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Thursday, December 27, 2012


My Cousin, Mordechai Yehoshua Ben Tzvi Elimelech z"l                       
This past Shabbat, our dear first cousin "Sheike," as we knew and loved him, was taken back to his Creator.  His illness was discovered only a short month before his death and he rapidly deteriorated.  I was fortunate enough to be able to spend the last few weeks of his life with him and he taught me so much, especially at this most difficult time.
Sheike was a big man. "Big" in all senses of the word.  He was a physically big man, but more important- he was a man with a BIG smile and an even bigger heart.
We are saddend beyond belief.  It is hard for us to imagine and accept that he is gone. 

In Shir Hashirim (Song of Songs), depicts the scene of a man walking through the garden, picking figs. This is an allegory for death, meaning that God picks the neshamot from Earth to go with him to Gan Eden. The reason Shlomo Hamelech used a fig for this parable, as opposed to any other fruit, is because a fig has the characteristic that it is very difficult to tell when it is ripe, just by looking at the outside. So too with the neshama, we cannot tell by looking, which neshamot are ripe to go to gan eden. Some take 120 years, some take 60 years, some take 20 years.

    It is difficult to tell which Neshama is “ripe” and ready to be taken back by God, but it was not difficult to see the great Neshama of Sheike.  He was taken in the prime of his life.  Too early, way too early.  God wanted his pure neshama to be with Him.  Sheike died on Shabbat which shows how special he was.

·        For one thing Shieke had a smile that projected goodness.

o   His smile could melt ice. His smile brought an instant deep intense feeling of goodness.

o   Sheike did not have it easy. His life had many twists and turns.

o   During the last couple of weeks – he was in intense pain. Yet he did his best to always show a positive smile. A loving smile.

o   His smile was pure chesed and we will miss it dearly.

·   Sheika was a man who was always willing to give. To his country, to his wife, to his children and to his family and friends.

We will never forget what he did for us when we moved to Israel. It was a hot sweltering day and we just made aliya with 3 little kids in tow.  I was so saddened to leave my family behind and it was very hard.  Suddenly, as we got off the plane and went down those airplane steps, we were greeted by a very huge smile and laugh that only Sheike had.  He worked in the airport and was able to get a special pass to come greet us on our first steps of this beautiful land.  He took the children, who took to him immediately so that we could deal with all the paperwork.

He then joined us in the sweltering heat, 3 kids, hand luggage and 15 boxes to our new home.  He could have said goodbye there, but he insisted on carrying all of our boxes up two flights of stairs without hesitation.  His presence and smile made our aliya so much easier and memorable.  We never forgot that incredible kindness that he thought nothing of. 

·     We found out that he was sick only three weeks before he passed away.  I have been thinking a lot about the important things in life and how every day counts since we do not know how much time we really have.  

        Even in intense pain he smiled his big smile when we came.  He tried to say all the right things as the terrible illness spread to his head, lungs and rest of his body.  As a Cohein he gave us the famous priestly prayer.  He requested, actually demanded, to see all of our kids.  When we brought each one of them, he took each one separately and added an extra bracha at the end.  Even though he had such difficulty breathing and talking he thought about doing so .
          This  reminded me of this week's parsha, when Yaakov gathered all his sons around his bed to give them their last blessing.  The last song we sang with him in the hospital which Sheike sang so fervently was Am Yisrael Chai.  What a powerful song.

        During his last days he took all of his energies and thanked anyone who was there helping him and wished them well.  How can someone in such intense pain,  think of those things, think of others?  That was our beautiful cousin Sheike.
    His Uncles in America so wanted to talk to him, but he could not talk on the phone, could barely speak.  On Wednesday before he passed away, he took all of his strength and was able to say a few words to them on the phone, because he so wanted to speak to them and I guess to say goodbye.  

 His words were sparing the last two weeks, yet he said so much.  He told us how much he loves us and how much we mean to him.  He told us how proud he was of his children and he hopes they will be taken care of.  He did not know he was dying, but he knew...

