The Reason(s) Jacob Went Down to Egypt

The Reason(s) Jacob Went Down to Egypt

Dec 22, 2023 By Ira Tokayer | Commentary | Vayiggash

Parashat Vayiggash is a good place to illustrate the modern scholarship, which sees the Torah’s Joseph story as a combination of three source documents with separate accounts of how and why Jacob descended to Egypt.

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A World in Crisis Needs a Yosef

A World in Crisis Needs a Yosef

Dec 15, 2023 By Avi Garelick | Commentary | Miketz

Our society today faces crises of overwhelming proportions on many fronts—some observers have called our situation one of polycrisis, to emphasize how crises interact and amplify each other. Climate change is breathing down our necks, wars proliferate, and pandemics threaten our health, all while governments struggle to react sufficiently. Many who enjoy relative peace and affluence suffer from a sense of helplessness and foreboding. We need a Yosef.

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Tamar, Our Mother

Tamar, Our Mother

Dec 8, 2023 By Yael Landman | Commentary | Vayeshev

Parashat Vayeshev begins the story of Joseph, Jacob’s favorite son. But just after this narrative kicks off, the text veers for the length of a chapter into the story of another of Jacob’s sons, Judah, as well as Judah’s three sons and his daughter-in-law Tamar. Just as the Joseph story is foundational for the broader narrative of B’nei Yisrael—the children of Jacob who become the Israelites—the story of Judah and Tamar is foundational as well.

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Caleb Brommer – Senior Sermon (RS ’24)

Caleb Brommer – Senior Sermon (RS ’24)

Nov 30, 2023 By JTS Senior Sermon | Commentary | Senior Sermon | Short Video | Vayishlah

Vayishlah All the Class of 2024 Senior Sermons

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Sami Vingron – Senior Sermon (RS ’24)

Sami Vingron – Senior Sermon (RS ’24)

Nov 28, 2023 By JTS Senior Sermon | Commentary | Senior Sermon | Vayetzei

Vayetzei All the Class of 2024 Senior Sermons

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Remember Dinah; Listen to Women

Remember Dinah; Listen to Women

Dec 1, 2023 By Ayelet Cohen | Commentary | Vayishlah

Dinah’s story is often overlooked in a parashah rich with other narratives that are easier and more pleasant to explore. But this is not a time to shy away from difficult stories or avoid stories of sexual violence. Shabbat Vayishlah can be an opportunity for our communities to center the stories of women and girls in their fullness and explore the ways our communities can become communities of support.

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Listening with Yaakov

Listening with Yaakov

Nov 24, 2023 By Naomi Kalish | Commentary | Vayetzei

A Thanksgiving meal, or any family gathering, in our time of divisive politics and social polarization can be a source of great anxiety. How will we remain civil to those with whom we profoundly disagree? Parashat Veyetzei provides us with a model of how one of our ancestors, Yaakov, managed conflict with a family member and was able to move toward reconciliation.

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Isaac: Schlimazel, or Something More?

Isaac: Schlimazel, or Something More?

Nov 17, 2023 By Aiden Pink | Commentary | Toledot

In his book The Joys of Yiddish, Leo Rosten defines one of the most useful words in our tradition: “When a schlimazel winds a clock, it stops; when he kills a chicken, it walks; when he sells umbrellas, the sun comes out; when he manufactures shrouds, people stop dying” (347).

In the entire Torah, it seems, there is no bigger schlimazel than Isaac.

At the beginning of his life, he’s nearly killed by his father. At the end of his life, he’s deceived by his son. He barely participates in the courtship of his own wife. Isaac is hapless, passive, an eternal victim—the archetypical schlimazel.

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