“Parsha to the Point” – Vayetze 5778

Parshat Vayetze (Genesis 28:10-32:3) Rabbi David Stav  As Jacob escapes from the Land of Israel from his murderous brother and heads for Haran, God shows him a vision of a ladder rooted in the ground whose top reaches the heavens, and blesses him. “And your seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and you shall break out: westward and eastward and …

“Parsha to the Point” – Toldot 5778

Parshat Toldot (Genesis 25:19-28:9) Rabbi David Stav  “It came to pass when Isaac was old, and his eyes were too dim to see…” [Gen. 27:1]. Why did Isaac go blind? Was this an ailment of old age? Or perhaps was it an accident that led to this condition? The Torah does not provide an explicit answer, but does imply that his blindness may be related …

“Parsha to the Point” – Chayei Sarah 5778

Parshat Chayei Sarah (Genesis 23:1-25:18) Rabbi David Stav  Parshat Chayyei Sarah begins with the death and burial of our matriarch, Sarah, who passed away at the age of 127. Abraham, wishing to bury her, needed a burial site. Since he was a newcomer to Canaan and people tended to bury their deceased relatives in family plots, Abraham was going to …

“Parsha to the Point” – Vayera 5778

Parshat Vayera (Genesis 18:1-22:24) Rabbi David Stav  Our Torah reading, Vayera, begins with three angels paying a visit to Abraham as the patriarch was recovering from his circumcision, during which time one of the angels reports that God is about to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Curiously, the Torah stresses that God feels a need to …

“Parsha to the Point” – Lech Lecha 5778

Parshat Lech Lecha (Genesis 12:1-17:27) Rabbi David Stav  In last week’s Torah reading, we were engrossed in the history of humanity as a whole, and in how it was nearly entirely destroyed in The Flood as a punishment for deeply-ingrained moral corruption. In contrast, this week’s reading, Parshat Lech Lecha, focuses on the roots of a specific …

“Parsha to the Point” – Noach 5778

Parshat Noach (Genesis 6:9-11:32) Rabbi David Stav  Barely a single portion of the Torah has been concluded, and already God has decided to destroy the entire universe. The optimistic mood echoed in the verse, “And God saw all He had done and behold, it was very good” [Gen 1:31] has given way to a more foreboding atmosphere, heralded by the verse, …

“Parsha to the Point” – Simchat Torah 5778

Simchat Torah 5778 Rabbi David Stav  Perhaps one of the Jewish people’s most unique – and bizarre – holidays is Simchat Torah. I often ask myself what possesses both young and old to encircle the bima at the synagogue in a never-ending frenzied dance, sweat pouring off their faces. What gets them going? Why are they dancing at all? What …

“Parsha to the Point” – Sukkot 5778

Sukkot 5778 Rabbi David Stav  Sukkot is a particularly festive and beloved holiday, and indeed, the Torah specifically commands us to be joyful on these days [Deut. 16:14]. The uniquely celebratory nature of Sukkot is perhaps best demonstrated by the special water-drawing celebration in the Temple, Simchat Beit Hashoeva, which took place during the …

“Parsha to the Point” – Yom Kippur 5778

Yom Kippur 5778 Rabbi David Stav  If you were to peruse the streets of Israel on the evening of Yom Kippur, you couldn’t help but notice the unique atmosphere, as a blanket of majestic beauty settles on the physical world around you. As the services conclude in synagogues, thousands of people, many of them dressed or wrapped in white, walk to and …

“Parsha to the Point” – Haazinu 5778

Parshat Haazinu (Deuteronomy 32:1-32:52) Rabbi David Stav  This coming Shabbat Shuva, we will read Parshat Haazinu – or, to be precise, Shirat Haazinu (Song of Haazinu). God tells Moshe that this song has a vital role in shaping Jewish consciousness – which all of Moshe’s previous admonitions of Israel had not managed to do – and that …