·  On the Friday before he passed away we were swapping stories of Sheike and his great heart. His son told us how he was so happy with his childhood and he could not have asked for a better childhood.

  We are so  happy that we had the chance to know you. You have taught us to be strong; to do everything with kindness and Simcha. Whenever we are sad we will think of your great smile and we will smile – remembering what a great person you were.  We will miss you very much.

·       May your Wife and Children be comforted amongst the mourners of Israel.

תהא נשמתו צרורה בצרור החיים


  • Yaakov lives his last seventeen years in Mitzraim.
  • Before Yaakov dies he makes Yosef swear that he will bury him in Israel.
  • Yaakov blesses Yosef's two sons, Ephraim and Menashe.
  • Yaakov switches his hands and puts his right hand on the younger son, Ephraim, and his left hand on the older, Menashe.
  • Yaakov blesses them with the famous blessing:   Hamalach Hagoel:
          "May the angel who redeemed me from all harm bless the youths, and may they be called by my name and the name of my fathers, Avraham and Yitzchak, and may they multiply abundantly like the fish in the midst of the land."

  • Yaakov blesses Yosef's son's further, with the blessing we give our boys on Friday night:  
          "May G‑d make you like Ephraim and Menashe."
  •  Yaakov gathers his sons and gives each of his sons a bracha, each with their own unique strengths and weaknesses.
  •  Yaakov makes a final request to be buried with his forefathers in Mearat Hamachpela.
  • Yaakov dies at the age of 147.
  •  Yosef requests permission from Pharoh to leave to bury his father.
  • Yosef, his family and the elders of Mitzrayim go to bury Yaakov in Mearat Hamachpela.
  • Upon returning to Mitzrayim, the brothers fear that Yosef is still angry with them and will take revenge.
  • Yosef reassures his brothers that he is not angry with them.
  • Yosef lives until the age of 110.
  • Before he dies, Yosef makes his family swear that they will bring the remains of his body to Eretz Yisrael.
This concludes Sefer Bereishit.  Tune in next week to find out what happens next........  and for some great Parsha Cakes!!!

In this week’s parsha, Yaakov Avinu was dying very soon,
Reuven, Shimon Levi, Yehuda, Yissaschar, Zevulun,
Dan Naftali, Gad, Asher, Yosef and Binyamin,
Were told about their greatness and also of their sin.
Yaakov was poetic, each bracha well thought out,
And each shevet understood and knew what their bracha was about.
One shevet will be judges, and one will trade at sea,  
One shevet will be learners  and one will have monarchy.
One shevet will be brave in battle, another that go hand in hand,
were separated from each other, and one did not get his own land.
One brother compared to a wolf, and one was blessed with olive trees,
One as swift as a deer, one rebuke, and they each took their bracha with ease.
Can you figure out all of the brachot, like the one that’s compared to a snake,
When you answer this you can say: "Chazak chazak venitchazek!"
(answers below...)


In this week’s parsha, Yaakov gathers his sons to give them each brachot before he dies.  Each bracha was well thought out and given one at a time to each Shevet.   
Have each person consider how Hashem has blessed their life. Each person should think of things he considers a blessing from Hashem. Encourage everyone  to think deeply and come up with nice things that happened to them. After a set amount of time, go around the Shabbat table and  each person should say their blessing out loud. Keep going around and around until people run out of blessings. The last person to name a blessing wins.

Here is a great way for my father and I to learn a little bit of Parsha each week, even though we live far from each other. ( I like the play on words of Abba in the word Shabbat and Imabba meaning "with Abba" and Ima Abba written together!  Thanks Abba and Ima :-)!

The Parsha starts out with the pasuk saying "Vayechi Yaakov Beeretz Mitzraim shva esre shana".  Yaakov lived in Egypt for 17 years. 
The word Vayechi equals 34.  Yaakov had a good life for 34 years. The first 17 years, when all of his family were togehter, and the last 17 years of his life when the brothers reunited.  We can learn from here that when family comes together and unite, those are the best years of ones life.  
( I hope my parents are hinting that they will come to Israel soon to join us and make aliya :-)!)


