Dealing with Your History - Chayei Sarah

After the whole long and detailed story of Eliezer looking for a bride for Yitzchak, he is finally on his way back with his mission accomplished - he found Rivka. The Torah describes the eventual meeting between the two, and it seems that we should pay attention to the details hiding there. When describing Yitzchak Avinu, the Torah mentions where he was coming from: וְיִצְחָק בָּא מִבּוֹא בְּאֵר לַחַי רֹאִי וְהוּא יוֹשֵׁב בְּאֶרֶץ הַנֶּגֶב. Rashi explains where the well was, and what Yitzchak Avinu was doing there: ‘Where he had gone to bring Hagar to Abraham his father, that he should marry her’. This explanation throws us back to the complex relationship between Avraham and Hagar, but w

Sightseeing in the Parsha - Hevron

Tens of thousands are expected to come to Hebron this Shabbat, to hear this week’s parasha read in the place where it occurred – in Me’arat HaMahpela, the Cave of the Patriarchs. Parashat Hayei Sarah describes the sale of the first Jewish gravesite in history to Avraham. Avraham buried Sarah there, and afterwards he was buried next to her, later joined by Isaac and Rebecca and Jacob and Leah. But until this day we are not really sure what is under the grave markers of the patriarchs and matriarchs. Me’arat HaMahpela, the Cave of the Patriarchs, is one of the few places in Israel which have not been studied, and the underground tunnels located under the building have been blocked for decades.

What should we prepare for Shabbat?

Last week we learned about the importance of one preparing for Shabbat by himself, this week we will learn about what are the preparations one should make for shabbat. The Sages state that there are three things one must say in his home as it gets dark on Friday: (1) “Has the produce been tithed?” If it has not, he must do so; (2) “Has an eruv ĥatzerot been set up?” If it has not, he must do so. (3) “Remember to light the candle on time” (Shabbat 34a). Today, when we generally buy our produce already tithed, and there are community representatives in charge of the eruv, we no longer need to ask about the first two. But each person still needs to make sure that his home is ready for Shabbat:

Why did Hashem share his plans with Avraham? - Vayeira

In the parasha Hashem sends three angels to visit Avraham Avinu who was recovering from his Brit Mila. The main purpose of their visit was Bikur Cholim, and the Tora describes the visit in detail. At the end of their visit the angels stood up, preparing themselves to leave, and it seems as though the story will now move forward. But, suddenly, Hashem says something: !המכסה אני מאברהם?. Meaning, I shouldn’t hide my plans from Avraham. It seems that Hashem was planning to destroy the city of Sdom because of the bad behavior of its residents. We can assume he considered it thoroughly, so why did he suddenly decide to involve Avraham in this decision? The Torah gives us an explanation, saying th

Chavruta of the Week: Daniel Sternthal and Rav Yedidya Noiman

Daniel: We started learning Talmud Brachot together a couple of weeks ago. When I learn with the Rabbi I understand the Gemara from a whole new perspective. We learn it and we review over and over again. I like learning with the Rabbi because I have some trouble with the Gemara but when I learn one on one with the Rabbi he teaches it to me in a certain way that things are interesting. My experience learning with a chavruta is a great experience, and I believe it will make me more comfortable with it. We are now learning the sixth chapter of Masechet Brachot which deals with the idea of blessing before and after eating. Eventually the Gemara agrees that the obligation to make a Bracha is cle

Sightseeing in the Parsha - Kikar Sdom

One of the most interesting things in the Parasha is the uncompromising effort on the part of Avraham to save the people of Sedom and Gomorrah. The Midrash says that the people of Sedom and Gomorrah enjoyed an abundance of material wealth, but they used it in an evil way, so much so that the world could not exist as long as they existed. After Avraham received the promise that Lot would be saved, the miracle with the angels happens, and Lot indeed is saved, but his wife is turned into a pillar of salt because she didn’t comply with the commandments of the angels as they were leaving the city. Researchers have attempted to identify the location of these important cities which were once flouri

Why did Avraham and Lot Separate - Lech Lecha

In our Parasha the main figure is Avraham Avinu, and his adventures fill our parasha with details and values. We are taught in depth about him since he is the founder of Am Israel. The whole Hebrew story has developed based on his great values and character. Teaching the world the fundamentals of faith was the main contribution Avraham made to the world, and it also separated him from others. The Midrash says that Avraham was named Avraham HaIvri because he was standing on a different side than the entire world: ‘Avraham omed b’ever echad v’kol haolam kulo b’ever acher’. But the fact is that Avraham did have support from two people: Sara-his wife and Lot, his nephew. As mentioned in Parashat

