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This week's parsha
Unless otherwise noted, "This week's Parsha" comprises articles taken from contributors to the website.  We show the original author's name here, so that proper attribution is given.  For the sake of brevity, footnotes cited in the original author's writings are omitted from this website.  If you need to see the citations, please refer to the original articles on the website.

The Refusal to be Comforted PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks   
Tuesday, 19 November 2013 01:33
The deception has taken place.  Joseph has been sold into slavery.  His brothers have dipped his coat in blood.  They bring it back to their father, saying:  "Look what we have found.  Do you recognize it?  Is this your son’s robe or not?"  Jacob recognized it and replied, "It is my son’s robe.  A wild beast has devoured him.  Joseph has been torn to pieces."  We then read:

Jacob rent his clothes, put on sackcloth, and mourned his son for a long time.  His sons and daughters tried to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted.  He said, "I will go down to the grave mourning for my son."

Why did Jacob refuse to be comforted?  There are laws in Judaism about the limits of grief -- shivah, sheloshim, a year.  There is no such thing as a bereave­ment for which grief is endless.  The Gemara says that G-d says to one who weeps beyond the appointed time, "You are not more compassionate than I."
Old Age, Old Wine PDF Print E-mail
Written by Shimon Posner   
Wednesday, 13 November 2013 16:35
Antique sells.  Even faux-antique sells.  "Antiqued" furniture is scuffed and dinged at the end of the assembly line.  Brand-new pewter pitchers are being coated with green stuff called patina.  Multi-million-dollar homes are built to "have character."  If you have no antique, buy some.  The more old and worn-looking, the better:  the elegance of aged has come of age.  Old is good.

Except for old people.  No one boasts of having their own senior citizen.  Or of being one.
Why Jacob Loved Rachel ... but also had to marry Leah PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rochel Holzkenner   
Tuesday, 05 November 2013 12:22
The Torah describes Rachel as having beautiful features and a beautiful complexion, and Leah as having tender eyes.

It's unusual for the Torah to spill ink illustrating the people or places mentioned.  It is also unusual that Leah is (seemingly) publicly disparaged.  On principle, the Torah goes out of its way to avoid unnecessary critical descriptions, and yet it openly contrasts Rachel's beauty to Leah's tender eyes.  In light of this principle, the biblical commentator Rashi deduces that Leah's tender eyes allude to her incessant weeping:  her eyes were red and soft from the many tears she shed.  She wept in prayer, entreating G-d to shift the course of her destiny.  She had been destined to marry Esau, coarse and corrupt as he was, and she prayed earnestly that her fate be changed.
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