Vayeshev means “and he dwelled.” This portion opens with the amazing story of Joseph, starting with his being sold into slavery to Midianite traders who in turn sell him in Egypt. The parsha then interrupts the Joseph story with the account of Judah and Tamar, but then resumes talking about Joseph first being tempted by his master’s wife only to have his abstinence backfire and land him in prison. Once there, Joseph’s intellect gets him noticed and he makes prophecies that come true for two prisoners, the baker and the wine taster. The baker is killed but the wine taster was prophesied to go free but reneged on his promise to put in a good word for Joseph immediately upon his release.
Vayishlach means “and he sent” and once again the ‘he’ is Jacob sending messengers ahead with gifts in an attempt to reconcile with Esau, and what follows is for me, bar none, the greatest apology EVER given in Scripture. After that we get the tragic story of Dinah and Shechem where he rapes her and, even though he later wishes to make it right by marrying her, the sons of Israel exact revenge anyway. This is followed by a rather unique wrestling match—in this corner, the cunning man of Canaan, Jacob! And in that corner-uh-Yeshua the Messiah! Guess who wins. The parsha ends by giving Esau’s extensive descendant list.
Vayetze means “and he departed” the “he” being Jacob heading towards Haran. At Haran Jacob has his famous vision of the heavenly ladder before proceeding to dwell with his uncle Laban. This of course sets up the struggle with Jacob wanting Rachel but being forced to marry Leah first and then Rachel as he toils for a total of twenty years. After finally escaping, Jacob finds himself trapped between a deceptive uncle he left behind and a brother who publicly swore to kill him coming towards him with hundreds of armed men.
Toldot means “generations” or “family records,” referring to the lineage of Isaac. The troubled sibling rivalry of Jacob and Esau is the focus here. Jacob will eventually steal Esau’s birthright and blessing before running away. But as crafty as Jacob is he will find his uncle Laban even more deceitful and it is Laban who will outmaneuver Jacob for 20 years before Jacob gains advantage again. We also have the third occurrence—this time with Isaac and Abimelech II—of a wife (Rebecca this time) being passed off as a “sister” because a patriarch was afraid for his life. The portion ends with Esau taking another wife.
Chayei Sarah means “life of Sarah” but ironically it begins with her death! The full meaning actually is “the Life of Sarah WAS.” In the wake of her death, Abraham must find an appropriate place to bury his wife. Ephron the Hittite first offers some land to Abraham for free, but Abraham insists on paying (actually OVERPAYING according to the rabbis) and signing a contract for the land to avoid future strife. Chapter 24 then gives us the beautiful love story between Isaac and Rebecca. It becomes clear that while Isaac himself gets little attention in Torah compared to his ancestors and descendants, he certainly did very well in the marriage department—Rebecca is in a way his inheritance and treasure. The portion ends with Abraham’s death and a reunion at his funeral with Isaac and Ishmael.
Shalom everyone. Before getting to the parsha, I wanted to apologize to all of you for having only half a parsha this week. Due to problems that are completely of my own making and my fault entirely, I was only able to do two videos this week. I take my charge of providing fresh content every week very seriously and I feel terrible to have fallen short. But in the meantime, I thought I would provide a little extra content right now–teachings I have not posted in a while and are not on the home page. I know this is no substitute for the final two videos that I am responsible for and again I am very sorry about that. I regret also not being able to record Member Q&A and for those who asked me, I will get your questions answered in the coming weeks and am sorry for any inconvenience. Also please note there are no bonus video links in the audio version! Having said all of this, let’s talk about the parsha…
Vayera means “and appeared,” referencing Abba YHWH, appearing to Abraham with two other messengers. The trio brings news that Abraham and Sarah will have a son. Sarah, not believing Abba YHWH, laughs at hearing the pronouncement and then denies she laughed. This is one reason they call their son Yitzchak, “laughter.” Notable here also is that Abraham serves Abba YHWH and His two messengers milk and meat!
