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QUESTION OF THE WEEK: How Far Do I Need to Go to Return a Lost Object?
How Far Do I Need to Go to Return a Lost Object?
Tevet 9, 5774 · December 12, 2013


My daughter just learned about the mitzvah of hashavat aveidah, returning lost objects to their owner. She is very excited, and I too think the concept is so beautiful, especially in today’s times, when people feel so much entitlement.

In her enthusiasm, my daughter is going overboard

The problem is that in her enthusiasm, my daughter is going overboard in trying to execute this mitzvah. Here are the circumstances we’re facing:

  1. In the park next to her school, my daughter found a child’s lone glove. She’s insisting that we take it home and post signs to publicize it so that the owner might retrieve it. The glove is quite worn and in poor condition, and I doubt that anyone will fret about the loss. I also insisted that we leave it exactly where it was, because in all likelihood, if the owner does search for it, he or she will come to the location where it was lost. Who is right?
  2. Our cousins, who live in another country, recently came to visit. Now that they have returned to their home and I’m getting our house back in order, we’re finding all sorts of things that they left behind, like single socks, small hair clips, half-used bottles of moisturizing cream, scribbled drawings and small craft projects. Do we need to mail these things back to them? Are we obligated to pay the cost of postage? What if they won’t even need or use most of it?

I really want to help my daughter do what’s right. Please give me some guidelines about the parameters of this special law.


The mitzvah of hashavat aveidah, returning a lost a object, is indeed a very important mitzvah. Not only are we obligated to try and return a lost object, we are also prohibited from simply ignoring the object and leaving it lying on the ground.1

But, before getting into how far a person is obligated to go to return an object, we first need to outline which objects one is required to pick up and return to their rightful owner.

In general, the object needs to have at least the minimum value of a perutah (a Talmudic-era coin), both at the time of its being lost as well as when it is found, in order for one to be obligated to return it.2 Today, a perutah is equivalent to

The object needs to have at least the minimum value of a perutah

about two cents.3 

When deciding whether something has the value of aperutah, we calculate based on how much the owner would value it. Therefore, if something is worthless by itself (like a single shoe or glove) but has significant value for the owner who has the other half of the pair, one would be obligated to return it.4

However, if the item appears to have been left at the spot for a very long time, we assume that the owner gave up hope of finding it, and one is not obligated to return it.5 In this case, if the glove appears to have been left outside for a very long time, you are not obligated to pick it up and return it.

Practically speaking, this means that one is required to try and return items like the single glove or your cousins’ expensive moisturizing creams, but not the scribbled drawings or hair clip (assuming it’s a cheap clip).

As for leaving the object where you found it, that is done only either (a) in a situation in which you aren’t obligated to return it, or (b) when there are no identifying markings, it looks like it was intentionally placed there, and it is in a secure area.6

Having said that, the question now is: how much effort must you exert in returning the lost object to the owner, and what do you do if you can’t find the owner?

In general, all one is obligated to do is inform the owner that you have found his or her lost object.7 But you are not required to spend any of your own money to return the lost

You are not required to spend any of your own money

object8 unless you know for sure that you will be paid back.9 

In light of this, with regard to the glove, all you are required to do is hang up signs in places like the school and synagogue, which many people in the neighborhood frequent. You are not obligated to spend money on any advertisements.10 Furthermore, if by busying yourself in trying to find the owner, you will have to take off some time from work (i.e. you will not be making the money you normally would have at that time), then that too is considered an expense that—although laudatory—you are not obligated to make.11

As for the items your cousins left in your house, the simplest solution would be to contact them and find out if they want the items returned, and if they would be willing to pay for postage. If for whatever reason they cannot be reached by phone, mail, e‑mails, etc., then you are not required to ship the items to them unless you know for sure that you will be reimbursed.

If a long time has passed since you publicized your find and no one has come forward to claim the object, you are permitted to use the object, provided that you evaluate how much it is worth and write down all identifying features. That way, if anyone ever comes forward, you will be able to return it.12

You can be extremely proud and encouraging of your daughter. In an age when people are busy thinking more about themselves, she has learned and taken to heart the importance of helping others.

1. Exodus 23:4 and Deuteronomy 22:1–3.
2. Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 262:1.
3. See Shiurei Torah 3:42, where Rabbi Chaim Naeh writes that a perutah is equivalent to 1/40th of a gram of silver (0.0008 troy oz.), which is worth (at the time of writing this article) about two cents.
4. See Rabbi Moshe Feinstein in Kuntres Hashavat Aveidah 4; Mishpetei Aveidah, Moznei Tzedek 3–4.
5. Shulchan Aruch, ibid. 262:5.
6. Shulchan Aruch, ibid. 260:9–10.
7. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein in Kuntres Hashavat Aveidah 22.
8. See Sefer Meirat Einayim (Sma), Choshen Mishpat 426:1.
9. Shulchan Aruch ha-Rav, Choshen Mishpat, Hilchot Metziah u-Fikadon 33.
10. Igrot Moshe, Choshen Mishpat 2:45 (vol. 7, p. 255).
11. Shulchan Aruch ha-Rav, ibid. 33–34.
12. Igrot Moshe, ibid.
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By Yehuda Shurpin    More articles…  |   RSS Listing of Newest Articles by this Author

Rabbi Yehuda Shurpin responds to questions for’s Ask the Rabbi service.

THE FREEMAN FILES: Is Midrash For Real?
Is Midrash For Real?
Tevet 9, 5774 · December 12, 2013
Part 1 in a series on the truth behind Talmudic tales
© Leon Zernitzky

Once again, Rabbi Schneur Zalman rested his head on his arms. Finally he lifted his head, opened his eyes and asked me, “How do you explain to your students the verse, ‘And Isaac trembled a very great trembling?’”

“I explain according to Rashi’s first explanation,” I replied, “that Isaac was perplexed.”

“And why,” he asked me, “do you not explain to your students what Rashi says in the name of the Midrash, that Isaac saw hell opened wide beneath him?”

“My opinion,” I answered, “is that we should not confuse the weak minds of young children with stories of aggadah in general, and certainly not with frightening matters such as hell and the like. Especially when the child might find this quite problematic: How is it possible that the great, wide hell that is a constantly flaming, burning fire for more than 5,550 years should enter Isaac’s room, while Esau with his father should remain alive, without even their clothes being singed?”

“So how, then,” he asked, “does the Midrash assert that he saw hell opened beneath him?”

I was silent and answered nothing. Obviously, I could not reply. Was this the first bit of nonsense to be found in the Midrash and Talmud?

When he saw that I had nothing to reply, he said, “Esau entered to see Isaac, and Isaac asked him who he is. Esau answered, ‘I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.’ This was a lie, because he had already sold his firstborn rights to Jacob as a complete sale, and Isaac knew of this. At this point, ‘Isaac trembled a great trembling’ over the lie that Esau had told in order to annul the laws of Torah. And since Esau was a liar, hell was truly open before him.”

© Leon Zernitzky

Once he had concluded speaking, he leaned once again on his arms as at first. Then he lifted his head again, opened his eyes and grasped one of the two lamps that was standing on the table . . . He lifted the lamp, stared at me and said, “When a man is a resident of Vilna and says he is from Zamut; when he passes children before the fire of Molech of the ‘enlightenment’ and says he is a teacher—then hell is opened beneath him.

“How many souls have you destroyed? And you still continue in your rebellion! Yes, you have been caught in your heresy, and all who reach this point shall never return!”

From he report of Shimon ha-Kofer, as told by Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn1

The Four Departments of Torah

You can’t study literature the same way you study biology, and the same applies to Torah departments.

Torah, like any wisdom, has departments. That’s important to know. You can’t study literature the same way you study biology, and you can’t critique poetry as you would journalism. So too, you can’t study one department of Torah the same as you study another.

There’s more than one way of dividing up those departments. One way is to talk about approaches to the text.2

In one Torah department, we determine the literal meaning of the text of the Five Books of Moses and the rest of the Hebrew Bible. Here, basic commentators such as Rashi, Ramban, Rashbam and Ibn Ezra are busy smoothing out the bumps as much as possible. We call that peshat—which means making things as straightforward, smooth and simple as possible.

But not so simple. Some texts will never surrender their bumps. They’re virtually screaming that they have more to say aside from their simple meaning.3 And really, every text of the Torah has infinitely more to say than its simple meaning.

So, another department looks at deeper meanings that these texts may be pointing to. Even those commentators that work their hardest to keep things as simple as possible can’t avoid stepping into this department from time to time.

Here we might discover some treasures to which the text is pointing by using similar wording in two key phrases, an extra word, peculiar phrasing or other nuances. Often, such allusions allow the Talmudic sage to determine an application of those words in practice, known as a halachah4 or some other meaning that supplements the literal interpretation of the text. Sometimes a hint is provided by gematria, the numerical value of words. This approach of interpreting allusions and nuances is called remez.

Finding deeper meaning and lessons in life is yet another department, which we call derush or midrash—and our basic commentators will again be found in these halls as well. Midrash often includes stories, called aggadah, some allegorical, some anecdotal, some reaching far beyond what we understand to be possible in our world. Midrash can be found strewn throughout the Talmud, and in many anthologies compiled contemporaneously with the Talmud or later. The largest, best-known collection is called Midrash Rabbah.

The text bubbles with meaning, frequently defying the steamroller of the strict literalist, demanding deeper interpretation at every turn.

Many of the juiciest midrashim are collected in the classic commentary of Rashi.5 This despite Rashi’s repeated insistence that “I come only to explain the simple meaning of the text.” Because the text bubbles with meaning, frequently defying the steamroller of the strict literalist, demanding deeper interpretation at every turn.

Then there’s the secret meaning, the interpretation you would never know unless it were revealed to you. We call that sod, also known as Kabbalah.

Here, too, you’ll find those same masters of simplicity. Ramban was probably the first to reveal such secrets to the general reader in his commentary. The Ohr ha-Chaim commentary of Rabbi Chaim ibn Attar reveals much more, yet still in a language accessible to the general reader. In the commentary of Rashi you’ll also find such secrets—only that you’ll have to look hard to unearth them there.6Indeed, very few of the classic commentaries are without frequent reference to “the hidden wisdom,” whether openly or between the lines.

The Orchard of Torah

Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, the Ari, constructs an acronym from these four departments, disciplines, or levels of peshatremezderush and sodpardes, meaning “an orchard.” He taught that every soul must delve into all four layers of the Torah, and must continue to return to this world until having done so.7

Department Hebrew Reveals . . . Belongs to . . .
Peshat פשט Simplest meanings World of Action
Remez רמז Hinted meanings World of Formation
Derush דרוש Deeper meanings World of Creation
Sod סוד Secret meanings World of Emanation

The Ari explained just how vital is this obligation:

Know that the entirety of all the souls is 600,000 and no more. [The Ari is speaking of general souls, which include within them many more souls.]8 Now, the Torah is the root of all Jewish souls, for from there they are hewn and within it they are rooted. Therefore, in the Torah there are 600,000 explanations—all of them according topeshat. There are also 600,000 explanations in remez, 600,000 inderush and 600,000 in sod. So, we find that for every explanation of the 600,000 explanations, one Jewish soul comes into being.

In the time to come, every Jewish person will grasp the entire Torah according to the explanation that matches the root of his soul—as we said, it was from this explanation that this soul was created and brought into being.9

It’s rare that Kabbalah has a direct impact on halachah, but the Ari was also an expert authority in Jewish law, and is often the exception in this regard. This is one instance. In his Laws of the Study of Torah, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi codified as law this obligation to delve into all four levels of Torah. After delineating what exactly is included in the obligation upon every Jew to learn and to teach his child “the entire Torah,” he concludes:

The sages of the Truth [Kabbalah] say further that every soul, for itstikkun, must delve into all of Pardes according to whatever it is capable of comprehending. Anyone who is capable of comprehending and knowing much, but through his own laziness grasps but a little, must return through the cycle of reincarnation until he grasps and knows all that is possible for his soul to grasp of the knowledge of the Torah, whether in the simple meaning of the laws, or whether in the allusions, derush and secrets.

This is because all that your soul is capable of comprehending and knowing of the knowledge of Torah is a tikkun for its wholeness. Without this knowledge, it is not possible for it to repair itself and perfect itself in its bond of life with G‑d, at the very origin from which it was hewn.

That is why the sages said about the world to come, “Fortunate is he who comes here and his learning is in his hand”—for then he will not need to return again through the cycle of life into this world.

