Vayeishev

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“They hated him and couldn’t speak to him amicably.”
~ Genesis 37:4

Seeing that their father Jacob loved Joseph most, his brothers hated him.

With such strong sentiments – of course they couldn’t speak harmoniously – so why state the obvious?

To teach something counterintuitive: never communicate something verbally which you don’t feel emotionally. Although it seems better to always speak kindly, kind words can be cruel when they’re inconsistent with how you really feel.

While carelessly expressing what you honestly think or feel can be harmful, it’s far more destructive to be deceitful.

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Vayishlach

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“For with my staff I crossed this Jordan and now I’ve become two camps.”
~ Genesis 32:11

Expressing his gratitude, Jacob describes how he left home penniless but returned so wealthy his estate needed two separate camps.

Why even mention the poverty of his past?

Because as we succeed we often forget where we started. Real gratitude and true humility means having no embarrassment about those hard times. Quite the opposite, you’re proud of how they got you here.

While not everyone starts with rags or ends with riches, we’re all climbing. Don’t forget to look down.

Vayeitzei

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“I am Hashem, God of Abraham your father, and God of Isaac.”
~ Genesis 28:13

God introduces Himself to Jacob as the God of his forefathers.

It’s instructive to note that as Isaac was alive, this is the only place in the Torah where God connects His name to someone living.

Why?

Because Isaac was so old, he no longer had any physical desires or evil inclination. So from God’s perspective, it’s as if he was already dead.

Your base-drives aren’t random or wicked. They create the tension called life. Don’t escape them, channel them.

Toldot

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“May those who curse you be cursed, and those who bless you be blessed.”
~ Genesis 27:29

When Isaac blesses Jacob, he bequeaths his son the same blessings received from his father Abraham.

Why mention the curses before the blessings?

Because one of life’s paradoxes is that difficulty precedes triumph, obstacles pave the road of successful journeys and great people initially face opposition. The converse is usually true as well.

Everyone tends to want the world on a platter and life constantly sweet. Part of growing up – and being successful – is accepting that’s not going to happen.