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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Divrei Torah

Balak 5776: Everyone and Anyone

“Actually, you know, my middle son was studying 18th-century history and the American War of Independence, and he said to me the other day, ‘You know, Lord North, Dad, he was the British prime minister who lost us America. So just think, however many mistakes you’ll make, you’ll never make one that bad.’” —Hon. Tony Blair, then Prime Minister of the UK,

Rethinking Expecting and Expectations

There are many expectations of members of the Orthodox community. We expect our young men and women to work hard in college and pursue lofty professional goals. We expect young men and women to marry young. We expect young couples to start growing their families in a timely fashion. Along with all the excitement that fills the first years

Why Is This Holiday Different From All Others?

I have always been amazed by the “popularity” of the Pesach holiday. People who may not enter a synagogue more than three times a year will find themselves at a Pesach seder. Jewish families engage in the greatest display of Hachnasat Orchim on this majestic evening as they invite distant relatives, co-workers, friends and even

Don’t Sweat the Small Things

Calling Pesach the holiday of freedom seems to be very paradoxical. We clean our houses, cars and offices in such onerous and arduous fashion, that even the most meticulous cannot tolerate it. We do all of this so we can rid ourselves of every crumb of chametz in our midst. This is rather bizarre. Why is this how we prepare to celebrate the

Gratitude

The Sages tell us, “There are three partners in man—the Holy One, blessed be He, the father, and the mother” (Kiddushin 30b). Couples who are able to conceive naturally with little or no struggle often experience this sentiment. They live and feel God’s hand blessing them with a new healthy child.

Ha Lachma Anya: So That the Parents Will Ask ‘Why?’

One of the potentially biggest themes in the Exodus from Egypt and the seder night is language. Psychologists and anthropologists have deemed language to be one of the biggest cultural influences, capable of keeping close neighbors separate and driving complete strangers together, all based on a few words. During the Jews’ subjugation by

Pesach Is Over—What Now? The Omer Controversy

Rav Joseph Soloveitchik, zt”l once delivered a marvelous shiur regarding the great controversy between the Pharisees and the Sadducees. In the 23rd chapter of Vayikra the laws of the holidays are recorded.

Following is a new section with the cryptic verse, “You

Daf Highlights

Kiddushin 55-62

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

Kiddushin 58

May a Father Change His Mind and Use the

So Who Are the Lamed Vav Tzadikim?

As a boy, and up until today, I was always intrigued by the concept and tradition of the 36 hidden righteous. I remember people speaking of them with great reverence, in whispers and undertones. Unfortunately, nowadays, they are spoken of in the wrong context and freely, whether out of ignorance or misconception and sometimes in the most

Celebrating Our Unsung Heroes

This past week at my shul, Ohr Torah, we celebrated the amazing achievements of our graduates at our annual Graduation Kiddush, spelling out the well-earned honors and awards of each individual. In the modern world’s challenging environment it is very hard to excel and we should take every opportunity to celebrate those milestones and

Is Esther True?

The holiday of Purim celebrates the story told in the biblical book of Esther. Yet, as we read the Megillah, some people ask whether the story is historically accurate. Historians have long questioned the historicity of the events described in Esther. The Megillah reads more like a political thriller than a historical record or even a

Perfection

Every Friday night we say in Eishet Chayil, “Gimalat’hu tov vilo ra—She bestows good and never bad all the days of her life” (Mishlei 31:12). In the simple pshat, this is referring to the female gender; however, allegorically, it is referring to Torah.

Rav Avraham Genechovsky zt”l,