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The Ladder Comes to Life

We've met this word many times and can't seem to find the perfect definition: "These are the toledot of Jacob," can mean, "These are the stories of all that happened to Jacob's generations (Rashi)," or, "these are the things that happened to Jacob (Ibn Ezra),"...

Obnoxious Enough to be Right

One of my favorite memories from my years as a pulpit rabbi is reading the Song of Songs from a scroll, and being corrected by a six-year-old boy. As embarrassing as it was, I was proud that a little boy felt comfortable publicly correcting the...

The Places That Were

The view as we approached, Philadelphia, "City of Brotherly Love," the first stop on my itinerary, was beautiful until the final seconds just before touchdown when we passed by rows of empty houses and apartment buildings that obviously had been abandoned to make room for...

The Child & The Visionary

It struck me that the portion begins as a study in contrasts. "And Jacob settled in the land of Canaan," Rashi explains, means that Jacob desired to live a calm life. The Chinese are serious when they describe, "May you live in interesting times," as a...

A Miraculous Future

What were the heroes of the Chanukah battles thinking and feeling while digging through the ruble of the Temple Sanctuary? Were they able to hold on to any of the joy of their miraculous victory? They stepped into God's home and found idols, garbage and...

Timing a Decision

“Jacob settled in the land of his father’s sojournings.” Jacob wanted something permanent where Isaac only had a sense of the temporary. He reviewed major events in Isaac’s life and believed that his father’s refusal to officially declare which of his sons should have the...