Sidrahs

Yitro

By Rabbi Chaim Weiner, February 12, 2009

In these days of recession and job insecurity it is worth pondering the value our tradition places on work. Work is more than a way to earn money. Work gives meaning to our lives. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai teaches that just as we are commanded to rest on the Sabbath, we are commanded to work during the week.

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Beshallach

By Rabbi Daniel Levy, February 5, 2009

“Moses moved Israel on [against their will] from the Red Sea [since they were busy collecting the spoils of Egypt]” Exodus 15:22

Rashi explains that the booty came from the Egyptian horses which were bedecked with gold, silver and gemstones. When this was washed up on the shore, the people were so engrossed that Moses had to cajole them to progress with their journey to receive the Torah at Sinai.

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Bo

By Rabbi Nancy Morris, January 29, 2009

“The Israelites had done Moses’ bidding and borrowed from the Egyptians objects of silver and gold, and clothing… they stripped the Egyptians” Exodus 12:35-36

Commentators on parashat Bo have long been fascinated by the implications of the Israelites “borrowing” the Egyptian gold and silver as they quickly flee Egypt. Of course, the gold and silver was not, or ever intended, to be “borrowed”. It was demanded and handed over, for as the text says, the Israelites “stripped” the Egyptians.

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Va’era

By Rabbi Yoni Sherizen, January 22, 2009

“And Moses spoke… but they did not listen to Moses because of impatience of spirit, and from their cruel bondage” Exodus 6:9

V In times of turmoil we often struggle successfully to manoeuvre even the simplest of challenges. Amid the stress and anxiety we face choices that are simple under normal circumstances but quite impossible when plagued with worries. But this challenge is not new.

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Shemot

By Dr Leya Landau, January 14, 2009

“They replied, ‘An Egyptian man saved us from the shepherds’” Exodus 2:19

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Vayechi

By Rabbi Chaim Weiner, January 8, 2009

“And when the time approached for Israel to die, he summoned his son Joseph and said to him, ‘Do me this favour’” Genesis 47:29

The story of Joseph is built on a wide range of human emotions. There is hatred and anger, jealously, pride, disappointment and despair. In the final chapters of the story, these powerful emotions give way to compassion and kindness.

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Vayiggash

By Rabbi Daniel Levy, December 30, 2008

“I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold to Egypt” Genesis 45:4

Over recent months, I have been amazed to hear of people admitting to vanished wealth. “I have lost £250,000/ half a million/ millions of pounds,” are all too common phrases. Yet six months ago, had these same people been canvassed for a donation, they would have given a few pounds and said they could afford no more.

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Mikkets

By Rabbi Nancy Morris, December 23, 2008

“Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I have had a dream, but no one can interpret it’” Genesis 41:15

Joseph quickly states the main biblical idea with regard to dreams — that it is God who speaks through them. But the story also makes clear that there is good, effective dream interpretation such as that offered by Joseph, and interpretation that is not so good, like that given by Pharaoh’s wise men.

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Vayeshev

By Rabbi Yoni Sherizen, December 18, 2008

“Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age” Genesis 37:3

Favouritism has forever torn apart families, unravelled communities and divided entire peoples. So when this week’s sidrah begins with Israel (Jacob)’s favouritism towards Joseph, we know the story is likely to take an unpleasant turn. But what made Joseph more loved than any of the other children and what can we learn from how Israel came to favour one child over all others?

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Vayishlach

By Dr Leya Landau, December 11, 2008

“Jacob was left alone and a man wrestled with him until the break of dawn” Genesis 32:25

Setting oneself apart from the community generally has negative connotations in Jewish tradition. Part of the process of atoning for the sin of evil gossip involved the offender withdrawing temporarily from the camp of Israel. In Ethics of the Fathers (2: 5), Hillel warns: “Do not separate yourself from the community.”

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