Parashat Hashavua

Portion VaYeCHee - Father Jacob and Justice Minister Jacob

 

Portion VaYeCHee - Father Jacob and Justice Minister Jacob

 

How much self-justified hatred and anger can exist in the minds of otherwise intelligent people. And how to combat that?

People need faith – in themselves as well as others – and in the FUTURE – as we learn from Jacob's blessings to his children in this week's portion.

The portion ends with blessings for all Israel – but ominously - IN EGYPT

Are hatred and anger born of greed or maybe often just "wanting good things",

Or is it ego (sometimes) that blinds instead of motivating for good?

So it's written that Father Jacob enjoyed 17 "good years" with his WHOLE family - but minus his dear Rachel. Wasn't he a bit angry at least?

Is that what we have to worry about here, today? After this "showdown" after the (corona) shakeup. Following "good years" but with anger?

 (Here meaning the Western and Middle Eastern worlds)

The lessons we have to learn from the portion – and from today – are evidenced in an episode from the life of another "Jacob" – my former neighbor Jacob (Yaakov) Neeman.

Starting 1996, he tried to set up a cabinet  Netanyahu' first term as Prime Minister

Representing those who elected him, including

my former neighbor as Justice Minister.

Michel ben Yair, a left wing (pro-Arab, anti-religion) legal advisor to the government (left over from the previous government)

Created fraudulent criminal cases - and removed Neeman – who was of course acquitted after months in the courts – but the criminal charges forced Neeman to resign after only a few weeks at work.

 Even the judge said the claims were baseless

Now again in Israel with trumped-up cases against Netanyahu

The current elections in Israel are NOT about peace accords, NOT about police abuses (although one high ranking police person was recently finally removed a few years after verified abuses), and not even - as the Army Radio was joking last night – about how a few politicians are starting "NEW" parties because the previous left-wing parties are disintegrating

Politics in Israel has many "angry" self-righteous angry politicians who probably would do better to help forge a post-Covid successful society helping Ethiopian and Indian Jews integrate and thrive in Israel.

So why does Book 1 (Bereisheet) of the Torah end this portion – in Egypt and not in Israel?

Rabbi Moshe Tzvi Neria wrote some years ago, that the First Book is about Creation – of the world, of justice, and about Israel's place and purpose.

The Second Book is about Salvation of the world – building Temples, building Society with Justice and Objective Rules (like the 10 Commandments).

THE First shoWed us the challenges AND ends with Life in Galut – Israel's children being cast into a corrupt world.

Moses in the Second (portions starting NEXT week) taught laws, after the miracles woke the world – and allowed us to Leave Egypt

And even in a desert – build a Temple of Love and forgiveness

 

Shabbat Shalom Health and Sweetness

Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

 
 
 

Portion VaYeeGash – Bad Leaders Good Soldier

Portion VaYeeGash – Bad Leaders Good Soldier

What horrible stories this week! But what WONderful people!

In the portion this week Joseph is holding one brother prisoner, and threatens to take another as a slave – and so Judah puts himself OUT THERE to try to end the madness.

What madness? 9 brothers sold Joseph into slavery! And a thousand years later – King Josiah in Jerusalem is STILL fighting that abuse (until the Egyptians kill him in battle). What was really in Joseph's heart?

And what's that got to do with the 30 (Sheloshim) memorial and unveiling the stone at the grave of my father-in-law?

Confronting the family members "that never came for years" evoked screams. Later on the "Older Sister" shared stories.

Why did Joseph's brothers NEVER come to look for him – for over 20 years?

Did Joseph the Viceroy scream at them? Make them slaves?

He went BEYOND THE ORDINARY.

Judah too, went BEYOND THE ORDINARY.   

And Rabbi Shlomo Carelebach taught, "What the Almighty wants of us is to Get Beyond the Ordinary Response. When we have a right to scream – try to calm yourself – and also calm the other side. When our children mess up – turn it into a CALM learning session".

Eli Dror was a good soldier and a good family man – and everyone said so! But he had a right to have not been such a faithful player in the history of Israel – a paratrooper, a kibbutz member, a small business man, and a loved family member.

