Get seven complete and original sermons for Parshat Toldos (or purchase them individually)
1. Non-Partisan Lessons from the Political Landscape and Upcoming Elections
Whether you hate or love President Trump, the split government today offers us an extraordinary lesson: The power of balance. This is not a small matter. It’s unprecedented that a nation be peacefully governed by people from different, and even opposing parties. The historical and spiritual roots of this balance and harmony can be traced to the story of Jacob in this week’s Torah portion. And this offers us some powerful lessons from this balance of control – this level of checks and balances – both in our collective and personal lives.
2. Why are Jews Obsessed with Food?
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Jewish holidays and traditions? Food! For Shabbos we have fish, soup, kugel, kishke, cholent – you name it. We eat potato latkes on Chanukah, blintzes on Shavuot, matzah and different family recipes on Passover… But what is so Divine and spiritual about food and drink?! Can we expect our children to be inspired by nothing more than lavish holiday feasts?!
3. Education Lessons from the Womb
A Jewish child’s education begins in the womb, where an angel teaches the entire Torah to the yet unborn baby. This week’s Torah reading relates that, when Jacob was still in his mother’s womb, he would struggle to get out every time she passed the yeshiva. Why would Jacob want to run to the study hall when he was learning the entire Torah while in the womb? And what can this teach us about education today? Education begins by being enveloped in the warm cocoon of the womb. But it does not end there. Education is about wanting to leave the womb to teach the world.
4. Blinded by the Light
Often, when our eyes are closed, we can see the farthest. Is that why love is blind? Is that why not seeing is sometimes the greatest blessing? Our forefather Isaac went blind as he aged. Rashi gives three causes for Isaac’s blindness: smoke, tears and blessings. These three causes convey three profound lessons for our modern day.
5. Do Jews Have Muscles?
You are a detective. A heist of the most valuable diamond in the world has occurred. Only two individuals were in the vicinity. But one of them is lame and the other is blind. What to do? The narrative which solves the mystery of the missing diamond began more than 3,666 years ago, when two very famous babies – twins – were born in the Middle East. It continued 1,800 years after that, when a Prince of Judah and a Roman general discussed the secrets of the universe. And it goes on to this very day, when you and I try to back our ideas with muscle and give legs to our dreams.
6. Are We Hypocrites?
How disconcerting is it when, everywhere we look, we see how people’s actions (including our own) don’t usually live up to the belief system they profess. People claim to have high standards – religious people in particular. Yet when it comes to behavior on a day-to-day level, we all fall short of our ideals. Does this make us hypocrites? This week’s Torah reading, which discusses the dual personalities of the twins, Esau and Jacob, helps us answer a critical question in our lives: Are we hypocrites when our behavior and our beliefs are inconsistent, or, is something else at work here?
7. Massacre in the House of G-d
What can we do when tragedy strikes our community and Jews are massacred during prayers? This sermon, written after the brutal murders in a shul in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof leaving snow-white Talleitim soaked in the blood of holy worshippers, addresses how to respond to unspeakable loss.