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Friday, March 24, 2017

Features

This Passover, Free Your Mind

There is a well-known tension at the heart of the Passover holiday. The Haggadah contains a debate about whether the story of the Exodus is primarily a transition from slavery to freedom or from the worship of foreign deities to the worship of God. In other words, is Passover a holiday that celebrates autonomy or the beginning of

Bava Batra 54

May these words of Torah serve as a merit le’iluy nishmat Menachem Mendel Ben Harav Yoel David Balk, a”h.

 

Bava Batra 54: Limits to the law of the land is law.

Our Gemara mentions

Celebrating Semicha — Rav Yosef Gottesman’s Address to Congregation Shaarei Orah

The crowning of the title “rabbi” on a group of 150 young men at Yeshiva University this past Sunday was not only a celebration of individual achievement and accomplishment. It was more than families rejoicing in what might be the greatest joy a Jewish parent can experience—the conferring of the title “rabbi” on a son. It

Minhag America and American Nationalism

In 1857, a leading Reform-minded rabbi in America, Isaac Mayer Wise, published a prayer book he called Minhag America. With this publication, he attempted to unify American Jews around a single text of prayer, which, of course, faced immediate opposition and eventual failure. More radical reformers felt the book was too

Purity and Redemption

Shabbat HaChodesh: Parshiyot Vayakhel-Pekudei

The special maftir reading established by the Tana’im in the Mishna was meant to remind the congregation that the time to offer the Korban Pesach, the paschal sacrifice, was quickly approaching, and so, the selection quotes Hashem’s unique

More Than a Thousand Words

They say a picture is “worth a thousand words.” One of my children was recently looking at an old family photo album and stumbled upon a picture of an Israeli soldier holding a canteen. He asked me, “Who is this?” I proceeded to tell him a story, the details of which I remember with great clarity. It was the summer

Handing Over the Keys

“So, Rabbi, bottom line—what’s the deal with drinking on Purim? What’s the message we are supposed to take from this unusual law?”

That was the question I was asked by a sincere and thoughtful congregant last week. I first replied that I once asked Rav Reuven Feinstein what is

Glittering From Within

Parshat Vayakhel-Pekudei

From the president on down, Americans are very attached to their money. They don’t part with it so willingly. They feel this even more acutely when they must give an accounting and pay taxes, as they do on April 15. But not so in our parsha of Pekudei, when we give an

We’re Gonna Build a Wall

One of the most emotion-charged campaign platforms of the 2016 election cycle was the declaration by candidate Donald Trump that the U.S. should build a wall along its southern border as a way to stop illegal immigration.

Perhaps ironically, the week of President Trump’s inauguration

What Nobody Talks About—God

As religious Jews, our lives seem to be governed by the observance of laws, mitzvot. We go through life thinking such thoughts as: Is this product kosher? I can’t do this, it’s Shabbos; I have to put on my tzitzit; I can’t say that, it’s lashon hara; I must perform the mitzvah of etrog and lulav; I have a shidduch for her;

Disruptive Technology

There is no question that recent advances in technology have forever changed our world. Technology has added a plethora of conveniences and supportive functionalities. Waze gets us places faster. Google gets us more information than we can learn in a lifetime. Entertainment platforms give us personalized songs, streaming movies and

Are Our Children Current With Current Events?

“Much has been said and written on the utility of newspapers; but one principal advantage which might be derived from these publications has been neglected; we mean that of reading them in schools.” [The Portland Eastern Herald, June 8, 1795]

A large body