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The Yoke’s On Us

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We all have received blessings at one time or another. We have certainly received compliments. Over the course of time, we learn that sometimes the compliments are clearly flattering. But occasionally, ambiguous statements are made to us, leaving us confused and unable to determine with certainty whether we are being...

Parshat Vayechi: The Lessons of Shimon and Levi’s Bracha

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This Shabbos we conclude the book of Bereishit, which culminates with the resolution of the story of Yosef and his brothers. Four rather involved parshiot deal with this story and its many twists and turns.

Yaakov and his beloved Yosef are reunited after so many years of suffering and uncertainty. Yaakov is then able to conclude his long and troubled life by addressing his family directly. Many refer to these parting words of Yaakov Avinu as brachos, or blessings, to his children.

When we examine the so-called bracha given to Shimon and Levi (together), one wonders if the word “bracha” is the appropriate term. Yaakov unleashes very harsh words against them regarding their actions...

Wagons, Calves and Responsibility

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I have been blessed with many fine teachers. She was one of the best.

Her name was Mrs. Lachmann. I no longer recall her first name. She taught an advanced course in world literature at the college I attended, and she insisted that we call her Mrs. Lachmann, although, as I later discovered, she had earned a doctorate with honors at a very prestigious European university

The course was an elective, and I was motivated to take it because of my fondness for literature, which I developed quite early in my childhood. I was already familiar with some of the authors of our assigned readings, all of whom were 19th-century Russian or German writers, and assumed that the course would be an easy...

Extending the Nes of Chanukah to Rosh Chodesh Tevet and Beyond

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Have you ever had the experience of meeting someone for the very first time, and then suddenly you see them all over town the next few weeks?

The same thing happened to me over Chanukah this year, except in the realm of Torah!

I was privileged to hear a pre-holiday lecture given by the inspiring Rav Moshe Tzvi Weinberg. Rav Weinberg’s topic was ostensibly a reprisal of the popular question that we ask during Chanukah, but turned out to offer a lesson to hopefully last for a lifetime.

Rav Weinberg posed the famous question of the Beit Yosef, in the Orach Chaim, Siman 670. Why do we celebrate Chanukah for eight nights when really, the miracle of the oil only was a miracle for seven...

The First Job Interview

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I have a vivid memory of my first job interview. It was for a position as a counselor in a summer camp. The only preparation that I can now recall took the form of words of encouragement from my mother, of blessed memory. She told me not to be nervous, to be polite, modest, and respectful, and to be sure to be well-groomed and well-spoken.

I recently had the occasion to contrast my mother’s advice with that received by a granddaughter of mine. Like many of her peers, she consulted a “career coach” before interviewing for her first job. My granddaughter was given a long list of rules to follow. She was told to practice thoroughly, and to “dress for success.” She was cautioned to...

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