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Sunday, October 21, 2018

Divrei Torah

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

Freedom Is a State of Mind

Parshat Mishpatim begins by discussing the laws of a Hebrew slave. At the end of six years he has the opportunity to go free. However, if he declines his freedom and chooses to remain with his master he has his ear pierced and stays with his master, his wife and children until the Jubilee year. The Gemara (Kiddushin 22b) explains

Fiery Women: Keepers of the Faith

In Parshat Beshalach we read that Miriam, the prophetess, led the women in song and dance after the defeat of the Egyptian army. They had all prepared timbrels and drums to accompany their song. In a parallel story from the haftarah we read that Devorah, the prophetess, was a “fiery woman” who also commanded General Barak in

Beshalach:  The Long Road Home

Place yourself in the shoes of one of your ancestors on the day we were freed from slavery in Egypt. After hundreds of years of bondage, you have seen God punish your oppressors with 10 miraculous plagues, completely destroying their once-great civilization. Moshe has said that God is leading you on a three-day journey to Israel,

Discouraged and Despondent

There are times in life when we are seemingly challenged beyond our capacity to cope. We may be dealing with a sick parent, a wayward child, a financial calamity or problems with a spouse. This may lead to feelings of despair and discouragement to the point where, even if a solution presents itself, we may be too despondent to even see the opportunity. This

Inside Story: The Boy Who Asked Trump to Pardon Rubashkin: A Riveting Tale of What One Person Can Accomplish

 

 

It all started on visiting day during the summer of 2015.

The Friedmans were driving in the Catskills on Route 17, between Exits 96 and 97, when their car began emitting an awful smell. Mr. Friedman pulled over to the side of the highway to see if he could determine what the problem was. As soon as the car stopped, his children bounded out

Making Every Day Count

In Parshat Vayigash we read how Yaakov was introduced to Pharaoh. When Pharaoh first sees Yaakov he is amazed to see someone who looks so old. He asks him his age but uses an interesting choice of words. He says, “How many are the days of the years of your life?”

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch

Why Asara B’Tevet Is Different From Other Fast Days

The fast of Asara b’Tevet (“the 10th of Tevet”) is unique when compared to the other fast days that are mentioned in the Prophets. Even though everyone agrees that when the other fasts fall on Shabbat they are pushed off, when it comes to Asara b’Tevet there is the unique opinion brought down by the Avudraham that even

Lessons From the Chanukah Menorah

As we descend the steps from the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem to the Western Wall, many visitors come across the gold replica of the Menorah. The Temple Institute has recreated many of the artifacts and utensils that were once used in the past two Temples, the Beit Hamikdash. Our religion and traditions are inextricably tied to the

Appreciating in Time

Some messages are simply too important to miss. One such message, I believe, emerges from two words in the Talmud’s short discussion of the Chanukah festival. While overwhelmingly vital and powerful, however, this communication is easily missed. We have to be sensitive enough and honest enough to note it.