Parashat Vayechi (Genesis 47:28-50:26)

“Then Israel said to Joseph, “I am about to die, but God will be with you and bring you back to the land of your fathers.”   (Genesis 48:21) Parashat Vayechi is the last parasha (portion) in the book of Genesis and brings to a close three nested story-cycles:  the epic of the patriarchs, the travails […]

Parashat Vayigash (Genesis 44:18-47:27)

“Joseph sustained his father, and his brothers, and all his father’s household with bread, down to the little ones.” (Gen. 47:12) Parashat Vayigash contains the denouement to the Joseph saga:  Joseph reveals himself to his brothers, they reconcile and return to Canaan to bring Jacob and the rest of the family down to Egypt, and […]

Parashat Miketz (Genesis 41:1 – 44:17)

“And Pharoah removed his ring and placed it on Joseph’s hand…” (Genesis 41:42) Parashat Miketz describes Joseph’s rise from prisoner to Pharoah’s second-in-command.  Pharoah provides Joseph with the trappings of power and also bestows upon him an Egyptian name (Tsaf’nat Panei-ach) and an Egyptian wife (Asnat).  This makes Joseph one of the PEW Report’s 44%:  […]

Parashat Vayeshev (Genesis 37:1-40:23)

“And when his master saw that the Lord was with him and  that the Lord lent success to everything he undertook. “ (Genesis 39:3) Parashat Vayeshev introduces the story of Joseph and his brothers.  On the surface, it’s a tale of sibling rivalry.  Underneath, it’s a parable about leadership.  It chronicles not only the beginning […]

Parshat Vayishlach (Genesis 32:4-36:43)

“Jacob called the name of the place P’niel: ‘for I have seen God face to face and my life is preserved’.” (Genesis 32:31) Parashat Vayishlach is filled with suspense.  Jacob is returning home to Canaan from Charan.  Along the way, he encounters an anonymous man who turns out to be an angel.  Jacob wrestles with […]

Parashat Vayeitzei (Genesis 28:10-32:3)

“He came upon a certain place and stopped there for the night, for the sun had set.  Taking one of the stones of that place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place.”  (Genesis 28:11)   The repetition of the word hinei, behold, is a clue to the importance of the […]

Parashat Toldot (Genesis 25:19-28:8)

“When the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the>outdoors; but Jacob was a mild man who stayed in camp.” (Genesis 25:27) Parashat Toldot repeats the Genesis motif of families in conflict.  Rebecca gives birth to Esau and Jacob, children with very different personalities.  Isaac has his favorite (Esau) and Rebecca […]

Parashat Chayei Sarah (Genesis 23:1-25:18)

“Thus the field with its cave passed from the Hittites to Abraham, as a burial site.” (Genesis 23:20) Parashat Chayei Sarah opens with Sarah’s death.  Abraham approaches the local community to purchase a burial plot for her.  In the opening parley, Abraham refers to himself as a ger toshav, a resident alien (Gen. 23:4), even […]

Parashat Vayera (Genesis 18:1-24)

“Then an angel of the Lord called to him from heaven: “Abraham! Abraham! And he answered, “Here I am.” (Genesis 22:11) Parashat Vayera includes the powerful and difficult story of the akedah (the Binding of Isaac).  Most commentators focus on Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Isaac, as a demonstration of his great faith in […]

Parashat Lekh Lekha (Genesis 12:1-17:27)

“For I give all the land that you see to you and your offspring forever. “ (Genesis 13:15) “If at first you don’t succeed, try try again” describes God’s situation this week. The ideal of the Garden of Eden is a bust and the plan to partner with all humanity ends in failure, too. Still, […]