Sermon – Parshas Vayetzei – 5784

תְּנָה אֶת־נָשַׁי וְאֶת־יְלָדַי אֲשֶׁר עָבַדְתִּי אֹתְךָ בָּהֵן וְאֵלֵכָה כִּי אַתָּה יָדַעְתָּ אֶת־עֲבֹדָתִי אֲשֶׁר עֲבַדְתִּיךָ׃

Give me my wives and my children, for whom I have served you, that I may go; for well you know what services I have rendered you.”

Yaakov has toiled for Lavan for 14 years for his two wives. Hashem has made his efforts successful and Lavan has prospered greatly because of Yaakov. But Yaakov wants to be free to pursue his own fortune and future. He tells his father-in-law that he has served him faithfully and well but it is time to go.

For the past 49 days, Israel has been in a war to accomplish what Yaakov asked for. On October 7th, as we all know, the monsters of Hamas invaded Israel, massacred and raped civilians, and took over 240 hostages. By any measure, Hamas’ attack on Israel was evil, barbaric, and against all law. Israel was the aggrieved victim and took the only action a nation-state could take under the circumstances. They declared war on Hamas and have waged a moral and just war for the past seven weeks.

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Never Forget/Never Surrender

Sermon – Parshas Chayei Sara – 5784

Avraham is faced with the death of his life partner, Sarah. He does what we would all do. He eulogizes her and mourns her. He attempts to acquire a burial place for his beloved wife. He wishes to acquire what we know today as the Mearat Hamachpela, the cave of the Patriarchs. It is offered to him as a gift but he insists on paying cash on the barrel for it so there can be no question of ownership in future generations. He acquires it for the princely sum of 400 silver shekels from Efron the Hittite and buries his wife.

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The Test

This sermon was delivered on Shabbat Parshat Vayeira, 20 Cheshvan 5784, November 4, 2024.

We have a unique circumstance in this week’s Parsha:

וַיְהִי אַחַר הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה וְהָאֱלֹקים נִסָּה אֶת־אַבְרָהָם וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו אַבְרָהָם וַיֹּאמֶר הִנֵּנִי׃

Some time afterward, God put Abraham to the test, saying to him, “Abraham.” He answered, “Here I am.”

This is the one and only time in Torah where we are specifically told that a story is about a test. There are other times where the Torah tells us we are being tested. For example, when the Jews heard the first two commandments directly from G-d, they became terrified. They pleaded with Moshe:

“You speak to us,” they said, “and we will obey; but let not God speak to us, lest we die.”

Moshe answered the people, “Be not afraid; for G-d has come only in order to test you, and in order that the fear of God may be ever with you, so that you do not go astray.”

But, in this week’s Parsha we are told up front that what is about to happen is only a test. It’s almost as if Hashem doesn’t want us to be shocked by his request for a human sacrifice so he tells us right away not to worry, it’s only a test.

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