The Chabad.org Blog

Be Like Esau

December 1, 2014

Dear Friend,

As this week’s Torah portion unfolds, all the signs point towards a disastrous confrontation. After twenty years in Charan, Jacob returned to the Holy Land to find a still-furious Esau approaching along with four hundred men. Fearing for himself and his family, Jacob prayed to G‑d, sent reconciliatory presents to Esau, and prepared for battle.

The crucial moment arrived. Jacob and Esau saw each other for the first time in decades, and Esau ran toward Jacob, embraced him and kissed him.

The Hebrew word vayishakeihu (“and he kissed him”) is topped with small dots in the Torah. According to one view, this is to highlight the anomaly of Esau’s behavior. Despite his resentment, at the moment of truth Esau’s compassion was aroused, and he kissed Jacob wholeheartedly.

This story makes me feel hopeful, when conflict fills the news and the gossip mill, for what unites us is so much stronger than what pulls us apart. On all levels, personal, communal and global, we can—and we must—overcome our differences and achieve true peace.

Take the first step. Reach out in friendship, and bring the world just a little closer to the beautiful place it can be.

Rochel Chein,
Responder for Ask the Rabbi @ Chabad.org

P.S.: Thank you to everyone who provided input last week when we asked you whether you wanted us to feature the Parshah in a Nutshell or Parshah in Depth in the magazine. Your overwhelming response was in favor of Parshah in Depth, so that’s what we’ll feature. Please continue to share your feedback. We really appreciate it!

My Weather versus Your Weather

November 20, 2014 2:59 PM

Dear Friend,

It's rare that turning on the radio brings a smile to one's face. But while driving a few nights ago, I was amused when one of the top stories was about the bitter cold hitting parts of the U.S. They were interviewing some poor guy in Michigan who was breathlessly retelling how his thermometer even hit 19 degrees Fahrenheit!

Glancing down at my own temperature gauge, I couldn’t help but smile upon seeing that it was well into the single digits and barely making the local news here in Minnesota.

This week we learn about how, after toiling for his treacherous father-in-law, Laban, for twenty years, Jacob decides it’s time to travel back home. After a confrontation between him and Laban, Jacob proclaims that if not for the fact that G‑d was with him throughout the twenty year ordeal, he could not have flourished through all the treachery and tricks Laban tried to play on him.

Like the weather, we all have our own unique obstacles, and what is easy for one, is hard for another. But knowing that G‑d is always with us, we know that even if it takes twenty years, ultimately we will succeed.

Yehuda Shurpin
on behalf of the Chabad.org Editorial Team

P.S. You may notice a change in this week’s magazine. For the past many years, we’ve featured the Parshah in a Nutshell every week—and it’s been very popular. This week, we’ve replaced it with the Parshah in Depth. What do you think? Which do you prefer? Please share your feedback in the comments. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Terror in Jerusalem

November 18, 2014 10:49 AM

Dear Friends,

There are no words. Frightening images that conjure up memories of a dark past. The image of Jewish men, crowned in tallit and tefillin, lying dead in cold blood. Prayerbooks stained with Jewish blood…

To our beloved brothers and sisters, the Goldberg, Kupinsky, Levine and Twersky families: Our entire nation weeps along with you. The terrorists did not kill your loved ones because they knew them. They did it because they wanted to kill Jews. When they stabbed your beloved family members, they stabbed each and every one of us. And we all mourn with you. May their souls be gathered up in the bundle of life, and may they intercede on High for you, and for all of Israel.

Let us continue to pray for those who are still fighting for their lives; may G‑d send them a speedy and complete recovery!

And to those in the seat of power, I share the question we all ask: How much longer can this go on? Is it not high time to finally ensure true safety and security throughout the Holy Land?

With wishes of only good news,

Mendy Kaminker
on behalf of the Chabad.org Editorial Team

P.S. This Sunday we will be streaming live from the International Conference of Chabad Lubavitch Emissaries. Join us for this annual event by tuning in to Jewish.tv at 5:30 p.m. EST on Sunday.

P.P.S. We’re proud to announce our upcoming series, “The Significance of Tefillah,” with Rabbi Shmuel Kaplan. If you want to really understand what prayer is all about, be sure to join us as we air the first segment at 7:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday.

Appreciating Differences

November 16, 2014

Dear Friend,

Have you ever thought to yourself, "Why does my spouse/partner/boss/friend act like that? Why can't he/she be more like me?" Whether he is an introvert and you are an extrovert, she is a dreamer and you are practical, he is an intellectual and you are emotional, you are sure that your way is the right way.

This week’s Torah portion, Toldot, begins: “These are the generations of Isaac the son of Abraham—Abraham fathered Isaac.” Why the double wording? As Chana Weisberg writes in “Can a Square Fit into a Circle?” Abraham and Isaac looked exactly alike, yet their personalities were diametrically opposite. “Abraham was the ultimate uninhibited extrovert . . . Isaac, on the other hand, was the definitive introvert . . . yet, both were committed, in their differences, to dedicate their traits to the service of their Creator.”

If our forefathers themselves were so completely different, yet they were also holy human beings who served G‑d fully, then perhaps we can better appreciate the different qualities in our spouses, loved ones and others.

Sasha Friedman
on behalf of the Chabad.org Editorial Team

Live Well Now

November 9, 2014

Dear Friend,

This week’s Torah portion is titled “the life of Sarah,” after our matriarch, the wife of Abraham. Its first verse carefully enumerates the years of her life: “one hundred years, twenty years and seven years.”

Why this strange formulation?

The Zohar offers a fascinating insight. Too often we think that the purpose of our lives lies at some far-off point in the future. We may think that the present is transient, dispensable. Sometimes we worry that our moment will never come. In counting the years of Sarah’s life with such precision, the Torah is teaching us that each one of those years was a year of purposeful attainment and ascent.

“All of her life was ascent: one hundred years of ascent, twenty years of ascent, and seven years of ascent—all of them as fitting.” (Zohar 1:123a)

Later, quoting the verse “Abraham was old, coming in days,” the Zohar makes a similar remark: “Abraham did not become close to G‑d in one moment, or just one time. Rather, his good deeds brought him close every day.” (Ibid. 129a)

To live a good life is to live well every day.

Shabbat Shalom,

Eli Rubin,
on behalf of the Chabad.org Editorial Team

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