Rabbi Stephen Lewis Fuchs
Although Jewish folklore and midrashic literature take a different view, everything the Torah shares with us about Jacob’s youth is negative. First, he takes advantage of his brother’s hunger to extort the family birthright from him. Later, at his mother’s urging, Jacob stands before his blind father, dressed in Esau’s clothes, lies through his teeth (twice!) and swears to Isaac, “I am Esau, your first born.”
Ironically, Jacob displays this despicable behavior so that Isaac will bless him as the spiritual heir to the covenant God first made with Abraham. Esau, understandably, is...Read More
“How long O Eternal One?” The plaintive cry is (at least) as old as the Bible, but we ask it again in the wake of the recent tragedy in El Arish, Egypt.
I spent a night in El Arish in 1981. There when peace seemed possible in the Middle East, I frolicked in the surf on a beautiful beach with Palestinians named Mahmoud and Fawzi. Today I wonder if Mahmoud, Fawzi, their wives, children, and grandchildren were among those the terrorists murdered?
What kind of savages meticulously plan and carry out an attack on people worshipping in a mosque that kills more than 300 people?...Read More
Next week, we will celebrate Thanksgiving. In November, too, our Torah readings take up the story of Jacob. In my mind, these two seemingly different topics dovetail beautifully.
In 1936, at the height of the Great Depression, Connecticut Governor Wilbur Cross appealed to the indomitable human spirit in his Thanksgiving proclamation: “It has seemed good to our people to join together in praising the Creator… for the blessings that have been our common lot … for honor held above price; for steadfast courage and zeal in the long search after truth; for liberty and for justice... that...Read More
“And Elijah heard the voice of God: Not in a whirlwind, not in an earthquake, not in a fire, but in the still small voice of calm.” -- I Kings 19:12
Three years ago, I stood on the pulpit of the Thomaskirche (Bach Cathedral) in Leipzig, Germany, and told of my father’s arrest in that city on the Reich’s Pogromnacht (Kristallnacht), November 9, 1938. That evening, German soldiers rounded up the city’s Jews, forcing them to stand in the stream that flows through the Leipzig Zoo, and commanded other citizens to curse and spit on them.
I posted my remarks on the blog on my...Read More
During the Festival of Sukkot it is customary to invite famous people from the past to be our ushpizin (“guests” in Aramaic) in the sukkah, the temporary huts we build to celebrate the harvest festival.
This year, I would like to invite Jesus to be my guest in the sukkah – to chat about this verse from Genesis: “So God created the human beings in the Divine image, creating them in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27).
To begin the conversation, I would point to one of the most beautiful verses in Scripture from Psalm 8:6: “For you have made humanity little lower than the angels...Read More
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