But the whole Iraqi clan shared some stories! When they got to Israel because the whole Arab world was throwing out the Jews and stealing their property – his family was sent to a tent camp – water was rationed, tents were washed out in the heavy rains, and families were separated.

We now know that the socialist establishment told Sephardic Jews that their children died – but secretly gave the children to Ashkenazi childless families! This week one story shared was the sister that was sent to a hospital – and died there. Eli's mother had migraines and was sickly for the rest of her life!

 

The "healthy kids" were sent to kibbutzim – it was a healthier environment – but were they almost slaves? Eli met his wife there and they left – and spent 60 happy years together until …. , well, just over 30 days ago he passed away from a disease he fought for 7 years, and is missed terribly by (almost) the whole family …

 Joseph did NOT make ANY brothers slaves – he brought them all to live in safety (until the later Pharoah – well, we get into that in a couple of weeks).

Today is the Fast of 10 Tevet –commemorating  the beginning of One Ending (destruction of the First Jewish Commonwealth in 587 BCE) -and hopefully ... also a new era of learning the Torah – in Iraq where the Jews were – until 1950! When Eli's family were forced to leave.

And where does the Joseph Story and the Eli Story leave us?

 And what will we leave behind on this earth if not THOSE GREAT MOMENTS WE REACH BEYOND OURSELVES – whenever the opportunity arrives.

Shabbat Shalom – Health and Peace and "Reaching Beyond Ourselves

Rabbi ANDY EICHENHOLZ

 
 

Portion Me Kaytz - a Day After Prison

Portion Me Kaytz - a Day After Prison

 

What does a prisoner do the day after he gets out? Especially if he has NOTHING.

 

There was a Jewish guy I knew, who I didn't much like. He was in prison (wrongly) for 4 years fighting with his ex to visit his Down syndrome daughter

(The wife and daughter are both dead now these many years).

He  got out just before Rosh Hashono.

We hung out a bit and he introduced me to some of his friends. One had a shoe store.

He asked the shoe-man for a pair of shoes for Rosh Hashono.

The guy said no!

So I bought him a pair of new shoes.

 

In our portion, there is Joseph, pampered son of rich man Jacob,

still in prison

as world-shaking events are happening

all around the Great Empire Of Egypt)

But the Almighty shows us that what we think is a creeping bug in our brains - as evidenced in our dreams - makes our own little actions and little lives thè poìnt of it all

 !

And history Always Points to what is happening to the Israelites in Canaan- Israel -

a tiny place with irrelevant tribes-

That the obtuse world is STILL fighting over

Rather than see

The Final Dawn of All Humanity

Where each Tribe contributes to a holy humanity helping each other

 

 (Note – yesterday's Israel news featured

 Israel bringing clean water to scattered places in India

Whiĺe the Iranians are still fiixated on destroying America)
!

The whole story in this portion also brings out a basis for some 3200-year-old Jewish customs.

Question 1: Did the family mourn Joseph, and how did Jacob react to his son being missing?

Or Rachel's death?

And Question 2: How did Joseph look at his

: What did "Joseph in prison" view as his lifestyle Personal Challenges? Did he live any differently from before? And

How is it that the the whole story ended up as a musical on Broadway (Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat)? It may be useful to re-read the portion in the Bible this week!

The following is a part of a teaching from Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach (of blessed memory)– I saw today Via his student Rabbi Sholom Brodt (also sadly ob"m) - and

Thank you Yeshiva Simchat Shlomo that Rav Sholom started in Jerusalem (for sending it out)

"Reb Nachman says something so strong which is based on the Zohar HaKadosh(Likutei Moharan 2, Torah63) –that Jacob/Yaakov Avinu told his sons, "When you go down to … (Egypt), you have to sing (to the cruel leader) … a song… from the Holy Land… After all this, how can he be so cruel to you?

Can you imagine the way the holy tribes (12 brothers) were singing, the way they were harmonizing? …Now listen to this, (Joseph) has not heard his brothers singing … the longest time … At that moment he decided,…" I have to tell them who I am."

… us Yiddelach What do we do when it is dark? We look for somebody else.