My daughter and friends created this fun Parsha cake!

This week’s Parsha talks about the 12 shevatim and the brachot they received from their father Yaakov.  It also talks about Yaakov switching his hands to give the bracha for Ephraim and Menashe.  I thought that a clock (12) and the “hands” crossing each other is a great way to think about this parsha!  Enjoy!

You will need:
Carrot cake
Cookie dough
Fruit leather
Numbers out of chocolate mold, cookie shapes or piping.
Candies with brachot on them (optional)
Candies for the different brachot: i.e. snake, deer etc... (optional)
We bought chips that were in the shape of hands, since Yaakov crossed his hands...

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a round 10 inch baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, white sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in carrots. Fold in pecans. Pour into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Frost with dessert whip if you would like.  Place the numbers around the clock,  Take the fruit leather and cut them into 2 rectangles for the hands of the clock.  Make hands out of the prepared cookie dough or out of the fruit leather.  Don’t forget to cross the hands over.

Enjoy and have a wonderful Shabbat!

Chazak Chazak Venitchazek!!! 

Answer to Parsha puzzle:  Reuven- rebuke  Shimon and Levi- separated , Levi had no land, Yehuda- monarchy , Yissaschar- learners, Zevulun- trade, Dan- snake, Gad, chase the enemy, Asher- olive trees,
Naftali- deer,Yosef- vine, Binyamin- wolf.

Monday, December 10, 2012


Happy Chanuka!!!                                                                    בס"ד


Here is something fun to do:
Print out the parsha review.  You can make one or a few copies.  Cut each line into strips.  Mix them up and give it to your kids and guests to see if they could figure out the correct order. You can leave some chumashim on the table to help them out.  We did this last week and the kids were into it!  

  •  Pharoh dreams that seven fat cows are swallowed by seven lean cows.
  • Pharoh has another dream, that seven healthy ears of grain are swallowed by seven skinny stalks of grain.
  • Pharoh's butler remembers Yosef.
  • Yosef is taken out of jail and appears before the king. 
  • Yosef interprets the dreams.
  • There will be seven years of plentiful food in the land, followed by seven years of famine.
  • Yosef suggests to Pharoh to store the excess grains of the plentiful years, so there will be enough to eat during the famine. 
  • Yosef becomes viceroy over Egypt.
  • Yosef marries Osnat (Potifar's daughter) and they have two sons: Menashe and Ephraim. 
  • The famine begins....
  • Yaakov (Yosef's father) sent his ten sons down to Egypt to buy food.
  • He keeps his youngest son, Binyamin, with him, since he is afraid for his safety.
  • Yosef recognizes his brothers immediately, however they do not recognize him.
  • The brothers entered the city from 10 different entrances and Yosef calls them spies.
  • They are placed in jail for three days.
  • The brothers are let free, but Shimon is kept in prison until the brothers return to Canaan and bring Binyamin, the youngest brother back.
  • Yosef instructs his servants to place money and food into his brothers sacks, without their knowledge.
  •  The brothers return to Canaan and retell the story of what happened.
  • Yaakov refuses to let Binyamin go, but Yehuda promises to be responsible for his brother.
  • Yaakov reluctantly lets them go and sends a gift to the Viceroy.
  • Yosef invites all his brothers to a feast.
  • Yosef is full of emotions when he sees all his brothers.
  • Yosef asks about their father.
  • Before the brothers leave Yosef orders Menashe to fill their sacks with grain.
  • Yosef orders Menashe to place his wine goblet in Binyamin's sack.
  • The Egyptian soldiers stop the brothers from leaving, accusing them from stealing the goblet.
  • The brothers deny the accusations.
  • The goblet is found in Binyamin's sack.
  • Yosef allowes the brothers to leave, but forces Binyamin to stay.
  • Yehuda begs to let him take Binyamin's place.....
  • What will Yosef decide?????  Tune in next week, as the saga continues....................


