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Parsha Table Cards

Parsha Table Cards

Vayeira Parsha Card

Abraham, age 99, is recovering from his circumcision. He’s in extraordinary pain, it’s a searingly hot day in the desert, yet he is sitting at the opening of his tent waiting restlessly for guests. Our sages teach us that Abraham’s tent was always open on all four sides, so that anyone needing rest and comfort and shelter could enter. The Talmud says on that day, God specifically ensured it was an intensely hot day to prevent people from venturing out, so Abraham would be spared the trouble of looking after them. Yet, despite the heat, the lingering pain of circumcision, and his old age, Abraham remained undeterred. Abraham’s example is a rallying call to make a space for others in our hearts, in our lives, and in our homes.

What is the hardest mitzvah you’ve ever done to help someone?

Chayei Sarah

Abraham sends Eliezer to find a wife for Isaac. He encounters Rivka who, through the seemingly simple act of providing water for Eliezer and his camels to drink, displayed the very traits that would make her a fitting wife for Isaac. Her kindness and compassion came through so clearly. But also her integrity. According to Rav Moshe Feinstein, what also impressed Eliezer was that she was careful with her promises. Integrity demands taking care not to make promises that you will not be able to keep, and so only after Rivka had already delivered on her first promise to give Eliezer water, did she then offer to give water to the camels. Rivka demonstrated the traits of kindness and integrity – so fundamental to Abraham and Isaac, and to the Jewish people as a whole.

Is this what you are looking for?

Toldot

Esau exchanges his legacy for a pot of lentil soup. Esau rationalises his decision with the following statement: “Behold I am going to die, and of what use to me is [the right of] the firstborn?” Life in this world is limited, and death is inevitable. How do we respond to this? There are two very different approaches. Esau’s approach is to seize every opportunity for physical indulgence. Jacob’s is to use this life as a platform to do mitzvahs, to accumulate as many good deeds as possible, which we take with us on our journey to the next world, and in so doing to reach up and connect with eternity, to utilise mortality itself as a means to immortality. Ultimately, it was Jacob who continued the legacy of Abraham and Isaac, a legacy that extends to this very day, and will continue to the end of time, to a time beyond time.

Why do we sometimes put short-term wants before longer-term, more meaningful objectives? And how might we re-prioritize?

Vayeitzei

Jacob flees his home to escape his brother, Esau, who seeks vengeance after losing his firstborn blessings. Jacob ventures out into a hostile, uncertain world, leaving the comfort and familiarity of the home he grew up in. Soon after, he has a momentous encounter with G-d, Himself. Think about Jacob’s state of mind. His future is unclear. He is keenly aware of the perils and uncertainties that lie ahead of him. And it’s not incidental that he is extremely vulnerable at the moment of his encounter with God. Allowing ourselves to feel vulnerable can, in fact, be the key to ensuring our prayers aren’t routine. By embracing our vulnerability when coming before Him in supplication, we draw closer to Him. Intimacy emerges from the comfort we feel being vulnerable in His presence, and realizing that God is the source of everything in our lives. This is the very essence of prayer.

How do you know if you had a meaningful prayer experience?

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Spark conversation and connection at your Shabbat table with these parsha table cards. Let the intrigue lead to real-time discussion and debate about meaningful and relevant ideas and questions you may have.