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Parasha Insights

GRATITUDE FOR REBELLIOUS CHILDREN?

A couple had two little boys, ages 8 and 10, who were excessively mischievous. They were always getting into trouble and their parents knew that, if any mischief occurred in their town, their sons were probably involved.

The boys' mother heard that a Rabbi in town had been successful in disciplining children, so she asked if he would speak with her boys. The Rabbi agreed but asked to see them individually. So the mother sent her 8-year-old first, in the morning, with the older boy to see the grand rabbi in the afternoon.

The great rabbi, a huge man with a booming voice, sat the younger boy down and asked him sternly, "Where is G-d?”

The boy's mouth dropped open, but he made no response, sitting there with his mouth hanging… Read More »

WHAT IS SIGNIFICANT IN YOUR LIFE?

The patient tells the doctor after he took care of him from a potentially serious situation: Since we have become such close friends, I will not pay you. I don’t want to insult you by offering payment. But I want you to know, that as a sign of deep gratitude, I did put you in my will for after my death.

“That is so kind of you,” said the doctor. “But give me that prescription I just gave you; I’d like to make a little change in it.”

The Baal Shem Tov once said: “A soul comes down for 70-80 years just to do a favor to another Jew—a material favor, or a spiritual favor.”

Does this make sense? A life of 80 years is long, tedious, painful, exhausting, and packed with action. The person… Read More »

WHAT IS THE JEWISH LAW OF ATTRACTION?

The banquet was about to begin when the master of ceremonies was informed that the clergyman invited to give the blessing was unable to attend. He asked the main speaker if he would oblige, and the man agreed.

He began, "There is no clergyman present, let us thank G-d."

You all know that Rabbis are just like salesmen. The main difference is that the salesperson sells you something you want but don’t necessarily need, while the rabbi sells you something you need but don’t necessarily want…

But perhaps, the time has come to join the two. To sell not only what we need but also what we want.

The Torah, rarely describes the emotions, and the inner state of mind, of its characters. As a rule, the Torah described… Read More »

WHAT IS THE POWER OF A MOTHER?

I was sound asleep when the telephone jarred me awake.

"Hi!" It was my peppy mother-in-law. She proceeded to rattle on about the busy day she had ahead and all the things that awaited her the rest of the week.

"Mom," I interrupted. "It’s five in the morning."

"Really? What are you doing up so early?"

The Torah-reading of this weeks portion Vayechi recounts the culminating events of Jacob’s earthly life: his parting instructions and blessings to his children, his passing, funeral, and burial.

At his deathbed, Jacob suddenly begins telling Joseph about his mother Rachel’s death 50 years earlier. Why now?

Says Rashi: I am asking you to trouble yourself to take me to be… Read More »

WHAT WAS DISCOVERED THIS WEEK?

A dentist, after completing work on a patient, came to him begging.

Dentist: Could you help me? Could you give out a few of your loudest, most painful screams?

Patient: Why? Doctor, it wasn't all that bad this time.

Dentist: There are so many people in the waiting room right now, and I don't want to miss the four o'clock ball game.

In this weeks Torah portion Vayigash Judah has made a passionate plea for Benjamin’s release. Yes, the missing silver cup has been found in his possession. Judah does not challenge the facts. Instead, he throws himself on the mercy of the Egyptian ruler, of whose identity he is still unaware. He asks him to think of the impact Benjamin’s imprisonment will have on his father. He has already lost… Read More »

A PRISONER TURNS TO BE A PRIME MINISTER

The other day a young man told me about a call he'd recently received from a charity asking to donate some clothes to starving people throughout the world. 
He told them to get out of his life and never again ask him for his clothes.

"You see," he said, "anybody who fits into my clothes isn’t starving!"

In this week's portion, Vayeshev, at the age of 17, Joseph, the beloved child of our Patriarch Jacob, is snatched by his own brothers, thrown into a pit, and ultimately sold as a slave. Under the natural course of events, he would have remained a slave for the remainder of his life. However, in his Egyptian master's home, he was accused of seduction and attempted rape, and put into a prison. He spent… Read More »

A TALE OF TWO PRINCES

No English dictionary has been able to adequately explain the difference between COMPLETE and FINISHED. However, in a recent linguistic conference held in London, England, and attended by some of the best linguists in the world, Samsundar Balgobin, a Guyanese, was the clear winner.

The final question put to him was this: Some say there is no difference between COMPLETE and FINISHED. Please explain the difference between COMPLETE and FINISHED in a way that is easy to understand.

Here was his answer: "When you marry the right woman, you are COMPLETE. But, when you marry the wrong woman, you are FINISHED. And when the right one catches you with the wrong one, you are COMPLETELY FINISHED!"

Jacob had settled on the outskirts of the… Read More »

WHO WAS THE FIRST JEWISH FAMILY?

The local Hebrew School decided to observe Chanukah with a special ecumenical celebration and invited everyone in the neighborhood, or whatever background, to participate in any way they thought appropriate, or to just come and observe, and have some home-baked cookies washed down with grape juice or heavy super-sweet wine.