The Wholesome Torah Diet

You can’t satisfy your requirements in one department alone. You need a well-rounded curriculum.

The Ari’s message is not as esoteric as it may seem: Just as our bodies do not live by carbs alone, so our souls require a mixed diet. To be a complete Jew embracing a complete, wholesome Torah, you can’t satisfy your requirements studying in one department alone. You need a well-rounded curriculum at all four levels.

Your firm foundation is your knowledge of the basic text of the Jewish people with the traditional commentaries of Rashi, Ramban, Rashbam, Ibn Ezra and others who explain their simplest meaning. You keep your daily life connected to that foundation with a good grasp of the dos and don’ts of halachah—not just what they are, but where their roots lie.

And the midrashic tales and the secrets of the Torah are just as vital. Why? Because as much as Torah is about what you know and what you do, it’s also about how you think and what you feel. As magnificent a structure as you may have built for yourself, without light and warmth nobody is going to live there too long. That’s the way life goes: without the sparks firing, the engine just stops turning.

Midrash is your gateway to connect with the Author of the Torah. “If you want to know the One who formed the universe,” the Talmudic sages advise, “learnaggadah.”10 Aggadah, the midrashic tales scattered throughout Torah literature, are said to contain “most of the secrets of the Torah.”11

But the secrets are veiled, as Maimonides writes (we’ll get to that soon), so that only those who are fit to receive them will discover them there. The Zohar provides a parable to explain why the Torah must speak in parables:

She was beautiful in appearance, beautiful in form, and she hid herself within the secrets of her palace.

She had but one lover. No one knew of their love. No one but she, secreted away in her hiding place.

Driven by his love, her lover would be drawn to the door of her house, his eyes scanning the building as he passed, examining every corner, searching for her there, for just a glimpse of her.

And she knew he was there. But what could she do so that only he would find her, and no one else?

So she opened a small window to that secret place where she hid within her palace, and—just for a brief moment—she revealed her face to him. And then she returned and hid again.

None of those who were there with her lover saw her. None cared to look. Only her lover saw. And his innards, his heart and his soul were pulled after her. For he knew that it was out of her love for him that she had revealed herself to him for a moment, to arouse him to love.

So far, it seems these secrets are only for the committed lover who has the wisdom to get the first hint. But in the subsequent passage, the Zohar speaks of those who have love, but must take a few more steps to acquire wisdom.

. . . Come and see! This is the way of Torah: At first she permits herself to reveal herself to people, hinting to them in the flash of a moment. The one who knows, knows. The one who does not—she turns her back to him, and she calls him a fool.

And then the Torah says to this person to whom her back is turned, “Tell that fool that came here that I will speak with him.”

This is what is meant by the verse (Proverbs 9:4), “Who is the fool who turns here, lacking a heart? She speaks to him.”

He comes close to her. She permits herself to speak with him, but from behind a curtain. She speaks words according to his understanding, until he sees little by little.

This is midrash.

Next, she speaks with him from behind a thin veil. She speaks in riddles.

This is aggadah.

The Zohar sees midrash as the portal to the secrets of the Torah.

The Zohar sees midrash as the portal to the secrets of the Torah.

Those who do not love the Torah are not fit to receive its secrets, so the Torah must speak in riddles and hints. Those with love and wisdom in their hearts grasp the secret immediately. Those with love, but lacking wisdom, work their way to the truth step by step. But those with neither love nor wisdom simply haven’t a clue what’s going on.

But the Zohar’s parable does not end there. Eventually, this lover of Torah becomes a “master of the house,” in consummate marriage with the Torah:

Eventually he becomes familiar with her, and she reveals herself to him face to face. She speaks all her hidden secrets with him, revealing all the hidden pathways that were in her heart, hidden from the earliest days.

This person who has attained wholeness, who has become the husband of the Torah, is now certainly a master of the house. For all her secrets are revealed to him. She does not distance herself, or hide from him anything at all.

She says to him, “See the mysterious words that I hinted to you at first? See how many secrets were there? Now I will tell you what was meant.”12

The Empress’ Clothing

Note those last lines: Even once the lover of the Torah has mastered all of her secrets, she still reminds him of the “mysterious words” of the Midrash and its aggadah. But why is that? If he already grasps the secrets those stories hide, why can’t he discard the packaging in which they came?

Apparently, the stories and mysterious words are more than packaging. After all, as the parable of the Zohar tells, from within the cloak of these parables the inner soul of the Torah speaks. Perhaps we should think of these stories as haute couture for G‑d’s wisdom. They are the fine clothing and jewelry that allow expression for Torah’s most inner wisdom, as a tasteful wardrobe betrays beauty that would otherwise elude the senses.

So fitting, so magnificent is this wardrobe that it carries the secrets of Torah even to the small child. In a way, it transmits to the simple child much more than to the sophisticated adult. To the adult, the clothing is distinct from the meaning it contains; the analogy and its analogue live in two different worlds. The child, when he grasps the clothing, grasps the warm body and soul breathing within. They are all one and the same. In his simple understanding of the tale, he touches G‑d.

To better understand how that is so, we’ll have to examine midrash a little deeper. We need to ask, are the stories of the Midrash truth or fiction? If they are truth, how is it that they so often conflict with one another? And how do we know when the Talmud is telling us a historical anecdote and when it is speaking in parables?

To answer those questions, we’ll look at some of the controversy that surrounded midrashic tales historically, and how the most brilliant of the rabbis dealt with those controversies. All in the coming installments.

© Leon Zernitzky
1. Translated from Sefer ha-Toldot Admor ha-Zaken, vol. 2, pp. 546ff.
2. Another way is: Mikra—the ability to read and understand the text of the Hebrew Bible; Mishnah—knowing and comprehending the laws of Torah; Gemara—analysis, critical thinking and evaluation of various opinions. These are useful when determining the stages of the curriculum: At five years of age, the child starts Mikra; at ten, Mishnah; and at fifteen, Gemara (Pirkei Avot 5:22). In this article we are speaking about the diversity of relationships every person must have with the text at every stage in life.
3. The very first verse of the Torah provides an example: Rashi, the principal peshatcommentator, notes that both the grammar and context of this verse demands a midrashic interpretation. The first word is not “In the beginning,” but “In the beginning of . . .” What’s the “of” doing there? It simply can’t be read simply. Besides, how could heaven and earth be the first creations—how did the materials for creating them get there? So Rashi provides a midrashic interpretation, a deeper meaning that the text intends with its very first line.
4. Halachah can be determined in many ways, following many protocols. One method is through the use of certain formalized allusions. Many of these are known through tradition; others were discovered by the Talmudic sages. After the close of the Talmud, it became extremely rare for a halachah to be derived by such means.
5. See HaYom Yom, 18 Adar I.
6. See Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz, Shnei Luchot ha-Brit, Masechet Shavuot, Ner Mitzvah 54. Rabbi Chaim David Azulai, Shem ha-Gedolim, Shin 35 cites evidence that Rashi wrote his commentary according to sod. See also HaYom Yom, 28 Shevat. In many of his discussions of Rashi, the Rebbe, Rabbi M. M. Schneerson, unveiled such secrets—but only after determining and clarifying as much as possible the simple intent of Rashi. The hidden meaning, the Rebbe insisted, must parallel—and be discovered within—the simple meaning.
7. Shaar ha-Gilgulim, hakdamah 11.
8. See Mishnat Chassidim, Masechet Havayot ha-Neshamot, chapter 2; Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, Tanya, chapter 37.
9. Shaar ha-Gilgulim, hakdamah 17.
10. Sifrei, Parshat Eikev.
11. Iggeret ha-Kodesh 23, in the name of the Ari.
12. Zohar II:99a.
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By Tzvi Freeman and Yehuda Shurpin    More articles…  |   RSS Listing of Newest Articles by this Author

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman’s writing, visit Freeman Files subscription.
Rabbi Yehuda Shurpin responds to questions for’s Ask the Rabbi service.
Chaim Leib (Leon) Zernitsky has created fine art and illustrations for international magazines, book publishers and major corporations for over 25 years. He has published over 30 books for children and young adults and won numerous awards. Chaim Leib feels that creating Jewish art is an important part of being a Jewish artist, and his paintings can be found in private collections worldwide.

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In the resulting documentary, Commie Camp, Halper explores the history of Kinderland, which was founded in 1923 by Jewish activists as a refuge for their children from thetenements of NYC, her family’s very personal connection to the camp, and the way that the camp inspires social justice activism in its campers and alumni.

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Everyone Wants to Go to Commie Camp

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Ja’akow Awinu verlangt, dass er in der Höhle Machpela begraben werden soll – „in dem Grab „ascher kariti li“, dass ich für mich selbst gegraben habe (oder: gekauft habe) im Lande Kena’an“ [Bereschit 50:5]. Raschi kommentiert – als dritte Erklärung –  dass das Wort „kariti“ nach dem Midrasch von der Wurzel  „Keri“ (ein Getreidehaufen) herkommt (siehe auch Raschi zu 46:6).

Bei der Verteilung des Vermögens Jizchaks, nach dessen Ableben, entstand eine Auseinandersetzung zwischen Ja’akow und Ejsaw, bezüglich der Erbschaft der noch einer freien Grabstätte in der Me’arat (Höhle) Hamachpela. Ja’akow Awinu beschloss deshalb von Ejsaw das Recht, in der Höhle Machpela begraben zu werden, abzukaufen. Er nahm all das Vermögen, das er in Padan Aram (im Ausland) verdient hatte und machte einen Haufen (Keri) von Gold und Silber und sagte sich: „Die Güter des Auslandes sind nicht wertvoll für mich“. Und zu Ejsaw sprach er: „Ejsaw, hier ist all mein Geld, das ich ausserhalb des Landes Kena’an (Chuz LaArez) verdient habe. Nimm es und verkaufe mir deinen Anteil in der Höhle Machpela!“ Und Ejsaw willigte ein.

Automatisch kommt eine Frage auf. Wir wissen, dass Ja’akow Awinu – wenn es sein musste – ein gerissener Geschäftsmann war. Jede Person, die mit Lawan verhandelte, musste ein gewiefter Geschäftsmann sein und sich bestens im Geschäftsleben auskennen. Wenn man über ein Stück Land verhandelt, so offeriert man nicht gleich sein ganzes Geld und sagt „Nehme es.“

Die Standardprozedur hätte sein sollen, dass Ja’akow eine erste Offerte machen sollte, zum Beispiel 500 Dinar Gold. Ejsaw würde antworten „Niemals! Tausend Dinar Gold sind annehmbar“. Ja’akow würde wiederum „750“ offerieren. Sie würden die Hände schütteln, „Masal und Beracha“ sagen und wir würden alle Amen sagen. Hier aber offeriert Ja’akow Awinu ein Vermögen als seine erste Offerte. Ist dies der Weg zum Verhandeln?

Ich habe ein Sefer in Erez Jisrael gekauft, das eine interessante Erklärung hierzu vorschlägt. Ja’akow hatte einen Grund für sein Benehmen.

Chasal (unsere Weisen) kommentieren zu den Worten “Und Ja’akow fürchtete sich sehr und es war ihm bange” [Bereschit 32:8], dass sich Ja’akow wegen zwei Verdienste, die Ejsaw erworben hatte, fürchtete. Die zwei Dinge waren: Erstens die Mizwa im Lande Israel zu wohnen (Jischuw Erez Jisrael). Zweitens die Mizwa der Ehre gegenüber Vater und Mutter (Kibbud Aw WeEm). Während über 20 Jahren, in denen Ja’akow in Padan Aram lebte, konnte er keine dieser zwei Gebote erfüllen, im Gegensatz zu Ejsaw.

Wegen diesen zwei Mizwot, die Ejsaw erfüllt hatte, war Ja’akow besorgt. Irgendwie musste Ja’akow nun zeigen, dass er beide Mizwot nicht misste, weder die Mizwa von Jischuw Erez Jisrael noch die Mizwa von Kibbud Aw WeEm. Wie machte er dies? Wie konnte er präsentieren, dass die Liebe für das Land Israel immer noch ein Teil seines Körpers und seiner Seele war? Wie offenbarte er, dass Kibbud Aw WeEm wichtig für ihn war?

Die Antwort lautet: Indem er Ejsaw sagte – nehme alles Geld, dass ich in Chuz LaAretz verdient habe, nur dass ich ein noch ein kleines Stückchen von Israel erben kann. Lass mich aus grosser Achtung vor meinen Eltern in den Kewer Awot – in der Grabstätte meiner Eltern – begraben sein.

