Vaera

Posted on January 7th, 2018

Exodus 6:2 - 9:35


Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg for myjewishlearning.com 


Who Really Hardened Pharaoh’s Heart?


Was God responsible for the Egyptian leader's intransigence?


When people talk about great philosophical challenges in the Torah , they often cite a verse in Parshat Vaera. These chapters deal with Moses’ attempt to convince Pharaoh to free the Israelite slaves, Pharaoh’s refusal and the first seven plagues that rain down as part of this back and forth.

Towards the end of the portion, after the Egyptians suffer boils, the text says (Exodus 9:12), “And God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not hear them.” The plagues continue, but suddenly they seem much less fair. There are major challenges to the concept of free will here: Did Pharaoh choose to refuse Moses’ request to let the Israelites go, or did God make him do that? Would he have responded the same way had not God intervened? And how on Earth could God continue to punish Pharaoh, given that God Godself caused Pharaoh to refuse to free the Israelites from bondage?

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Shemot

Posted on December 31st, 2017

Exodus 1:1-6:1 

 

Rabbi Joshua Gutoff for myjewishlearning.com 


The Life Of The Oppressed


The antidote to the terror of living in a dangerous world is to participate in the liberation of others.


Here’s part of the Exodus story they didn’t teach in Hebrew school:

Exodus, Chapter Four. Moses, in Midian, has encountered God at the burning bush, received his commission, and is on his way back to Egypt. Then this:

Now it was on the journey, at the night-camp, that God encountered him and sought to make him die. Tzippora took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin, she touched it to his legs and said: Indeed, a bridegroom of blood are you to me! Thereupon he released him. Then she said, “a bridegroom of blood” because of the circumcision. (Exodus 4:24-26)

An amazing story. It reads like a passage from Genesis; it has that mythic, mysterious quality. I think of Isaac, meditating in the fields. This is the kind of story that could have happened to him.

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Vayechi

Posted on December 24th, 2017

Genesis 47:28 - 50:26

BY RABBI MENACHEM CREDITOR for myjewishlearning.com 


Abundant Love: The Wisdom of Jacob


On his deathbed, Jacob finally sees his children stand together.


It finally happens. With Parashat Vayechi, the saga of Jacob’s tumultuous life comes to a close. This one-time-deceiver (Genesis 37), son of an almost sacrificed son and grandson of monotheism’s founding father, this transformed man closes his eyes for the last time.

Our question: What wisdom might modern Jews gain from studying the end of Jacob’s life?

First, a rapid review of Jacob’s journey.

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Vayigash

Posted on December 17th, 2017

Genesis 44:18 - 47:27


BY RABBI CHARLES SAVENOR for myjewishlearning.com 


Joseph’s Moment of Truth


Revealing his true identity, the viceroy cannot control his emotions.


The moment of truth has arrived. With Benjamin framed for stealing and sentenced to enslavement, Joseph waits to see how Jacob‘s other sons will respond. Joseph believes that his well-orchestrated ruse will finally expose his brothers’ true colors.

Judah’s Appeal

This week’s parsha opens with Judah appealing to his brother Joseph, the Egyptian viceroy, to free Benjamin and to enslave Judah in his place. Judah’s eloquent petition recounts his brothers’ interaction with this Egyptian official as well as the familial circumstances of Jacob’s household. Benjamin, the youngest son in the family, occupies a valued place in their father’s eyes, Judah says, because he is the last living remnant of Jacob’s deceased wife, Rachel. In conclusion, Judah asserts that if he were to return home to Canaan without Benjamin, he could not bear to see his father’s immediate and long-term pain and suffering.

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Mikeitz - Shabbat Hanukkah

Posted on December 10th, 2017

Genesis 41:1−44:17

By Rabbi Bradley Artson, provided by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, for MyJewishLearning.com

Two Kinds Of Intelligence

 

To be fully educated and human we must study a range of disciplines--humanities and sciences, secular and Judaic.

 

 

Pharaoh has endured a night of terrible dreams. To make matters worse, neither he nor any of his ministers understood what the dreams were about. The only person able to interpret those dreams is a Hebrew prisoner in an Egyptian jail. That person is Joseph.
Seven Years & Seven Years

After hearing the dreams described, Joseph announced that Egypt would enjoy seven years of plenty, followed by seven years of universal famine. In advance, Joseph argues that Pharaoh should appoint someone "navon ve-hakham," discerning and sage, who will store enough food to ensure the survival of the population.

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