It’s Dovid’s Bar Mitzvah, there is so much to do,
The party is on Chanukah night number two.
His family is coming in from the United States,
To hear him read the Torah on Parshat Mikeitz.
He will lain at the kotel, on Thursday this week,
His father and mother would like him to speak.
He was thinking of how he could combine Chanuka,
With his name and the stories in this week’s parsha.
There must be hidden messages he was hoping to find,
A nice dvar torah that is one of a kind.
Dovid, Yosef and Yehuda Hamacabi,
Are all famous people in our history.
All of these tzadikkim believed in Hashem,
And knew that their greatness did not come from them.
They stood up for what they believed in, though they were few,
That is a good lesson for every single Jew.
We know that non pure oil in the Bet Hamikdash was forbidden,
And the Nes of Chanuka was that something was hidden,
So Dovid wants you to figure out this clue,
What is Hidden in the parsha and on Chanuka too?

Happy B-day Dovid! :-)


Since this week is both Chanuka and Mikeitz, here is a little fun activity you can do for both.  Prepare a small gavia filled with candy and hide it somewhere near someone.  You can put it in your father’s jacket pocket and put his jacket over his chair.  During the meal, claim that you lost something precious and you cannot find it.  Have everyone look for it.  Then it will be discovered and you could relate it to the parsha and Chanuka.  Enjoy the treats at the end!

 Here are some fun Chanuka and parsha games to play:
  • Pictured is a board game of Candles and Svivonim, played like Chutes and Ladders.  Everyone has to answer a parsha or Chanuka question before they take a turn.  We played it with a dreidel and therefore each letter represented a number. Nun-1, Gimmel-2, Hey-3 Pey-4.  Yes we have a Pey on our dreidel!  :-). 
  • Pin the Shamash on the Menorah 
  • Play the dreidel game with chocolate chips instead of coins. In this game- Each person puts 2 chocolate chips in the pot.  Everyone takes a turn to spin.
  • Nun- nothing, 
  • Gimmel, you get the whole pot, 
  • Hey- you get half the pot, 
  • Pey- you put one in.
                    Have fun and be creative!!!!!

Here is a great way for my father and I to learn a little bit of Parsha each week, even though we live far from each other. ( I like the play on words of Abba in the word Shabbat and Imabba meaning "with Abba" and Ima Abba written together!  Thanks Abba and Ima :-)!

Most years, Shabbat Chanuka and Parshat Miketz coincide. We can find hints in the parsha that connect Miketz to Chanuka.
 Pharoh dreams that seven fat cows are swallowed by seven skinny ones.  In the story of Chanuka the Jews are smaller in quantity and the Greek army is  stronger and larger.  Yet the Jews win.  In both cases, it is the weaker who win the stronger.
We can learn a nice lesson here.  It is not always the quantity that is important, it is the quality.  When we do good deeds, help a friend, teach our children, we should always strive to do the best we can.  Quality time is very precious.
Just like on Chanuka we light one candle and add another each night, so too, every day we should strive to do more.   

Another hint in the parsha for Chanuka, is written in the first pasuk:  "Vayehi Miketz shnatayim yamimim:
The acronym for shnatayim stand for: Smoll Ner Tadlik Yamin Mezuza.
Light the candle on the left side and on the right is the mezuza.  Be surrounded by mitzvot and by good things. 

Have a wonderful Chanuka filled with happiness and light and quality time!!

 This week's Parsha tells us the story of the seven fat cows and seven skinny cows.
The end of the parsha talks about Binyamin and the goblet that was found.

