Friday, September 24th 2021   |

Commentaries

Person in the Parsha: VAYEISHEV

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

“The Secret of Success”

The class devoted to the study of leadership, using the book of Genesis as a text, was proceeding well. On this, the ninth session, it reached a new depth. It did so by paying careful attention to the subtleties of the Hebrew language.

Hillel, from his usual seat at the back of the room, began the conversation:...

Person in the Parsha: VAYISHLACH

By RABBI TZVI HERSH WEINREB

“The Nurturing Leader”

The class I was teaching on the subject of leadership, using the book of Genesis as a source text, was proving to be quite a learning experience for me. The diversity of the students in the class was proving to be especially important, because each student was stressing a different aspect of leadership. The class confirmed for me that, as...

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 that He will always be with him.

Later on in the portion, Jacob is in his father in law Laban’s...

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 to speak. Moreover, they invariably had a great deal to say.

I was beginning to wonder whether there was any...

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 his blessings were seized from him (Genesis 27:34).

One Midrash, however, takes Esau’s cries seriously, arguing that Jacob’s descendents were...

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 lectured and the students listened passively. Rather, it was more like a discussion group in which everyone participated.

Everyone, that...

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 a considered a hefty sum in those days. Nonetheless, how was he able to purchase such a holy space that...

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 class I was leading using the book of Genesis to study leadership, it was Othniel who dominated the conversation. He...

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, Abraham begs leave of God to tend to them (Genesis 18:3). The Talmud derives from this narrative that receiving guests...

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 my arrival and intrusion into their schmoozing. I sat down behind the teacher’s desk, signaling to them that they could...