Parshah Columnists

Guest Columnists
Building Jewish Infrastructure Everywhere
Life Lessons From the Parshah - Vayechi
Close Your Eyes: Things Aren’t as They Seem
It is natural to become enveloped by the minutiae of our challenges. Awareness of the greater picture of which we are all a part, however, is essential.
What Does It Mean to Be a True Leader?
A virtuous person thinks in terms of duties and responsibilities. What is my role? What is my obligation? But a leader thinks in terms of needs. What are the needs of this person? This organization? This population?
Sharing the Secret to Jewish Unity
We share a communal identity and destiny, where we celebrate and mourn as one.
I Can't Take Another Minute of This!
We can put up with quite a lot when we know there’s an end to it.
Above the Fray
To successfully escape from prison, you need someone on the outside pulling for you. Take it from Jacob, who wouldn’t be found dead in Egypt.
Wine-Red Eyes and Milk-White Teeth
"His eyes are red with wine," Jacob blessed his fourth son Judah, "and his teeth are white with milk." In a Chassidic discourse, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi explains the spiritual significance of "teeth", "whiteness", "redness" and "wine"
Twelve As One
Parshat Vayechi
When Jacob was about to die, he called his twelve sons to his side. They gathered around him, and the twelve individuals became one unified soul . . .
In an Age of Instant Messaging . . .
Parshat Vayechi
In an age of instant messaging, instant coffee and instant soup, how long would you wait for a return on a favor before you wrote it off? Patience may be considered a virtue but for many, we are too impatient to be that virtuous...
Ephraim & Menashe
One cannot help but wonder why Jacob chooses a blessing for posterity that is connected to the names of his grandchildren, not his children.
Wedding Speeches for Vayechi
"Are We There Yet?"
It would be helpful to know the date of the final Redemption. But the Redemption would not be perfect were it brought about with such help. (“Parsha Perks” with Dr Michael Chighel | Vayechi)
The Concealed 'End of Times'
An Essay on Vayechi
Jacob attempts to cut through the veil that conceals the events of the future, but he is stopped at a certain stage. Why does this happen to him?
Your Judaism’s Too Dry? How About Some Wine?
Much of Judaism is a vast, sprawling set of laws that govern what you do. Where’s the G‑dliness, the holiness, in it all?
Sworn to Success
Why was it so important for Jacob to be buried in the Holy Land immediately?
From Phlegmatic to Ecstatic
Judaism isn’t only for those naturally passionate or excitable.
Torah Insights
Why Would Judah Dip His Shirt in Wine?
Wine represents passion and love. Wine awakens emotion within a person, bringing to the fore feelings that are sometimes hidden within the heart.
Lion, Donkey, or Wolf?
For the first time in Jewish history, all 12 sons of Jacob are tasked with continuing the legacy of Abraham. Each has a specific quality that will contribute critically to the Jewish story.
Parshah Insights
Spirituality vs. Leadership
One moment of action, against nine years of prayer and fasting...
For Friday Night
Achievement vs. Caring
A distinction between men and women is described in Jacob's last request from his son Joseph
Dealing with Adversity
What is the essence of the disagreement between Joseph and Jacob during the giving of the blessings to Joseph’s children? A lesson in how to deal with hostility in our lives today.
Knowledge and Direction
Jacob and Moses give the blessing of oil to the tribe of Asher. But there seems to be one difference between the two blessings. What is its significance and the eternal lesson in our lives.
Sight and Sound
The two aspects of seeing and hearing are potentially within each of us as levels of relationship with G‑d that we can develop through Torah study . . .
Parshah Moment
Live With Death; Die With Life
Many act like it ain't happening. They dress the dead in tuxes and ballroom dresses and do the dead's hair and apply them with make-up. We're here to celebrate a life, they chirp, while the elephant in the room swishes his large head
Parshah Messages
Rachel's Amazing Secret
After all others failed, Rachel successfully persuaded G-d to eventually bring her children back from their exiled lands. What merit did she have which swayed G-d?
Practical Learning
Jacob had many worthy sons, but Judah was chosen to head the Egyptian Talmudic Seminary. What special quality did he possess which made him the natural choice?
What the Rebbe Taught Me
What Makes a Leader?
Reuben's descendents were destined to be the royalty of Israel. But alas, because of his shortcoming, that right was taken from him, and the kingship of Israel was transferred to Judah. But why Judah?
Weekly Sermonette
Life-Long Living
Truth is consistent, from beginning to end. To truly live, one needs to be alive throughout one's life...
Born in Egypt
Don’t Write the Obituary Just Yet!
