Parashat Vayetzei

Parashat Vayetzei - The Lonely Place of Connection by Rabbi Russ Resnik Genesis 28:10-32:2; Hosea 11:7-14:9; 1 Peter 2:13-25 It’s a paradox: To find community, I have to find my individual self. Or turn that around: As I find myself in God, I find that I’m part of something much bigger than myself. Our ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, all encounter moments of intense solitude on their way to forming the vast extended family of Israel. After Jacob cooperates with his mother, Rebekah, in her plot to gain the paternal blessing for him, his brother Esau starts to harbor murderous thoughts. Isaac wisely sends Jacob away by himself, on a long foot-journey to the ancestral homeland to fi

Parashat Toldot

Genesis 25:19-28:9; Malachi 1:1-2:7; Romans 9:1-13 So she went to inquire of the LORD. And the LORD said to her, "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger." (Bereshit/Genesis 25:22-23) We have no idea what we are. Our view of life seems to get more and more narrow. For most people it is nothing more than the avoidance of suffering and pursuit of pleasure. Sure, we may have family, friends, neighbours, and colleagues, but life is wrapped up in self, and not much more. Let's be honest, why do we pursue what we pursue? Who is it for? The other guy or yourself? I don't assume this

Parashat Chayei Sarah

Genesis 23:1-25:18; 1 Kings 1:1-31; Matthew 2:1-23 Falling in love is not a good criteria upon which to base a marriage. It would have been easy for Isaac to fall in love with any number of Canaanite girls. Why didn’t he? Because Abraham would not allow it. Abraham placed clear and specific limits around Isaac’s potential mates. Abraham’s servant Eliezer was sent to find a wife for Isaac. He prayed that God would indicate which woman He had appointed for Isaac to marry. God miraculously singled out Rebekah. Later, when recounting the story of his encounter with Rebekah to her family, they had to admit, “The matter comes from the LORD” (Genesis 24:50). By all appearances, God had appointed Re

Parashat Vayera

Genesis 18:1-22:24; Haftarah: 2 Kings 4:1-37; Luke 2:1-38 The story of how the citizens of Sodom welcomed the two strangers gives us the impression that inhabitants of the city were judged for their illicit sexual sins. Jude, the younger brother of Yeshua, explains that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because they “indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh” (Jude 1:7). But sexual depravity was not unique to Sodom and Gomorrah. It’s still with us today, and we don’t see fire and brimstone falling out of the sky onto today’s centers of immorality. Were there other sins and vices charged against those cities? From ancient times there have been differing theories attempting to

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