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Vayeitzei

Posted on November 20th, 2017

Genesis 28:10−32:3

By Rabbi Bradley Artson, provided by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, for MyJewishLearning.com

Children And Deferred Dreams

 

Reflected in the names of her children, Leah grows to recognize her own worth, independent of Jacob's feelings for her.

 

We all dream about our lives, our families and our destiny. Born into a world we did not create, motivated by hope, energy and drive, we spend our childhood and adolescence absorbing wonderful stories of adventure, heroes and fantasies.

And we dream. We dream of achieving the highest ideals of our fantasy life…of being president, landing on the moon or becoming a star. We imagine ourselves as wealthy, or famous or wise. Venerating a galaxy of admired adults, we imagine ourselves as one of them, as one of the best of them.

In the fantasies of children, life has no end; possibilities, no limit. And we are not alone in spinning those dreams. Children may aggrandize themselves, but they do so with the active consent and encouragement of their parents, grandparents, teachers and a supporting cast of thousands.
 
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Toldot

Posted on November 13th, 2017

Genesis 25:19-28:9

By Rabbi Bradley Artson, provided by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, for MyJewishLearning.com

 

John Wayne Meets Jacob

Jacob inspires us to overcome our Esau-like desires for instant gratification and physical power.

 

Esau is surely one of the most tragic figures of the Bible. He is a simple man, whose robust nature leads him to exult in his own health, strength and energy. Esau loves to hunt. He revels in the outdoors and in bursting limits. Esau is a man of impulse. Like Rambo or John Wayne, Esau thrives on his tremendous power, his physical courage and his own inner drives.

Modern America admires that. We distrust the intellectual. Someone who thinks too much, or who is too sensitive to the feelings of others (or to his own feelings) is held in disdain. We prefer a man who can impose his own will through a show of determination and strength, someone who doesn't plan in advance, someone who can relish the moment and trust his own passions.

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Chayei Sara

Posted on November 6th, 2017

Genesis 23:1 - 25:18 


BY RABBI ADINA LEWITTES for myjewishlearning.com 

 

The Miracle in Sarah’s Tent

 

How the matriarchs' homes resembled and inspired the Temple.


In this week’s Torah portion we encounter Isaac deep in mourning for his mother, Sarah. The Rabbis suggest he was inconsolable until he met his future wife, Rebecca.

In a scene that starts off like a Monty Python movie — “And Isaac went out walking in the field toward evening, and looking up, he saw camels approaching; raising her eyes, Rebecca saw Isaac and fell off the camel,” it quickly gets more serious:

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Vayeira

Posted on October 30th, 2017

Genesis 18:1-22:24

By Rabbi Joshua Heller. Reprinted with permission of the Jewish Theological Seminary for MyJewishLearning.com.
 

Balancing the Needs of Home and Community

 

Why did Abraham beg for mercy for the city of Sodom but not for his son Isaac?


Ever since I was a child, I've struggled with a fundamental question about Abraham's personality, a question which is posed by this week's parashah, Vayera. When God comes to Abraham to inform him that the city of Sodom is to be destroyed for its wickedness, Abraham responds aggressively by shaming God into agreeing to spare the city if 50 righteous can be found within it, saying,"Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?" (Genesis 18:25). Then, with a bargaining style that would be the envy of any used-car buyer, teenager, or trial lawyer, he lowers the number to 45, to 30, to 20, to 10.

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Lech L'cha

Posted on October 23rd, 2017

Genesis 12:1-17:27

By Rabbi Bradley Artson, provided by the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, for MyJewishLearning.com

 

Abram and God's Mutual Faith

As Abram and God demonstrate, Judaism understands faith as deep trust despite doubt, confusion, and suffering.

 

 

At a ripe old age, Abram receives a message from God, telling him that he will yet produce an heir, and that the child will inherit not only Abram's property, but also his father's covenant with God. Surely God's promise would strain the credulity of even the most devoted follower. Sarah had been barren throughout her life. Now, her body no longer surged with the monthly cycle of women-childbearing wasn't even a possibility. And she herself testified that her husband was far too old to father children. Yet, despite biological reality, God tells Abram that he will have a child, and that his descendants will outnumber the stars in the sky!

In response to God's astounding promise, the Torah states simply that "because he put his trust in the Lord, he reckoned it to his credit." In that one ambiguous sentence, the Torah contrasts the rich complexity of biblical faith and the flimsy superficiality of the contemporary notion of faith.

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