The Jewish People never die. We almost die on a regular basis. But do we die? Will we? Can we? Never!
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?
Are You a Martyr?
Jewish women (myself included) are notorious for advertising their martyrdom...
Asher's Beautiful Daughters
People of the highest stature, high priests, looked for a wife from the daughters of Asher . . . Which is odd, if you think about it. Why would such a holy man pursue a wife from a neighboring tribe just because she was beautiful?
G-d's Secret Service
Why didn’t Jacob take the time to bury his beloved wife in the Cave of Machpelah?
Is Anyone Too Good to Die?
Jacob’s Immortal Leadership
Jews don’t glorify death, even though we believe that there is glory after death. Instead, Jews celebrate life. So, long after someone dies, we continue to celebrate his or her life. Even the Torah’s description of death can be viewed as a description of life. Especially the death of Jacob.
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.
Oasis in the Desert
Jacob seemed to enjoy life in Egypt. Egypt was seemingly a corrupt country, with no morals and ethics. How could it be that Jacob had his best years of his life in Egypt?
Twelve Cups of Tea
If life were a chessboard, would you be a pawn who can travel only in one direction?
There is a difference between experiencing suffering and perceiving that experience as suffering.
A Thought for the Week
Life Never Ends
Our sages say that Jacob never died alive. What is the message to us and can we reconnect to our deceased loved ones?
Parshah Musings
Blessing of Children
Some people just don’t appreciate the blessing that children bring. They figure there’ll be plenty of time in the future to settle down and get serious. Why not enjoy their lifestyle or build a career first.
Home to Our Fathers
Swear to yourself, with an unbreakable oath, "I will not relax until we achieve the true purpose of creation, until we get to 'go home to our fathers.'"
Bubbe & Zeide
The Waiting Game
Why did Jacob want to tell his sons that Moshiach would not be arriving for thousands of years? And why was he prevented from doing so?
The Right Not to Know
Knowledge may bring power, but absolute knowledge brings utter powerlessness
The Power of Forgotten Knowledge
The obvious question: Why are we made to forget? Obvious answer: Because there are certain things we should not know. Obvious question #2: So why are we made to know them, or almost know them, in the first place?
Righteous Individual vs. Righteous Leader
Reuben and Judah
Why was the leadership of Israel taken from Reuben and given to Judah? What does this teach us about the leaders we should choose to follow and the leadership we should display?
Six Kinds of Perfection
Adam was so perfect that he went looking for imperfection. Noah went by the book, Abraham by love, Isaac honed himself to nothingness, Jacob was a whole of infinite parts and Joseph found perfection in challenge
Parshah Recovery
Faith and Resentment
Not only did he have no desire for revenge, he would not even concede that his brothers had actually succeeded in doing anything to him for which he should feel wronged...
Covenant & Conversation
The Future of the Past
Teshuvah is the ultimate assertion of freedom. Time then becomes an arena of change in which the future redeems the past and a new concept is born – the idea we call hope.
Unfinished Book
We do not expect a sculpture to be incomplete, a poem to break off halfway, a novel to end in the middle. Yet that is what the Bible repeatedly does.
On Not Predicting the Future
The Last Tears
The master is dependent on his slaves—he has leisure only because they do the work, and he is the master only because he is recognized as such by them.
Surviving Failure
Joseph had in double measure one of the necessary gifts of a leader: the ability to keep going despite opposition, envy, false accusation and repeated setbacks.
When Is It Permitted to Tell a Lie?
Truth and peace are both values, but which do we choose when they conflict?
Life's Passages
Get Past the Resentment
Don’t we all harbor inside of us memories that elicit our strongest emotions against individuals who deceived or misled us?
Why I Envied a “Non-Believer”
As I searched her face, I noticed a tear trickling down her cheek which, moments later, was joined by several more.
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 . . .”
Beyond Speech
On the Haftarah: How to Be a Man
For the haftarah of Vayechi, From the Teachings of the Rebbe
Will You Write a Will?
At first, I was stubborn, not wanting to consider the suggestion that the day might come.
Joseph and Levi Carry Me Through ALS
My family has been suffering for years now, not knowing what tomorrow may bring.
What Do You Think?
How Joseph's Coffin Ended Up in Israel
An incredible story of hope, miracles and prayer.
The Freeman Files
Ephraim and Menasheh
Swallowed Alive
Even when our people were swallowed up by the Egyptian monster, the divine breath never left us.
Longing for Spring
Out of hope, our nation was born.
Living Souls
Just as truth cannot die, so the divine spark within you cannot die. 
Touch it and it springs to life.
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