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Rabbi Hillel’s Blog

Listening to Good Advice

  • Posted on January 24, 2019
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Parashat Yitro   After witnessing the splitting of the sea, Israel begins to travel through the desert towards Mount Sinai, and receives a visitor: Moses’s father-in-law, Yitro (Jethro). The Israelites receive their visitor very warmly. While visiting, Yitro notices that the Israelite society could be functioning in a much more efficient way. He sees that Continue Reading »

The Invisible Chaperon

  • Posted on January 15, 2019
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Parashat Bo Our Torah portion opens with God telling Moses, “Bo el Par’oh” – “come to Pharaoh.” Moses is told to go warn Pharaoh about the impending plague of locust. The language God uses to tell him to go, though, is a bit perplexing, as God tells him to ‘come’ to Pharaoh rather than to Continue Reading »

Faulty Miracles

  • Posted on January 3, 2019
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Parashat Vaera Moses performed the signs God had given him before Pharaoh, turning his staff into a snake. But Pharaoh’s magicians were able to do the same ‘trick’ through sorcery, leading us to wonder why God would give Moses an inadequate sign? What was the point? How ashamed Moses must have felt, seeing the magicians’ Continue Reading »

Four Blank Lines

  • Posted on December 20, 2018
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This Shabbat we read the end of Sefer Bereshit (Genesis), and next week we being Sefer Shemot (Exodus). Bereshit ends with Jacob’s and Joseph’s deaths. The Israelites are in Egypt, having come to live there while famine is going on. They live in Goshen and appear to be treated well. The Egyptians know that it Continue Reading »

Overcoming differences

  • Posted on December 13, 2018
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When Joseph finally reveals his true identity to his brothers, he immediately tells them not to worry or be afraid. Although his methods of deceiving them, planting the cup in Benjamin’s sack etc. seem to be fuelled by a cruel desire for revenge (greatly mitigated by what was done to him, of course), his immediate Continue Reading »

Chanukah – why eight days?

  • Posted on December 6, 2018
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The Chanukah story is universally known. All the oil in the Temple had been defiled. They found one small jug of pure oil still with the Kohen Gadol’s seal, but it was enough to only last for a single day. Miraculously, it lasted for eight days – enough time for them to produce new oil. Continue Reading »

We Determine Our Own Destiny

  • Posted on November 29, 2018
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Parashat Vayeishev Continuing to read the book of Bereshit (Genesis), we observe the Torah’s objective of giving us a rather full picture of our People’s ancestors, including their less glamorous sides. They were human beings like us, with faults as well as virtues, and as such we can realistically strive to emulate their good qualities Continue Reading »

Being Prepared

  • Posted on November 22, 2018
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Parashat Vayishlach   Our parasha opens with Jacob returning homeward and preparing to meet his brother Esau after being away from him for an extended period. When Jacob left home, Esau wanted to kill him. Now, he’s unsure of how Esau feels about him. When he hears that Esau is approaching with four hundred people his fear increases. He has no Continue Reading »

Counting the Days

  • Posted on November 16, 2018
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Parashat  Vayetze   Jacob was required to work for Laban for seven years in order to be allowed to marry Rachel. The years passed quickly for him since he loved her so much. (Gen 29:20) This observation seems illogical. When a person strongly desires something and must wait and perform many difficult tasks to acquire Continue Reading »

Education That Fits the Student

  • Posted on November 9, 2018
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Parashat Toldot After years of childlessness, Rebecca became pregnant, but then suffered from a very difficult pregnancy. “Why me?!” she asked in frustration. She then goes to consult with God, and is told that she is carrying twins who are going to become bitter enemies, constantly at each other’s throat. Esau and Jacob are born. Continue Reading »