Rabbi Tuling writes about Jacob’s resiliency; he goes to sleep destitute, using a rock as a pillow. He wakes up with a dream of blessing and divine promise, which gives him hope to continue his journey. She describes Jacob as passive, rather than deceptive and tricky—he allows his mother to manipulate him and Laban to take advantage of him. How does he rise about family patterns?
Jacob is first described as a simple man, yet he is not at all simple. While Midrash portrays him as “all-good” and Esau as “all-bad”, Jacob tricked his brother and, with his mother, deceived his father. Later, Laban deceives him on his wedding night. The deception continues, yet Jacob became rich. Please follow the link below to read Rabbi Sacks’ perspective on who Jacob was:
Rabbi Ruditsky writes about the polarization between Jacob and Esau, and compares it to the polarization among contemporary Jews over the terrible events in the Israel and Gaza
Rabbi Sacks writes about Isaac’s love of Esau and whether it makes sense. Rashi, referring to the literal text, wrote that Esau “knew how to trap”, carrying the meaning to a metaphorical level. Midrashically, Esau trapped with his mouth, and Isaac knew him well.
Rabbi Sacks opens his drash with the interesting concept: According to the Sages, Abraham was a greater hero than Noah. Yet, Noah “was perfect in his generations…”. Rabbi Sacks compares and contrasts the heroism of Abraham and Noah in the following article
Rabbi Sacks addresses the challenging issue of child sacrifice and God’s unfathomable demand of Abraham, to sacrifice his son Isaac. He brings up the overarching themes in the Torah: God owns the land of Israel, and everything in the world belongs to God. Thus, God has the right to demand the return of God’s property. Was Isaac “property”? According to customs of ancient times, children were considered the property of their parents…
Rabbi Ruditsky compares the 10 tests that God assessed against Abraham to the tests that we, as Jews, are experiencing today. “The whole entire world is a very narrow bridge…”.
Rabbi Sacks writes of Abraham as the most influential man who ever lived; father of many nations…the founder of faith by Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. We know nothing about him, except that he was singled out by God to become “the father of many nations”. Abraham’s life is centered around his role as a father—waiting for a child, birth of Ishmael, tension between Sarah and Hagar, birth of Isaac and the Akeidah…Fatherhood is everything.
Rabbi Sacks describes the founding of the first city by Cain as established with bloodshed. He writes about Romulus and Remus, the former also guilty of fratricide. Sodom was threatened with destruction by God for terrible crimes, but Abraham fought back. Egypt – Joseph was falsely accused of a crime after refusing the advances of Potiphar’s wife. The parashah addresses the story of Babel, where the residents attempted to build a tower that reaches to heaven. Although this did not incorporate the same criminal activity, its attempt to justify a heavenly hierarchy on earth—the birth of polytheism.
Rabbi Ruditsky addresses the theme of collateral damage in the flood narrative. Most Jewish texts, as he points out, deal with the reason for the flood, rather than the morality of needless deaths. He wrestles with the application of this theme in current events.