Sunday, October 21, 2018

Divrei Torah

This Purim, Send Help, Not Junk Food

While Purim is our most joyful of holidays, mishloach manos are sometimes blamed for bringing unneeded clutter and excess junk food into the house just when Pesach cleaning is beginning.

So for many in our community, stocking up on candy, chips, and miniature bottles of grape juice, just to package 20 to 50 bags, boxes or baskets of

The Maggid of Bergenfield: Tetzaveh: The Non-Eternal Flame


“What is it, Josh?”

“Look up at the ner tamid,” he whispered.

“I see it, Josh. What about it?”

“The light is out.”

Jeff Lerner looked up at the ner tamid, the eternal light, in front of the aron kodesh in their synagogue. It was a small red and orange fixture in the shape of a

The Observant Jew: The Driving Test

Do you remember when you got your driver’s license? Maybe you knew all the road signs, you’d taken practice written tests, and you were pretty sure you would do well on the written part. What was nerve-wracking was the actual driving part. You’d be driving with someone you probably never met before, had no idea what temperament he might have, or what he would ask

Torah and Derech Eretz: The Frankfort Approach

(This article is reproduced with permission from the author and Tradition…footnotes have been removed and the article has been edited for brevity. We found the translation of Rabbi Shimon Schwab’s letter interesting in light of recent attacks by supposedly centrist rabbis that referred to the teachings of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch as heresy.)


Reaching the Summit

The beginning of chapter 24 of the book of Shemot describes Moshe’s ascent up Mount Sinai. “To Moshe, He said, ‘Go up to Hashem, you, Aharon, Nadav, and Avihu, and seventy elders of Israel, and you shall prostrate yourselves from a distance.’” (Exodus 24:1).

They all ascended Mount Sinai, but only Moshe reached the dense layer of fog

Shoveling and Shabbat

“He Who gives snow like fleece, He scatters frost like ashes. He hurls His ice like crumbs. Before his cold who can stand? He issues His command and it melts them...

—Psalm 147: 16 - 18

As reflected in this quotation—recited each morning in the Shacharit service—handling a snowstorm and its icy aftermath is far

Mishpatim: Stopping with Dry Goods on a Snowy Eve

It wasn’t exactly the Storm of the Century, but as snowstorms go, this wasn’t much fun. There was no “easy wind or downy flake” (with apologies to Robert Frost), just nasty precipitation. The weatherperson rarely forecasts a storm like this one correctly, but in this case, he was right on the money: snow, mixing with sleet and freezing rain, with accumulations

Parshas Beshalach: The Journey from Faith to Trust?

It is difficult to believe that if we only follow Hashem’s rules then Hashem will take care of our needs—that we can place our entire survival in Hashem’s hands. Our instinct to survive is so great, the drive to protect our children is so powerful, and the notion that Hashem will focus on such an infinitesimal creature like a

Beshalach: Split the Sea, Win a Prize

Anyone can tell the story of the splitting of the Red Sea. The Israelites were up against the shoreline. The Egyptians were bearing down on them with chariots and spears. It didn’t look good. Suddenly, God intervenes, the waters part, the nation flees to safety, and the pursuing Egyptians wind up in the drink in a big way. It was definitely a huge miracle, one that

Where Were the G’dolim on Da’as Torah?

(This is the second part of a two-part article. Part One appeared in the 711/13 issue of JLBC.)

Da’as Torah! The very words themselves are enough to inflame passions within the Orthodox world, and far beyond.

But what is “Daas Torah?”

Da’as Torah is, at bottom, a modern concept of

Dwarfs on the Shoulders of Giants

Is the study of Torah progressing or regressing? Whatever one’s intuitive response may be to such a question, a definitive answer is surely elusive.  Methodologically, at least it would first be necessary to define what we mean by “study of Torah,” “progression,” and “regression.” It would therefore be necessary to settle on an appropriate

Parshat Va’eyra - The Challenge of Knowledge

When we study a passage in the Bible, it is helpful to identify key words that are repeated throughout that passage—this helps us understand the underlying message of a Torah section. The root “yadoa” (yod/daleth/ayin) or “to know” appears about 20 times in the story of the exodus from Egypt and in each case it is a keyword at a crucial juncture in the