Und so, mit dieser einen Tat, zeigte Ja’akow Awinu, dass beides – das Land Israel und die Hochachtung seiner Eltern – für ihn äusserst wichtig sind. Im Gegensatz dazu, zeigte Ejsaw mit derselben Tat, wie unwichtig Erez Jisrael und Kibbud Aw WeEm für ihn sind. Für einen Haufen Gold war er bereit, nicht nur das Kewer Awot – bei den Eltern begraben zu sein – aufzugeben sondern damit auch zu zeigen, dass Geld bei ihm eine grössere Rolle spielte, als ein Stück Boden in Erez Jisrael.

Dies ist der Grund warum Ja’akow Awinu, obwohl er ein talentierter Geschäftsmann war, sagte, “Nehme alles!”. Er wollte Ejsaw und allen anderen zeigen, wie wichtig das Land Erez Jisrael und die Bedeutung der Grabstätte seiner Vorväter für ihn sind.

Rav Frand, Copyright © 2012 by Rav Frand und Project Genesis, Inc und Verein Lema’an Achai / Jüfo-Zentrum.

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Select Section WEEKLY Parasha Parshat Vayechi Language : spanish, italian, SHIURIM & COMMENTARIES

Parashat Vayehí

video del rabino Alfredo Goldschmidt sobre el ángel de la guarda

vaiji 5774: el casamentero


Un muchacho de 30 años no conseguía novia, y le pidió a su gran amigo que rece por él todos los días. Le aseguró que lo recompensaría en el día de su compromiso… que se hizo en ¡ 6 años !!! Del libro “Upirio Matok” del rab hagaon Iztjak Zilverstein Shlita

con rav Gabriel Guiber en la Comunidad de Torah Invierte con nosotros en producir la gueUlah: La Comunidad de Torah te propone un nuevo nivel de relación y comunicación, para individuos – familias – grupos de estudio – comunidades: grupos Whatsapp por distribución geográfica, con rabaním disponibles la mayor parte del tiempo para compartir Torah y responder a consultas. Y junto con ello, shiurím interactivos en vivo con familias o grupos regionales a través de Google Hangouts. Búscanos en Whatsapp: +972-523-066459 ¿Quieres programar un seminario u encuentro de Torah donde vives, ya presencial o por videoconferencia? ¿Deseas programar para tí y tu pareja -ya iehudím o bnei-nóaj- los esponsales más alegres con sacralidad de Cabalah? Proponlo y pensémoslo juntos ya enviando un mensaje privado a o respondiendo, públicamente, al post “arriba del todo” en nuestro grupo…. Si lo prefieres, comunicate directo con nosotros: Whatsapp: +972-523-066459 SMS: +972-525-801088

vaiji 5774 (2): esta vez ganó la mamá…

Una llamada desde Londres llega a los Estados Unidos le anuncian la muerte repentina de su madre ¡Estaba sana! El dolor es terrible… Del libro “Veaharev Na” del rab hagaon Itzjak Zilverstein Shlita con rav Gabriel Guiber en la Comunidad de Torah

El Placer del Amor – Vaiejí 5772


Parashat Vaiejí – Y vivió – El Placer del amor – La Bendición de Reuvén Mensaje Semanal del Rabino Ginsburgh del Instituto Gal Einai Y Vivió: En la parashat Vaiejí, la porción de la Torá que finaliza y sella el Libro de Bereshit, Iaacov bendice a sus hijos antes de irse de este mundo. Comienza con el hijo primogénito, Reubén, luego Shimón, Leví, de acuerdo al orden, y aparentemente, las tres primeras “bendiciones” no suenan como bendición sino lo contrario, comenzando por Reubén. ¿Qué dice Iaacov a Reuvén? Leamos dentro del texto [Bereshit 49:3-5]: “Reubén, tú eres mi primogénito, mi fuerza y mi primera virilidad, más rango y mayor poder”. Por cuanto que tú eres mi primogénito te corresponde el doble, “ieter set veieter oz”, tu mereces más que a tus hermanos. Llevar [set] alude al sacerdocio, ya que ellos elevan [nosim] sus manos al bendecir al pueblo. Y “más fuerza” alude al verso “y dará fuerza a su rey”, la corona del reinado, Keter Maljut. Así, tú Reuvén, eres el primogénito, teóricamente mereces ser sacerdote y mereces ser el rey. Este es el significado de más rango y más fuerza. ¿Salvo qué? Lo has perdido ¿cómo lo has perdido? “Eres impetuoso como el agua, ya no recibirás más.” No recibirás estas cualidades adicionales, no recibirás la herencia extra. ¿Por qué? “Te has montado sobre la cama de tu padre, y has profanando lo que mora sobre mi ella.” Hace algunas semanas, cuando hablamos del “pecado”, por así decirlo, porque “todo el que diga que Reubén pecó no hace sino equivocarse”, hablamos entonces acerca de “has profanando lo que mora sobre mi cama”, o sea deshonró el honor de su padre, sino también de la Presencia Divina sobre él. Y así perdiste, porque profanaste las camas de su padre y a quien mora sobre mi cama, la Presencia Divina. Volviendo a estos versos, ante todo notemos que todas las bendiciones aquí tienen una estructura lírica, con el estilo lírico de la Torá. Toda la Torá es un cantar, un poema, pero en ciertas partes, tiene segmentos específicos que son evidentemente un canto, y uno de ellos son las bendiciones, tanto de Iaacov a sus hijos como al final de la Torá las de Moshe Rabeinu a las tribus. Hay aquí una poesía muy muy bella, y por más que aparentemente el significado literal es negativo, quien oye los signos musicales… Está escrito que Mashíaj vendrá para revelarnos los signos musicales de la Torá. Puede ser que el verso es muy negativo visto con la mente, pero los sonidos y el estilo es de un canto tan bello, que en cierto nivel del inconciente, la belleza del cantar dulcifica todos los juicios que hay en el mensaje literal, y en la mentalidad que hay en los versos. Nuevamente, esta es la tarea principal del Mashíaj, escuchar la melodía, los signos musicales de la Torá

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Vaieji 5770: Manual para el pulidor de diamantes, con rav Ariel Don

con rav Ariel Don en la Comunidad de Torah

Parashat Vayehí language italian


Select Section WEEKLY Parasha Parshat Vayechi Language : english, SHIURIM & COMMENTARIES

Weekly Torah Portion: Vayechi


When Yaakov was reunited with his beloved son Yosef, he understood it as the confirmation of G-d’s Oneness, and recited the Shema proclamation of G-d’s unity. His twelve sons would later reconfirm G-d’s Oneness by reciting the Shema, as Yaakov prepared to reveal to them his vision of the end of days. By this very affirmation of G-d’s Oneness in our world, Yaakov fulfills the promise of his other name, Yisrael, and his children, throughout the generations, fulfill their role as witnesses to G-d’s abiding and eternal unity.

Vayechi (Genesis 47:2850:26)
Parashat Vayechi is read on Shabbat:
Tevet 11, 5774/December 14, 2013

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Select Section WEEKLY Parasha Parshat Vayechi Language : french, SHIURIM & COMMENTARIES

Rav David A. PITOUN – Parasha & Hala’ha : Yossef et ses frères au regard de la Hala’ha (Vaye’hi)


Yossef récite la bénédiction de ” Shé’assa Li Ness Bamakom Ha-Zé ” devant le puits, au retour de l’enterrement de Ya’akov Avinou – Les craintes des Shévatim sur une possible vengeance de Yossef – Le délégué pour accomplir une Mitsva ne peut subir de mal : Est-ce la Mitsva qui le protège ? – La divergence d’opinion Halah’ique entre Yossef et ses frères au sujet de l’animal qui remue encore après la Shé’hita (Mefarkessett) – Le délégué pour accomplir une Mitsva ne peut subir de mal : Pour les Mitsvot des non-juifs (Béné Nowa’h) ou uniquement pour les Mitsvot d’Israël ? – La divergence d’opinion Halah’ique entre Yossef et ses frères au sujet de la bénédiction de ” Shé’assa Li Ness Bamakom Ha-Zé ”
Cours enregistré le 9 décembre 2013 à la synagogue de la Fraternité à Villeurbanne France – Vos questions à

La paracha de la semaine : Vayé’hi. Fidèle a d’ieu même en Egypte.


La paracha en 5 minutes.
5 minutes sur la paracha de cette semaine Vayé’hi par le Rav Haim Chnéor Nisenbaum

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La Paracha Vaye’hi commentée par le Rav Amram Levy de Jérusalem.

Paracha Vaye’hi : Un commentaire du Rav Amram Levy

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PARACHA VAYE’HI Rav Acher Ben Chaya.

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Newsletter du 11 Décembre 2013 – 8 Tevet 5774

Dédié à la réussite matérielle et spirituelle de Sarah LICHTENAUER

– Ephraïm et Menashé, deux enfants réussis
– Une Tsédaka parfaite, par rav Moché Feinstein
– Se marier par inadvertance…
– Perle : « Le doute… cause de nos fautes » (Rabbi Na’hman)
– Récit : Le rêve de Yo’haï
– Halakha : Répéter une bénédiction

Dédiez un prochain feuillet de Chabbath à la mémoire ou pour la réussite d’un proche.

Cours de Torah

4 nouveaux cours de Torah sont disponibles depuis cette semaine sur :

Téchouva (3/7) : mon mari ne me suit pas… (de Rav Mordehai BITTON)
Vaye’hi : l’éternité de Yaakov Avinou (de Rav Emmanuel BENSIMON)
Téchouva aux commandes de l’avenir (de Rav Yossef David FRANKFORTER)
Cours donné en 1985, le dernier jour juif de l’année.
Etudier ou accomplir les Mitsvot ? (de Rav Raphaël SADIN)

Temps morts au travail : dois-je le dire à mon patron ?
Moussar – Mercredi 11 Décembre 2013

Question : Je suis vendeur dans un magasin. Durant les moments où aucun client ne se présente, je joue aux mots croisés pour me « faire la main ». Dois-je le dire à mon patron ?

Réponse : Votre question est très courante. Tandis que plusieurs personnes ont une attitude 100 % travail, nombreuses sont celles qui ne voient rien de mal à s’occuper de leurs affaires personnelles pendant les « temps morts ». Certains employeurs tolèrent cette conduite ; c’est le cas en ce qui concerne l’utilisation d’internet. Quand les sociétés eurent besoin d’ouvrir l’accès à internet dans les ordinateurs de leurs employés, les politiques adoptées étaient généralement très strictes.

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Vaye’hi : la vertu des “dents toutes blanches de lait”
Vaye’hi – Mercredi 11 Décembre 2013

Il est écrit dans notre paracha de la semaine, Vayé’hi (49, 12) : “חַכְלִילִי עֵינַיִם מִיָּיִן וּלְבֶן שִׁנַּיִם מֵחָלָב” (les yeux seront pétillants de vin et les dents toutes blanches de lait).

A propos de ce verset, Rabbi Yo’hanan enseignait : « Il est préférable de montrer le blanc des dents à son prochain [sourire] plutôt que lui faire boire du lait, comme il est dit : “Et les dents toutes blanches (léven chinaïm) de lait” (Béréchit 49, 12) ; ne lis pas léven chinaïm (les dents toutes blanches) mais liboun chinaïm (le blanc des dents) » (Kétoubot 111). Dans le même esprit, nous lisons dans le traité Avoth : « Devance le salut de tout homme. » Une maxime que Rabbi Yo’hanan ben Zakaï appliquait scrupuleusement puisque le Talmud témoigne à son propos qu’il se faisait un point d’honneur de saluer en premier tous les passants dont il croisait le chemin et même le non-Juif au marché.

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Rav Yochiahou : “Canaliser ses forces vers la bonne voie”
Pensée Juive ! – Mardi 10 Décembre 2013

Avant de prononcer un discours, l’on s’assoit généralement et réfléchit à l’objectif que l’on veut atteindre, au message que l’on veut transmettre. Tout comme, sans vouloir comparer, lorsque l’on doit rencontrer quelqu’un. Des paroles sans but précis n’ont pas véritablement d’intérêt, elles sont seulement source de dissensions et de mauvaises choses. « La barrière de la sagesse est le silence », plus l’homme se tait, plus il fait du ‘hessed (bonté) à sa personne. Lorsqu’un homme parle avec son ami et qu’il s’est fixé au préalable des objectifs, la discussion aura certainement été productive.

