Parashat Vayeira 5783

November 7, 2022

How Do you Make a Well or a Ram Disappear?
By Rabbi Rob Scheinberg

Twenty years ago, two experimental psychologists at Harvard, named Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, created what has become one of the most famous experiments in the behavioral sciences. 

The participants in this study were given a simple task. They just had to watch a brief video that included several people passing basketballs back and forth to each other. Three of these players were wearing white shirts, and three were wearing black shirts. The task was simple: watch the ball that was being passed among the players with the white shirts, and count how many times the basketball was passed. This is not difficult – most people came up with the right number.

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Parashat Vayeira 5782

October 22, 2021

This past Sunday I visited our third grade class. One of the students asked me a question – How many letters are there in a Torah? In rabbinic school we learn that although we “Rabbis to be” will not be able to answer every question put to us, we will be able to know where to go and look for the answer to any question we cannot answer immediately. I immediately knew exactly where to go to answer this question. As the students looked on, I whipped out my cell phone and googled it! There were, I told the students, 304,805 letters in the Torah. In addition, there were 79,847 words in a Torah scroll. In fact, the Talmud tells us that the early Sages were called “soferim”, or “counters” because, so dear was the Torah to them, that they counted every letter and word. To this day, a person...

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Parashat Vayeira 5780

November 15, 2019

A D’var Torah for Parashat Vayeira By Rabbi Heidi Hoover (’11) At the beginning of this week’s Torah portion, Vayeira, Abraham is sitting outside his tent at the hottest part of the day. God visits him. Our rabbis tell us that this is an act of compassion on God’s part. The reason Abraham is sitting isn’t just that it’s the hottest part of the day—too hot to work or do anything, really—but also because he’s recovering from having circumcised himself, as God had commanded him to do at the end of last week’s Torah portion. This is where we derive the duty to visit the sick—we are emulating God, who visits Abraham when he is recovering from surgery. God, who is so much more important than Abraham, takes the time to come see him when he isn’t feeling well. And look at the effect it has on Abraham, who must...

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Parashat Vayera – 5779

October 27, 2018

  A D’var Torah for Parashat Vayera by Cantor Sandy Horowitz (’14) Our matriarch Sarah is held in high esteem. Her kindness in welcoming strangers is a trait she shares with Abraham, and it is said that on the day she gave birth to Isaac many other barren women similarly “were remembered” and also gave birth (Bereishit Rabbah 53:8). Yet the Torah places her in the background rather than at her husband’s side, even with events that directly affect her.Parashat Vayera begins as Abraham welcomes three strangers (messengers of God) who are passing by in the heat of mid-day. Abraham enlists Sarah’s help in preparing food for them, then she remains behind while he goes out to sit with the visitors.  They ask him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” and Abraham replies that she is in the tent (Gen. 18:9). Then they tell him that at this time next year they will return...

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Parshat VaYera, 5778

November 1, 2017

by Rabbi Isaac Mann I would like to share with you a very insightful ethical interpretation of a midrashic comment that I heard in the name of Rabbi Avraham Yaakov Pam, who was the Rosh ha-Yeshiva of Mesivta Torah Vodaath in the latter part of the 20th century. Commenting on the verse in Genesis 21:6, which describes Sarah’s reaction to her giving birth to Isaac at the age of 90 (“G-d has brought me laughter; whoever hears about this will laugh with me”), the Midrash adds that many barren women became pregnant (literally “were remembered by G-d”) along with her, many sick were healed along with her, many prayers were answered along with her, for there was much laughter (i.e. joy) in the world (quoted by Rashi ad loc.). The Midrash is apparently responding to the question of why would everyone who heard about Sarah’s birth erupt into joyful laughter....

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