Sidrahs

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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Vayetzei

By Rabbi Chaim Weiner, December 3, 2008

“And she called his name Reuben” Genesis 29.32

What’s in a name? The economists Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner note that the most popular names in each generation are the names of successful people in the generation before. Names hold the wishes and the aspirations of parents for their children. We learn what is really important to a person by the names he or she chooses.

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Toldot

By Rabbi Daniel Levy, November 27, 2008

"And may the Almighty give you (repeatedly) from the dew of the skies and the fatness of the earth, an abundance of corn and wine" Genesis 27:28

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Chayei Sarah

By Rabbi Nancy Morris, November 20, 2008

"He had scarcely finished speaking, when Rebecca...came out with her jar on her shoulder. The maiden was very beautiful" Genesis 24:15-16

There is no doubt that beauty is a valued quality in women in the Torah. It is, however, fascinating how lacking the Torah is in physical description of "beautiful" women. Often, we have no idea what they look like. Scratch a little deeper and we must conclude that the Torah has rather interesting notions about what constitutes beauty in a woman.

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Vayera

By Rabbi Yoni Sherizen, November 13, 2008

"And Abraham stepped forward and said: ‘Will You also wipe away the righteous with the wicked?'" Genesis 18:23

A Jewish student recently returned from extensive volunteering in Uganda and proudly reported that a surprisingly high percentage of the aid and relief leaders came from Jewish roots. I was pleased to hear this news but wasn't terribly surprised as we have always been a people that confront challenges with little fear or shame.

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