Mais il y a des moments où l’on parle du cœur sans avoir réfléchi auparavant à ce que l’on voulait dire. Et du fond du cœur, il nous vient de dire à tous : “Heureux es-tu Israël, qui est comme toi, peuple que protège le Seigneur ?” (Dévarim 33, 29) Le peuple d’Israël, heureux est-il de par son dévouement et de par les forces extraordinaires que D. lui a accordées.

L’homme ressent dans la vie que de nombreuses choses lui viennent du fond du cœur. Pourtant, le cœur de l’homme est un petit organe, il a la taille d’un petit poing. Or, combien de fois ressent-on que ca vient des tréfonds du cœur, de l’endroit le plus profond, comme si c’était à des milliers de kilomètres de profondeur. Le cœur renferme un potentiel d’une profondeur énorme, qu’il est impossible de percevoir.

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Communication, réseaux sociaux et… l’Ego !
Actualité – Mardi 10 Décembre 2013

Comment être bien dans sa peau à l’ère de la communication numérique ?


A. La communication n’a jamais été aussi facile.
B. Les gens sont très facilement joignables.
C. La communication n’a jamais été aussi difficile.
D. Nous sommes particulièrement injoignables.
E. Toutes les réponses ci-dessus.

LA BONNE REPONSE est… roulement de tambour…

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La prière a été établie pour atteindre des perspectives extraordinaires. Il n’est donc pas étonnant que le Yétser Har’a attaque l’homme pour l’affaiblir et le détourner de cette Mitsva si fondamentale. Ainsi est-il rapporté et expliqué dans l’ouvrage Méor Vachémech : « Notre peuple sait que le domaine de prédilection de la guerre menée par le Yétser Har’a est la prière.

Même si un homme multiplie son étude de la Torah, accomplit de nombreuses Mitsvotet bonnes actions telles que la Tsédaka en aidant les pauvres, dans tout ceci leYétser Har’a ne mettra pas toute la vigueur de son combat pour l’en dévier parce qu’il ne manque pas de moyens pour l’en détacher.

En revanche, lorsqu’un homme épanche son cœur devant D.ieu et accepte le joug de la Royauté Divine et que ses paroles sont l’expression de ses sentiments profonds, purs, édulcorés, que son cœur s’enflamme par amour pour Hachemjusqu’à se détacher de la matérialité, à ce moment-là le Yétser Har’a va déployer tous ses artifices pour le combattre et semer le trouble en lui.

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[Vidéo] Histoires en mémoire du Rav Ovadia Yossef
Nos Sages – Dimanche 8 Décembre 2013

Hesped (oraison funèbre) de notre maître et guide Rav Ovadia Yossef, par leRav Yossef Ayache.

– La disparition du Tsadik, bienfait ou malheur pour le peuple ?
– Un homme qui n’a jamais perdu un instant de sa vie, si ce n’est étudier ou pratiquer les Mitsvot
– Histoires méconnues sur le Gaon, de mémoire bénie
– Accès Vidéo : Paroles sur le Rav Ovadia Yossef, de mémoire bénie –
Par le Rav Yossef Ayache, élève du Collel de halakha “Kol Its’hak” à Jerusalem.

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[Vidéo] “Un langage pour la santé” (+ concours pour enfants!)
Chemirat haLachone – Vendredi 6 Décembre 2013

Le Rav Mevorakh Zerbib, rabbin et célèbre chroniqueur de radio en France, vous propose un cours de 15 minutes dans lequel il dévoile le lien entre ‘Hanouka, la santé physique d’un homme et son langage… propre :
– Accès Vidéo : Rav Zerbib sur le langage –

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Shabbat Alert, le réveil chabbathique pour iPhone
Communauté – Vendredi 6 Décembre 2013

Découvrez une application pour possesseurs de iPhone, fort utile : “Shabbat Alert”, le réveil chabbatique cachère.

Avant, ceux qui voulaient se réveiller le Chabbath à l’aide de l’option “alarme” de leur mobile se heurtaient à un problème : une alarme qui n’en finissait pas de sonner et réveillait toute la maison, car bien sûr il est interdit de l’éteindre le Chabbath.

Il fallait faire preuve d’ingéniosité pour se réveiller : certains recouvraient le téléphone de couvertures pour ne plus l’entendre, d’autres allaient se coucher en laissant les volets ouverts et faisaient une prière spéciale pour se réveiller sans alarme, certains ont même pensé à s’acheter un coq !

Désormais, avec l’aide de D.ieu, “Shabbat Alert !” permet de programmer de courtes alarmes (entre 5 et 20 secondes), et de choisir à l’avance un nombre de sonneries et l’intervalle de temps entre chaque sonnerie. Tout cela bien entendu avant l’entrée de Chabbath, en prenant soin de laisser le téléphone hors de portée pour ne pas y toucher par mégarde.

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Vayigach – Alors Yéhouda s’avança vers Yossef…
Vayigach – Jeudi 5 Décembre 2013

Dans notre paracha “Vayigach”, lorsque les fils de Yaacov virent que la coupe volée se trouvait entre les mains de Binyamin, tous se tinrent de côté. Seul Yéhouda fut prêt à mourir pour lutter contre Yossef, tout d’abord parce qu’il s’était porté garant de son frère, mais aussi en sa qualité de roi des tribus. C’est pourquoi il s’avança et tomba aux genoux de Yossef pour le supplier d’épargner son frère.

Nos Sages ajoutent que Yéhouda se prépara aux trois éventualités suivantes : la première – demander à Yossef de libérer Binyamin en employant des paroles d’apaisement et de supplication ; la deuxième – tuer Yossef et tous ses hommes ; la troisième – prier le Saint béni soit-Il de lui accorder le soulagement.

Entre autres paroles acerbes que Yéhouda employa à l’adresse de Yossef, il lui adressa les menaces suivantes :

« Sache que Pharaon a été frappé par la lèpre pour avoir détenu Sarah notre ancêtre ne serait-ce qu’une seule nuit dans son palais. Toi aussi, qui as médit sur Binyamin en l’accusant d’avoir volé ta coupe, tu finiras par être atteint par la lèpre, car telle est la punition du médisant. En outre, même sa mère Ra’hel n’est décédée qu’à cause de la malédiction proférée par Père. Toi aussi, si tu tiens à ta vie, prends garde à ne pas mourir avant ton heure, ce qui serait dommage car tu es dans la fleur de l’âge. Et si je dégaine mon épée, je commencerai par toi, et je terminerai par Pharaon. »

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C’est précisément au centre de « l’empire Grec » (le stade Bloomfield) que s’est gravé un instant typiquement Juif qui a chassé l’obscurité et réchauffé le cœur. Les membres de l’équipe de football très connue en Israel, le Maccabi Tel Aviv, ont allumé la sixième bougie de ‘Hanouka en compagnie du Rav Ya’acov Gloyberman.

Au début du match, les chefs de l’équipe accompagnés de cet émissaire Loubavitch ont accompli la Mitsva de Pirssoum Ha-ness (diffusion du miracle) en allumant les bougies de ‘Hanouka.

Rav Ya’acov Gloyberman, qui est en relation permanente avec la direction de l’association de basket et de football depuis un certain nombre d’années, a coordonné des envoyés ‘Habad avec toutes les équipes dans les villes d’Israël, et a élevé spirituellement de nombreux évènements sportifs… et chaque année, l’opération s’élargie.

Afin d’expliquer un peu plus l’importance de cette Mitsva d’allumer les bougies de ‘Hanouka devant le plus grand nombre, rapportons les propos du Rabbi de Loubavitch :

“Les lumières de ‘Hanouka  sont plus que le symbole de la victoire du peuple juif sur l’oppresseur assyrien venu imposer la culture grecque. Elles portent en elles des enseignements tant dans leur définition que dans leur mise en œuvre.

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Chaque jour de ‘Hanouka après l’allumage, Torah-Box vous retransmet un cours en vidéo depuis Jerusalem.
Si vous avez manqué le cours du Rav Elie Peretz après la 8ème bougie sur le thème “Une Torah inchangée : la force du peuple Juif“, voici un moyen de le visionner :
– Accès Vidéo : Une Torah inchangée : la force du peuple Juif –lire la suite

La perle de la semaine, and more… WEEKLY Parasha Parshat Vayechi , Language : english,SHIURIM & COMMENTARIES

ONCE UPON A CHASID: Living Conditions (Vayechi)
Tevet 9, 5774 · December 12, 2013
Living Conditions

And Jacob lived… (47:28)

Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi wished to bless Rabbi Yekutiel Lefler with riches, but the chassid declined, explaining that the preoccupations of wealth would infringe upon his study of Torah and his service of the Almighty.

So the Rebbe offered to bless him with long life. Said the Rabbi Yekutiel: “But not with a peasant’s years, not with the years of those ‘who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear’; not with a life in which one sees not G-dliness and one hears not G-dliness.”

Asks the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory: is it not presumptuous for one who is offered a gift to say: “Okay, I accept, but only on the condition that you throw a few extras”? But to Rabbi Yekutiel, ‘to see G-dliness and hear G-dliness’ is not a matter of raised consciousness or an enhancement of the ‘spiritual’ quality of his life, but the very definition of life itself.

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Yanki Tauber is content editor of

GARDEN OF TORAH: True Life (Vayechi)
Tevet 9, 5774 · December 12, 2013
True Life
Vayechi; Genesis 47:28-50:26

Adapted from
Likkutei Sichos, Vol. X, p. 160ff; Vol. XV, p. 422ff;
Sichos Shabbos Parshas Vayechi, 5751

Yaakov’s Best Years

When the Tzemach Tzedek was a young boy, his cheder teacher taught him the verse: “And Yaakov lived in the land of Egypt for 17 years,”1 explaining that these were the best years of Yaakov’s life.2 The Tzemach Tzedek asked his grandfather, the Alter Rebbe: How was it possible that the best years of Yaakov’s life would be spent in a depraved land?

The Alter Rebbe answered him: Even before he arrived, Yaakov sent Yehudah to Egypt to establish a yeshivah.3 When one studies the Torah, one comes close to G-d. This closeness allows one to live with true and genuine vitality, even in Egypt.4

Indeed, the depravity of Egypt enhanced the vitality experienced by Yaakov. For the transformation of darkness reveals a higher quality of light. Yaakov’s establishment of Torah life amid the darkness of Egyptian society expressed the essential vitality he possessed and endowed to his children.

To Live with the Torah

True life can be ascribed only to G-d, as it is written:5 “And G-d your L-rd is true; He is the living G-d.” Just as Truth is uninterrupted and unchanging, so too life is in essence unchanging and eternal. Thus our Sages describe6 a stream as “living water” only when it flows constantly.7

Mortal existence, by contrast, is ephemeral and subject to change.8 Nevertheless, by drawing close to G-d through Torah study, a person can tap a dimension of G-d’s immortality, as it is written:9 “And you who cling to G-d your L-rd are all alive today.”

This was the thrust of Yaakov’s entire life. When the Torah sets out to convey the nature of his personality, it describes10 him as “a simple man, dwelling in tents,” i.e., the tents of Shem and Ever,11 the leading houses of study of that age. In these domains, Yaakov’s character was shaped and molded.

And yet Yaakov did not remain in these houses of study forever. His life encompassed a variety of circumstances and challenges, allowing him the opportunity to prove that the connection to G-d he established through Torah study was genuine.

Light in Darkness

Yaakov reached the pinnacle of this lifetime journey in Egypt. There he was presented with challenges of a different nature than he had experienced previously, for he dwelt in fabulous wealth amid a land of decadent people. But as mentioned, even before Yaakov entered Egypt, he anticipated these difficulties by sending Yehudah to establish a yeshivah there. By this act, he set the tone for his future in Egypt.

Moreover, not only did Yaakov himself study, he involved his children and grandchildren. Rather than accept the values of the surrounding culture, Yaakov’s descendants joined him in study. For them, the descent to Egypt represented a radical transition; the majority of their adult lives had been spent in Eretz Yisrael. Yet motivated by Yaakov’s example and guidance, they were able to extend the holy atmosphere ofEretz Yisrael into Egypt.

Yaakov’s unchanging and uninterrupted commitment to the Torah demonstrates the true life with which the Torah endowed him. His connection with G-d was all-encompassing.

