Torah Thoughts on Parashat Vayetze 5781
By Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky
For most American Jews, Thanksgiving is a chance to gather with family (well… maybe not this year!) and eat turkey and stuffing, like any other American would do.
The big majority of American Jews regard Thanksgiving as more akin to the Fourth of July than Christmas, since Thanksgiving is considered a civil celebration, lacking religious associations and offering an opportunity to fully embrace a widely observed American tradition.
“Isaac’s blindness and how we can open our eyes and see the big picture”
Rabbi Daniela Szuster
The parasha for this Shabbat, Parashat Toldot, narrates the story of Isaac’s sons. First, Rebecca was barren, and then she was blessed and conceived twins. The Torah continues telling about the personality of each son: “And the boys grew; and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents. Now Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison; and Rebecca loved Jacob” (Bereshit 25: 27-28).
The boys developed different styles of living: Esau was a man of the field, of dangers and risks, and Jacob a man of the house, of peace and reflection. These are two very dissimilar behavior patterns.
Honoring Rabbi Jonathan Sacks z”l
Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky
This week we read parashat Chayei Sarah, which literally means “the life of Sarah.” However, the first verses of this parasha actually tells us about Sarah’s death. Something similar happens with the last parasha of the Book of Genesis, which is called Vayechi, “he lived,” although it tells us about Jacob’s death.
Our sages learn an important principle from these apparent contradictions. They stated that, צַדִּיקִים שֶׁבְּמִיתָתָן נִקְרְאוּ חַיִּים, “Righteous people are referred to as living even after their death” (Brachot 18:b). This means that righteous people live on through their teaching and living example, even after passing away.
“The “Eshel” (tamarisk) Planted by Abraham and the Different Aspects of Hospitality”
Rabbi Daniela Szuster
In this week’s parashah, parashat Vayera, the Torah tells us that Abraham made a peaceful covenant with the king Abimelech and acquired a well at Beer – Sheba. After that, it is written in the text:
“Abraham” planted a tamarisk (eshel) at Beer-sheba, and invoked there the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God.” (Bereshit 21:33)
It is nor clear why Abraham planted this tree there. Maybe he wanted to show his gratitude for acquiring that well.
There is a Midrash that explains the name of the tree “Eshel” saying that the three letters in the word א-ש-ל are an acronym for אכילה- שתיה- לינה that true hospitality involves providing one’s guests with food, drink, and lodging