Rabbi Feingold's D'var Torah

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As the one-week anniversary of the terrorist attacks in Paris approaches, we are full of concern, questions, and perhaps anger. Why is there cruelty in the world? Why must one group seek domination over another? Why do people hate? Will wanton destruction and lack of regard for life never end? Some fear is natural, but allowing fear to overcome us and distort our basic values is not healthy or helpful. In this week’s parasha, Jacob left home in great fear and trepidation, forced to cross a border into a land he did not know. He did not know what dangers lurked along his way, but he did know that his brother Esau wanted him dead. On the very first night of his journey, God came to Jacob in a dream atop a ladder, assuring Jacob that he was safe and his life’s mission would be fulfilled. Jacob was comforted by this dream. He awoke and said: “God was in this place, and I did not know it.” (Gen 28:16) We need to look for sources of comfort and hope when facing fears. Being in the synagogue and joining with others in prayers for peace and proclaiming the values of justice and compassion that our siddur and Torah texts teach in one way to do so. Join this Shabbat.

Genesis 28:10−32:3

This week’s parasha begins with a familiar theme—the infertility of the matriarch, in this case, Rebekah. (Gen 25:21) Previously, Sarah was barren and bore Isaac in her old age. Now Rebekah has the twins, Esau and Jacob, in her later years. Later, Rachel is barren and only gives birth to Joseph and Benjamin after many years of infertility, dying in childbirth with Benjamin. What is the significance of this repeating theme of barrenness? J.H. Hertz suggests that it is to emphasize the specialness of the one finally born—that this child is a miraculous gift from God and therefore destined for greatness. (Hertz Commentary, p. 93) As we consider the advances that have been made in recent decades to treat infertility, we see scientific genius as responsible for a birth after years of infertility. But we can imagine God’s hand in it as well, with human beings as God’s partners in the ongoing work of Creation.

Genesis 25:19−28:9

In his book Biblical Literacy, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin titles his chapter about Isaac: “The Man to Whom Things Happen.” While appearing in many important stories in the Torah, Isaac’s role is primarily a passive one. He is born in Abraham and Sarah’s old age and is almost sacrificed by his father in last week’s parasha. In this week’s portion, he has a wife (Rebecca) chosen for him by his father’s servant, and in next week’s parasha, he is tricked into giving his blessing and family birthright to Jacob instead of Esau. Isaac is a pivotal figure who serves as a bridge between the more dramatic events of his father’s and sons’ lives and times. And note, that unlike the other Patriarchs and Matriarchs, he is the only one to live his entire life within the borders of Canaan.

Genesis 23:1−25:18

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URJ Weekly Torah Commentary

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This Week at BHT

21 Jan 2018
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Contribution Tax Letter
21 Jan 2018
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28 Jan 2018
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31 Jan 2018
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31 Jan 2018
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31 Jan 2018
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31 Jan 2018
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Sabbatical Committee Meeting
01 Feb 2018
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Achshav Deadline Spring
02 Feb 2018
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Family Kabbalat Shabbat | Grd K-2 (Giborim Class) participate on the bima
02 Feb 2018
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02 Feb 2018
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Film: Voyage of the Damned
03 Feb 2018
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Torah Study
03 Feb 2018
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Learner's Minyan | Kitah Gimel and Dalet on the Bima
04 Feb 2018
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Great Decisions
04 Feb 2018
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Introduction to Judaism