Here is what you will need:
  • Any cake recipe that you like.
(please share with us your favorite and we will post it in future Parshiot!)
  • bundt shaped pan
  • plastic goblet
  • frosting with blue food coloring added (you can just whip up a whip and add a few drops of blue food coloring..)
  • 7 bars of Elite Chocolate with cow pictures on them. (your kids will love you for all that chocolate ;-)
  • Candies, jelly beans, etc... to fill the goblet.
  •  Bake the cake in a bundt shaped pan.  
  • When cool, frost it with blue frosting (to resemble the river).
  • Cut the bigger cows from the chocolate.  (this is not so easy... some might break....).
  • Cut the smaller cows and place all around the cake
  • Place the wine goblet in the middle and fill with candies.
  • I had candies with swirl shapes and it sort of reminded me of dreams so I added it on.
So here you can have your cake and eat it too!
Answer to parsha puzzle: (The small sealed jar of oil was hidden and the Goblet was hidden in Binyamin’s sack)
               Have a wonderful Shabbat and Chanuka!  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


What is in store for us this week?  Read on and you will find out!                                                                    

  • Yaakov returns to Canaan and sends messengers ahead, to meet his brother Esav and make peace.
  • The messengers returned and announced that Esav is approaching with 400 men!
  • Yaakov was afraid and divided his camp into 2.  
  • Yaakov announced that if one group was taken into battle, the other should flee.
  • Yaakov prepared for battle in 3 ways:  Bearing gifts, praying, preparing for war.                     
  • Yaakov wrestles with an angel until dawn.
  • The angel dislocates Yaakov's sciatic nerve and causes Yaakov to limp.
  • Yaakov received a blessing from the Malach and his name was changed to Yisrael.
  • Esav and his army approach and Yaakov bows down to him seven times.
  • Esav runs to Yaakov and hugs and kisses him.
  • Esav offers to accompany Yaakov, but Yaakov declines.
  • Esav and Yaakov depart.
  • The Story of  Dina.
  • Shimon and Levi destroy the city of Shechem and save Dina.
  • Yaakov and his family continue towards Hevron.
  • Yaakov's beloved wife Rachel, dies on the way to Hevron, giving birth to their second son, Binyamin.
  • Yaakov buries her right there (in Bet Lechem).
  • Yitzchak dies at the age of 180.
  • Yaakov and Esav bury him in Mearat Hamchpela in Hevron.

In this week’s parsha we read about Yaakov and Eisav,
When they  first both met, it was not brotherly love.
Eisav the haughty, acted like a very big shot,
When Yaakov gave him a gift, he said “I have a lot.”

Yaakov was the opposite, he was happy without greed,
He said to Eisav modestly, “I have all that I need.”
Yaakov did not know what Eisav had in store,
So he davened, prepared a present, and then prepared for war.

Praying to God is the most important thing,
but it also is important to prepare for anything.
Yaakov brought his family when it was already night,
To the other side, and then he had a fight.

He had forgotten something, and that’s why he went back,
he did not even realize it, he was suddenly under attack.
Who fought with Yaakov and what did he forget?
And where did Yaakov cross, a place that’s really wet.

In this week’s parsha In an attempt to pacify Esav, Yaakov prepared him a lavish  gift.
You will need a jar and a lot of newspapers to play pass the present. 
Prepare parsha questions before Shabbat.   
Some examples:
Who was approaching Yaakov at the beginning of the Parsha?
How many men were with him?
What 3 things did Yaakov prepare?
How many times did Yaakov bow down to Eisav….

Wrap the jar with newspapers one layer at a time.  Place a parsha question in any layer of the newspaper.  Keep wrapping until you finish the newspapers. The players pass the present around the circle. Each person should remove a layer of newspaper.  If they receive a question they must answer it and then  remove another layer.  The parcel should be passed around the circle in the same direction. The player who removes the last layer of wrapping paper keeps the “present”.  (The jar that Yaakov forgot on the other side of the Yabok river.

Here is a great way for my father and I to learn a little bit of Parsha each week, even though we live far from each other. ( I like the play on words of Abba in the word Shabbat and Imabba meaning "with Abba" and Ima Abba written together!  Thanks Abba and Ima :-)!
After crossing the Jordan and  entering Canaan, it states: וַיָּבֹא יַעֲקֹב שָׁלֵם עִיר שְׁכֶם אֲשֶׁר בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן בְּבֹאוֹ מִפַּדַּן אֲרָם וַיִּחַן אֶת פְּנֵי הָעִיר. “Yaakov arrived shalem (שָׁלֵם) in the city of Shechem which is in the land of Canaan- having come  from Padan-aram – and he encamped before the city.” 
Shalem stands for: 
Shin- Shem, his name
Lamed- Lashon, his language
Mem- malbush, his clothing.

