Commentaries

In His Dreams: VAEITZEI

By RABBI DAVID POLSKY, Congregation Anshe Sfard

A major theme of this week’s Torah portion is dreams. At the beginning of the portion, Jacob is escaping his brother Esau. On the way, he falls asleep and dreams of angels going up and down. God also speaks to him, telling Jacob...
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Person in the Parsha: VAYETZE

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

“Jacob Was Incensed”

Up until this point, the seventh session of the class using the book of Genesis to explore the concept of leadership, my role as teacher was a very easy one. The students not only participated eagerly, but vied for opportunities...
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That’s Gotta Hurt: TOLEDOT

By RABBI DAVID POLSKY, Congregation Anshe Sfard

One of the highlights of parashat Toledot is Jacob’s theft of Esau’s blessings and birthright. Most traditional interpreters justify Jacob’s deeds as being necessary. Such readings of Jacob’s deception have led us to laugh at or ignore Esau’s emotional distress when discovering that...
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Person in the Parsha: TOLDOT

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

“What Was He Thinking?”

Here it was, the sixth session of the class which was using the book of Genesis as a source for studying the nature of leadership. It was proving not to be the kind of class in which the teacher...
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The Machpeilah Purchase: CHAYEI SARAH

By RABBI DAVID POLSKY, Congregation Anshe Sfard

We would say that the Louisiana Purchase is among the biggest real estate steals in history. But also right up there is Abraham’s purchase of the cave of Machpeilah that we read about in this week’s portion. Avraham pays 400 shekalim, which was...
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Person in the Parsha: CHAYEI SARAH

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

“Abraham the Negotiator, Sarah the Queen”

Before I entered the classroom that evening, I already knew that Zalman would come prepared with some dazzling piece of scholarship. The regular reader of this column will remember that last week, the fourth session of the...
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Hospitality is next to godliness (VAYEIRA)

By RABBI DAVID POLSKY, Congregation Anshe Sfard

All of us are familiar with the importance of hospitality, but a commonly known midrash elevates its significance beyond what we would expect. At the beginning of this week’s parsha, Abraham is communing with God. After noticing three strangers walking near his tent,...
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Person in the Parsha: VAYERA

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

“Trials and Tests”

I arrived quite early to the fourth session of the weekly class, in which we were using the book of Genesis as a source for studying leadership.

Three of the students were already there, and they all seemed to resent...
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Perfecting G-d’s Creation (LECH LECHA)

By RABBI DAVID POLSKY, Congregation Anshe Sfard

Circumcision may reasonably be viewed as sacrilege. After all, removing the baby’s foreskin tampers with God’s creation. By commanding Abraham to circumcise himself, God rejects this manner of seeing the world. Although He proclaims His creation “very good” (Genesis 1:31), He nonetheless leaves...
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Person in the Parsha: LECH LECHA

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

“The Active Leader”

If you are reading this column regularly, you may remember that Miriam was the shy participant in the class that I have been describing. You will surely remember that this was a class in which I used the book of...
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