Parshah Columnists for Vayishlach

Guest Columnists
6 Lessons From Jacob’s Wrestling With the Angel
We also wrestle with spiritual doubts and conflicts.
How to Take a Break to Prevent a Breakup
Whatever the nature of a conflict, it is not the objective facts that drive it, but our thoughts that create the story around it.
Actual Angels
A Time to Kill
Simeon and Levi—Paradigms for a Bar Mitzvah Boy?
Why did Simeon and Levi kill the people of Shechem? Were their actions morally justified? Morally imperative? And why do they serve as the prototype for the law of bar mitzvah, the Jewish boy’s attainment of maturity and responsibility?
A Jewish Mother
Suddenly, amidst all the noise, a wail pierced through the heavens. Mama Rachel, hearing her children’s cries, began weeping bitterly for her children. She was inconsolable. Her children were in pain!
The Cup Is Half-Full
A man with tens of millions, the owner of several homes around the world and a private jet, related wistfully of a colleague who built his own landing strip...
Alone Time
Why We Usher the Shabbat Angels Out
A person invites guests for dinner. He introduces the guests to his family, sits down at the table—and then not three minutes later, before the first morsel of food is served, the guests are shown the door...
So You Want to be Spiritual? Proceed with Caution
A Boring Life Can Be Terrible. A Drastic Move is Sometimes in Order—and Sometimes It’s Not
Sometimes it’s just a camel when it’s supposed to be a cow. A non-kosher offering to a pagan god.
The Peril of Perfection
An Essay on Vayishlach
In this world, we cannot attain absolute perfection, absolute truth, or absolute good. What is required of us is an incredibly difficult form of existence. We must live continually with partial truth, which stems from compromise.
What’s Up With Esau’s Kiss?
We should never underestimate the power of our good behavior on others, even someone with a long history of belligerence like Esau.
Why Jacob Prepared for Three Eventualities
Don’t get caught on a single-minded track just because it’s always worked for you. Be Like Jacob, and think outside the box.
Raising Jewish Kids to Be Jewish
Life Lessons From the Parshah
Torah Insights
Can You Really Have Everything?
Having a lot is no guarantee for happiness; in fact, it can actually make happiness more elusive because the more one has, the greater his appetite for more.
Wrestling With a Torch
Body and soul are in constant warfare, each trying to draw the other towards what they appreciate and enjoy.
The Kiss
Twenty years after Jacob stole the blessing, he was about to meet Esau once more. There was much at stake, not only for Jacob and his family, but for all of the cosmos.
Weekly Sermonette
Why the Jews?
Over the centuries, numerous “reasons” have been advanced to explain the phenomenon of Antisemitism. But perhaps there is no reason!
Flight or Fight
Just because 4,000 years ago one of my ancestors had a hip dislocated, I need to forgo a good rump steak?
Kiss or Curse?
How many Jewish Rothschilds are left in the world? G-d knows we could have used them...
Jacob's Lament
Jacob's declaration -- "I sojourned with Laban, but did not learn from his evil ways" -- should not be understood as a boast but rather as a lament. Jacob is bemoaning the fact that he did not learn to do good the way Laban did evil...
For Friday Night
How Does Judaism View Wealth?
Should someone working very hard to amass wealth rather be spending his time in spiritual occupations?
The Angel in the Kitchen
How we inject spirituality into the butchering process
Resisters and Affirmers
Indeed, in any one individual there can nestle both a resister and an affirmer, at the same time. At one point the resister is dominant; at another, the affirmer.
Parshah Moment
Old Age, Old Wine
Capturing youth is canning wine, at best.
Parshah Messages
A Woman’s Persuasion
Where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob failed, a young girl could have succeeded
Life's Passages
The Bear Who Chased a Child
Why is life such a dark and difficult battle?
Timna the Concubine
Timna’s actions seem righteous and altruistic. Why would this result in a child who represents the very paradigm of evil?
Rachel: The Epitome of Motherhood
“This was not during the rainy season, when I could claim that it was because of the mud that I did not bring her to Hebron. The roads were dry and good. Still, I buried her alongside the road to Ephrath . . .”
Living through the Parshah
The Power of Feminine Beauty—and How to Protect It
G‑d created Adam and Eve unclothed, and they walked around the Garden of Eden . . . naked. If public nudity was fine with G‑d, why does the Torah tell us to be modest, to cover up, to subdue our natural allure? What changed?
