November 2009

Jacob and Esau: Brothers at War

It's unsettling how much the story of Jacob and Esau has in common with the current conflict in Israel between the Israeli and Palestinian people, but then again all long wars between nations are a reflection of this tale. It is both sad and reassuring that the understanding of brother set against brother is as old as any human record. The unfortunate part is that we, as the people of this world, should have moved beyond this by now, but there is an indication of hope in this parsha as well.

Isaac and Rebekah

Shabbat Shalom and welcome to Judeo Talk. The Torah portion for this week, Chayei Sarah (the life of Sarah) marks the passing of the head of Abraham's family to Isaac upon his marriage to Rebekah, a Mesopotamian woman who embodies the ancient Hebrew concept of propriety. But really, this story is essentially a stately romance of antiquity. Like the great novelized romances of Victorian literature, kindness and manners are shorthand in this story for love and a prosperous partnership between the man and woman concerned. In fact, much of this parsha revolves around this concept of an above-board approach to delicate emotional business.

Judaism, Sin and Family

Shabbat Shalom and welcome to Judeo Talk. This week, the Torah portion is Vayeira, some of the most famous, as well as some of the most busy, chapters of the Tanakh. In this portion we find the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the rather dark story of Lot, the expulsion of Hagar and most importantly the akedah, the binding of Isaac. There is no portion of the Torah so loaded as this one, but as most parshiot go, this one runs on a theme.