What the Capture of Beersheva in 1917 Taught Me about Isaac
I am ashamed to say it, but when I was a kid I thought Isaac, the Jewish patriarch, was a wuss: a good son, a spitting image of his father, a willing volunteer to be sacrificed to God, a learned man, and a farmer. But he didn’t travel the world like his father Abraham – from Babylon to southern Turkey, to Canaan, Egypt, Philistine, and back to Canaan. He wasn’t a warrior like Abraham who commanded 300 fighters on a forced march from the Dead Sea to Damascus to battle kings. Isaac paled in comparison to his son Jacob who raised 12 sons and a daughter, prepared defensive formations to meet a threatening Esau, and traveled to Egypt. Jacob was the founder of the people of Israel, his namesake.
While the lives, travels, and travails of Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph are spread across much of the book of Genesis, the story of Isaac barely fills this week’s Torah Parsha, Toldot. What was remarkable about his story in the Bible? Well, the Torah relates, he dug wells, he opened wells that had been sealed by the Philistines, and he gave names to the wells.
Rabbinic literature compares flowing water to the Torah – essential for life – and the rabbis credit Isaac for the nurturing Torah he provided. Three of his wells were given names related to the first and second Temples, according to tradition, and the third name signified the third, future Temple. And wells always played an important role for the romances of the Torah – by a well Abraham’s servant found Rivka, Isaac’s eventual wife. Hagar, Abraham’s second wife, found refuge at a well where later Isaac first met Rivka. And Moses met his wife Zipporah by a well.Read the rest of this entry »
Judy Simon • Arutz Sheva
The Fine Line Between Life and Death: The Hospital Rabbi
Rabbi Jason Weiner is a hospital chaplain. He guides people through intense moments in life, death, and everything in between.
When Rabbi Jason Weiner finished Rabbinical School and acquired Smicha (rabbinic ordination), the one thing he knew is that he never wanted to work in a hospital setting.
Apparently, G-d had other plans for him. Read the rest of this entry »
Rabbi Ari Kahn • Explorations
Jewish medical ethics is a robust field, which quickly grows as the medical and scientific inquiry advances. While many volumes have been written on Jewish medical ethics, Jason Weiner’s Jewish Guide to Practical Medical Decision-Making is unique. Rabbi Weiner has written an excellent and important work from a perspective unlike others who have addressed this topic. While previous studies have been published by experts in Halacha, or experts in medicine, or experts in ethics. Rabbi Weiner may, in fact, be all of the these, but first and foremost he is a chaplain; he works in a hospital, and deals with patients on a daily basis. While I have studied, taught, and even given psak(halachic rulings) in many of the areas discussed in this book, my involvement is often theoretical. Reading actual cases, and learning from Rabbi Weiner’s experience, sensitivity, and wisdom, is both instructive and invaluable.
One powerful example begins on p.93: Rabbi Weiner describes his interaction with the parents of a child suffering from what turned out to be a terminal illness. These parents asked if they were permitted to pray for their son’s recovery, and Rabbi Weiner answered in the affirmative. When the illness took their son’s life, the devastated parents criticized the rabbi for allowing them to foster false hope.