There were speeches, dramatizations, and miscellaneous musical performances. At one point Mrs. Goldberg, in the third row, wiped away a tear as her little Miriam scratched out a hesitant rendition of "Havanu Sholom Aleichem" on a shiny new violin. Mrs. Goldberg noticed that a man seated next to her also had tears running down his face.

"Isn't it wonderful", she said to him, "to know that our… Read More »

I AM PROUD OF MY SARAH

A father once told me that his young son came to him and said, “Pa, I have a date Saturday night.” “Good,” says the father. “Who’s going to stand in the way? A young man has a date, he has a date.”

“But I have problems,” says the son. “I ran out of my allowance. Maybe you could kind of, you know, advance me a little bit of next week’s allowance?”

“How much?”

“Well Pa, today you take out a girl, you need $200.”

Anyway, the father advances the son on his allowance. But it’s not enough. “Pa,” says the son, “today you can’t take a girl on the bus or the subway, and you can’t walk on the street... so can I… Read More »

DO YOU LIVE A LIFE OF DIGNITY?

A Hasidic man, with a long beard, payes (ear locks), a long black coat, and shtreiml (the traditional fur hat worn by Chassidic Jews), walks into a bar with a multi-colored parrot on his shoulder.

The bartender says: "Where'd you get that?"

The parrot replies: "Brooklyn.  There are thousands of them."

This week’s Parshat Chayei Sarah tells the story of how Abraham has sent his servant Eliezer to find a wife for his son Isaac.

He goes to the city of Charan where Abraham's family remained while he went on to the land of Canaan. Arriving at the town's well, he proposes a test: the woman who comes to draw water, offers some to the traveler, and in addition gives water to his camels will be the one chosen… Read More »

WHY DOES G-d CHALLENGE US?

A husband and wife had an argument. Wife called up her mom and said, "He fought with me again, I am coming to live with you."  Mom said, "No darling, he must pay for his mistake. I am coming to live with you!"

An older man had serious hearing problems for many years. He went to the doctor and the doctor was able to have him fitted for a set of hearing aids that allowed the man to hear 100%.

The old man went back in a month to the doctor and the doctor said, “Your hearing is perfect. Your family must be really pleased that you can hear again.”

The man replied, “Oh, I haven’t told my family yet. I just sit around and listen to their conversations. I’ve changed my will three… Read More »

ABRAHAM WAS CHOSEN, SO ARE YOU!

A fellow was making a fancy banquet for a very happy occasion. He invited 150 guests. As he showed up to the shul where the event was taking place, he sees 400 people, many uninvited guests who came for the food and the fun.

So he gets up and says: Whoever is here from the side of the bride, please rise.

100 people rise.

Now, whoever is here from the side of the groom, please rise.

And 150 people stand up.

So he says: Okay all of you guys can leave now. As this event is actually a bar mitzvah!...

The Nachmanides raises a fascinating question about the opening of this week’s portion, Lech Lecha. In one word the question is: What happened to the bio?

The Torah constantly introduces us to new characters assuming different roles… Read More »

ARE YOU PERSONALLY INVOLVED?

Husband and wife had an argument. Wife called up her mom and said, "He fought with me again, I am coming to live with you."

Mom said, "No darling, he must pay for his mistake. I am coming to live with you."

The Sages teach us that Noach built the ark—that would contain he, his family, and all animals and birds over the year of the flood—over 120 years.

This seems very strange. Noach lived some years before the Industrial Revolution. The ark was pretty big. 600 ft. long—twice the size of a football field—100 ft. width, and sixty ft. height. (Even the Titanic was 883 ft. in length). But 120 years?! It took DA Vinci 4 years to paint the Sistine Chapel. Vespasian built the Roman Colosseum in… Read More »

MOSHE DIES AND WE DANCE?

Bob Smith was sick of his job and was determined to find work elsewhere. He was a truthful man, never uttered a lie, but he had one vice: he never showed up on time to his job.

So no matter how hard he tried, his reputation as someone who was not dedicated to the job, followed him around. One day the phone rang at his office. Although Bob did not usually pick up the phone, he picked it up and said hello. “Hi” said the man on the line, “I have an unusual question to ask you, I’m looking into a fellow Bob Smith for a position in my company. Do you know this fellow?”

“Sure I know him”, responded Bob with a smile.

“Tell me,” asked the man. “Is he consistent with his work? Does he… Read More »

HAPPINESS IS NOT A DESTINATION- IT IS A DIRECTION

An architect, a surgeon, and a politician are arguing who of them holds the most prominent position.  The surgeon said, 'Look, we're the most important. The very first thing G-d did was surgery: to extract Eve from Adam's rib.'

The architect said, 'No, wait a minute, G-d is an architect first and foremost. G-d made the world in six days out of chaos.'  The politician smiled, 'And who made the chaos?’

Comes Sukkot, and Jews the world over become expert botanists, suddenly gaining impeccable tastes in the growth, health, and beauty of a citron fruit, a palm branch, a myrtle and a willow. These are the four species which Jews around the world have spent exorbitant amounts of money to buy what they perceived to be… Read More »

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