• Dvar for Vayechi (Genesis 47:28-50:26)

    After Yakov passes away, Yosef’s brothers fear revenge for what they did to him. Yosef reassures them that what happened was all part of G-d’s plan, “in order to do like this day, to keep the people alive” (50:20). “Like this day” doesn’t seem to fit into Yosef’s sentence; what do those few words add to his point?

    The Be’er Moshe suggests that “like this day” alludes to Yosef’s being tempted by Potifar’s wife because the Torah used a similar phrase to describe Yosef’s situation. Yosef reassures his brothers that their actions resulted in saving many lives and were part of a greater plan, just like things worked out with him and Potifar’s wife.

    One could suggest a deeper connection between the repeated phrase and difficult situations: One way to overcome challenges is by being in the present moment (eluded to by the term “like this day”), embracing the circumstance, and doing the best we can within the parameters we’re given. This approach is likely what enabled Yosef to overcome his temptations with Potifar’s wife, what made him an exceptional leader, and how he imparted this message to his brothers and to us.

  • Dvar for Vayigash (Genesis 44:18-47:27)

    When Yosef finally reveals himself to his brothers, the Torah shares that the news of their reunion travels across Egypt and attests “it pleased Paroh and his servants” (45:16). Why does the Torah explicitly mention that Paroh and his servants were pleased with Yosef’s family reunion?

    Rav S. R. Hirsch suggests that everyone’s happiness for Yosef spoke to the high virtues that Yosef had attained, to the point where no one was jealous of him or his successes. Yosef served as an exemplar that united Egypt and, eventually, his own family. Yosef teaches us that speaking with honesty and acting with integrity reflects positively on ourselves, our families, and our people.

  • Weekly Dvar For Lech Lecha 5770

    lechlecha

    In Parshat Lech Lecha, among the blessings that Avraham was to receive for leaving all that he had was the blessing that he himself should be a blessing (12:2). How does one become a blessing? Furthermore, Rashi comments that G-d promised Avraham that although he would be identified with Yitzchak and Yakov, any such blessings would end with Avraham’s name at its conclusion. If the sages are correct that Yitzchak and Yakov reached higher levels than Avraham, what made him so special that any blessing would end with him?

    Rav Moshe Feinstein explains that Avraham merited greater distinction because he was the first to establish faith in Hashem (G-d). Although those after him reached greater heights, Avraham’s accomplishments were more worthy. Maybe this can explain how Avraham himself became the blessing: Taking initiative and starting something you believe is important for society is a blessing on its own, because it lays the framework for others to build on it! G-d promised Avraham, and in turn promised us, that, if we become leaders and initiators, our initial efforts will never be forgotten and we will always be remembered as a blessing!

  • Parsha for Berashit 5770 (1st Aliyah)

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