Thursday, November 26, 2015

Vayishlach - Distorted Reflections

Why are the three locations that the midrash says clearly belong to the Jewish people all currently being claimed by the Arabs? When we do not understand a word in Hebrew, why do we turn to other languages to understand that word? What is the significance of the city of Shechem? Why is it given to Joseph? What is the significance of its numerical value of 360? Why does the story there revolve around an issue of connection between male and female? Why does the Torah stress that Jacob came there first on his way into Israel? Why does he buy property there?

Find out in this week's parsha podcast.

Running time: 25:58

Friday, November 20, 2015

Vayetze - Spiritual Transitions

Why does the ladder represent so many different things: the temple, Mount Sinai, four exiles? Why do the angels who destroyed sodom return here? Why were they out of commision for 138 years? Why are they all of a sudden returned to their post now? How could the angels say something wrong? What does it mean that Hashem hovers over the ladder or Yakov?

Find out in this week's parsha podcast.

Running time: 21:04

Friday, November 13, 2015

Toldos- Choosing Greatness

Why did Isaac's vision become weak in his old age? Why would people say that Esav's evil reflects poorly on him? Why did the angels cry at the binding of Isaac? What do our sages mean when they say that Isaac 'looked at the divine presence' in an inappropriate way at the binding? What does Rebecca mean when she refers to what Jacob did when he stole the blessings as if he did it himself? Didn't she push him to do it and take the responsibility for it?

Find out in this week's parsha podcast.

Running time: 22:38

Friday, November 6, 2015

Chayei Sarah - Laying Claim to Israel

Why do the children of Ishmael and Canaan lay claim to Israel specifically in front of Alexander the Great? Why do the responses come from Gevia the hunchback? Why does Alexander feel drawn toward Jerusalem? Why does he want to enter the Holy of Holies on the Temple Mount? What does it mean that Abraham blessed Isaac 'with everything?' Why did he send the others away from Isaac?

Find out in this week's parsha podcast.

Running time: 26:47

Yosef & Yesh Tikvah

It was recently that I remembered that two different important events for me were connected. In 2011, I was zoche to visit Kever Yosef three times. The last time I went was on December 27, 2011, which was Rosh Chodesh Teves. Here's a little clip from that day.

It was exactly two weeks later at the very middle of the month of Teves that I composed and wrote the first draft of the song "Yesh Tikvah." Looking back, it feels like they are connected. The idea of being in darkness and facing it with faith and the knowledge that there is hope is certainly what Yosef represents to me.

As we have watched Kever Yosef be a point of destruction and rebuilding over and over, it must serve as a source of chizzuk for us that we will rise from all the challenges, and the very difficulties themselves will build a greater future for us.

Here's a video from Arutz 7 of the rebuilding of Kever Yosef after the recent destruction.