Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Divrei Torah

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

A Lesson From a Rest Stop

In my family, when we drive on vacation, we have our set rest stops we visit when taking a familiar trip. As we have family in Baltimore, the rest stop on Interstate 95 in Delaware has always been a favorite destination along our journey. When traveling on an unfamiliar path, I may stop at a rest stop but may not notice or remember nor document its location. The

Understanding the Mandate of ‘Loving Thyself’

In last month’s article, we observed the convergence of Torah precepts and psychological theories regarding the critical role “self-love” plays as a prerequisite for healthy psychic development and successful interpersonal relationships. We discussed the idea that from infancy through early childhood, the child experiences an age-appropriate form of

My Father, Master of My Youth

This week’s haftarah, the second of the “t’lat d’pur’anuta,” three haftarot of punishment that precede Tish’a B’av, is taken from the second and third chapters of Yirmiyahu and is a direct continuation of the selection that we read last week. This, the first prophecy that the navi addresses to Israel, accuses the people of being disloyal to God. By

Bava Kama 44-51

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

This week we learned Bava Kama 46 and 47. These are some highlights.

Bava Kama 46: Must an employer pursue his employees to pay them?
Ahavas Chessed (9:11) writes a novel law about the following case: An

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


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