Yaakov Still Lives

The above enables us to understand why the Torah reading is named Vayechi “And he lived” although it speaks of Yaakov’s death. As the events of the reading demonstrate, Yaakov’s life was one of connection to G-d that transcended material settings. And since he shared this quality with his descendants, it was perpetuated beyond his mortal lifetime. As our Sages say:12 “Yaakov, our ancestor, did not die. As his descendants are alive, he is alive.”

This concept applies to all Jews at all times. The vitality we experience in our Divine service today is made possible by the life of Yaakov our ancestor.13 And conversely, the connection to the Torah which strengthened Yaakov is the source of life for all his descendants throughout the generations.

True, within Jewish history, there have always been some Jews who at least to outward appearances do not conduct their lives according to the directives of the Torah. But that is merely the external reality. The truth is that they are alive inside, and their vitality stems from the Torah and its mitzvos.14

Our Sages state:15 “Although a Jew sins, he remains a Jew” and the Rambamrules:16

A person whose evil inclination compels him to negate the performance of a mitzvahor to commit a sin… [still] wishes to be part of the Jewish people and desires to fulfill all the mitzvos and separate himself from sin. It is only his [evil] inclination which forces him [to do otherwise].

Regardless of his conduct, every member of our people remains a Jew and shares a connection to the entire Torah. “The Torah which Moshe commanded us is the heritage of the congregation of Yaakov.”17 This is the spiritual legacy which Yaakov bequeathed us, the sign of his continued life and of our own vitality.

(The above also encourages us to help each other express a connection to the Torah. Any potential tends to seek expression, and that tendency is enhanced by the very knowledge of its existence. Spreading the awareness of the inner nature of every Jew will spur the desire to have that nature realized through observance of the Torah.

This is more than theory; it is borne out by experience. Conversely, an approach which castigates Jews who do not observe the Torah and its mitzvos, threatening them with Divine retribution, does not encourage greater observance. Quite the contrary, it weakens many people’s feeling for Judaism and moves them further fromteshuvah.18)

Egypt is not Forever

Although his ability to create a Torah center for his descendants in Egypt is a sign of Yaakov’s life, it is not the culmination of his achievements. For the ultimate place for Yaakov and his descendants is not in Egypt, but in Eretz Yisrael.

Therefore, Yaakov called his sons together with the intent of revealing the time of the Redemption to them.19 He assured them that they would be redeemed from Egypt, promising:20 “G-d will be with you, and He will bring you back to your ancestral land.” For it is in Eretz Yisrael and more particularly, in the Eretz Yisrael of the Redemption that Yaakov and his descendants will truly flourish.

Strength and Encouragement

This Shabbos is called Shabbos Chazak, “the Shabbos of reinforcement,” because of the custom21 of declaring, Chazak, Chazak, Vinischazaik (“Be strong, be strong, and may you be strengthened”) at the conclusion of the Torah reading, in acknowledgment of the completion of the Book of Genesis.

The awareness nurtured by the reading of Vayechi generates strength. When a Jew knows he has been granted a heritage of life expressed through a connection with the Torah, and that there will come a time when this connection will blossom, he will acquire the inner strength to confront the challenges presented by his environment.

By heightening the expression of this potential in our people as a whole, we hasten the coming of its fruition in the Era of the Redemption. May this take place in the immediate future.

1. Genesis 47:28.
2. Baal HaTurim on the above verse. This is reflected in the fact that 17 is numerically equivalent to the Hebrew word ???, meaning “good” (Or HaTorah, Vayechi p. 354a).
3. Rashi, Midrash Tanchuma to Genesis 46:28.
4. HaYom Yom, entry for the 18th of Teves.
5. Jeremiah 10:10.
6. Parah 8:9, using the terminology of Numbers 19:17.
7. To be considered “living water,” a stream may not dry out within a seven-year period. This limit was chosen because our world is structured in cycles of seven. Since our existence as a whole is temporary, the timelessness of “living water” need not be absolute.
8. Note the distinction made by the Rambam (Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Yesodai HaTorah 2:10) between G-d’s life and mortal existence. G-d’s life is one with Him, while a mortal is, by nature, separate from his own life-force.
9. Deuteronomy 4:4. See also Avos deRabbi Nassan, ch. 34.
10. Genesis 25:27.
11. Bereishis Rabbah 63:10, and Rashi on the above verse. The connection of Yaakov with the Torah is also emphasized by the verse (Psalms 78:5): “He established statutes in Yaakov and placed the Torah in Yisrael.”
12. Taanis 5b.
13. This concept of continued life is mentioned with regard to Yaakov and not with regard to Avraham and Yitzchak because, in a complete sense, the concept that “his descendants are alive” applies only to Yaakov. “Yaakov’s bed was perfect” (Rashi, Genesis 47:31), i.e., all his sons were righteous. In contrast, Yishmael descended from Avraham and Esav from Yitzchak (Pesachim 56a). (See alsoMaharshah to Taanis, ibid.)
14. A parallel exists with regard to Yaakov himself. In the Talmudic passage which states: “Yaakov, our ancestor, did not die,” a question is raised: Was he not mourned, embalmed, and buried? Our Sages answer: “It only appears that he died; in truth, He is alive,” i.e., here too, there is a spiritual reality which runs contrary to outward appearances.
15. Sanhedrin 44a.
16. Mishnah Torah, Hilchos Gerushin 2:20.
17. Deuteronomy 33:4.
18. See the essay “Every Jew Has a Silver Lining” (Sichos In English, Vol. 47, p. 11ff) and the sources mentioned there, in which these concepts are explained at length.
19. Rashi, Genesis 49:1.
20. Genesis 48:21. See also Rashi, Exodus 3:18, which relates that the promise (Genesis 50:24): “ G-d will remember and bring you out of this land,” which served as the code for the redemption, was originally conveyed to the Jews by Yaakov.
21. See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim in the conclusion of Chapter 139. See alsoLikkutei Sichos, Vol. 25, page 474.

FOR FRIDAY NIGHT: Knowledge and Direction (Vayechi)

Tevet 9, 5774 · December 12, 2013
Knowledge and Direction

One of the problems of society is the possibility of a rift between knowledge and commitment, between intellectual attainment and a sense of direction in life. We might imagine that intensive acquisition of knowledge would guarantee that the person will use their talents in a way which is both wholesome in itself and beneficial to others. However, history is littered with figures who were both brilliant and dangerous. As we have seen in the history of European culture over the past two centuries, some forms of “scholarship” can lead to the worst excesses.

Jewish teaching has always been aware of this problem, as is seen in discussion by the Sages of an idea found in our Parshah and also elsewhere in the Torah.

The Parshah of Vayechi (Genesis 47-50) completes the Book of Genesis, and an important section is the blessing by Jacob to his sons, the ancestors of the Tribes, before he passed way. A comparable passage is at the end of the entire Torah, when Moses blesses the various Tribes of the Jewish people.

Let us consider one particular Tribe: Asher.

Jacob’s final blessing to his son Asher is that his territory in the Land of Israel (north of modern Haifa) will produce an abundance of olives, which will be pressed into olive oil.1 This is paralleled by Moses’ blessing to Asher, at the end of the Torah: “he dips his feet into oil”, likewise meaning oil from the olive groves.2

The Rebbe points out that the background to the physical abundance of olive oil is something spiritual. In Jewish thought, “oil” signifies wisdom.3 Both Jacob and Moses were blessing the Tribe of Asher with wisdom. Of course this is a wonderful blessing, for a nation distinguished for its profound scholarship and thousands of books.

However, the second blessing, given by Moses, adds an interesting twist: the oil should be used to anoint the feet.

If oil signifies wisdom, what is meant by the “feet”?

The feet are the lowest part of the person, the point at which he or she stands on the ground and walks. The feet suggest something very basic in a person’s life, quite different from wisdom, which of course is very subtle and exalted.

The feet represent the basic sense of commitment of the person, his or her direction in life. The clear and tangible sense of commitment is “anointed” and enriched by wisdom. However, the commitment has its own reality and integrity. “Wisdom” in itself may not always lead to the best form of commitment and the most meaningful direction.

“Why not?” one may ask. Surely wisdom will lead the person in the right direction? The problem is, the Rebbe points out, that the most important aspects of life transcend human wisdom. For example, two central values in Jewish teaching are love of one’s fellow and its counterpart, humility. Obviously these qualities can and should be heightened by wisdom. But the central principles must come first. By contrast, an exclusive focus on scholarship might lead to a haughty and selfish approach to life.

The blessings to Asher from Jacob and later Moses, apply to everyone. There is a beautiful blessing of olive oil, wisdom. Yet the goal is that this should join with a sense of direction, commitment to the basic values of Judaism. Through this combination we can maintain a healthy balance in our journey to the Promised Land.4

1. Gen. 49:20. See Rashi’s commentary.
2. Deuteronomy 33:24.
3. See Talmud, Menachot 85b.
4. Based freely on the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Likkutei Sichot, vol. 1, pp.102-7.
By Tali Loewenthal    More articles…  |   RSS Listing of Newest Articles by this Author

Dr. Tali Loewenthal is Lecturer in Jewish Spirituality at University College London, director of the Chabad Research Unit, author of Communicating the Infinite: The Emergence of the Habad School and a frequent contributor to the weekly Torah reading section.

PARSHAH PICKS: Rachel’s Amazing Secret (Vayechi)
Tevet 8, 5774 · December 11, 2013
General Overview:
This week’s Torah reading, Vayechi, discusses Jacob’s final years. Shortly before his passing, Jacob blesses Joseph’s children as well as his own. A massive funeral procession escorts Jacob’s body to Canaan. The reading, and the Book of Genesis, concludes with Joseph’s death.
This Week’s Features Printable Parshah Magazine

By Rochel Holzkenner

Genesis 47:28–50:26

Jacob blesses each of his sons before his passing. He is buried in the Cave of Machpelah in the Holy Land. Joseph dies at age 110, and asks his descendants to bury his remains in the Holy Land. This comes to pass only years later, upon the exodus from Egypt.


One moment of action, against nine years of prayer and fasting…

By Yosef Y. Jacobson

Many act like it ain’t happening. They dress the dead in tuxes and ballroom dresses and do the dead’s hair and apply them with make-up. We’re here to celebrate a life, they chirp, while the elephant in the room swishes his large head

By Shimon Posner

After all others failed, Rachel successfully persuaded G-d to eventually bring her children back from their exiled lands. What merit did she have which swayed G-d?

By Naftali Silberberg

Parsha Vayechi

The Torah portion of Vayechi serves as a “bridge” between the book of B’reishis (Genesis) and the book of Sh’mos (Exodus.) The book of B’reishis relates the miraculous lives of our ancestors. The book of Sh’mos describes our descent into exile. It is the miraculous nature that we have inherited from our ancestors that gives us the power to survive exile. From Likutei Sichos, vol. 30, p.253

By Zalman Dubinsky
Watch Watch (12:10)

Letters and Numbers of Torah – Vayechi

“[Jacob] blessed [Ephraim and Menashe] on that day, saying: With you, Israel will bless, saying, ‘May G-d make you like Ephraim and like Menashe,'” (Genesis 48:20). Why do Jewish parents continue to this day to bless their children to be like these two grandsons of Jacob? An extra letter vav in the word “saying” holds the hint.

Aaron L. Raskin
Watch Watch (25:00)

Parsha Vayechi

How Reuven, Shimon, Levi and Yehudah represent four different phases we experience as we go through the order of the morning prayers: 1) Reuven—the first paragraph of Shema, 2) Shimon—the second paragraph of Shema, 3) Levi—the blessings after Shema, and 4) Yehudah—the Amidah prayer. (Based on the discourse “Yehuda Achecha Yoducha 5738.”)

By Moishe New
Watch Watch (45:51)

“Jacob called for his sons and said, ‘Gather and I will tell you what will happen to you at the end of days’”. Rashi explains: He attempted to reveal when Moshiach would come, but the Shechinah (Divine Presence) withdrew from him. So he began to say other things.

By Moishe New
Download Download   Listen Listen (25:15)

An in depth look at the weekly Parshah based on the talks of the Lubavitcher Rebbe

By Manis Friedman
Listen Listen (22:44)

Weekly Parsha logo

Weekly Parsha

Our father Yaakov lived for seventeen years in the Goshen area of the land of Egypt. These were undoubtedly the most peaceful, serene and happiest years of his long and troubled life. He is reunited with his beloved son Yosef who has risen to power and greatness, albeit in a strange land. No Eisav, no Lavan, no Shechem, no Canaanite neighbors are present to disturb his peace and security. And, with his family in all of its many generations surrounding him, at peace with him and, superficially at least, with one another, Yaakov is content. Yaakov is finally vindicated in his life’s work and can enjoy the last years of his life. In effect we can understand why the parsha begins…

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CHASSIDIC DIMENSION: Yaakov Lives (Vayechi)
Tevet 9, 5774 · December 12, 2013

Yaakov Lives

The Torah portion Vayechi begins by saying:1 “And Yaakov lived.” Why does it begin in this manner when the entire portion deals with Yaakov’s demise and the events surrounding it? Additionally, since the title of a Torah portion relates to the entire portion,2 why the title “And he lived,” if the whole portion speaks of dying?

