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Tuesday, December 01, 2020
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Divrei Torah

Serving Religion for Thanksgiving

Modern-day democracies have transformed civilization by introducing innovative and powerful ideas, both about our personal lives as well as about the type of society we aim to establish. Overwhelmingly, the values of democracy harmonize with traditional Jewish religious values. Without question, the most indispensable value of

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The Power of Positive Thinking

When Dovid was a young child living in a town in Poland, a boiling pot of water spilled on his hand. Dovid was severely burned and needed skin graft surgery. His hand healed, but unfortunately, hair started to grow from the palm of his hand because skin from his scalp was used for the graft! Dovid was constantly teased as a young boy, but

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An Attitude of Gratitude

Once a year in America we have a special day set aside when we are asked to pause and give thanks for all the blessings we have experienced. The tradition of a Thanksgiving day feast is often attributed to the Pilgrims celebrating a successful harvest year in 1621. In the times of the Temple in Jerusalem, those who wanted to express

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The Pesach Parsha

If it is the middle of the month of Kislev, and if we are reading Parshat Vayeitzei, it is obvious that we need to discuss the holiday of Pesach. This is owing to an occurrence at the end of the parsha. Yaakov and his family are returning to Eretz Canaan with Lavan in pursuit. The night before Lavan catches them, Hashem appears to Lavan,

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Remote, Not Removed

Understanding Yaakov Avinu’s frame of mind in Parshat Vayeitzei offers an enlightening insight as to how to best navigate in a time of ambiguity and grave uncertainty.

The last two pesukim of the parsha state:

“And Yaakov went on his way, and angels of God

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How the Avot Returned the World to Adam HaRishon Before the Sin

If we study the essence and lives of the three Avot, it can be suggested that they brought the world to a state of Adam HaRishon before the sin. Breaking down Adam’s sin, we find three elements: One a lack of heeding God’s command; second, a fall from kedusha; and third, a new existential battle between good and bad. When we look to the

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Bigger, Better Picture

Yaakov is on the run from his big bro Eisav, and interestingly enough, this escape drama affects the way the text of the Torah looks. Typically, parshiyot have paragraph breaks, but Vayeitzei surprisingly has none. Baal Haturim quotes those who explain that the reason why the text of this week’s parsha is “closed” (meaning, there are

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Fulfilling Our Birthright

Last year, Parshas Toldos was the occasion of the pidyon haben (redeeming the firstborn) of the older of our twin grandsons. For my own family, this was a brand-new mitzvah, as our oldest children were twin girls. The firstborn rights play a prominent role in Parshas Toldos, where Yaakov purchases Eisav’s birthright.

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I Will Choose Free Will

The world of religious ideas was steadily coalescing. Gradually, God introduced humanity to fundamental principles of religion. The horrific flood demonstrated the rule of moral “cause and effect”: if humans descended into moral chaos, the world would literally collapse. Subsequently, the selection of Avraham confirmed that a

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‘Letz’ Think About It

“These are the offsprings of Yitzchak the son of Avraham; Avraham bore Yitzchak.” If Yitzchak is the son of Avraham, it seems redundant to then say “Avraham bore Yitzchak.” The Siftei Chachamim based on the Gemara (Bava Metzia 87a) explains the back story. Upon Yitzchak’s birth [which was certainly a profound miracle that

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Tranquil Triumphs

There is something to be said for revolutionaries. For founders. For the people who have the foresight and the daring to chart a course untrodden. Revolutionaries put their ideals to the test by living the principles they believe can transform the world around them, and history will always be enamored by such people. Avraham was a

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Chancing to Find a Designated Shidduch

It was last year in the week of Parshas Chayei Sarah that my older brother, Binyamin, got married to Sarah Miriam Kaplan. Both had been single for many years and never married. They planned for a small wedding, with more friends coming for dancing and a buffet at the end. To their surprise, when they walked down the aisle, every seat was

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