Monday, January 22, 2018

Divrei Torah

Kinot: The Language of Loss

For twenty years I have led presentations on Kinot every Tisha B’Av morning. It therefore felt most appropriate for me to respond affirmatively to the invitation of my dear friend Rabbi Menachem Genack, who, in his capacity as general editor, OU Press, asked me to author a new translation of kinot. This new translation, copublished by OU Press and Koren Publishers

Raising Leaders, Instilling Leadership

For all of its length, Parashat Pinchas contains only three stories, and a wistful sadness underlies all three of them.  The parsha opens with the second half of the story of Pinchas, as he is now rewarded for his courageous actions in the face of a mass communal sin.  After a census of the nation, the five daughters of Tzelofchad come forward, demanding that their

Zealotry and Tolerance

Jewish people teach Jewish values to their children, and to all who wish to be informed about their faith. If one is asked,“Should I or should I not?” we generally respond with clear and certain advice: “Yes, you should,” if the value is a positive one, or “No, you should not,” when the value in question demands inaction.


Tisha B’Av and the First World War

According to tradition, Messiah is born on Tisha B’Av. It also stands to reason that the redemption of the Jews can only follow their exile. On Tisha B’Av, the First and Second Jerusalem Temples were destroyed and Judean independence was lost to the Romans following the fall of the city of the city of Beitar, the last stronghold of the Bar Kochba revolt. As a

From the Pages of Tradition (1992): R. David Friedman of Karlin: The Ban on Secular Study in Jerusalem


Because of the controversy regarding Hareidim and their role in Israeli society, there are members of the rabbanut in Israel and America who have banned secular studies for talmidim and Hasidim. This article by Rabbi Dr. S.Z. Leiman, Dean of Bernard Revel Graduate School and former Chairman of the Judaic Studies Department at Brooklyn College, was

The App That is Your Worst Nightmare - SimSimi

Isaac Asimov was right. The dangers of artificial intelligence that he foreshadowed in his collection of short stories, I, Robot, are coming true today, most likely in the halls of your kids’ school.

You may have heard of the app that’s causing me to lose sleep: SimSimi (pronounced Shim Shimmy). The developer in Korea, who actually designed the

Making the Grade

As I finish up the last of my report cards, I can’t help but thinking about the value of grades. Do the letters on the spreadsheet really tell the story? How can one or two characters explain growth, struggle, apathy, or determination? The classic grading system seems to assume that the answer to this question in the affirmative. We give numbers for test

A Unique Shelter Offers Salvation to Religious Women

Jerusalem—It has been eight years since “Sarah” has been able to sleep soundly. Since she was married at the age of 20, she had moved eight times, had five children and endured nonstop emotional and physical abuse at the hands of her husband.”I was barely living. There was no life for me. I was trapped in the small bubble that my husband had created and it was

Chaim’s Bar Mitzvah.

Two months ago, “Chaim,” the bar mitzvah boy came with his mother and young brothers and sisters to our shelter.  It is terribly sad that his father didn›t participate in his son’s bar mitzvah, but due to confidentiality issues, I cannot explain why Chaim could not have him there with him.  Despite the gaping absence of the father, I do want to share

Fixing the Failure or Learning from it?

While in the world of schools students work to avoid receiving an “F” on an assignment, they often work just as hard to convince the teacher that they actually deserve a higher grade. In the business world as well, most professionals attempt to avoid mistakes and try, as quickly as possible, to cover up or correct their failure. When was the last time you

The Many Songs of Leadership

Everyone has his or her own voice. Some express it loudly and clearly; some just mumble or whisper. There are those who let their voices be heard only in their professional lives and are silent and withdrawn at home. Others use their voices only within their families and stifle their voices in the outside world.

Our voices can be expressed in a variety of ways:


“And the man Moshe was exceedingly humble, more so than any person on the face of the earth” (Bamidbar 12:3)

A close look at this unusual editorial comment by the Torah can yield important lessons about Moshe Rabbeinu as well as the midda of anava (humility). What does the Torah mean that Moshe was more humble than anyone