Portions Library

A collection of essays on the weekly Torah Portions, from Genesis to Deuteronomy, adapted from Torah Club.

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Abraham's Wells

When the Master offered the woman at the well the living water of salvation, he spoke not of literal water, but of salvation—yet He offered that living water to her at Jacob’s well. We need not dig new wells or create new names. The original wells are as deep and filled with living water as when our fathers first drank from them.

Isaac Prays for Rebekah

Just as Abraham’s wife, Sarah, was barren, Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, was also unable to bear children. For twenty years she and Isaac tried to have a child. It is written that "Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren…"

Philistine Apologies

A lot of people find it difficult, even impossible, to say, "I'm sorry." When we are pushed by others, our tendency is to push back and demand our rights. Rarely do we see someone turn the other cheek.

The Heels of Messiah

The rabbis understood these references to “the heels of the Messiah” symbolically to indicate the final generation that will see the coming of the Messiah. We refer to the generation of the final redemption as the “heels of Messiah," or to translate it another way, “the footsteps of Messiah.”

Abraham's Torah

The LORD appeared to Isaac just as He had appeared to Abraham. He told him, "I will establish the oath which I swore to your father Abraham" (Genesis 26:3). He restated the promise to multiply his descendents, to give them...

Red, Red Stuff

Whenever we allow our appetites to rule us, we follow in the footsteps of Esau. Opportunities to honor or despise our birthright in the kingdom pass before us on a daily basis. We are constantly placed in positions where we must decide between what we crave and what is right.

A Conniving Woman?

To understand why Rebekah did what she did, we have to back up to before her boys were born. For twenty years Rebekah and Isaac tried to have a child that could carry on the Abrahamic legacy. All that time, “Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife” (Genesis 25:21). One legend says that, at the end of twenty years, Isaac brought Rebekah to Mount Moriah, and he prayed for her there at the future site of Jerusalem and the holy Temple:

Tithing Straw

One of Esau’s devices was to ask his father detailed questions about the observance of commandments. “Father, I have a problem,” he announced. “What is it?” Isaac asked him. “How do you separate the tithe from salt or straw?” By his question, Esau meant to imply (falsely, of course) that he fulfilled the commandments to a greater degree than is required, because tithes need not be set aside from salt and straw. Esau uttered with his lips the opposite of what he thought in his heart … thus Esau hid his wickedness and tricked everyone into believing that he was in reality righteous. (Moshe Weissman, The Midrash Says: The Book of Bereishis)