That’s Gross!

Esav and Christianity

By | November 26th, 2015|

The Torah has an entire chapter, 43 verses, dedicated to the descendants of Esav and what became of them. We have a specific commandment not to hate Esav's descendants (Devarim 23:8).  Rashi comments on that verse, "even though it would be appropriate for you to hate him, for he came out against you with the [...]

Was Yaakov liberal or conservative?

By | November 25th, 2015|

The rape of Dina is probably the most controversial section in the entire Torah. Yaakov's daughter Dinah was raped and held hostage by Shechem and his clan.  Yaakov's son's take control of the negotiations and the rest is history. Shimon and Levi kill the inhabitants of the town and rescue Dinah. The Torah deliberately makes [...]

Yaakov and Ayaan Hirsi Ali

By | November 24th, 2015|

Rashi in this week's parshah (33:4) quotes Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai who said, "Halacha (it is a fact) and it is known that Esav hates Yaakov."The war between Esav and Yaakov was seen as some kind of eternal struggle between two ideologies. It seems that Yaakov's strategy in this case was appeasement.  he sent Esav gifts [...]

Naftali Bennett coming to Beth Tfiloh

By | November 24th, 2015|

Naftali Bennett is coming to Beth Tfiloh! Thursday December 3rd at 8pm one of the most important politicians in Israel will be hosted by Mercaz Dahan in our main sanctuary. The event is sponsored by One Israel Fund, and Eli Burman in memory of his father David Burman.Naftali Bennett embodies a rare confluence of so [...]

Yaakov and Golda Meir

By | November 23rd, 2015|

I don't know how well Golda Meir knew Rashi's commentary on the Torah, but one of her most famous quotations comes right out of this week's parshah.As Esav approached Yaakov's camp with his 400 men Yaakov was afraid.  The Torah uses two words to describe his fear.  "He was frightened and distressed."  Rashi says, "he [...]

Lavan and John Kerry

By | November 23rd, 2015|

Who is the worst villain in the Torah?  If you had to choose only one Biblical antagonist as the paradigm of the antisemite who wanted to completely destroy the Jews, who would you pick?Pharoah?  Nimrod?  Esav?  Amalek?  Bilaam?  Balak?  Og? All of those at one point tried to destroy us.  But the Haggadah picks someone [...]

Jonathan Pollard Free

By | November 20th, 2015|

It seems like I have been davening for the release of Jonathan Pollard my entire life. I have memories already from lower school of hearing his name in the news.  Throughout high school Jonathan Pollard was a big issue.  I remember numerous assemblies that focused on the issue of his release.  Whenever the school hosted [...]

What makes us special

By | November 20th, 2015|

The fourth aliyah of this parshah starts with the strange story of Reuvein going out into the field and collecting some strange flowers to give to his mother. Rashi says that this is to tell the praise of the tribes of Yaakov.  It was the time of the harvest when it would have been easy [...]

Yaakov and Trump

By | November 18th, 2015|

There is an interesting note in this parshah that reminded me of something from Donald Trump's book, The Art of the Deal, which, yes I have read from cover to cover, and yes it is actually a pretty good book.In the parshah Yakov comes to town and sees the shepherd's hanging around by the well.  [...]

From a Distance

By | November 18th, 2015|

This morning I woke up with a thought that inspired me. The parshah begins saying that when Yaakov was on his way out of Israel he encountered "the place." Rashi takes note of the definite article.  He says it reminds us of when Avraham went to do the binding of Isaac, it says that he [...]