February 28, 2024 |


Parshat Vayetze: Walkthrough

[ Walkthrough Rules - A reader of a Walkthrough should have the same rich, immersive experience that someone who is deeply familiar with Biblical idiom and references would have reading the original. - Cultural translation: Phrases that sound idiomatic to a speaker of Biblical Hebrew get...

Two From Sforno

Rabbi Ovadia S'forno (1475-1550) was a great Italian Jew. His commentary on the Torah is printed in the classic "Mikraot Gedolot" anthology and is a favorite resource for Rabbis and scholars. S'forno was a true Renaissance man, a pious and learned Jew who was also well-versed in philosophy and...

Plymouth Rock vs. Foundation Stone

Ah, Thanksgiving is here! Most American Jews (the Hellers included) happily and proudly celebrate this holiday, comfortable in its mostly secular origins and happy to share a mid-week day of rest and relaxation with family and friends. The origin of Thanksgiving goes back to William Bradford and the...

My Weekly Drash (a mini D'var Torah) - Vayetze (3)

We read in Parshah Va-Yetzei, “Leah conceived and bore a son, and named him Reuben; for she declared, “It means: ‘The Lord has seen my affliction’; it also means: ‘Now my husband will love me.’” (Gen. 29:32). Although we are a people of custom and tradition, this is one custom that has happily...

Vayetze Baby Wars - G-dcast

Earlier this year, I recorded a G-dcast on Parshat Vayetze. What's a G-dcast? G-dcast: a weekly cartoon about the story Jews are reading in the Torah right now. A different writer tells the parsha in 4 minutes: some are stories, others are country songs or hip hop! Then we animate it. Whether...

My video divrei Torah on this parasha from youtube

Tower of Babel vs Abraham's Call Lech lecha jewu 440 How do non-Jews achieve salvation? Noahide laws JewU 155 Torah portion Noah and the flood JewU 60Sputnik, Bears half-time speech and rainbows JewU 245 Noah, water-too much and too little JewU 247

My Weekly Drash (a mini D'var Torah) - Vayetze (2)

"Surely the Lord is present in this place, and I did not know it," says Jacob in Parshah Vayetze, awakening from his dream of the angels going up and down a heavenly stairway. (Gen. 28:16) Jacob is described as "shaken" by the experience. It's a moment worth contemplating. We're too apt to think...


My favorite image of OJ Simpson is a commercial he did for Hertz. Some poor woman has forgotten her ID at the checkout counter and is getting on the plane. OJ sprints broken-field through a crowded airport and hurdles a block of chairs – in a classic Heisman trophy motion – to catch up to her and...

Yaakov's Foray into Genetic Engineering

Tomorrow we will read Parshat Vayetze. This parsha is indeed exciting, with lots of material for us to potentially get really cozy and study together. However, with limited time, we must filter the parshah through our Zoologists eyes and concentrate on the fourteen pesukim found in Bereishit, perek...

The Upheaval of Knowing of God is Creation

<p>I i Jacob has a dream of a ladder going to Heaven, and of God's angels upon the ladder, and of God speaking to him. </p> <p> When Jacob awakes he says: <em>God was in this place and I did not know.</em></p> <p>*<br/> He renames the place where he slept. He calls the place: <em>Beit...


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Shulamit E. Kustanowitz gained an intimacy with Jewish tradition as the daughter of a Conservative rabbi and as a Modern Orthodox adult. She authored A First Haggadah in 1979 and Henrietta Szold, Israel's Helping Hand in 1990. In 2006 her first novel, Murder at the Minyan, was published. Her...

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