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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Divrei Torah

Why Are My Sephardic Neighbors Getting Haircuts, Washing Their Clothes and Bathing This Week?

Why did my Sephardic neighbor get a haircut in the middle of the Three Weeks and even in the midst of the Nine Days? Why are they doing their laundry and bathing during the Nine Days? Doesn’t this run counter to the halacha?

The answer is that it runs counter to the Rama, Rav Moshe Isserles, who is the major arbiter of Ashkenazic Halacha. However, Rav Yosef

When the Answer Is No

It was one of the first funerals that I attended. The rebbetzin of our shul, the Young Israel of Bensonhurst, passed away. Rebbetzin Schwartz, z”l, had been sick for some time, and we were regularly reciting Tehillim on her behalf in shul. My rabbi, Rabbi Elias Schwartz, shlit”a, began the eulogy for his wife by saying that he

Guidelines for Tisha B’Av When It Falls on Shabbat

(Courtesy of Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky, Congregation Ohr HaTorah, Bergenfield)

1) Seudot on Shabbat are eaten as usual; however, all eating and drinking must end before shkia (check local listings; in Bergenfield at 7:57 p.m.).

2) Although it is Shabbat, the mood,

Balak: Kabbalat Shabbat at the Infi rmary

In his role as an itinerant storyteller (and a summer camp doctor), the Maggid has been privileged to serve on the staff of a wonderful sleepaway camp in Pennsylvania for eight years. The following story is one of those rare Maggid tales that is actually based on a true incident. It’s a little bloody, so reader’s discretion is advised. Bamidbar: 23:

For This We Mourn

Parshat Devarim is always read on Shabbat Chazon, the Shabbat preceding Tisha B’Av. The appearance of the word Eicha uttered by Moshe Rabbeinu in this parsha is consistent with the gloom of the Nine Days. Another message found within the parsha makes its reading appropriate for the most somber Shabbat of the year. The parsha begins with Moshe addressing the nation

Pinchas: The Yearly Review

Bamidbar: 27:1-11

Devora was called into one of the senior partners’ offices at Watkins, Guthof and Schwartz five or six times a day for some sort of consultation, but today was different. Today was her yearly review. She was the ranking associate in the law firm for matters of health

Parshat Devarim: Shabbat Chazon

Although this week’s haftorah is the opening chapter of Sefer Yishayahu (whose opening word became the title for this Shabbat), there is rabbinic disagreement as to whether it is the prophet’s first vision or whether that is reserved for the prophecy found in the sixth chapter, where Yishayahu receives his charge from God to undertake the responsibility of being a

A Yemenite Sefer Torah at Shaarei Orah

An amazing new addition to Congregation Shaarei Orah, the Sephardic Congregation of Teaneck, arrived last week. Beloved and long-time Shaarei Orah members Rachel and Itamar Carmi presented the beautiful 50-year-old scroll to our congregation to the delight of all.

One congregant posed a poignant question. He heard that the Yemenite Sefer Torah differs from

Why Is There No Nun Verse in Ashrei?

As we all know, Tehillim 145, which comprises the bulk of the Ashrei prayer, is missing a verse for the nun letter.

Many scholars think that there must have been a nun verse here once and that our text is defective. Evidence they rely on is that a text of Tehillim 145 has been found among the Dead Sea texts and it includes a verse for nun. The verse reads:

10 Must-Know Facts About the Teaneck Eruv

As a follow-up to last week’s column, please note the following important information regarding the Teaneck eruv.

1) The Teaneck Eruv Team—The Teaneck eruv has since its inception been a fine eruv. Recently, intensive efforts have been made to further upgrade the eruv. First, let’s introduce our team. The lay leaders, Joey Bodner and Murray Leben, are a

Destruction, Exile and Redemption

One of the fundamental teachings of Judaism is the idea that there is meaning in all historical events. This meaning refers to a divine design, a master plan that encompasses all of history. The Jewish religion is founded on the divine assurance and human belief that the world will be perfected. The Messianic dream is the great moving force of Jewish history and of the

Nefilat Apayim—Not at Shaarei Orah! (Or Any Other Sephardic Synagogue)

For those not familiar with Sephardic practice, this comes as a complete shock. Upon hearing Sephardim reciting amen after the bracha of Hashkiveinu, one recognizes that the kehillah is following the Rambam who (unlike Tosafot) believes that one should recite amen upon completing a series of brachot. Upon hearing a