Joseph and Jewish brotherhood

This week’s Torah portion is Vayigash, Genesis 44:18 – 47:27.       “And Joseph could not hold himself back in front of all who were standing around him. … And Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am Joseph; Is my father still alive?’” (Genesis 45:1-3) Why does Joseph suddenly wake up to his familial… Read More

Biblical family dysfunction

This week’s Torah portion is Vayeshev, Genesis 37:1-40:23. As we begin parshat Vayeshev, Jacob is settled. Literally and figuratively, he is comfortable and stable. Raised in a home of favoritism, Jacob continues this family tradition and expands on it. He gifts 17-year-old Joseph, a multicolored coat. Jacob’s gift was the opposite of discreet, it was… Read More

The power of names

This week’s Torah portion is Vayishlach, Genesis 32:4-36:43. My wife and I were lucky when we were deciding on a name for our potential adopted child. We planned on adopting a boy and, as he was to be the first of his generation in each of our families, we were able to take our pick… Read More

Enmity throughout the generations

This week’s Torah portion is Toldot, Genesis 25:19 – 28:9. “Rebecca [Isaac’s wife] conceived.  And the sons within her struggled (or agitated)…” (Genesis 25:21-22). The next three biblical portions deal with the jealousy, enmity and strife unto death between Jacob and Esau, the twin sons of Isaac and Rebecca.  The “bad blood” that sullied their… Read More

The puzzling ‘Akedah’ story   

This week’s Torah portion is Vayera, Genesis 18:1-22:24. One of the most difficult narratives in our Bible is this story of the “binding” (akedah) of Isaac. How can the righteous God command Abraham to sacrifice his beloved and innocent child? And, secondly, how can a father ever think of carrying out such a command without… Read More