Do you ever wonder why Judaism is called Judaism? This week’s parashah, Vayigash, has an answer. This is the moment when Joseph and his brothers, including Judah, dramatically reconnect, and Judah demonstrates a deep caring for his people.
Even though the miracle of the oil wasn’t an original part of the Hanukkah story, it has become one of the most enduring narratives in modern Judaism.
Have you ever dreaded seeing a friend or family member that you don’t get along with, only to end up having a positive experience? After twenty years away from home, Jacob dreads his reunion with Esau, but our text teaches the two end up embracing and healing their tumultuous relationship.
Rabbi Israel Salanter wrote that it’s easier to learn the entire Talmud than to change one character trait in ourselves. Even Jacob, when he dreams of the ladder that connects heaven and Earth, is still on his path of growth and awakening.
Va-y’chi, the title of the last parashah of the book of Genesis, translates to “and he lived.” It’s an odd title for a parashah that details the death of Jacob and Joseph.
This week we start a new book of the Torah, Sh’mot, or Exodus. The book opens with, “These are the names of the children of Israel,” but it’s misleading.
Moses isn’t charismatic. He doesn’t see himself as a great leader—he’s modest, humble, and he doesn’t speak clearly. But God insists that he lead despite this, because God sees an even more important quality in him: his ability to care for others.
Parashat Tzav opens with a command to Aaron, the high priest. It’s a moment to think about leadership – who are our leaders and what do they do? Are our leaders born into the role, like Aaron, or are they called to leadership, like Moses?
In this special Passover episode of On the Other Hand, Rabbi Jacobs discusses empathy. The story of Passover asks that we put ourselves in the shoes of those who escaped slavery and travelled to freedom, and that we think about what it’s like to have nothing.