TORAH TIDBIT

Torah Tidbits - Study Judaism with Rabbi Rapport and Rabbi David.
Torah Tidbits - Study Judaism with Rabbi Rapport and Rabbi David. Ki Tisa Tetzaveh Pekudei Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1−5:26)The opening word of Leviticus that gives the book and this first parashah its name is Vayikra Tazria Metzorah Achrei Mot Emor B’har B’hukotai Sh’lach L’cha Korach Matot Masei D'varim Va-et’chanan Eikev Nitzavim Chayei Sarah Tol'dot Mishpatim

Vayeishev – וַיֵּשֶׁב (Genesis 37:1−40:23)

This Week’s Torah Portion: Vayeishev – וַיֵּשֶׁב (Genesis 37:1−40:23)

Our father Jacob has 12 sons, from 4 wives. The only one he loves is Joseph, and that is why all the brothers hate Joseph. They try to kill him and end up (out of greed) selling him into slavery.

Why does the Torah tell us such a story? Why are our ancestors portrayed by the Torah as such terrible people?

The courage of the writers and editors of the Torah to send us a message that our ancestors were regular people, not saints, and that no one is perfect, sends a very strong message. We can identify with our ancestors, see ourselves with all our imperfections in them, and learn from their mistakes. Perfect people are boring and do not exist, our ancestors are fascinating.

Parsha Vayeishev – וַיֵּשֶׁב Torah Summary:

Jacob is shown to favor his son Joseph, whom the other brothers resent. Joseph has dreams of grandeur. (Genesis 37:1-11) After Joseph’s brothers had gone to tend the flocks in Shechem, Jacob sends Joseph to report on them. The brothers decide against murdering Joseph but instead sell him into slavery. After he is shown Joseph’s coat of many colors, which had been dipped in the blood of a kid, Jacob is led to believe that Joseph has been killed by a beast. (Genesis 37:12-35) Tamar successively marries two of Judah’s sons, each of whom dies. Judah does not permit her levirate marriage to his youngest son. She deceives Judah into impregnating her. (Genesis 38:1-30) God is with Joseph in Egypt until the wife of his master, Potiphar, accuses him of rape, whereupon Joseph is imprisoned. (Genesis 39:1-40:23) Vayeishev – וַיֵּשֶׁב
Torah Tidbits - Study Judaism with Rabbi Rapport and Rabbi David. Ki Tisa Tetzaveh Pekudei Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1−5:26)The opening word of Leviticus that gives the book and this first parashah its name is Vayikra Tazria Metzorah Achrei Mot Emor B’har B’hukotai Sh’lach L’cha Korach Matot Masei D'varim Va-et’chanan Eikev Nitzavim Chayei Sarah Tol'dot Mishpatim

Vayishlach – וַיִּשְׁלַח (Genesis 32:4−36:43)

This Week’s Torah Portion: Vayishlach – וַיִּשְׁלַח (Genesis 32:4−36:43)

Esau said, “I have plenty, my brother; let what you have remain yours” (Genesis 33:9).

The world of Genesis is a world of lack and insufficiency, there is not enough for everyone. Only one child is chosen to get their parents blessing, only one child gets the parent’s love, only one child can continue the legacy of their parents. And the chosen child is always at the expense of the other child (children). Such a harsh and difficult message about our world.

Esau is the only one who sends a different message: “I have plenty, I do not want to take what is yours, there is enough for us all. We do not need to take what is not ours.”

Parsha Vayishlach – וַיִּשְׁלַח Torah Summary:

Jacob prepares to meet Esau. He wrestles with a “man,” who changes Jacob’s name to Israel. (32:4-33) Jacob and Esau meet and part peacefully, each going his separate way. (33:1-17) Dinah is raped by Shechem, the son of Hamor the Hivite, who was chief of the country. Jacob’s sons Simeon and Levi take revenge by murdering all the males of Shechem, and Jacob’s other sons join them in plundering the city. (34:1-31) Rachel dies giving birth to Benjamin and is buried in Ephrah, which is present-day Bethlehem. (35:16-21) Isaac dies and is buried in Hebron. Jacob’s and Esau’s progeny are listed. (35:22-36:43) Vayishlach – וַיִּשְׁלַח
Torah Tidbits - Study Judaism with Rabbi Rapport and Rabbi David. Ki Tisa Tetzaveh Pekudei Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1−5:26)The opening word of Leviticus that gives the book and this first parashah its name is Vayikra Tazria Metzorah Achrei Mot Emor B’har B’hukotai Sh’lach L’cha Korach Matot Masei D'varim Va-et’chanan Eikev Nitzavim Chayei Sarah Tol'dot Mishpatim

Vayeitzei – וַיֵּצֵא (Genesis 28:10−32:3)