After this, we get the dark message of Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction. Abraham’s nephew Lot and his family must leave immediately to avoid the coming disaster. Also, there is a remarkable “bargaining” session between Abraham and Abba YHWH, as they debate how many righteous souls will spare the entire city. An incident similar to the one where Pharaoh took Sarah happens again with another ruler, with comparable results. The portion ends with the most shocking story of them all, as Abraham is told to kill his son by Abba YHWH Himself!
Lech Lecha means “get yourself out” or “go to yourself.” It concerns the command Abba YHWH gives Abram to into Canaan and has a lot of great “action” surrounding that main theme. First, move Abram has a bit of an adventure in Egypt when his wife acquired by Pharaoh because Abram said she was his sister! Then Abram had to do some intricate planning to get ahead of a potential family dispute between himself and his nephew Lot. After that a whole bunch of kings go to war around Abram and closer to home Abram is given the second most difficult test of his life and I’m just scratching the surface here…there’s a ton of action I left out here.
Noach refers to Noah, a righteous man whose name means “comfort” or “peace.” Abba YHWH tells Noah He is about to flood all of humanity out of existence except for himself, his wife, their three sons and three daughters in law. After the Flood, humanity tries to start over but there is still great evil about as Nimrod becomes a great and powerful leader and those (perhaps) under his influence attempt to build a tower to rival heaven, forcing Abba YHWH to confuse human language ever since. Genealogy brings us to the time of Abraham, thus setting up the covenant that is about to happen in the next portion. I should also note here that Noach is the most calendar intensive portion in my opinion of the entire year. In order to manage that information and to keep things easy to understand and efficient, I have pooled the most important calendar aspects into one basic essay at the end of the Torah linguistics.
Bereshit means “in the beginning.” We start with the six days of creation with Abba YHWH resting on the Shabbat day and creating Adam and Eve. After their expulsion from paradise, Adam and Eve have two sons, Cain and Abel and the former kills the latter. Afterwards, Cain flees Abba YHWH’s presence, first to Nod and then he goes build a city. As the human race begins to spread throughout the earth, the first ten generations are recounted and the life of righteous Noah is introduced.
The 2023 Sukkot Special concludes with Volume 2, where we do a deep dive into the mysteries of the Nativity and Star of Bethlehem. This one is so massive I actually ran out of time with some features in the Notes, including an archaeological update on the City of David and the latest cutting edge research on special Sukkot events throughout history, but these features are still in the Notes to explore. Enjoy! Keep Reeding
Welcome to the Feast that is so enormous it is significantly foreshadowed in Genesis, given separate but inter-related titles in Exodus, stamps its force of personality throughout the Hebrew Bible and takes up more than 2 large chapters in the Gospel of Yochanan with even more allusions in Revelation. This is the most majestic feast of them all which may, in my opinion at least, hold the greatest of clues regarding when Yeshua the Messiah is coming back. Don’t miss this one!
Please note: Last week you may recall the word “type something” came below the video for some strange reason. I checked the setting in Logitech and was able to remove it, but then this week I faced another issue where a portion of the bottom of the screen for these videos got cut off. I did fix this too, but unfortunately not in time for these videos. Next week however we should have everything back to normal. Thank you for your patience!
Vayelech means, “and he went out/walked” referring of course to Moshe. The portion begins in a time of transition, where Joshua is brought forward as the next leader and final instructions to Israel are given. The portion ends with Moshe recording the words to a song, but those words are not given until the following portion, Ha’azinu.
Ha’azinu means “give your ears” or “listen.” It is the opening stanza of Moshe’s last song that he spoke of at the end of the previous portion. Although the language is poetic, the graphic imagery is meant for easy remembrance and its warnings are definitely LITERAL. There is no other poetry done as well in Tanakh except perhaps Job 38-42.
To these are combined separate Haftorah readings for it being the Shabbat of Return, the Shabbat after Yom Teruah but before Yom Kippur.