Overcoming the Disease of Hatred: Thoughts for Parashat Vayeshev

Joseph’s brothers learned to overcome jealousy and hatred. They learned to escape the “syndrome of decay” that eats away at the fiber of life. They learned that life is not a zero sum game; that their winning did not depend on someone else losing; that all humans could live so much more happily and meaningfully if they adopted a syndrome of love and cooperation.

When Wickedness Parades as Justice: Thoughts for Parashat Vayishlah

This week’s Torah portion tells of Jacob’s fight with a mysterious stranger/angel. A Midrash identifies Jacob’s antagonist as the angel of Esav dressed in the garb of a rabbinic scholar. This Midrash is alluding to the dangers caused by those who are wicked but who dress in pious attire. These hypocritical individuals put on the external features of righteousness in order to disarm their opponents.

Benjamin Disraeli and Succoth

Interesting insights about Succoth have come from the pen of Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), the First Earl of Beaconsfield. Disraeli was of Jewish birth, whose family had been associated with the Spanish and Portuguese Congregation in London. Although his father had Benjamin baptized to Anglicanism at age 12, Disraeli never denied his Jewish roots. He rose to become the first—and thus far only—British Prime Minister of Jewish ancestry.

Deeper Meanings: Thoughts for Shabbat Teshuva and Yom Kippur

Eleanor Roosevelt once noted: “Do not hesitate to do what you think you cannot do.” Dare to reach beyond your perceived limits. Do not let yourself be trapped within the narrow confines of narrow thinking. Do not let past defeats and failures drag you down."
Yom Kippur is the ultimate day of Jewish optimism in our ability to grow, change, and redefine ourselves.