Parasha Insights


 The festival of Chanukah commemorates the extraordinary victory of the Maccabees, a relatively small and dedicated force of fighters, against one of the great imperial powers of classical antiquity, the Seleucid branch of the Alexandrian empire.

The story takes us back 2,100 years to 164 BCE, some 150 years before the birth of Christianity and 200 years before the destruction of the Second Temple, when Israel was under the rule of Alexander the Great. Then, Syrian ruler Antiochus the 4th Epiphanes ascended the throne and imposed his values on the Jews. He forbade the practice of Judaism, put statues in the Temple, and desecrated Jerusalem's holy sites. Jews caught practicing Judaism were tortured to death. This was tyranny on a … Read More »


"I never knew what real happiness was until I got married; and then it was too late."

–Mr. Goldberg.

This week's Torah portion, Vayeshev, relates the story of Joseph. At the tender age of 17, Joseph, the beloved child of our Patriarch Jacob, was snatched by his own brothers and cast into a pit. Then they took him out of the pit and sold him into slavery. In his new master's home in Egypt, he was accused of seduction and attempted rape and thrown in a dungeon, where he spent the next 12 years of his life, from age 18 until 30. There, he became a servant to two of Pharaoh's ministers, his chief butler and baker, who had sinned against Pharaoh and were also cast into the dungeon.

Then the Torah relates the following scene:

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 This D’var Torah is dedicated to my dear brother in law, Rabbi Menachem Mendel ben Meir OBM, who passed away this past Sunday.

A climber who fell off a cliff caught hold of a small branch as he fell.

"HELP! IS ANYBODY UP THERE?" he shouted.

A majestic voice boomed through the gorge: "I will help you, my son, but first you must have faith in me."

"Yes, yes, I trust you!" cried the man.

"Let go of the branch," boomed the voice.

There was a long pause, and then the man shouted up again, "IS THERE ANYONE ELSE UP THERE I CAN TALK TO?"

The opening of the 30th chapter of Genesis, which we read last Shabbat, relates a small but disturbing scene. Since Jacob was tricked i… Read More »


"Would you like dinner?" the flight attendant on El-Al asked Moshe. "What are my choices?" Moshe asked. "Yes or no," she replied.

This week's Torah portion, Vayeitzei, tells how Jacob had worked for 14 years as a shepherd for his father-in-law, Laban, and desired to leave, so he asked for his wages. Laban resorted to standard business tactics, and did not want to suggest what Jacob’s wages should be. Jacob suggested that he herd the flocks, and when they would have offspring, he would take as his wages all the speckled and spotted lambs and goats, and brown sheep. The solid colored sheep and goats (white or black) would remain Laban’s.

But then, Jacob seemingly undermined his chances of wealth. He… Read More »



What happens when a fly falls into a cup of coffee?

The Italian throws and breaks the cup, and walks off in a rage.

The German carefully washes the cup, sterilizes it, and makes a new cup of coffee.

The Frenchman takes out the fly and drinks the coffee.

The Chinese eats the fly and throws away the coffee.

The Russian drinks the coffee with the fly, since it was extra with no charge.

The Israeli sells the coffee to the Frenchman, the fly to the Chinese, and the cup to the Italian, orders a cup of tea, and uses the extra money to invent a device that prevents flies from falling into coffee.

The Palestinian blames the Israeli for the fly falling into his coffee, protests the act of aggression to the UN, takes a loan fr… Read More »

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