The Smallness of Jacob
Why does success evoke arrogance in some and humility in others?
What is the key to graciously accepting blessings in life while not growing callous because of them? Rabbi Schneur Zalman offers the answer, through a study of the words of Jacob, the archetypal beneficiary.
Dinah: The Woman Who Made a Difference
There is only one incident of sexual abuse that is recorded explicitly in the Torah. It is quite a tragic read, and the repercussions are curiously significant.
Inner Stream
Why G-d Listens to Rachel
All day, I couldn’t shake the haunting image of a child, shaken from sleep, startled out of complacency, crying instinctively for his mother.
Believe In Your Child
Believe in a child and the child will prove you right. Don’t believe in a child and the child will prove you right.
The River and the Pitcher
Jacob straddled the river, one foot planted on each bank. He passed his family and possessions across the divide. He now had to make the move himself . . . The hosts of heaven gathered to see which way he would lean.
The Love Trap
We are far more willing to tolerate differences with those who validate us than with those who don't. In a friend's hands such trust can enhance a relationship; but in the hands of a foe such trust can be cunningly exploited...
All About Angels
What are angels? How do they come into existence? What do they do for us?
A Thought for the Week
Action - Not Surveys
Jacob when seeing his brother Esau ready to confront him, he prepared for the war in three ways. A timely message on the immediate response Jacob prepared for Esau.
Parshah Musings
Do You Remember?
You can stay in your comfort zone. Or you can learn Jacob’s secret of kotonti.
Hatred is Irrational
Is hate based on reason or is there a hate behind the reason? A look at Esau’s hatred for Jacob.
Beyond Never Again
I doubt if the stirring cry "Never again," has, on its own, dissuaded even one young man or woman from assimilating. If the only message our children hear is "remain Jewish, because of the Holocaust" wouldn't this, if anything, propel the process of assimilation?
Permutations & Combinations
We're fairly eclectic in our tastes and you might find us flitting between an ethical teaching, a play on words, a Chassidic interpretation, or a piece of numerology.
Your Soul Can Be in Two Places
The disciples of Rabbi DovBer of Mezeritch gathered around his bed to hear their teacher speak about Jacob's angels. It was the last Shabbat of the chassidic master's life...
Wrestling with Angels
The struggle between Jacob and the "angel of Esau", which "raised dust up to the Supernal Throne", is the cosmic struggle between the spirituality of Israel and the materiality of Edom (Rome). The struggle is conducted on two planes -- "with the divine and with men"
Who Wants to Be Jewish?
The “child” and the “servant” exist in all relationships: in the family, in the workplace, and in our divine service.
The Material Jew
A "dispassionate materialist"? Clearly a fraud
Why Does Esau Hate Jacob?
Evil exists because it is so much more powerful than good. Is there lover in the world who loves with the intensity that a hater hates? Is there a light as bright as darkness is black? Has there ever been an act of kindness unleashed with the force and ferocity contained in an act of cruelty?
Facing Reality
Sometimes it all seems so hopeless. You can feed a hungry child, yet millions more remain hungry. For every good deed you do, so many evil deeds are committed . . .
Parshah Recovery
Gratitude and Humility
The closer G‑d brings us to Him, the more keenly aware of our own utter nothingness that should make us.
Covenant & Conversation
Physical Fear, Moral Distress
A dilemma is a situation in which there is no right answer. It arises in cases of conflict between right and right, or between wrong and wrong – where, whatever we do, we are doing something that in other circumstances we ought not to do.
The Parable of the Tribes
Feeling the Fear
Hearing that his brother Esau is coming to meet him with a force of four hundred men, Jacob was terrified.
Beyond Speech
Are Physical Possessions Good or Bad?
Jacob's descent to Charan, where he lived with Laban, is the descent of the soul into the world.
Jacob vs. Israel
On the Haftarah: The Vision of Ovadia and What It All Means
For the Haftarah of Vayishlach, From the Teachings of the Rebbe
Esau is called Edom because edom means “red,” which was the color of the lentil soup he sold his firstborn right for.
What Do You Think?
Who Was Deborah the Nurse?
And Why Did Jacob Mourn Her Death?
Deborah was there because Rebecca was fulfilling a promise she made to Jacob 36 years earlier.
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