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Dvar Torah

A Permanent Memorial of True Ideas

One of the most difficult questions we all must face is where our final resting place will be. Some people are fortunate; this burden is alleviated by their already having a designated burial place with a place in a family plot. From this week’s Torah reading, Chayei Sarah, it is apparent that Avraham did not pre-purchase a burial plot for Sarah. Rather, we find him in a very common situation. In the midst of his grief, Avraham must now buy a burial place for his wife. What important idea is the Torah highlighting for us by recording this event? read more A Permanent Memorial of True Ideas

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The True Heir of Avraham

Who is the true heir of Avraham’s philosophy of life? There are many possibilities. First there is his nephew, Lot, who is with Avraham in Ur Kasdim, long before Avraham’s migration to Canaan. Then there is Eliezer, Avraham’s top student. He is placed in charge of Avraham’s entire household and is the person Avraham later sends on a mission to find a wife for Yitzchak. Ishmael, Avraham’s son with Hagar, and Yitzchak, Avraham’s son with Sarah, are of course in the running. Finally, Avraham has six other sons with a woman named Keturah. So which one is it? read more The True Heir of Avraham

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Looking For God In All The Wrong Places

At the conclusion of last week’s Torah portion, Noach, we are informed of the birth Avram, that Avram took a wife Sarai and that together with Avram’s father, Terach, and his nephew, Lot, they set out from Ur Kasdim to Canaan. In the Torah’s typical fashion of condensing time, this week’s reading of parshat Lech Lecha opens with God charging Avram with a task, “Go for yourself from your land… to the land that I will show you.” (12:1) Verse 4 tells us that at this time Avram is 75 years old. Later in the parsha, Avram has his name changed by God to Avraham. Wait a minute! What happened between the end of Noach and the beginning of Lech Lecha? read more Looking For God In All The Wrong Places

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Ethical Behavior vs. Etiquette

Ethical Behavior vs. Etiquette

After the flood, Noach, his family and all the animals that were with him on the Ark were told to leave it and resume their existence on the earth. The Torah records that Noach first offers sacrifices to Hashem in gratitude for saving him and his family. Next we see Noach planting vineyards. What results helps us learn important lessons about the difference between etiquette and ethical behavior. read more Ethical Behavior vs. Etiquette

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And Now for the Rest of the Story

As we begin the annual cycle of reading the Torah, it is most important to understand that the written Torah, also know as the Five Books of Moshe or Chumash, actually came after the Oral Law (Torah She-Ba’al Peh). In fact, the Torah was not completed (according to Rashi) or even started (according to Maimonides) before the last month of Moshe’s life forty years after the Revelation at Mt Sinai. The great 19th century German rabbi Shimshon Rafael Hirsch used the following analogy: the Torah is to the Oral Law as notes are to attending a full lecture. read more And Now for the Rest of the Story

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