Get six complete and original sermons for Parshat Vayeitzei (or purchase them individually)
1. Hamas and Haran
What can we do to help our brethren in Israel? While our hearts and prayers go out to our brothers and sisters who are being terrorized by brazen daily missile attacks from our enemies, we can gain much direction from Jacob’s challenges in Haran in this week’s portion, which uncannily and presciently parallel our challenges today with Hamas.
2. First Jewish Weightlifter: The Power of Love and Tears
Jews and weightlifting?! The two don’t seem to come together. Yet, in this week’s Torah portion we find that out great grandfather Jacob demonstrated an incredible feat, lifting a weight that no one else was able to lift! Why are we told this story? Jacob’s journey is our journey. Who of us has not had to contend with the many heavy stones life presents us? In the task of lifting the stones in our lives, we have at our disposal many tools – not the least of which is the power of tears and love.
3. Chapter and Verse: The Secret Weapon of the Jews
Beyond a rich heritage, brains, survival instinct and education, the Jewish people possess a secret weapon: The Book of Psalms. Our mothers, grandmothers, fathers and grandfathers, both in times of crisis and in good times, during the High Holidays and on regular days – silently and solemnly read Psalms. This timeless tradition began with our forefather, Jacob. A story about the Baal Shem Tov, and a story about an opera singer and an old Jew, capture the power of this secret weapon.
4. Can A Jewish State Be Democratic?
Thanksgiving commemorates the beginning of a new, free way of life in a new land. How about Israel? If Israel is defined as a Jewish State it would seem to compromise its democratic status. Indeed: What defines a Jewish a state? If every single Jew in the world lived in the Holy Land – protected by a powerful army – would this really be the result we are looking for? How could 14 million Jews possibly get along in one land? What does the Torah say?
5. Ladderal Thinking
Are we victims of circumstances, bound to earth by our personal destinies? Is there a way to reach heaven while keeping our feet firmly planted on the ground? Or are we doomed to the daily struggle for survival with no relief in sight? Are we forever trapped in a life of unbearable resignation and quiet desperation?
A common question: Is it worth investing effort to reach great heights when there is a huge risk of failure? How many of us avoid trying too hard because we fear failure?