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Toldot: How To Deal With The Black Sheep In Our Family

We have all read the story. It has made a profound impression upon us. It deeply resonates with us. Yet do we really understand it’s message? The story is of twin brothers Jacob and Esau. Children of Isaac and Rebecca. Grandchildren of Abraham and Sarah. At the very outset their character is defined: “Esau was a man who knew how to hunt, a man of the field. Jacob was a pure man, dwelling in tents”. It all seems like a forgone conclusion, each son playing out their character role. Jacob is the “good guy”. The one we would all like to emulate and have our kids follow. Esau on the other hand is the “rebellious type”. We tend to shun him. He is the ‘black sheep of the family.’ Life is ne

CHAYEI SARAH: WHAT SHOULD A MAN LOOK FOR IN A WOMEN?

Many things, obviously. The question is what is the most important. A question less often raised is just the opposite. What should a women look for in a man? In one of the most detailed narratives in the Bible, we read about the fascinating search for an eligible wife for Isaac. Surely, much depended on finding the right one as this girl was destined to be a matriarch of the Jewish people. Eliezer, the man appointed with this crucial task first goes to the well and prays to G-d. Alone in a foreign land, looking for the right girl poses a serious challenge. So he asks G-d for a sign. A sign that will infuse him with the confidence that she fits the role of a Jewish mother and wife to Is

Vayera-Sacrifice & Survival: Are They Mutually Exclusive

This past Sunday after I attended morning prayers at the synagogue, a middle aged man from Israel asked to make a personal appeal. He explained that his wife had been diagnosed with a life threatening illness and was asking the community for financial support. Immediately I reminded myself of a stark passage in the Talmud regarding an ethical dilemma: “If two people are walking on a desolate path and there is a jug of water in the possession of one, if both drink, both will die, but if only one of them drinks, he will survive. The ruling follows the opinion of Rabbi Akiva who taught: “And your brother shall live with you,” indicating that your life takes precedence over the life of the othe

Lech Lecha: Where are you going?

Where are you going? When was the last time you asked yourself this question? Inherent in the human psyche is the desire to journey. Human beings are not content with where we are, we always strive to go places. Indeed “Where do you want to go today” was once the title of Microsoft’s global advertising campaign. The obvious question is: Where should we be going? Which direction is the way forward? If life is about clearly defined objectives, then what should those objectives be? The response to this - mankind’s timeless dilemma - lies in first verse of this week’s Torah portion. It is in fact the first time that G-d addresses the Jew and in the opening sentence He maps out the enti

Parshat Noah: What Makes us Human?

How in control are you over your life? To what extent do you feel that it is you making the decisions? How much of the way that you think and behave is shaped by outside influences? One of the primary causes of unhappiness or frustration in life is the feeling that our lives are controlled by others. This feeling goes against one of our most fundamental traits as a human being; the desire to be free. This is especially true in the digital age. Our lives are becoming increasingly controlled by our smartphones and social media. This ceaseless feed of information erodes our ability to know who we are and to be true to ourselves. We sense manipulation by forces which don’t have our best inte

 

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