The true meaning of life is eternal. This is why true life exists only in relation to G-d, as the verse states:3 “G-d, the L-rd is Truth, He is the Living G-d.”

Truth is not subject to change; if something is genuinely True it will remain so forever. Since G-d is Truth, never ceasing and never changing, He is also the true aspect of life.

Created beings, however, are not true entities, for they do not exist in and of themselves; they had to be created, and as such are intrinsically subject to change and decay. Only by cleaving to and uniting with G-d can they be invested with true life.

Indeed, the Jewish people are called “alive”4 precisely for this reason, as the verse states:5 “And you who cleave to the L-rd your G-d are all alive today” — the Jewish people are alive in an eternal manner only because of their unity with G-d.

However, in order for this dimension of “life” to be perceived in a physical world, it is necessary to encounter obstacles to one’s attachment to G-d and nevertheless remain steadfast and whole in the performance of Torah and mitzvos. Only then is one’s true “life” fully revealed, for it is then obvious that nothing can stand in one’s path and affect one’s unity with G-d.

The connection of “And Yaakov lived” to the entire portion, as well as the reason for the whole portion being titled “And he lived” — although its main theme is Yaakov’s demise — will be understood accordingly:

During all of Yaakov’s years before his descent into Egypt it was not clearly seen that his existence was one of true “life,” a life of “And you who cleave… are all alive.” For the principle of “Do not be sure of yourself until the day you die”6 applies even to the very righteous.7 Thus Yaakov’s degree of attachment to G-d throughout his life was not sufficient proof of “life.”

Even the fact that Yaakov’s conduct caused his children and grandchildren to be righteous as well does not prove that he was truly “alive,” for Yaakov and his entire family lived in the Holy Land; and one could not be sure about their conduct in a coarser country.

Only when Yaakov approached the time of his death, having meanwhile descended uncorrupted with his family to Egypt, was it revealed that his entire life, although externally filled with pain and suffering, was true life — “And Yaakov lived.”

This also explains why the portion is titled “And he lived,” notwithstanding the fact that it describes Yaakov’s demise and the events that transpired afterwards:

The Gemara states:8 “Our father Yaakov did not die; as his progeny lives on, he too lives on.” Since the true aspect of life is eternal, Yaakov’s existence can only be judged after observing its perpetual effect.

This effect is perceived when one realizes that not only did Yaakov’s own soul continue to cleave to G-d, but that his children pursue the true life led by their father.

The above provides an additional reason for the Torah portion being titled “And he lived.” The title not only emphasizes that even after Yaakov’s passing it is still possible to say that he lives, but that it is specifically after Yaakov’s demise that one can say he lives on.

Compiled from Likkutei Sichos , Vol. XV, pp. 427-430.

1. Bereishis 47:28.
2. See Likkutei Sichos V , p. 57ff.
3. Yermiyahu 10:10.
4. See Avos d’Rebbe Nassan conclusion of ch. 34: “Ten are called ‘alive,’ G-d, Torah, Jews….”
5. Devarim 4:4.
6. Avos 2:4; Berachos 29a.
7. See Berachos ibid.; Zohar III , 285a.
8. Taanis 5b.
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Based on the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson    More articles…  |   RSS Listing of Newest Articles by this Author

TORAH STUDIES: Parshat Vayechi
Tevet 8, 5774 · December 11, 2013

We read in our Sidra that Jacob twice called his sons to gather round him and listen to his blessings and prophecies. The Rabbis infer that these were two separate events, though they followed each other closely in time. What he said on the second occasion is narrated in the subsequent verses. But as to what happened on the first, the Torah is silent. The Rebbe discusses the Rabbinic explanation of this event, in which Jacob tried to reveal to his sons “the end of days,” and concludes with a searching investigation into the meaning of “the end of days” for our own time.

1. What Jacob Did Not Say

“And Jacob called to his sons and said: Gather yourselves together and I will relate to you what will happen to you in later days.’’1 The Rabbis comment2 on this verse, that “Jacob wished to reveal to his sons the end of days, but the Divine Presence (the Shechinah—which gave him his power of prophecy) departed from him.”

But what forces the Rabbis to make this interpretation? The literal reading of the verse on the face of it would be to understand Jacob as referring to the blessings which he was to give his sons, and which are mentioned later in the chapter.

Some commentators explain the Rabbis to be concerned with the phrase, “in later days,” which elsewhere3 in the Torah has the meaning of “at the end of days.”

But this is difficult to accept.

Firstly, because “in later days,” does not always have this meaning. For example, when Balaam says to Balak,4 “I will announce to you what this people will do to your people in later days,” Rashi5 takes this as a reference to the time of King David.

Secondly, even if we accept that Jacob wished to speak about the end of days, why should we say that he wished to “reveal” to his sons when this would be? It seems closer to the literal sense of the verse to say he merely wanted to tell them what would happen then—as he proceeds to do6 later in the chapter.

And thirdly, even if we accept the Rabbinic interpretation it surely is not the literal reading of the verse. And yet Rashi himself cites it, and Rashi is avowedly concerned only with the literal meaning.

2. The Two Meetings

The explanation is that there is an apparent repetition in the text of the Torah. First, Jacob says “Gather yourselves together, and I will relate to you….” and then he says,7“Assemble yourselves and hear.” Since the Torah contains no redundant passages, it follows that there must have been two separate occasions when Jacob brought his sons together. The second gathering is continued in the chapter. But the first remains a mystery. Why are we not told what Jacob intended to say, and why he did not say it? This is why the Rabbis explain that he “wished to reveal to his sons the end of days” but he could not, because “the Divine Presence was removed from him.” And this is why he gathered them a second time, with a word (hikabtzu: “Assemble yourselves”) which did not have the implication of preparing to hear words emanating from the Divine Presence (as did he-asfu: “Gather yourselves together”).

But something is missing from this explanation. Granted that the text of the Torah forces us to realize that Jacob brought his sons together wishing to tell them something which in fact he failed to do; nonetheless, perhaps this was merely some additional information about what would happen to them in the future—and for some reason he was prevented from doing so. Where is the evidence that he wished to reveal “the end of days?”

3. Three Kinds of Communication

We can go further in our understanding by means of a distinction made in the Zohar8between three kinds of speech: “speaking,” “saying” and “relating.”9 “Speaking” is a merely verbal act. “Saying” comes from the heart. But “relating” is the voice of the soul.

A difference between them is this: Speaking and saying come from the surface, not from the depth of the soul. The mouth can sometimes speak what the heart does not feel. Even what the heart says can be at odds with what the man truly wills in his soul. Sometimes, in his heart, a Jew can desire what the Torah forbids. But in his true inwardness he never seeks to separate himself from G-d’s will.10 The eye sees, the heart desires,11 but the innermost soul never assents to a sin.

But “relating” comes from the depths of a man’s being. Aggadah, the inward part of Torah, means, literally, “relating.” And the Rabbis said about Aggadah:12 “You wish to recognize He who spoke and brought the world into existence? Learn Aggadah, for in it you will find G-d.” In other words, through the part of Torah called “relating” you encounter the inwardness of G-d.

And what Jacob at first wished to do was to “relate” to his sons, to disclose to them the “end of days” when the inwardness of the soul and of G-d would be revealed through the inwardness of Torah.

4. The Divine Presence Departs

But why were the Rabbis insistent that the Divine Presence (Shechinah) was removed from Jacob as he was about to “relate?” Why not say, more simply, “the end of days was hidden from him?” In particular, since immediately afterwards, in his blessings to his sons, Jacob makes many prophecies, implying that the Divine Presence was still with him.

The reason is that Jacob wished to reveal the “end of days” to his sons, thinking that after they had “gathered themselves together” (after they had united themselves, in the deepest sense of the word, in preparing to receive this revelation), they would be capable and worthy of such a disclosure. But they could not receive the Divine Presence: It could not become present13 in them. And so it departed. Not from Jacob, who could still see “the end of days” and could still prophesy. But from his attempt to “relate” it to his sons.

Despite this, however, the Rabbis still said that the Divine Presence departed from him—from Jacob. Because the fact that his sons could not accommodate the Presence within themselves caused a failing in Jacob himself.14

But if so, why did the Presence depart only when Jacob wished to reveal “the end of days?” His sons were then as they had been. If Jacob was at fault because of his sons, then he was so beforehand. There was no sudden change, that the Divine Presence should have been within him until now, and just at this moment depart.

The answer is that even though his sons had been beforehand unworthy of the revelation that Jacob intended to relate, so long as he was uninvolved with them and their situation, he was not affected by it. But when he tried torelate to them, he was affected, and the Presence departed.15

5. Today and the End of Days

The Torah is eternal. It is addressed to every Jew, and therefore what it relates involves every Jew. And the continuing effect of Jacob’s actions is this: In saying, “Gather (unite) yourselves together and I will relate to you” he gave to his children and to their descendants until “the end of days” the power to reach by their service to G-d, a revelation of that end, albeit in a way that they cannot inwardly accommodate in its completeness.

This has an important implication. Someone reflecting on the state of the world might say: How can this age and this orphaned generation be prepared for a revelation of the future redemption, a revelation for which even generations of great stature were unworthy?

Against this, the Torah teaches that through Jacob’s act of seeking to grant this revelation to his sons, every Jew has the power at all times—even when the “Divine Presence departs from him,” even when it has concealed itself, as now, in double shrouds of darkness—to reach in a single bound the “revelation of the end,” the true, complete redemption.

Indeed, the very fact that we feel that our time is unworthy of redemption is itself proof of Messianic nearness. For the Rabbis say:16 “The Messiah will come when he is not expected” (literally: “When the mind is turned elsewhere”). And an age like ours which cannot find a place for the possibility of redemption, is evidence against its own beliefs, and a sign that redemption is imminent.

This does not mean that we are right to despair, so as to ensure that the Messiah is unexpected. On the contrary, it is a principle of Jewish faith that “each day I wait for him to come.”17 It means rather that, without regard for the fact that our minds cannot envisage it, we have a faith which goes beyond rational expectation. And this faith itself will speedily bring the redemption of “the end of days.”

(Source: Likkutei Sichot, Vol. X pp. 167-172)

1. Bereishit 49:1.
2. Pesachim, 56a.
3. Devarim 4:30; Isaiah 2:2; Jeremiah 23:20.
4. Bamidbar 24:14.
5. Bamidbar 24:17.
6. Cf. Rashi, ad loc.
7. Bereishit 49:2.
8. Part I, 234b.
9. In Hebrew, dibbur, amirah and haggadah respectively.
10. Cf. Rambam, Hilchot Gerushin, 2:20, where he explains why a husband may be legitimately compelled to grant a divorce to his wife. Surely consent given under compulsion is not true consent? Rambam comments: forcing a man to do what Torah commands him is not real compulsion. The only compulsion is when the man refuses to grant a divorce, and here it is the evil desires which are compelling him to do what he does not truly will.
11. Rashi, Bamidbar 15:39. Cf. Bamidbar Rabbah, 10:2.
12. Sifri on Devarim 11:22. Shulchan Aruch Harav, Hilchot Talmud Torah, 2:2.
13. Shechinah being that aspect of G-dliness which dwells (shochen) and is revealed (Tanya, Part I, ch. 41).
14. Just as Moses’ greatness was affected by the Golden Calf (Berachot, 32a. Rashi, Shemot 32:7).
15. Just as Moses was affected and couldn’t bear to hold the Tablets only after descending and nearing the camp of Israel (Shemot 32:19. Cf. Jerusalem Talmud, Taanit, 4:5).
16. Sanhedrin, 97a.
17. Rambam, 12th principle of faith.
Adapted by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks; From the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe    More articles…  |   RSS Listing of Newest Articles by this Author

WEEKLY ALIYOT: Parshat Vayechi
Tevet 8, 5774 · December 11, 2013
Vayechi Aliya Summary

General Overview: This week’s Torah reading, Vayechi, discusses Jacob’s final years. Shortly before his passing, Jacob blesses Joseph’s children as well as his own. A massive funeral procession escorts Jacob’s body to Canaan. The reading, and the Book of Genesis, concludes with Joseph’s death.