, You know what the holiest thing is before Mashiach comes? It's a little bit dark , but suddenly we are aware - who knows? Maybe somebody else is in even more darkness

Reb Shlomo ended saying "Anyways, I just want to wish all of you that whenever you're living in a little bit of darkness, there should always be someone sitting next to you, singing a holy … niggun - a melody out of darkness. Good Shabbos"

What could be more dark than Corona-Times? We need to sing to each other … be there for each other!!

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

 
 
 

Portion vaYayShev - if you think YOU have Tzores (problems)

Portion vaYayShev - if you think YOU have Tzores (problems)

A little Modern Chanuka humor:

 I don't immediately delete all the health reminders I get from my email

 But why do I get one every day with the header Clogged Colon?

That one really sets me off

 And Ebay:

3 years ago I stopped buying on Ebay because they wouldnt let me pay in dollars only in shekels.

So why do I daily get threats that they want to cancel my account? Who cares?

 And Chanuka "messages about eating Dairy,

And defeating the cruel Greek culture of yester year?

 Is that why I am eating Greek Yogurt at 430 AM while writing this?

 

Okay there really are serious things to learn from this week s portion

 It says "Jacob lived in Israel" - okay,

 After making peace with his brother and escaping from a  dangerous father in law – what's "the learning" here?

 The commentators say

 "JAcob just wanted to live in peace

and then Joseph and the brothers start fighting

 Oiy Vey

 And it leads to Years of Sadness in  the

Family – and you know – in the  Whole World.

 Yes

 Eventually it leads to world Famine!

Yes, and the starvation was caused by

HUH?

 the ... Jews?

Wait! I didn't mean that

!

But in truth, that's what they were thinking –

 That "we did it" -

And the Canaanite neighbors wère

Getting NASTY.

 So Jacob was afraid like never before! And the brothers?

 Wake Up World!

The Almighty sent Joseph to

Egypt to Feed the World

!

 Many years ago my first Jerusalem apartment was on Simchoni Street - and next tò Dr Simchoni's apartment (no connection) who had

 all sorts of African .masks. So once  I asked him how come?

 Turns out he was sent by Israel to work in Africa in a field hospital - healing people

 for like 5 years.

 Why does Israel help out everywhere?

 Why does the portion show us how much work Jacob ha still to do?

 Is it about world peace

 ?

Is G-d is telling Jacob that the price of the Holy Land is to Help Create World Peace

?

So stay tuned and connected to

 The next 2 portions

 

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

 
 
 

Portion Vayish lach ... Back to the Garden

 
 
 
 
Portion Vayish lach ... Back to the Garden


In the portion Jacob is bringing his family back to Father Isaac in the Land of Cannan
 
Was he hoping to enter the Garden of Eden?
 
No.
Jacob was a realist and always saw what was coming next on other people's selfish minds.

Over and Over Jacob uses his cunning and borderline unethical DIVERSIONS - 
but to a righteous end!
 
Do we learn from this portion that it's enough just to outwit evil?

No.
Genius Jacob needs the Almighty to help him escape the destruction intended by Laban

and he has to confront his brother Esav who swore to kill him - and 
 
the Almighty gives him blessings
after he learns to wrestle with ANGELS!
 
LIFE, however, still creeps into Jacob's plans ... 
 
and then Joseph gets sold and "disappears" (see next week).
 
Maybe the Garden of Eden is seen in Jacob's
honesty of purpose, and
relying on the Almighty,
and facing the challenges from " the snake from the tree of knowledge",
and from greedy selfish people that are sadly still to be found,
at all levels of LIFE.
 
So did Jacob enjoy the Shabbat? Did his Father Isaac enjoy Shabbat?
 
Did the 12 sons and daughter practice Shabbat and work towards 
creating a Garden of Eden?
 
Hopefully more as the Isreal Experience Develops
 
Shabbat Shalom
 
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz
 

Portion Shemote: Burning Baby (car), Burying the (passing) Jews, and the Flight to Israel

Portion Shemote: Burning Baby (car), Burying the (passing)  Jews, and the Flight to Israel
 
 
 
What a Portion - a whole new life - a new beginning
 
for the Children of Israel (of Jacob) and a message to us every day!
 
First some questions - Was it easy for Moses' mother to hide him for three months?
 
