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Length: 50 minutes
On Chanukah, we celebrate and appreciate our definition of life-a life of connection to Hashem and spirituality, and that which the Yevonim (Greeks) wanted to destroy. We celebrate that our spiritual lives were saved by engaging in praising Hashem, and coming closer to Him through His Torah and mitzvos.
Length: 26 minutes
Every Jew has the ability to give up his life for Hashem because of Avraham’s willingness to sacrifice himself in Nimrod’s fiery furnace. The Chashmonaim exhibited this heroism in dark times, showing us that Hashem is with us even if you don’t see results. However, in the end, they became distracted because of the good that Hashem showered on them, and were lost. We need to find Hashem and see Hashem even without a demonstration, and need to make sure that we are serving Him without only focusing on the bracha that we get.
Length: 55 minutes
In the first aliyah of Parshas Vayishlach, Yaakov prepares for his encounter with Eisav. Yaakov is very scared for his encounter with Eisav, as he represents the opposite of what Yaakov stands for. Yaakov is deferential to Eisav in this world, but he is afraid of the rah, bad, of Eisav. In Yaakov’s world, everything that Hashem is and does is good, and he needs to experience it as such in this world-therefore, the bad of Eisav is frightening.
Length: 53 minutes
In the second aliyah of Parshas Vayishlach, Yaakov fights with the angel of Esav. There are 2 encounters that Yaakov has with Esav in this week’s parsha-with Esav himself, and with the malach (angel) of Esav. These 2 battles are opposite encounters: one is physical, while the other is spiritual. In the spiritual battle, Yaakov is the victor, while in the physical encounter, in this world, Yaakov is deferential to Esav.
Length: 1 hour
Yaakov davens to Hashem in a time of trouble, as he is preparing to meet up with his brother Eisav. There is a very important foundation of tefilah that we learn from Yaakov’s prayer. No matter what anyone else is plotting, the only way that a person can be affected is if Hashem decrees it. Therefore, Yaakov does not daven for Eisav to be destroyed, but rather to be saved from his hand. Yaakov’s entire world is determined by Hashem- not by the strength of his hand, and not by anyone else’s intervening hand.
Length: 57 minutes
We continue our discussion about the imahos by learning about the relationship between Yaakov and Eisav with Rachel and Leah. Rachel and Leah were both nervous about the possibility of marrying Eisav. Each of them had a dimension to add to the relationship with Yaakov Avinu, and would have had something to add to Eisav. Rachel’s physicality would ground Yaakov’s spirituality and help it to overtake the world, but their relationship did not come to fulfillment in its truest sense through them. Rather, it was fulfilled through their child Yosef, who would ultimately be the one to stand up to Eisav.
Length: 58 minutes
At the end of Parshas Vayishlach, we learn about the descendants of Eisav. We have two different mandates regarding the children of Eisav: on the one hand, we are to treat the children of Eisav with basic respect, but on the other hand, we are commanded to eradicate Amalek. We explore these two aspects through learning about the children of Eisav, and the lack of continuity and clearly defined generations when it comes to Eisav’s descendants. Yaakov’s goal is the continuation of his entire family as Jews, while Eisav’s descendants do not even have kings from the same family, due to the lack of continuity.
Length: 1 hour 4 minutes
When Yaakov Avinu davens to Hashem as he prepares to meet Eisav, he quotes Hashem’s promise to him from when he originally left his parents’ house. He changes Hashem’s wording and emphasizes that Hashem will do good with him. We explore the meaning and purpose behind this change of words.
Length: 1 hour 3 minutes
We explore here a deeper meaning of Emes L’Yaakov. Yaakov Avinu represents loyalty to commitment and is angered by betrayal. Yaakov lives according to his commitments and connections, and remains disconnected from those he cannot trust and commit to.
Length: 55 minutes
Yaakov Avinu tells Eisav not to be upset, because the brachos have not been fulfilled while he lived at Lavan. Eisav sees things bit by bit, while Yaakov Avinu sees the whole picture, beyond the here and now, and understands Hashem has a greater plan. A tzadik is like a palm tree which takes patience for its growth, yet lasts a long time. A rasha is like grass that sprouts often, yet constantly gets mown and thrown out.
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