First Aliyah: Jacob lived his last seventeen years in Egypt. When Jacob sensed that his days were numbered he summoned Joseph and asked him to promise that he would bury him in Israel. Joseph acceded to the request. When Jacob then fell ill, Joseph visited him, accompanied by his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. Jacob conferred upon Ephraim and Manasseh the status of tribal progenitors, a status hitherto enjoyed only by Jacob’s sons. Joseph asked his father to bless Ephraim and Manasseh.

Second Aliyah: Joseph presents his two sons, placing Manasseh, the firstborn, to Jacob’s right, and Ephraim to Jacob’s left. Jacob, who was nearly blind at this point, crossed his hands, placing his right – more prestigious – hand on Ephraim’s head. He blessed them: “May the angel who redeemed me from all harm bless the youths, and may they be called by my name and the name of my fathers, Abraham and Isaac, and may they multiply abundantly like fish, in the midst of the land.”

Third Aliyah: Joseph was disturbed that Jacob placed his right hand on Ephraim, and he attempted to adjust his father’s hands. “I know, my son, I know,” Jacob responded, explaining that the “younger brother will be greater, and his children[‘s fame] will fill the nations.” Jacob blessed the two boys further, saying that all of Israel will bless each other by saying: “May G‑d make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.”

Fourth Aliyah: Jacob summoned all his sons, and delivered to each a poetic, and sometimes cryptic, parting personal message. Reuben was chastised for his impetuousness and for “ascending upon his father’s bed.” Shimon and Levi were rebuked for their anger, which expressed itself in the killing of the Shechemites and the attempted execution of Joseph. Judah was blessed with monarchy, success in waging battle, and an abundance of wine and milk in his portion. Zebulon was blessed with success in his sea-trade endeavors. Jacob likened Issachar to a thick-boned donkey who finds both rest and ample work. Dan was blessed with the tenacity of a serpent and the ability to judge.

Fifth Aliyah: Gad was blessed with bravery in battle. Asher’s blessing: an abundance of olive oil. Naphtali was blessed with the speed of a deer. Joseph was recognized for his charm, suffering, and righteousness, and was showered with a variety of blessings.

Sixth Aliyah: Benjamin was likened to a devouring wolf. Jacob then repeated his request to be buried in Israel, in the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron, and he passed away at the age of 147. After an extended national mourning period, Joseph received Pharaoh’s permission to carry Jacob’s body up to Israel. A huge funeral procession consisting of all the elders of Egypt as well as Jacob’s family went and buried Jacob. After returning to Egypt, Joseph’s brothers feared that now, after Jacob had passed away, Joseph would exact revenge from them for selling him into slavery. Joseph reassured them that he harbored no ill feelings towards them.

Seventh Aliyah: Joseph lived until the age of 110. Before passing away he told his brothers that G‑d would eventually take them out of Egypt and return them to the Promised Land. Joseph asked his brothers to promise that when that time arrived they would carry his remains with them, and inter him in Israel.

Tevet 8, 5774 · December 11, 2013
Genesis 47:28-50:26

Jacob lives the final 17 years of his life in Egypt. Before his passing, he asks Joseph to take an oath that he will bury him in the Holy Land. He blesses Joseph’s two sons,Manasseh and Ephraim, elevating them to the status of his own sons as progenitors of tribeswithin the nation of Israel.

The patriarch desires to reveal the end of daysto his children, but is prevented from doing so.Jacob blesses his sons, assigning to each his role as a tribe: Judah will produce leaders, legislators and kings; priests will come fromLevi, scholars from Issachar, seafarers fromZebulun, schoolteachers from Shimon, soldiers from Gad, judges from Dan, olive growers from Asher, and so on. Reuben is rebuked for “confusing his father’s marriage”; Shimon and Levi for the massacre of Shechem and the plot against Joseph. Naphtali is granted the swiftness of a deer, Benjamin the ferociousness of a wolf, and Joseph is blessed with beauty and fertility.

A large funeral procession consisting of Jacob’s descendants, Pharaoh’s ministers, the leading citizens of Egypt and the Egyptian cavalry accompanies Jacob on his final journey to the Holy Land, where he is buried in the Machpeilah Cave in Hebron.

Joseph, too, dies in Egypt, at the age of 110. He, too, instructs that his bones be taken out of Egypt and buried in the Holy Land, but this would come to pass only with the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt many years later. Before his passing, Joseph conveys to the Children of Israel the testament from which they will draw their hope and faith in the difficult years to come: “G-d will surely remember you, and bring you up out of this land to the land of which He swore to AbrahamIsaac and Jacob.”

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In My Opinion

The old witticism about “How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? Only one, but the bulb has to want to be changed!” resonates deep within me. After over a half-century in the rabbinate and in Torah education I have witnessed the truth of this shrewd observation time and again. Change is rarely accomplished by purely outside pressures, legislation or even coercion. It requires inner will and a commitment to somehow alter one’s course or to rethink one’s position on issues and challenges. If the bulb is unwilling to be changed then one hundred psychiatrists will be unable to change it. It is true that the great changes in Jewish life over the past three…

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Parshat Vayechi

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Parshat Vayechi: Living Life
Refinement Of Speech
Preparation for the Amida, Part 2

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This week we feature Mrs. Shira Smiles’ class titled
Parshat Vayechi & The Tenth of Tevet from the Naaleh seriesParsha Topics 5767.  In this shiur Mrs. Shira Smiles talks about the fast day of the Tenth of Tevet, as well as the parsha for this week, Parshat Vayechi.

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Parshat Vayechi: Living Life

Based on a shiur by Mrs. Shira Smiles

Parshat Vayechi begins, “Yaakov lived in the land of Egypt for seventeen years, and Yaakov’s days, the years of his life, were a hundred and forty seven years.” Yaakov’s [rimary place of living was Eretz Yisrael. Why does the Torah say he lived in Egypt? Instead, iIt should say he sojourned or settled. In addition, why does it say, “Vayehi yemei Yaakov” in the singular? The singular expression, “Vayehehu yemei Yaakov,” (They were the days of Yaakov) would be more grammatically correct.

Rav Gifter explains that although a tzaddik may live many days, they are all for one purpose. Yaakov’s single mission in life waskirvat Elokim, to come closer to Hashem. He lived the concept ofVayehi. All his days were singular and equal in that whatever circumstances he found himself in, he served Hashem with perfect faith throughout his life. And although his life was fraught with unending difficulties, he utilized each day to the fullest.

We must believe that the exact measure of tests that come upon on a person is precisely ordained. Nothing happens by chance. The more challenging the circumstances, the greater the opportunity, as the Mishna says, “Lifum tzara agra.” According to the pain is the reward. The beauty of Yaakov’s days was that they were kulam shavim, they were all equally productive. He understood that his whole life was one of potential and growth.

Rav Nachman Breslover said, “If you see a great person, know that he struggled.” Although we may learn and become wiser through our challenges, during the ordeal we don’t have the perspective that we gain when looking back. If we don’t see the benefit, it is hard to feel how it is good. Part of the test is believing that there is purpose and meaning in our suffering. Rav Schwab notes that Yaakov’s greatest years were in Egypt. The challenges that once chased after Yaakov ended. In Egypt he lived shenei chayav, days of goodness. He recognized that the difficulties he had faced had served to actualize his potential. We too must believe that there is ultimate mercy hidden in suffering even though we may not understand.

In the Torah, water is described as living water only if it flows constantly. When something is unchanging it lasts forever. Yaakov overcame the impurities of Egypt by immersing himself in the eternal world of Torah and truth. The Tzemech Tzedek once asked the Alter Rebbe, “How can it be that Yaakov spent the best years of his life in Egypt?” He answered that Yaakov sent Yehuda ahead to set up a house of learning. When one has Torah one can live with Hashem, even in Egypt. Transforming darkness to light reveals an even higher dimension. Yaakov’s connection to Hashem transcended material settings.

The first verse in Vayechi hints to the soul coming down to the body to a world full of physical pursuits and desires. Yaakov descended to Mitzrayim with the mission to turn evil to good. He accomplished his purpose by making Torah his essence. We too can transcend our own narrow straits by allowing Torah to dictate our every step.

The Siftei Chaim explains that when Yaakov wanted to reveal theketz, he didn’t intend to reveal the actual redemption. He desired to tell his sons how Hashem is with us both in times of darkness and light so that Yaakov’s descendants would not falter in their emunah. He wanted to impart the lessons he learned and to explain how life has a system and a purpose. But Hashem said no. Parshat Vayechi is a parsha stuma, a closed parsha. Life is about strengthening oneself in emunah precisely when the reasons are unclear. It is about passing the nisayon and holding on even when it’s almost too difficult to bear. Yaakov wanted to explain how the salvation is hidden within the challenges. Then we would have lived exile in a different realm. But Hashem prevented him. He allowed Yaakov to tell his children that there was a plan, but he could not reveal what it was. In Shema we say, “Shema yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem echad.” The name Hashem symbolizes mercy, while the name Elokim represents strict judgment. Even though we perceive Hashem as acting with different midot, we know that He is one. In essence Hashem’s midat hadin stems from his midat harachamim. Amid the suffering and pain, hope and redemption will sprout anew.


We know that the Torah measures every word it uses, yet we find that two extra words were used to describe the non-kosher animals that entered Noach’s ark. The Torah says, “U’min habeheima asher lo tehora” (from the animals that are not kosher) instead of temeiah(non-kosher), to emphasize how far one must go to speak in a refined way. Yet we find temeiahmentioned many times in Parshat Shemini where the Torah discusses the laws of kashrut. The Dubno Maggid explains this seeming contradiction with a parable.

A person once had to deliver a package to an unfamiliar town. He stopped a passerby and asked him, “Where does Mordechai Goldstein live?” The man began yelling, “Mottel the thief? Why would you want anything to do with him?” He tried more people and got the same response. Finally, he spotted a distinguished looking man approaching, who turned out to be the Rav of the community. “Would you know where Mottel the thief lives?” The Rav began berating him, “What right do you have to defame an upstanding citizen? His name is Mordechai Goldstein.” He then gave him directions to the house.

A few weeks later, the Rav approached the fellow, who happened to be a matchmaker, to find a match for his daughter. The shadchansuggested Mottel’s son. “Mottel the thief’s son, how could you,” sputtered the Rav. Whereupon the fellow countered, “What happened, now you’re talking different?” “When you’re talking about directions, what right do you have to defame a person? then he is Mordechai Goldstein. But when we are talking about a match for my daughter, that’s a different story,” explained the Rav.

Parshat Noach discusses history, which animals were allowed in the ark and how many of each of the species were to be saved. There the Torah is careful to use the most refined expressions. But Parshat Shemini, which explains the laws of kashrut, had to be written explicitly, so the message of the Torah is clear.

Rav Pam would adjure his students to always be careful to speak in a refined way. Telling a child that he’s clumsy or calling someone a fool, moron, or beast does not befit a Torah Jew. He quoted the Chazon Ish as saying that one can say that someone is speaking an untruth, but calling someone a liar is crude. Rav Pam maintained that couples who speak to each other in an unrefined way jeopardize their family harmony. He disapproved of using the word, ‘whatchamacallit,’ which shows an absence of thought. The Torah tell us to be careful with our tongues, not to engage in lashon hara, not to tarnish someone’s reputation, bear false witness, lie, or allownivul peh (inappropriate of coarse words) to exit our lips. Nivulcomes from the root word nevelah, a carcass. Speech is meant to be used with sanctity. Speaking in an impure way is like a dead body, devoid of soul. May we merit to elevate our speech to inspire others and to sanctify the name of Hashem.


Preparation for the Amida, Part 2: G-d’s Love of Israel

Based on a shiur by Rabbi Hershel Reichman


The second blessing of Shema, Ahava Rabbah, expresses the unique love between Hashem and the Jewish people. We ask the One above to give us understanding to study the Torah and to fulfill its commandments. We ask for a heart full of love and fear so that we may not feel inner shame before Him for not fulfilling our potential. The very fact that the Jewish people were chosen by the Almighty out of all the nations, to receive the Torah and bring its message to the world is an indication of Hashem’s profound love for us.

