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Parasha Insights

ARE YOU A SHEEP OR A GOAT?

Sidney Cohen was thinking about how good his wife had been to him, and how fortunate he was to have her.

He asked God, "Why did you make her so kind-hearted?"

The Lord responded, "So you could love her, my son." "Why did you make her so good looking?"

"So you could love her, my son."

"Why did you make her such a good cook?"

"So you could love her, my son."

Sidney thought about this. Then he said, "I don't mean to seem ungrateful or anything, but why did you make her so stupid?"

"So she could love you, my son."

It is one of those bizarre and absurd Talmudic tales, at least at first glance. The king and queen they were from the Hasmonaean… Read More »

HOW TO RESOLVE A CONFLICT OF INTEREST?

Mother asks little Johnny, as they wait for the bus, to tell the driver he is 4 years old when asked because he will ride for free. As they get into the bus the driver asks Johnny how old he was. "I am 4 years old."

"And when will you be six years old?" asks the driver. “When I get off the bus," answers Johnny.

The biblical debut of the favorite Jewish pastime, matchmaking, is recorded extensively in this week’s portion Chayei Sarah. Isaac is 40 years old, he needs to get married and so Abraham sends his faithful servant Eliezer on a search. Unlike modern-day matchmaking in which people are profiled based on vital issues like political alliances, music, and wine, Abraham gives… Read More »

THE FIRST RETREAT AND SPA

You know the story. On an Israeli airplane, the stewardess approached a passenger. “Are you ready for dinner, sir?”

“What are the choices?” the Jew asks.

“Yes or no,” she responds.

The story of Abraham via his unique Bed and Breakfast (or maybe Hilton or Ritz Carlton) spiritually transformed a generation. It is the bread and butter of Jewish education.

The Torah states in the portion of Vayeira: And Abraham planted an Eishel in Beer- Sheba.

The Midrash tells the famous story about how Abraham would feed his guests and then ask them to thank G-d for the meal. If a guest obeyed Abraham and expressed thanks to G-d for the lavish feast, he would eat, drink and leave. If he refused to thank… Read More »

ARE YOU A HERO TO YOUR CHILDREN?

In a Jewish school in Charkov, Ukraine, there was a history teacher who was an ardent Communist.  Her gods were Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, and Stalin. She had no soft spot for Judaism, but because she was a terrific teacher and knew her stuff, they hired her in the Chabad school, on condition that she sticks to her subject and stays off the topic of religion. 

One day she quizzed her students on the period from the end of the 18th century to the end of the 19th century.  The teacher asked: Who knows what was the most important historical event of the year 1799?

One child raised his hand and said that was the year Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of Chabad, author of the Tanya, was released from… Read More »

DO WE HAVE THREE LIVES?

A woman says:

“I just got a photo from a speeding camera through the mail. I sent it right back – way too expensive and really bad quality.”

A guy says: 8 p.m. I get an SMS from my girlfriend: Me or football?!

11 p.m. I SMS my girlfriend: You of course.

There is a fascinating and insightful Midrash on the opening of this week’s portion Noah. The Torah begins:

These are the generations of Noach, Noach was a righteous man he was perfect in his generations; Noach walked with God.

The Midrash, always sensitive to nuance, wonders why the single verse mentions Noach not once, not twice, but three times?  The Midrash offers the following extraordinary insight.

The Torah is intimating that there was not one… Read More »

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