Vayishlach

Posted on November 19th, 2018

Genesis 32:4−36:43 

By Rabbi Stephen S. Pearce, Ph.D. for ReformJudaism.org
 

Struggling With a Deceitful Heart
 

 

The inner turmoil that marked Jacob’s life of deceitfulness as well as his struggle with his father, brother, and sons are exposed in Vayishlach. After many years of separation, Jacob, about to meet his estranged brother, Esau, slept in a dream-like state of wakefulness on the shore of the Jabbok River where a man wrestled with him until the rise of dawn. In the text we read:

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Vayeitzei

Posted on November 12th, 2018

Genesis 28:10−32:3 
 

By Rabbi Stephen S. Pearce, Ph.D. for ReformJudaism.org
 

But Wait, There’s More!
 

If you grew up watching late-night TV before the dawn of shopping networks, you will remember being bombarded with endless ads to purchase a Veg-O-Matic, Pocket Fisherman, turkey fryers, the Rotisserie BBQ Recipe Collection, dust mop slippers, and so forth. After demonstrating why the product was something that a viewer absolutely could not live without, the TV huckster would announce: “But wait! There's more!” In addition to the advertised product, viewers also would be offered “at no additional cost” a duplicate, handy, travel-size product, supplementary instruction book, and storage unit — all for the price of one, “but only if you act now.”

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Toldot

Posted on November 5th, 2018

Genesis 25:19−28:9 


By Rabbi Stephen S. Pearce, Ph.D. for ReformJudaism.org



Genuine Forgiveness Despite a Grave Wrong



"When the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter [yodei-a tzayid], a man of the outdoors, and Jacob was a homespun [tam] man, keeping to the tents" (Genesis 25:27). The Hebrew word tam, translated here as “homespun,” can also mean “gentle,” “mild-mannered,” or “blameless.”1 Whereas the Bible portrays Esau as "a skillful hunter," further reading of the text reveals that Jacob, the "homespun man," was the wilier of the two. Nevertheless, many prophetic, Rabbinic, and modern commentators view Esau pejoratively and Jacob, the man with serious character flaws, is portrayed affectionately.


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Chayei Sarah

Posted on October 29th, 2018

Genesis 23:1−25:18 


By Rabbi Stephen S. Pearce, Ph.D. for ReformJudaism.org


Adding Life to Years


What is it that most people want to become but nobody wants to be? This paradox is no riddle, it is simply a reality of life. In our youth-oriented culture, almost everyone wants to reach old age but no one wants to be old. Consider the elixirs, tinctures, potions, stairmasters, elyptical trainers, and so many other nostrums and contraptions employed to aid in the search for the fountain of youth whereby we hope to forestall and even halt the inexorable march of time.


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Vayera

Posted on October 22nd, 2018

Genesis 18:1–22:24 


By Rabbi Stephen S. Pearce, Ph.D. for ReformJudaism.org


Judge a Society by Its Hospitality


To live in a period when public officials and private citizens demonize “the other” — immigrants, foreigners, strangers, women, individuals of different sexual orientation, and the poor — is to live in tragic times. Whereas welcoming the outsider is the biblical underpinnning of so many Genesis narratives, this sacred principle is not always preeminent because the Bible is a human book that not only promotes ideals, but also notes the failure to live up to them. Vayeira provides such a contrast between depravity and disregard for outsiders on one hand, and kindness, generosity, and hospitality to strangers on the other. 


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