We connect to the Creator by studying the Torah, which expresses His essence. The verse in Shema says, “Love Hashem will all your soul and might. These words of Torah that I command you should be on your heart at all times.” A Jew’s entire day should be an all-consuming experience of Torah.

Before we begin Shemone Esrei, the core section of tefilah, we affirm Hashem’s absolute love for us. We recognize His special commitment and concern for us above the natural love of a parent to a child. As we stand in silent communion before our loving Father, we can express our deepest wishes and hopes with full confidence that all our prayers will be heard and answered.


YOUTH/TEEN Select Section WEEKLY Parasha Parashat Vayechi SHIURIM & COMMENTARIES

Vayechi: Jacob Blesses his Sons, in Rhyme!

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After journeys, revelations, struggles and visions, our ancestors take stock of their blessings in this week’s parsha, the last one in Bereshit – closing out the book of Genesis. Marcus J. Freed – poet, teacher, playwright and actor – gives voice – or is that voices? – to the whole thing.

This is Episode 12 of the weekly Torah cartoon from Each week, a different storyteller – some musical, some poetic, some just straight-up, tell the story of the current Torah portion…and then we animate it!

Vayehi : La Paracha avec Boubach saison 2 !!


Voici la nouvelle émission de 613tv conçue et présentée par Michael Broll !
Avec Boubach découvrez les trésors de la Torah à travers la paracha de la semaine !!!!!!! Un rendez-vous a ne pas manquer et à partager avec tous vos amis !…

Here is the new issue of 613tv designed and presented by Michael Broll!
With Boubach discover the treasures of the Torah through the parsha of the week!!! An appointment not to be missed and share with all your friends! …
Tevet 8, 5774 · December 11, 2013
Living with the Parsha: Payback Time

Renee fidgeted uncomfortably as she sat together with her friends at the posh birthday party of their classmate Rachel.

Their whole class had been invited to the party but Renee, Michelle and Tova all felt extremely unwelcome. You see, Rachel was a new girl in class who had only recently come to town and when she had first arrived Renee and her friends had begun taunting her. Rachel always wore very smart clothes and had a fancy packed lunch. She stood out from the rest of the class, and they did not treat her nicely.

When she had invited them to the party Renee had refused to go but her parents had said that she should because she was a new girl and it would be rude not to accept the invitation. So now, here they were sitting at her birthday party.

The birthday cake had arrived and Rachel got up to say a little birthday speech.

‘This weeks’ Torah Portion is Vayechi and in we learn about the greatness of Joseph’, she began saying, as she looked around the room.

‘When Jacob died, and Joseph and all his brother were living in Egypt, the brothers became very afraid that Joseph would treat them badly for the way they had sold him as a slave twenty odd years earlier – so they all came begging Joseph not to treat them harshly’.

‘To this Joseph replied, “Do not fear my brothers, for when you thought you were doing bad to me, actually G-d was doing something good, because if I had not come down to Egypt then I would not have been able to save the land from famine, and then we would have all starved, so you see – even though you thought you were treating me badly, in fact you were doing us all a favor”.

Rachel looked at Renee and her friends as she continued, ‘This surprised Joseph’s brothers, for they thought that he would wait until their father Jacob died and then he would pay them back for all their evil, but in fact he did not do anything of the sort, and he only treated his brother with the greatest of respect.’

‘This is a lesson to all of us, that when somebody is mean to us or they treat us badly, we must try to see the good, and always remember that everything is in the hands of G-d’.

Rachel finished talking and cut the cake and gave out a piece to each of her classmates.

Renee was impressed with Rachel’s speech and when she handed her the plate with the birthday cake she said to her, ‘You know something Rachel, I’m very sorry me and the others were mean towards you, you have taught us a very valuable lesson in life – which we will hopefully never forget. We were acting our of jealousy… and jealousy just isn’t cool!’.

Rachel smiled, and gave Renee another slice of cake.

By Tali Loewenthal    More articles…  |   RSS Listing of Newest Articles by this Author
By Dr. Tali Loewenthal, Director of Chabad Research Unit, London, UK.

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Tevet 10, 5774 · December 13, 2013
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Select Section Weekly Parasha Parshat Vayechi Language : hebrew, SHIURIM & COMMENTARIES

הרב יוסף בן פורת פרשת ויחי יראת ה החום לאמת תשסו, כב’ כסלו, תשס’ט

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הרב פינטו שיעור על פרשת ויחי שנת 2010

הידברות-הרב זמיר כהן-פרשת ויחי / Rabbi Zamir Cohen

הרב שמעון דהן – פרשת ויחי ומוהרן התשע”ד השעור המלא HD

שיעורים ממדרשת פסגות פרשת ויחי, כב’ כסלו, תש’ע

קול צופייך | ז’ טבת תשנ”ח | פרשת ויחי | כל דיני עשרה בטבת | מרן הרב מרדכי אליהו

הרב אליהו דרמר פרשת ויחי, טו’ טבת, תשע’ב

פרשת ויחי ברוח חב”ד 5 דקות של חסידות עם הרב שרגא זלמנוב לגימת חסידות

פרשת ויחי מפי הרב קניאל

הרב מאיר צימרוט פרשת ויחי, י’ טבת, תשס’ט

הרב יהודה יוספי פרשת ויחי, יג’ טבת, תש’ע

הרב ירחמיאל קראם פרשת ויחי, יב’ טבת, תשס’ט

הרב יעקב חיים סופר פרשת ויחי, יא’ טבת, תש’ע

קול צופייך | פרשת ויחי | עשרה בטבת | הרה”ג שמואל אליהו

פרשת ויחי בנימין זאב יטרף

פרשת ויחי- הרב אליהו חי ור איפרגאן שליט”א

הרב לוגאסי פרשת ויחי יא’ טבת, תשס’ז

ויחי הרב גבריאל יוסף לוי

הרב אברהם צבי מרגלית תפילה ופרשת ויחי, י’ טבת, תשע’ב

הרב אליהו דיסקין פרשת ויחי, י’ אייר, תשע’ב

הרה”ג יעקב חיים סופר שליט”א פרשת Vayechi ויחי התשע”’ד

פרשת השבוע ויחי ופירושם של חכמי וגאוני מרוקו מאת הרב מיכאל שושן

Select Section Jewish History : 24JEWISH ALERTS large selection in each section

In the Long History of Picture Postcards, a Long History of Anti Tablet Magazine

Even though there was no visible motive and all the evidence was circumstantial, the blame was laid on Dreyfus for one reason: his Jewish heritage. Dreyfus 
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The Truth of SatireArutz Sheva

Judaism: The Truth of Satire  historian, speaker and educator, admired the world over for his audio tapes/CDs, videos and books, particularly on Jewish history.
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Are Tolkien’s dwarves an allegory for the Jews?The Times of Israel

According to Tolkien scholar John Rateliff, author of a two-volume “Hobbit”history published in 2007, Tolkien drew inspiration from Hebrew texts andJewish 
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Britain: Good for the Jews or Bad for the Jews?

Todd M. Endelman is the William Haber Professor of Modern Jewish History at the University of Michigan. He specializes in the social history of Jews in Western 
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Jens Hoffmann to Curate New Sculpture Exhibit at Jewish Museum Broadway World

This spring, The Jewish Museum will present a major exhibition of sculpture from the  Jens Hoffmann has long been interested in the history of exhibitions.
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Jews Returning to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Blessing or The Jewish Press

Yishai focuses on the current situation on the Temple Mount. He talks about the modern history of the holy site and the difficulty experienced by Jewstrying to 
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Public fastsJewish Chronicle

The Rambam teaches that leaders of the community call a public fast (ta’anit tzibbur) in times of crisis or to mark a tragic event in Jewish history (Hilchot Ta’anit, 
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My interview with Helen Suzman, early S. African Jewish supporter St. Louis Jewish Light (blog)

When he became South Africa’s first black—and democratically elected—president in the nation’s history, instead of taking revenge on his former tormentors and 
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Destination Weddings, With A Jewish TwistThe Jewish Week

Jews have a certain advantage when it comes to wedding geography: all you need …. If it’s centuries of Jewish history you’re looking for, don’t come to Mexico’s 
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December 2013, Tevet 5774
Dear Friends,
Thank you for taking the time to read this message.
Since 1986, thousands have started or continue to learn Jewish history with Rabbi Wein – week after week, month after month, year after year.  And during that time we have rarely asked you for support directly. For those who have chosen to support our efforts to make products on Judaism and Jewish history available, we thank you immensely for this personal relationship. The list below (and a visit to our website ) reflects what your participation has helped us accomplish.
However, as we’ve grown, our commitment to produce media tools that offer today’s generation a way to learn about their history has required growing expenses which we simply are unable to bear alone.
Therefore, we are reaching out to you – friends of Destiny who understand and value the work we’re doing – asking for your support to allow us to continue helping our people discover the value and importance of being a Jew.
Our projects have always been primarily funded by public donations and your assistance will help us complete our educational initiatives:
Help us to:
  • Maintain three active websites –,, reaching millions on the subject of Jewish history
  • Complete the 13-part ‘Faith and Fate’ film series – of which 5 episodes (complete with educators’ guides and instant lesson plans) have been produced. Called “excellent and impressive” by the Jerusalem Post, the films drastically and emotionally tell the story of how events of the century impacted the Jewish people and how the Jewish people affected the century.
  • Complete the 5-part animated and illustrated drama series, “Heralds of Destiny”on Jewish heroes and role models.  Two of the films on Rashi and Rambam have been completed – and three more scripts, on the Abarbanel, Dona Gracia, and the Bal Shem Tov are being developed and require funding to go into production.
  • Add to the library of hundreds of YouTube pieces on Jewish history
  • Produce educational curricula that are both interactive and modular, allowing schools to customize material to their needs
Destiny is a 501(c)(3) Educational Media Foundation that has been identified with the popularization of Jewish history for over 25 years.  Fueling this focus has been Rabbi Berel Wein’s passion for the Jewish people and their history. Over 1 million audio lectures have been distributed worldwide.
When doing your year-end calculations, your investment in Destiny and your partnership with Rabbi Wein will impact the Jewish world going forward. If you have already considered Destiny and Rabbi Wein’s efforts, we say thank you in advance.
Accounting for only one quarter of one percent of the world’s population, every one of us counts.
Your donation can make a difference.
undefined Donate Now by clicking on the PayPal donate button
If you prefer, you can also send a tax-deductible contribution to:
Destiny Foundation
386 Route 59 Suite 103
Monsey, NY 10952
You can also make a pledge over the phone by calling one of our offices:
US Office: 1-800-499-9346
Israel Office: 972-52-833-9560
Or become a Destiny Member and not only do you give to the Destiny Foundation but you get to take advantage of all the member rewards!  Click here for membership information
Thank you for your time and consideration.
The Destiny Foundation
“Jewish History is our teacher … it is our rear view mirror. 
If you don’t know where you come from – how do you know where you are going? History is one of the most valuable tools for understanding and dealing with today’s world”

Rabbi Berel Wein

Select Section Jewish Communities: 24JEWISH ALERTS large selection videos and feeds in each section


Baku gives land for Jewish cultural center, kosher restaurantJewish Telegraphic Agency

Azerbaijan has a Jewish population of about 20,000, according to the World Jewish Congress, with 75 percent residing in Baku. Despite strong traditionalist 
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Chanukah enhances Chinese-Jewish relationsJ-Wire Jewish Australian News Service

Over fifty community, business and political leaders from the Victorian Jewish and Chinese dined together over Chanukah to help build closer ties between the 
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Councilwoman-Elect Apologizes for ‘Jewish Landlords’ CommentThe Jewish Press

ADL New York Regional Director Evan R. Bernstein, said, “We welcome Ms. Cumbo’s apology and her recognition that her remarks about the Jewish community 
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How Mandela Eased Doubts Among Jewish LeadersThe Jewish Press

He expressed deep appreciation for the Jewish community of South Africa’s support for him during the long years of his imprisonment and expressed a desire to 
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Strength in generationsJewish News of Greater Phoenix

Over the next few months, our community will go through some changes as longtime leaders of Jewish organizations retire or move on to other passions.
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Why the Jews left their Arab landsAsia Times Online

These communities have disappeared or are in the process of disappearing in the majority of Arab-Muslim countries. In fact, 865,000 Jews found themselves 
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A Historic Chanukah at Albanian President’s (blog)

On the eighth night of Chanukah, a remarkable event took place in Albania: President Bujar Nishani personally invited the Jewish community to a formal 
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