Rabbi Sessler D’var Torah

One People, One Love, One Destiny A grandson of two beloved members of our community, of David and Raquel Ben Simon, traveled to Israel as part of a Birthright delegation. And he found himself last Friday at the wrong place, and at the wrong time. At the pub in Tel Aviv which a terrorist attacked […]

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Rabbi Sessler D’var Torah

Workaholism as Slavery The more technology develops, the more time we spend working. There is no respite. We email, call, text and work on the road, at home, maybe even in the bathroom. We work longer hours than previous generations, and work seems to encroach upon all areas of life. It takes a toll on […]

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Rabbi Sessler D’var Torah

Jacob’s Dying Words The Talmud tells a beautiful story about the origins of the quintessential Jewish prayer “Shma Yisrael”. According to the Talmud, the origins of Shma Yisrael are to be found in our parashah, as Jacob asks his sons to congregate around his deathbed. The children, not knowing that their father summoned them in […]

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The Identity of a Pharaoh / On being enslaved to the external The Torah introduces Pharaoh for the first time as “standing on the Nile”. This is not a mere geographical statement. Our sages explain that the concept of “standing on the Nile” implies an overall existential approach to life. The River Nile was the […]

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Rabbi Sessler D’var Torah

Two Kinds of Evil We are celebrating Chanukah this week, because 23 centuries ago, our ancestors fought a decisive war for religious freedom, and for the perpetuation of Judaism. The Syrian-Greeks, led by Antiochus, forbade the practice of Judaism under penalty of death. Theirs was a theologically decadent, and politically barbaric, mode of religiosity. The […]

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Rabbi Sessler D’var Torah

בס”ד We Are All Jews History was made in Israel last week. Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial museum, decided to honor and declare for the first time an American soldier as a righteous gentile who risked his life to save Jews from the claws of the Nazis. Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds served our country in […]

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Rabbi Sessler D’var Torah

The Inevitability of Human Suffering Jacob loses his beloved wife Rachel in this week’s Torah portion. Rachel died young, while giving birth to her second son Benyamin. Jacob is surely devastated. Jacob’s life was replete with tragedy. He had to leave his parental home, and run for his life. He was exploited and manipulated in […]

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Rabbi Sessler D’var Torah

Jacob: The Imperfect and Perfected Patriarch Hello friends. This Friday I am sharing with you my Torah portion article published at the Jewish Journal today, by way of a Shabbat article. Enjoy, and Shabbat Shalom. Here it is: At the beginning of our parsha, we find Jacob utterly alone, en route to exile, without friends […]

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Rabbi Sessler D’var Torah

Two Forms of Greatness Rabbi David Hartman Z”L, was an important figure in the world of Jewish studies. In his youth, Rabbi Hartman was a student of the great Torah giant, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik of blessed memory. When David Hartman was a young student, Rabbi Soloveitchik strongly encouraged Hartman to pursue a master’s degree in […]

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Rabbi Sessler D’var Torah

Tzadik in a Fur Coat Noah, the hero and chief protagonist of our parashah, is described by our sages as “A tzadik in a fur coat”. What’s behind this metaphor? The rabbis explain that back in the old country, in the dead of winter, when it was brutally cold and freezing outside, a man could […]

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