousness is warranted as members of the human race is significantly multiplied for those of the Jewish persuasion. We tend to be nervous even when there is little to be nervous about.  This is a trait that goes back to Yaakov Avinu, the founding father of the Jewish nation. “[And G-d said] I am with you, I will protect you” (Breishhet 28:15). Yet despite...
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VaYetze: Listen to Your Mother

December 08, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The Torah tells us nothing about the upbringing of Abraham; we do not even know the name of his mother. All we know about him is that he was the oldest of Terach’s three children, married to Sarai who was barren, and his father for some unknown reason started on a journey to the land of Canaan. We know precious little about Yitzchak’s upbringing, save for the fact that his mother was fearful of Yishmael’s influence upon him...
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VaYetze: Sisters In Love

November 20, 2015 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
One could hardly find fault with the claim that sibling rivalry is the major theme of Sefer Breisheet. Beginning with the first set of brothers, Cain and Hevel, and continuing through Joseph and his brothers, we confront dispute after dispute. The lack of conflict between Ephraim and Menashe is so unique that their model served as the basis for Jacob's blessing for the Jewish people, "May G-d make you like Ephraim and Menashe" (48:20), a...
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Vayetze: Searching for G-d

November 23, 2012 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
Yaakov is fleeing his home, afraid that his brother will try to kill him. Night is coming, and presumably he has been running all day. He is tired and quickly falls asleep—even with a rock as his pillow. But what a “dream” he had! “And Jacob awoke from his sleep and he said: Behold, there is G-d in this place, and I did not know that” (28:16). What exactly was Yaakov thinking? Did he really think that G-d only exists in certain places? Did he...
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