While the other kids were being tossed into the Nile, his Mom Yocheved hides him - like during the holocaust.
 
Somehow there was always someone ratting on others - so it WAS A MIRACLE THEY (or anyone) SURVIVED!
 
And it is obvious that Moses' father hid his wife Yocheved for a few months too, and brought them food - like in some holocaust stories.
 
And those holocaust stories of bravery are true!
 
Don't Ever Forget every Jew who survived the holocaust was a miracle story.
 
I personally know someone born in a ghetto and hidden for a year,
and someone born in a cave under the noses of first the Nazis and then the Russians! Lives in NJ.
 
So the Torah gives us a glimpse into the cruelty of the Egyptians (some of ther world) 
and the bravery of Moshe's family.
 
May we be saved from the cruelty of the world 
- and may the world FINALLY GET IT that G-d wants gentleness devotion and love.
 
So unfortunately David from NY suddenlypassed on this week with no children.
 
The people from work and his neighbors - mostly gentiles -
described his gentleness and helpfulness for many years.  
 
May those feelings of appreciation carry over to others and to other good deeds in David's memory. Indeed he was a caring and sweet man - I'm sure he was like Moshe's father Amram - who probably was able to save his family because people loved him and everyone covered for him despite the Egyptian cruelty.
 
David's Holy Cousins arranged the funeral which I performed on Wednesday - 
a Great Mitzva - despite my crazy USA schedule and
before rushing to the airport to come back to the Holy Land.
 
On the way - my friend's car caught fire! 
On the NJ Turnpike we were going towards the Lincoln tunnel.
 
Hundreds of cars passing us and honking on BOTH SIDES! - But nobody stopping.
 
Mike the driver runs out, gets me and his son out, and grabs a few things while I and the son run to the side.
 
After a few minutes a big white car drives up and stops.
 
Forget terrorists and kidnappers (first thoughts of the others).
 
This not uyoung lady with a heavy Russian accent says "can I give you a lift to port authority?" (NYC bus station).
 
She says "I am not Jewish but I see an old (thanks!) Rabbi with a white beard 
standing with a suitcase opposite a fire on the highway
 
"How can I not stop the traffic and offer you a ride?
 
"It is like me seeing Moses and the Burning Bush in this desert of unfeeling humanity."
 
Meanwhile there is all this honking and what to do? My friend is calling for a tow, traffic is stalled -
 
so I said goodbye to my friends who agreed... I
 
throw my stuff intot the car - and get to New York!
 
There her friend - the owner of the car - drives me to JFK and I make the plane on time!
 
So Shemote is the story of saving others
 
then of inspiration at the burning bush
 
and the difficult decision to do what's right in the face of threats (Pharoah and the New Jersey Turnpike Traffic).
 
May we all be inspired to be part of the rebirth of humanity in the spirit of the Bible.
 
IT AINT JUST A LOT OF STORIES!
 
Shabbat Shalom
 
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz
 

Portion Toledot Isaac and Eyes and Children

Portion Toledot Isaac and Eyes and Children
 
The Medrash says Isaac was blind, and couldn't see the way his children's actions.
 
In this portion we see Father Isaac - this son of Abraham - in various situations -
In some he shines,
But with regards his children?
 
Did he really not "see" - or couldn't understand? And what's that to us?
Didn't he and Rebecca communicate? The Medrash says that they, too, were from different generations!
 
What is it that makes inter-generation understanding so confused - is it
The times that seem to change so much or fast, or
Is it that we forget we were once children and
 
Needed to learn so much in order to fit in, and
Have a comfort zone, and
Succeed socially and economically?
 
Two things here in the Portion become obvious:
 
Parents are supposed to communicate with one another, and
Children need communication too.
 
And ancient times seem not so different from us today!
 
Do you communicate with children?
 
How about your parents - and - those that came before?
 
Is "Kaddish" the only connection between "Western" Jews and generations gone by?
 
There is a beautiful prayer in the Sephardic morning service
 
Portraying how Rabbi Shimon (of the  Zohar).  "Says, as speaking to the Almihgty AND
To our forefathers and foremothers:
(And is responded to by
 the shechina (spirit)
And  the Almighty)
 
"Arise those who are sleeping in Hebron....
 
