December 8, 2023 |


Outside the Box

On my desk I have a picture of myself with a very dear friend who is also a highly successful entrepreneur. This friend signed the picture to me: “To Rav Shmuel: Who taught me everything I know about thinking out of the box.” In actual fact, I taught this man nothing about “thinking outside the...


One of the most tragic stories in the first book of the Torah is the death of Rachel. Here is how the Torah describes her death: "And they traveled from Beit El, and, while there was still a stretch of land to go before Efrat, Rachel went into labor and she suffered in her labor. And it was...

Parshat Vayishlach: Walkthrough

[We pick up the story with Jacob on his way home after 20 years abroad.] Jacob sends messengers to his brother Esav, with the following message: “This is Jacob speaking. I’ve been living with Lavan and haven’t had a chance to get back until just now. It’s been a profitable time, and I...

What's In A Name

I was named for my grandfather. Twice. Rabbi Velvel Heller's name in Hebrew was Ze'ev; in English, Wolf, an exact translation. Ze'ev is also my first name in Hebrew (Zev in English.) My middle name is Aviezer[1], which has in it the three letters of Ze'ev, zayin, aleph and bet. My grandfather was...

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

For those of us without rabbinical training, the workings of the classic rabbis can sometimes seem strange. For example at the beginning of Parshah Vayishlach Jacob sends messengers to soften up his brother Esau ahead of his return. He begins one such message, "I stayed with Laban and remained...

My video divrei Torah on this parasha from youtube Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg

vayishla Jacob wrestles and gets renamed Israel JewU285 God was on Jacob's side as Jacob wrestlesd himself JewU292

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

Did you ever call a helpline or a billing office and discover you had a new best friend? Suddenly a total stranger is addressing you by your first name as if you’re old pals. As we see in this week’s Parshah VaYishlach, names have power and meaning. Jacob wrestles with an angel who renames him...

The Empathy of Israel

i Jacob wrestles an angel, at night, before meeting with his brother Esau. Jacob has not seen Esau for more than twenty years. Jacob fears that Esau may want to kill him. * The angel changes Jacob's name. The angel calls Jacob, <em> Yisrael</em>: Israel. For, the angel says to Jacob, of...

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

What goes around comes around. The Torah does not pull punches in telling the stories of the patriarchs, even if our Hebrew School teachers do. A story you probably didn't learn as a child has to do with the rape of Jacob's daughter Dinah by Shechem, a local tribesman who then has the audacity...


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