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Parashat Miketz

“At the end of two years, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing over the Nile”

Joseph Pharaoh

These words introduce this week’s Sedra, Miketz.  Poor Joseph is stuck in prison.  The Midrash, commenting on the beginning of the sedra, opens with a verse from the book of Job: “He sets an end to darkness”.  What do these words have to do with Pharaoh?  The Midrash answers us by saying that everything has an end, including the trials inflicted on man.  Joseph had to suffer in prison, forgotten by everyone, for twelve seemingly interminable years.  His situation must have appeared almost hopeless.  Only his belief and faith in G-d could help him bear such a cruel ordeal.

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Parashat Vayichlach
Jacob Esau

This week’s Sedra starts with Jacob sending messengers to his brother Esau.  The Midrash tell us that these messengers were in fact angels.  How do we know?  In true Jewish style, let me answer with a question: which human would agree to meet Esau on behalf of Jacob?

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Parashat Vayiera
Abraham and the Three Angels

This week’s Sedra starts with our forefather Abraham, having just performed circumcision on himself at the ripe old age of 99, sitting in the burning heat of the day.  This was no ordinary heat - we are told that G-d made a hole in hell, bringing the whole world to boiling point.  Abraham was not a well man.  Yet he was still waiting by his tent, as consistent as always, touting for passing trade to teach them the whys and wherefores of G-d.

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Parashat Vayeitzei

November 2012

This week's Sedra, Vayeitzei, starts off with Jacob journeying away from his family after having aroused the anger of his brother Esau for 'taking' the blessings from his father Isaac.  The verse states that as he was journeying towards Charan, he 'encountered the place'.  Our Rabbis inform us that G-d is called "The Place" ("Hamakom") and that the Hebrew word 'encounter' often means prayer. 

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Parashat Toldot

This week’s Sedra, Toldot, starts with the birth of Jacob and Esau.  We are told that Yitzchak was barren, and he prayed to G-d for children.  Why did this have to happen?  Our Rabbis tell us that while shady trees grow by themselves, fruit trees need nurturing.  In the same way, the wicked bear children by themselves, whereas the righteous must first pray.  That Yitzchak and Rebecca were barren before they prayed showed that they were righteous, and that G-d longed for their prayers, as He does all righteous people.

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