You who are with the Shechina - the Holiness of the Almighty.. "
 
Were our ancestors so much closer to  G-d and G-dly Spirit?
Or are we to learn from this prayer 
 
How to call to them 
 
To waken in ourselves
The Shichina - and closeness to the Almighty?
 
Shouldn't we all in our souls call out to our Jewish Roots
And our Connection to Holiness?
 
Especially on Shabbat
 
Don't be "blind" to the competition between Jacob and Esau -Esav
What did the holy parents Isaac and Rebecca think about the life styles of the children
How could they have better kept the family - and the connection of humanity-
closer together...
 
and us?
 
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion of Vayeirah – and it appeared to Abraham (after the Bris-es in his household:

Portion of Vayeirah – and it appeared to Abraham (after the Bris-es in his household:

Back to normal after the party – right?
But NOT after minor surgery – right?
Yet here is Abraham in the desert looking to invite 3 little heathens into his home …

From Rabbi Moshe Tzv Nerya OB"M (thanks to his son Zev):

Abraham loved the world and all its inhabitants as the Almighty loves them – BECAUSE of the GOOD they are DESTINED to ACCOMPLISH – and that's how he SEES THEM –
Little angels or little heathens – ALL part of the Almighty's plan.
From the thoughts of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach: "and it APPEARED to Abraham …
that there were three people walking in the desert – "

Yet when he invites them for a meal and to rest a little bit "by him" – they show to be angels, 
and bless him and Sarah with a child Isaac (who WILL bring laughter to the WORLD),

And they save Lot, and his daughters, who will EVENTUALLY bring birth to King David- (and LATER ON the Jewish Moshiach who WILL BRING ABOUT the Almighty's redemption-)

All this for just a few matzos, hamburgers, a seat in the shade …!

SO REMEMBER THIS WEEK – the anniversary of Rabbi Shlomo's passing – when we read
This week's Torah portion-
What we REALLY can leave for the world!

Shabbat Shalom from Israel
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion chayei Sarah - but Purim ain't for another 4 months- so who is "In the Clutches of ....."

Portion chayei Sarah - but Purim ain't for another 4 months- so who is "In the Clutches of ....."
 
 
This week in the portion writes about Sara bein buried in Hebron and it says
"She lived
 
100 years and
20 years and
7 years.
 
So what? The last 50 years she spent with Abraham but being taken captive by Pharoah -
and worse, by the lecherous King Avimelech!
 
Rashi explains that at 100 years she was beautiful like at 20
and at 20 as modest as a child of 7 -
Free from sin as a child!
 
But she was in the clutches of Middle Eastern tyrants - 
Until the Almihhty appeared to warn Avimelech
and finally she was no longer in danger
 
The opposite numerology lesson is recorded in Megilat Esther -
 
 
7 and
20 and
100 Vassal States and their rulers.
 
Is tbeŕ any connection in those numbers?
 
A friend pointed out that the modesty of \Sarah
Is the message in the Megila - the lesson for all Jewish Children of Abraham and Sarah
 
Esther is in the clutches of a drunken tyrant king - Ahashverosh -
 
 
But Esther's purity and wisdom TOTALLY WOW him -
 
and King Achashverosh offers Esther "half my kingdom"
But she doesn"bite"!
 
In the end Esther and Mordechai rule it all! The 127 states ...
 
And the Temple in Jerusalem gets re-built because of them
 
For over 400 years it stands ...until - well - there are other teachings for later on.
 
 
 
Shabat Shalom and Health
And Thank You All!!!
 
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz 

Porton MeeKatz The Maccabbees win it in he Ninth!

It was the world series of wars in the middle east
And to borow from Rabbi Beryl Wein
The Maccabees combined consistency with creativity
Beat he Greek warmongers and left the Egyptians far behind
Created a legacy of Holiness Despite Critics and Malingerers
Fought the Rabbis but gave them Respect and Room
To Forge the Mishna
ReDedicate the Temple
Teach the timeless Tora
And Save the Sabbafh
 
So lets celebrate
Make Kidush Lashem
Catch the rhyhm of Shabbat
 
Love and Shabos from Israel
 
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz