Itzik’s Journey

Itzik’s Journey

Nov 18, 2016 By David G. Roskies | Commentary | Vayera

He was our Bob Dylan and Dylan Thomas: a Yiddish troubadour and hard-drinking lyric poet who wrote in regular rhymes and rhythms about the lives and unrequited loves of the downtrodden. His name was Itzik Manger, and the Bible was the book he loved most in the world, especially those parts that told an inside, personal story.

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The Person You Are Now

The Person You Are Now

Oct 23, 2010 By Andrew Shugerman | Commentary | Text Study | Vayera

“Innocent until proven guilty” approximates God’s judgment of Ishmael in the midrash above.

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Submitting to a Higher Ideal

Submitting to a Higher Ideal

Oct 30, 1993 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Vayera

Circumcision is the oldest of Jewish rituals and still going strong. In his 90th year Abraham was instructed by God to “circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and that shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. And throughout the generations, every male among you shall be circumcised at the age of eight days (Gen. 17:11-12).” Accordingly, when Isaac was born ten years later, Abraham circumcised him on the eighth day (Gen. 21:4).

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Holding Up Heaven (In Memory of Nahshon Waxman)

Holding Up Heaven (In Memory of Nahshon Waxman)

Oct 22, 1994 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Vayera

We turn to this week’s Parasha numbed by the brutal kidnapping and murder of Corporal Nahshon Waxman just outside of Jerusalem, two miles from his home. Terrorism again shocks us with its power to outrage, disrupt and paralyze civilized society. The weapon of the savage few to force their will on the decent majority, terrorism reminds us of just how easy it is to wreak havoc on modern urban life. In contrast to Abraham’s inquiry about the minimum number of good people necessary to save Sodom, we find ourselves asking how few terrorists does it take to bring a modern city or country to its knees?

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Giving Women a Voice

Giving Women a Voice

Nov 7, 1997 By Anne Lapidus Lerner | Commentary | Vayera

I did not celebrate my bat mitzvah on parashat Vayera; in fact, I never celebrated it at all. My birthday on 19 Heshvan gives me, as a legitimate birthright, permission to indulge in constant grappling with this incredibly rich and complex text. Yet I have never voiced that connection with a proper celebration of my Jewish coming of age.

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Learning Through Torah

Learning Through Torah

Nov 3, 2001 By Lewis Warshauer | Commentary | Vayera

The five books that form the most sacred writings of the Jews are called by various names in various languages. Only the Hebrew name conveys exactly the content and not just the structure of these books. “Torah” means teaching. One of the aspects of the Torah that has made it so compelling for so many people over so long a time is that it not only is a teaching but teaches about teaching. The Torah, in its own terms, is both God’s teaching for human beings and the handbook for people to teach each other.

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The Politics of Genesis

The Politics of Genesis

Nov 7, 1998 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Vayera

It was during my sabbatical in Israel in 1974-75 that I first began to sense the political thrust of the book of Genesis. The messianic order of Gush Emunim, the radical young nationalists destined to take over the National Religious Party, had not been dimmed by the near debacle of the Yom Kippur War. The melancholy and self-doubt that pervaded Israeli society did not dilute their resolve to settle the West Bank. The effort to mobilize the sacred texts of Judaism to reinforce the ideal of a Greater Israel was well underway. Where we live undeniedly impacts on the way we see things. Only in America, with its worship of the self, would we ever come to regard the biblical saga of our ancestors as the mirror of our own dysfunctional families.

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Welcoming the Stranger

Welcoming the Stranger

Oct 30, 1999 By Matthew Berkowitz | Commentary | Vayera

Parashat Va-Yera opens with two seemingly unrelated narratives: first, ‘three men’ appear mysteriously to Abraham, bearing the news that his wife, Sarah, will soon conceive. Next we read of God’s destruction of the cities of S’dom and Amora for their immorality and corruption.

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