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Showing posts from December, 2018

Leadership - Parashat Mikeitz 5779, December 7, 2018

The last few parshiyot of Sefer Beresheit present us with two potential leaders for b'nei yisrael - Reuven and Yehuda. Reuven was the first born - the bechor - and could have merited both the double portion of inheritance and the kingship. However, both mantles of leadership were given to other brothers. The double portion went to Yosef and his two sons, Ephraim and Menashe. Yehuda merited the Jewish kingship. Reuven became another one of the tribes.

In this week’s parasha, Miketz, the Torah presents a pivotal moment in the development of Ya’akov’s opinion of his sons, Reuven and Yehuda. The moment is a bellwether for their future standing as respective leaders of k’lal yisrael.
The brothers return to their father’s house from their search for food in Egypt. Yosef – still an anonymous viceroy in the eyes of the brothers – has demanded to keep Shimon as ransom until the brothers’ return with their youngest brother, Binyamin. Reuven initially asks his father, Ya’akov, to send Binyam…

Settling the Land of Israel - Parashat Vayeishev 5779, November 30, 2018

The life of our forefather, Ya'akov, was punctuated by difficulty. He suffered the threat of his brother Esav, he left home suddenly, he was constantly harassed by Lavan, his daughter, Dinah, was as-saulted and his beloved wife, Rachel, died in childbirth.

In the first pasuk of this week’s parasha, the Torah states, vayeshev Ya'akov be'eretz megurei aviv, be'eretz kena'an – and Ya'akov dwelt (vayeshev) in the land of the dwelling (megurei) of his father, in the Land of Cana'an. This verse seems to conclude the end of an era for Ya'akov and the beginning of a period of tranquility.  Ya'akov is at the end of his journey. However, the Torah continues in the next verse – et dibatam ra l'avihem – and Yosef would bring evil reports about them (his brothers) to their father. The episode of the brothers is beginning to unfold. A new chapter in Ya'akov's life of struggle is just beginning.

There are two peculiarities in these verses:

First, in the f…