Chavruta of the Week: Sarah Moyal, Joelle Cons and Rivka Kakon

During the past week Joelle Cons and I, Sarah Moyal, learned in the kollel with the amazing Bat Sherut, Rivka. We are learning about how to get to know yourself better as a proud Jew. In the few verses that we have studied, we learn how a person needs to know his good from bad. Rav Itamar Shwartz teaches us how each body is composed of skin, blood, bones etc.… and most importantly a neshama (soul). There are two different types of people. The people who think they have a body with a soul or the people who think they have a soul with a body that protects it. We also learned that each movement and act we make we need to put our neshama into it and think of Hashem and the reasoning behind why

Sightseeing in the Parsha - Ofra

Right from the earliest days of the Jewish nation, along with the choice of the first patriarch, Avraham Avinu, God designated a national home for His chosen people. Avraham was sent to explore the land and to begin building a new life there, away from his homeland, his family and everything he was used to. Already at that time, God knew that not everyone would be happy about the area Avraham was going to inhabit. Therefore, in the Brit Bein Habetarim, the Covenant of the Pieces, God promised Avraham: “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river.” There are disagreements among the commentators and researchers about the exact time and location of thi

The Mitzvah to take part in Shabbat preparation

The Torah states: “On the sixth day, they shall prepare what they have brought in” (Shemot 16:5). It is inferred from here that there is a mitzva to prepare for Shabbat on Friday. Even a rich and dignified person who has servants who take care of all his needs during the week, and who does not lift a finger around the house, must try to do something himself to honor Shabbat. He should not say: “Should I toil at these simple labors that are beneath my dignity?” Rather he must be aware that it is an honor for him to honor the holy Shabbat by preparing for it. Even if one diligently studies Torah and has others who prepare Shabbat for him, he is commanded to participate personally in some type

Untitled Leadership - Noach

אֵ֚לֶּה תּוֹלְדֹ֣ת נֹ֔חַ נֹ֗חַ אישׁ צַדּיק תָּמ֥ים הָיה בְּדֹֽרֹתָיו אֶת־הָֽאֱלֹהִים הִֽתְהַלֶּךְ־נֹֽחַ: As is famously known, the Torah mentions that Noach was a tzadik. The Torah also mentions that this is in comparison to his generation - a fact that caused a dispute among chazal. Some of the rabbis said that this was mentioned in his favor, understanding how much mental strength is needed to behave differently than those around you. Others understood that it was mentioned as a fault, meaning that only compared to his generation was Noach considered a Tzadik. The truth is that even mentioning that he is a Tzadik at all is a rare thing. In next week’s parasha, we meet Avraham Avinu, and e

Chavruta of the Week: Amanda Marciano, Gita Margolese and Orelle Feuer

Every morning we learn with Orelle, the bat sherut, during breakfast. The book we are learning is called Living Emunah by Rabbi David Ashear. It is divided into a short daily limud. At the end of each limud there is a highlighted sentence which enhances the main point and leaves us with inspiration for the day. The book teaches us how to have complete faith in Hashem and that even when times are hard to know that everything happens for a reason even if we can't see it right now. One lesson we each took from the limud: Amanda- "Emunah is a powerful tool that enables us to live our lives to the very fullest." I like this quote because it is inspirational to know that Hashem does everything for

Sightseeing in the Parsha - Jerusalem Biblical Zoo

Not many years after the creation of the universe, the world is at a dead end. God cannot let the world continue as it is, and there must be a significant change. God puts a few of every animal into the ark, thus preventing the total destruction of creation and enabling us to continue living in the amazing and diverse world we inhabit. The question is – what was so terrible about the people’s behavior that made it necessary to bring a flood and to destroy almost everything? The Midrash describes that the sin of man at that time was the thought that he could use his power and intelligence to alter the rules and boundaries of nature. Excessive use of force and knowledge corrupt the morals whic

Advice against mistakes during Amida

The most frequent mistake made in the Amidah concerns the mention of, and the request for rain, because the wording is switched bi-annually. Throughout half the year, we become accustomed to a certain wording and tend to continue even though the time has come to change. Therefore, if a person is uncertain as to whether or not he recited the correct words, as long as thirty days have not passed since the change in wording, in the beginning of the summer or winter, we assume that he most likely erred, since he is still in the habit of using the earlier wording. If his mistake is one that necessitate a repetition, he must go back and pray correctly. However, if thirty days already pa

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