Get seven complete and original sermons for Parshat Vayishlach (or purchase them individually)
1. Bar Mitzvah and Terrorism
What can we do about terrorism? As usual, this week’s Torah reading has something to say about that very subject. The story of the violation of Dinah, and the contrast between Jacob’s response and that of Simon and Levi, teaches us everything we need to know to respond to and uproot the terror and evil of today.
2. Feeling at Home
During this time of year many of us visit our families. For some it is clearly a very heartwarming and nostalgic experience. But many others dread the holidays. They are terrified of revisiting a place that never felt like home. The nature and importance of a true home is emphasized in this week’s Torah reading where Jacob “builds himself a home.” It teaches us how to build a healthy home — a comfortable, nurturing environment, where you can just kick off your shoes and be yourself, and find safety from a hostile world. For, if you don’t feel secure within, how can you find security outside?
3. 6 Ways to Win Any Battle
How many best selling books have been written on how to confront adversity? How many seminars have been delivered teaching us methods to face our challenges? Would you believe that the first ever documented strategy how to face any enemy and win was written over 3600 years ago? Our weekly Torah portion describes the momentous/archetypal confrontation between Esau and Jacob, offering us six monumental lessons on dealing with our own challenges and win.
4. A Face to Face Conversation
What personal lessons can we learn from emojis, Facebook and other modern tech stuff? Many things. And they are contained in a surprising place, where most of us would perhaps not look: A verse in this week’s Torah portion.
5. A Mother’s Tears
What can we do when our children are hurting? How should a parent respond to child in pain? Our mother Rachel in this week’s Torah reading teaches us how to love and comfort our children, and provide them with the tools to help each other in this oft-difficult world.
6. Israel vs. The World: The Nation That Dwells Alone
The Jewish homeland seems destined to isolation among most of the nations of the world. But as hard as it is to witness the ongoing condemnation of Israel, is it really bad to stand alone? Isn’t this the way it was always meant to be, as the Torah tells us: Israel “is a nation that dwells alone and is not be reckoned among the nations?” That state of existential loneliness began for the Jewish people on the lonely night that our forefather Jacob wrestled with the stranger – a dramatic episode we read about in this week’s Torah portion: “And Jacob remained alone.”
7. Chutzpah and Israel
Israel is one of the most famous words in our vocabulary, a word used far more disproportionately than any other and yet its meaning remains shrouded in mystery. Some 3,500 years ago, our grandfather Jacob wrestled with a challenger, was victorious and was given the name Israel. And ever since, we, his descendants have been given the power to wrestle with any challenger, walking away victorious. This sermon examines the six meanings of the word “Israel” by which we are called (head, song, directness, prince, individuality, and wrestling) and provides clear directives as to how we can become national heroes and a “light unto the nations.”