Even though Yaakov lived in Lavan's house, he still kept the mitzvot and his Jewish pride.  
It also states: 
I lived with Lavan and I kept the 613 mitzvot."  Im Lavan Garti " if you change the letters around in garti- you get taryag (613) mitzvot that Yaakov kept. 
Chazal, in Midrash Rabbah, teach that Bnei Yisrael merited redemption from Mitzrayim because of three things; they didn’t change their names, their style of dress and the language they spoke. 
What is interesting to note, is that in the beginning of the parsha, Esav was approaching Yaakov with 400 men.  Origianlly, the Jews were supposed to be enslaved for 400 years in Egypt.  Since they did not change, the same way their ancestor Yaakov did not change, they merited an early redemption.
From here we can learn that we must always try to be
positive role models to our children.  Even though sometimes it might seem like they are not learning, deep down they are learning from example.
My cousin's daughter needed some help coming up with a dvar torah for her Shabbaton.  She sent out an email to her family asking for their help.  She needed to find a connection between this week's parsha and priorities.  Here is a taste of what my cousin Simcha Goldberg answered!

Below is a definition. I think you want to go with #2.

The connection to this week's parasha is obvious. Yaakov divides his family/camp into multiple camps realizing that if one is attacked, the other will survive. It's not that he didn't love or care for both; it's that he had to face the reality of a hostile encounter with his brother.

When life sends you challenges and the options presented are not ideal, one still has to deal with each option. Prioritization means arranging your options so that you achieve what you feel will be the most positive outcome.


the state or quality of being earlier in time, occurrence, etc.

the right to precede others in order, rank, privilege, etc.; precedence.

3. the right to take precedence in obtaining certain supplies, services, facilities, especially during a shortage.

something given special attention.


In this week's parsha we find that Yaakov went to the other side of the Yabok river to fight with someone.  The pasuk states that Yaakov was left alone and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.  If he was left alone, how could someone have wrestled with him?

Maybe he was alone and he was wrestling with himself.  He might have seen his reflection in the river and been afraid of who he had become.  He might have been fighting with his physical and spiritual self.  He was becoming more of an Esav and enjoying his physical wealth, which then worried him and he now had to struggle to find the answers. 

Yaakov is really frightened, but at the same time he wants to overcome his fear.

When the Torah says he has a limp, maybe the memory  is a reminder for the future, of how hard this experience was for Yaakov. With a limp, he would never forget what he had learned. With the limp, he is weaker outside, but inside he is even stronger, since he was able to overcome his fear.

In this week’s parsha, Yaakov and Eisav hugged and Yaakov fought with the Malach in the night.  Here is a cake that tells the story.  Yaakov’s leg could have a little break, since he was injured by the gid hanashe.

You will need:
Peanut butter Chocolate delight
Cookie dough or fondant shapes

Peanut Butter Chocolate delight:

1 stick of margarine
2 cups peanut butter
2 cups of pettit bar cookies
4 cups powdered sugar

Crush the cookies and melt margarine and peanut butter together.  Blend cookies and sugar together.  Press in a 9x13 inch pan.

Melt a package of chocolate chips and 1 tablespoon of oil and pour on top of the mixture.  Put in the refrigerator until it hardens.

In the meantime prepare 4 people shapes from cookie dough  or fondant.  You can prepare a sword for Esav, stars and a moon to resemble the night.  Place the cookies in the oven (if you are using dough) (the people should be hugging each other) and bake according to the recipe.

You can have your cake and eat it too! Have a wonderful and fun Shabbat!    

On the right, Yaakov fighting with the angel in the dark (moon and star cookies) and on the left Esav and Yaakov hugging each other and the sword on the side...