Get eight complete and original sermons for Parshat Vayigash (or purchase them individually)
1. Who are You?
Beginning with the homes we grew up in, parental attitudes, our formative school years, followed by the social mores of our times – all types of forces contribute to shaping our identities, thus making it more difficult to know who you would have been without those influences. How can you discover your true identity? Joseph in this week’s Torah’s portion shows us how to define our true self.
2. How to Repair an Irreparable Rift
At times, people unfortunately hurt loved ones. Often such betrayals seems unforgivable, leaving deep wounds. The million dollar question is: Can we overcome a treacherous breach? This week’s Torah reading contains the dramatic and surprising culmination of one of the greatest betrayals ever perpetrated – brothers selling their own flesh and blood into slavery. And it teaches us one of the most important – and counter-intuitive – lessons that we will ever hear about repairing our own rifts and schisms.
3. How to Melt a Heart of Stone
It is a harsh world we live in, and our frequent response to it is to turn to stone. But how do we melt a mind or heart that has become desensitized and turned to stone? We find the answer in the way Judah melts Joseph’s heart and causes him to reveal his true identity. He weeps and hugs his brothers, forgiving them for what they had done. This moving story of forgiveness and reconciliation offers us deeply relevant lessons.
4. What Will the New Year Bring?
As the year comes to a close, we all wonder what the new year will bring. And above all, how can we ride the waves of these turbulent times? Is there anything we can do to find clarity, direction and fortitude? An excellent – but sorely overlooked – place to turn for guidance is this week’s Torah reading.
5. Torah, Cuba, Cigars and Cops
How do we deal with differences between people and discrepancies in our own lives? We learn the way from this week’s Torah reading, where the family of Israel is about to leave the illuminated spirituality of their homeland for Egypt. And nothing could be more diametrically opposed – spiritually, philosophically, ideologically – than the light of Israel and the ungodly darkness of Egypt.
6. Life Lessons From Camels
An Arabian insight: “Trust in Allah, but tie up your camel.” An Iranian insight: “A camel does not drink with a spoon.” A Jewish insight: “The camel, gamal, hints at gemilat chassadim, perpetuating kindness.” A cryptic Talmud interpreting dreams about camels, based on a verse from our Torah portion, has a vital lesson to teach us all, and it arrives on the symbolic back of the camel.
7. Joseph and the Children of Sandy Hook
Over 3500 hears ago a young man was was sold into slavery by his own brothers. After a twenty-two-year estrangement, Joseph is finally reunited with his brothers. And we marvel at is his surprising response to them. We have much to learn from it … how to cherish our children… how to respond to this and any other tragedy which may seem too great to bear … how to grow through it … and how to prevent anything like it in the future.