By Rabbi Dr Moshe Freedman, January 19, 2012

God assures Moses that He will redeem the Jewish people from the slavery of Egypt and bring them to the Land of Israel which they will inherit forever. Rabbi Yaakov ben Asher, the 13th-century commentator known as the Baal Haturim, points out that there are only two places in the Torah which speak about a morashah - an inheritance.



By Rina Wolfson, January 12, 2012

In this week's parashah, Moses leaves the privileged confines of Pharaoh's palace and witnesses an Egyptian attacking an Israelite slave. Moses looks around, sees no-one and beats the Egyptian to death.

Rashi offers a literal explanation, suggesting that Moses looked around and killed the Egyptian once he was sure that he could not be seen.

This literal reading is problematic.



By Rabbi Dr Michael Harris, December 29, 2011

Jacob leaves the Holy Land once again, this time to travel to Egypt, where he is to be reunited with his long-lost son, Joseph. Before he leaves, God promises Jacob that He will both accompany him there and return him to his homeland.



By Rabbi Dr Deborah Kahn-Harris, December 22, 2011

The famine in the land had already begun when Jacob realised that there was food to be had in Egypt. And so he instructed his sons to go procure rations in order that they should not starve. But Jacob uses an uncommon word for these rations, shever.



By Rabbi Dr Moshe Freedman, December 15, 2011

Jacob's special treatment of Joseph, together with the dreams he recounted, not only engendered feelings of jealousy and animosity but were interpreted by his brothers as an attempt to usurp leadership from the firstborn.



By Rina Wolfson, December 8, 2011

The theme of division runs through this week's sidrah, which opens in a place named Machana'im (literally, two camps), where Jacob prepares to meet his estranged brother Esau. Jacob divides his entourage into two groups. Although there is resolution of sorts between the brothers, they cannot live together and go their separate ways.

Division and separation are not new to Jacob.



By Dr Erica Brown, December 1, 2011

We feel relieved when Rachel finally has a son. After years of sister-envy and fertility struggles that undermine her own self-worth, Rachel gives birth to Joseph. Joseph, son of the favoured wife, naturally becomes the favourite of Jacob's sons, causing yet more jealousy and enmity to riddle through this large and important family.

We might think this moment is one to celebrate.



By Rabbi Dr Michael Harris, November 24, 2011

A haunting midrash cited by Rashi's commentary to this verse traces the origins of Isaac's blindness to the Akedah. At the moment when Abraham was about to sacrifice his bound son, the ministering angels witnessed the scene and wept. Their tears fell on Isaac's eyes, weakening them in his later life. This midrash might be read metaphorically.


Chayei sarah

By Rabbi Dr Deborah Kahn-Harris, November 17, 2011

Within the first two verses of Chayei Sarah, Sarah is dead and, crucially, mourned. The Torah uses not one, but two words to describe Abraham's mourning - lispod v'livchtah. What clues to Abraham's mourning are being granted us through the use of both these terms?

These words are used together in few other places in the Hebrew Bible, notably in Ezekiel 24: 16 and 23.



By Rabbi Dr Moshe Freedman, November 10, 2011

Immediately after learning of God's plan to destroy the cities of Sodom and Amorah, Abraham begins to plead for their mercy. Yet the difference between his ethos and that of Sodom could not have been starker.