This Week’s Torah Portion: Vayeitzei – וַיֵּצֵא (Genesis 28:10−32:3)

This is one of my favorite lessons on this week’s Torah Portion, Vayeitzei.  It is a story called,
“Opening Your Eyes” from the Book of Miracles by Lawrence Kushner.  It goes like this:

Reuven and Shimon hurried along among the crowd crossing through the Red Sea.
They never once looked up.
They noticed only that the ground under their feet was still a little muddy –  like a beach at low tide.
“Yucch!” said Reuven, “there’s mud all over this place!”
“Blecch!” said Shimon, “I have muck all over my feet!”
“This is terrible,” answered Reuven.  
“When we were slaves in Egypt, we had to make our bricks out of mud, just like this!”
“Yeah,” said Shimon. “There’s no difference between being a slave in Egypt and being free here.”
And so it went, Reuven and Shimon whining and complaining all the way to freedom.
For them the Sea did not part. There was no miracle, only mud.
Their eyes were closed. They might as well have been asleep.

Something like this once happened to Jacob, our father.
He dreamed of a ladder joining heaven and earth.
Upon it angels were climbing up and down.
Then God appeared and talked to Jacob.
When he awoke the next morning, Jacob said to himself,
“Wow! God was in this very place all along, and I didn’t even know it!”

The great Biblical commentator Rashi explained what Jacob meant:
“If I had known that God would be here, then I wouldn’t have gone to sleep!”

To be a Jew means to wake up and to keep your eyes open to the many beautiful, mysterious, and holy things that happen all around us every day.

Parsha Vayeitzei – וַיֵּצֵא Torah Summary:

Jacob dreams of angels going up and down a ladder. God blesses him. Jacob names the place Bethel. (28:10-22) Jacob works seven years in order to marry Rachel, but Laban tricks Jacob into marrying Leah, Rachel’s older sister. (29:16-25) Jacob marries Rachel but only after having to commit himself to seven more years of working for Laban. (29:26-30) Leah, Rachel, and their maidservants, Bilhah and Zilpah, give birth to eleven sons and one daughter. (29:31-30:24) Jacob and his family leave Laban’s household with great wealth. (31:1-32:3) Vayeitzei – וַיֵּצֵא
Torah Tidbits - Study Judaism with Rabbi Rapport and Rabbi David. Ki Tisa Tetzaveh Pekudei Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1−5:26)The opening word of Leviticus that gives the book and this first parashah its name is Vayikra Tazria Metzorah Achrei Mot Emor B’har B’hukotai Sh’lach L’cha Korach Matot Masei D'varim Va-et’chanan Eikev Nitzavim Chayei Sarah Tol'dot Mishpatim

Tol’dot – תּוֹלְדֹת (Genesis 25:19−28:9)

This Week’s Torah Portion: Tol’dot – תּוֹלְדֹת (Genesis 25:19−28:98)

Toldot begins with Rebecca, twins in her womb, struggling with one another over who will emerge first and claim the status of first born. Rebecca calls out asking God why she feels such tumult within her. God replies by sharing with her a prophecy which is placed in her mind and her hands to fulfill. Esau will be born first, and he will be the stronger of her two sons, but God sees something in Jacob, something worthy of blessing, and it will be his destiny to carry forward the story of Toldot, the continuing saga of the generations of the Jewish people.

And therein lies the mystery of the story of Toldot. God tells Rebecca the end of the story at the very beginning, and yet none of this would have happened without her craft and constant aid. Is this a story about keeping faith in God’s promise, or by constantly aiding and supporting Jacob, is Rebecca fulfilling a destiny which she must make real with her own two hands.

And therein lies the mystery of our own lives as well. We are a people of destiny, bearers of God’s promise for a hundred generations. And yet we have learned through all those generations of our people that we must make that destiny real with our own deeds and our own hands. We live in the balance of those two worlds. God shows the way, through words of Torah and lessons on life, but it is ours to learn, and ours to do, and ours to make the future which only we can choose: “for blessing, and not for curse; for sustenance, and not for destruction; for life, and not for death.”  

May we choose life and blessing. 

Parsha Tol’dot – תּוֹלְדֹת Torah Summary:

Rebekah has twins, Esau and Jacob. (25:19-26) Esau gives Jacob his birthright in exchange for some stew. (25:27-34) King Abimelech is led to think that Rebekah is Isaac’s sister and later finds out that she is really his wife. (26:1-16) Isaac plans to bless Esau, his firstborn. Rebekah and Jacob deceive Isaac so that Jacob receives the blessing. (27:1-29) Esau threatens to kill Jacob, who then flees to Haran. (27:30-45) Tol’dot – תּוֹלְדֹת

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