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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Divrei Torah

Godless Equals Goodless, God Equals Good

In the recent days, months and years, incidences of youth using violence against others has increased in a horrific way. In the recent Parkland tragedy, 17 lives were taken, the pain heart-wrenching and unimaginable. In the wake of this tragedy, we hear voices of different parties expressing the need to rein in on gun control, get

A Historic Look at Pesach, Matzah and Maror

We are all familiar with the mishna in Arvei Pesachim recited at the Seder:

.רבן גמליאל היה אומר, כל שלא אמר שלשה דברים אלו בפסח, לא יצא ידי חובתו, ואלו הן, פסח, מצה, ומרור

.פסח, על

Shabbos Hagadol: Promoting Faith and Harmony

To the outside world, preparing Thanksgiving dinner for family and a few guests can be amazingly stressful. It’s once a year, with so many expectations and so many traditions, including all the shopping, cooking and cleaning up afterward. OK, you’re probably laughing right now, thinking, “That’s just a regular Shabbos

What Is So Great About the Great Shabbos?

Why do we call this Shabbos “Shabbos Hagadol,” the great Shabbos? What is so great about it? What is the connection with the upcoming holiday of Pesach it precedes?

The most popular explanation is that the Jews tied up lambs, which were considered to be Egyptian gods, for the Passover

What Is Belief?

I. Belief and Knowledge

Pesach is often called Chag HaEmunah, the holiday of faith or, more accurately, belief. But what is belief and how do we acquire it? A better understanding of belief can help us recognize its role in today’s complex world. Our starting point is a debate among Arabic

Was the Original Shabbat Hagadol Successful?

Shabbat Hagadol commemorates the Shabbat prior to the actual Exodus from Egypt, which occurred on a Thursday. That year Shabbat fell on the 10th of Nissan, which was the day the Jews launched the Korban Pesach process by purchasing the lambs. This simple purchase actually was a defiant act of rebelliousness since the Egyptians

Parshas HaChodesh: Consecrating Our Time

America has lots of expressions involving time. Time is money—Time flies—Ahead of his time—Killing time. Time is a concept that preoccupies us a lot! Since I broke my foot a couple of months ago, I find myself …well … more “pressed for time.” Just getting dressed and getting ready in the morning takes an additional 20

Thinking Community

One of the most transformative korbanot is a chatat, offered in response to negligent shogeg commission of sin. It offers an opportunity for soul-searching, teshuva and catharsis. If the majority of the nation commits a sin based on an inaccurate verdict of the central Sanhedrin, a unique chatat is delivered. This korban, known as

What Is Freedom?

I. Freedom of the Will

Pesach is the holiday of freedom, when God redeemed us from slavery. But has that freedom continued with us, even after we subsequently were oppressed and enslaved? The answer goes to the very nature of freedom in the modern world and in contemporary insular Jewish

Achashverosh Syndrome

The book of Tanach is defined by “causality.” Mitzvah performance yields a life of welfare and blessing, while religiously errant behavior is punishable by removal of Divine presence and relocation from the Land of Israel—galut. When this causality is absent and the innocent suffer, moral questions arise. Avraham challenges

Temporary Permanence

Parshat Terumah introduces the ambitious project of constructing an edifice to house the presence of God. It is a one-time feat of human craftsmanship and artistry matching the majesty of the Shechina. The activities necessary for construction of the Mishkan are designated as ultimate forms of “creative acts.” Thirty-nine of

Jewish Laws and Customs Surrounding the Bar Mitzvah

Our son, Nissim Shalom, has recently became a bar mitzvah, and it is a living reminder for us of our family’s remarkable and ancient history.

According to Jewish law, a Jewish boy reaching the age of 13 becomes a bar mitzvah and is responsible for assuming the mitzvot of Jewish adulthood. (A