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The End of Genesis…But Only the Beginning of Our People’s Story



This Shabbat, we conclude the Book of Genesis with Parashat Va-y’chi. Whenever we finish reading a book, even a book of Torah, it is important to reflect on where we have been, what we have covered since the beginning of the book. Over the past twelve weeks, we have made our way through Genesis, beginning […]

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“Is My Father [Really] Alive?”: More than a Rhetorical Question



Are there any more moving words in the entire Torah than the question Joseph asks immediately upon revealing his identity to his brothers: “Is my father [really] alive?” (Genesis 45:3). After many years of denying his identity, hiding his identity, and trying to forget his past, he cannot contain himself any longer. He clears the […]

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D’var Torah: Mikeitz: The Power of Names and Naming



Elie Wiesel has written, “In Jewish history, a name has its own history and its own memory. It connects beings with their origins. To retrace its path is then to embark on an adventure in which the destiny of a single word becomes one with that of a community; it is to undertake a passionate […]

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D’var Torah: From the Coat of Many Colors to a Simple Garment: The Unmaking of Joseph



It is said that clothes make the man. But in this week’s portion, Vayeishev, they have a great deal to do with the unmaking of Joseph. Two garments, the coat of many colors and the undistinguished garment Potiphar’s wife strips off of him, end up contributing to his trials, each being a catalyst for his […]

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D’var Torah: Vayishlach: A Wrestling Match for the Ages



“Ladies and gentlemen, let’s get ready to rumble! “In this corner, returning after a long absence in Haran, where he is rumored to have fathered eleven sons and one daughter with four different women, considered by some a saint and by others a heel, is the one, the only, Jacob, son of Isaac and Rebekah. […]

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D’var Torah: Vayeitzei: Jacob’s Vertical and Horizontal Encounters



As Parashat Vayeitzei begins Jacob is fleeing from his home in Beersheba. He’s afraid his brother, Esau, will make good on his threat to kill Jacob (Genesis 27:41), because Jacob (with Rebecca’s guidance) tricked their father, Isaac into giving the blessing for the firstborn to Jacob. As the sun sets, he stops for the evening […]

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D’var Torah: Toldot: Isaac: Why Is This Patriarch Different from All Other Patriarchs?



This week’s Torah portion begins with the phrase, V’eileh toldot Yitzchak ben Avraham, “This is the line of Isaac son of Abraham” (Genesis 25:19), indicating that the text is now going to focus on Isaac, the second of the Patriarchs of our tradition. And, indeed, he figures prominently in the stories of this portion. However, […]

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D’var Torah: Chayei Sarah: What’s Love Got To Do with It? Everything!



Do you remember the first time you laid eyes on your beloved? Do you recall your feelings the moment you saw the love of your life? The Torah offers us a rare glimpse of such an encounter toward the end of this week’s portion when Rebekah, after the long journey from her home in Aram-naharaim, […]

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D’var Torah: Vayeira: Listening for the Voice of Homelessness



While most readers of the Torah consider Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac as his most troubling deed, his treatment of his firstborn son, Ishmael and Ishmael’s mother, Hagar, is also deeply disturbing. How can a father send his child away—to almost certain death—in the wilderness? Chapter 21 of Genesis begins auspiciously: we learn […]

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D’var Torah: Lech L’cha: A Letter from Abram



Dear Mom and Dad, By the time you read this letter, Sarai and I, and our nephew Lot, will be well on our way to the land of Canaan. I wanted to say goodbye to you personally, but couldn’t figure out how to tell you we were leaving and not coming back. I love you […]

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D’var Torah: B’reishit: Words Not Spoken, Words Not Heard



co-written by Barbara Binder Kadden Words are powerful. In Genesis, chapter one, God creates through words: “God said, ‘Let there be light!’–and there was light … God said, ‘Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters,’… God now said, ‘Let us make human beings in our image,’ ” (Genesis 1:3, 6, 26). […]

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