Monday, January 21, 2019


Everything You Wanted to Know About Phobias But Were Afraid to Ask

As part of my never-ending quest to force knowledge on my students against their will, I’ve been teaching them vocabulary.

They don’t love it. Especially since they found out that they had to learn how to spell the words too.

I’ve been building my

Can Modern Orthodoxy Survive the Smartphone Generation?

For years, Modern Orthodoxy has fought hard to allow elements of secular culture into the Torah world. Modern Orthodoxy must now face a new challenge, unparalleled by any other in its history.

Once upon a time, most American Jews were able to set up their own barriers of how much influence

The Riddle of the Word ‘Chidah’ (Riddle)

The word “chidah” (chet-yod-dalet-heh) appears 17 times in Tanach in various forms. The basic meaning of “chidah” seems to be a riddling question. (But sometimes the word is used with a broader meaning.)

The earliest example of a riddle in Tanach is one that Shimshon challenged to the

In the Heart of the Beholder

During the past few years I have perused the advertisements in our community’s wonderful weekly publications. Based on those advertisements, I have come to a realization of the ideal manner in which a person in our community should spend his year. I may have missed some events, so don’t take any omission to mean they

Parshat Beshalach Victory Without Unity

One of the themes of Sefer Shoftim is that of chet and onesh, sin and punishment. The book relates to us the pattern of sinfulness repeated by Bnai Yisrael generation after generation and the resulting punishments. Having failed to fulfill Hashem’s demand to remove the idolatrous natives and, with them, their depraved behavior,

Seeds of Hope: The Secret of Tu B’Shevat

If you were to choose a time to celebrate the new year for trees, when would you make it? Springtime, when budding leaves announce the tree’s renewal? Summertime, when trees and flowers are in full bloom?

Or how about the dreary, barren dead of winter?

Even in Eretz

The Bracha on Papaya: Ha’eitz or Ha’adama?

As we approach Tu B’Shevat, Sephardic Jews focus on the halachot of brachot. We will follow suit and discuss a topic on which Sephardic poskim have taken the lead: the proper bracha on papaya. We will present the responsum from Teshuvot Rav Pe’alim, Rav Yosef Chaim of Baghdad (known as the “Ben Ish Chai”) for direction

Chullin 44

May these words of Torah serve as a merit le’iluy nishmat Menachem Mendel ben Harav Yoel David Balk, a”h, and Meirah Chayah Nechamah Brachah, a”h, bat David Mordechai Fishel sheyichyeh.

This week we learned Chullin 44. These are some highlights.

Creating Space Beyond the Clouds

As the Jewish people embarked on their historic exodus from Egypt, they were immediately accompanied by a divine presence, a pillar of clouds by day and a pillar of fire by night, that would escort them through the desert. The Talmud (Shabbat 23b) describes that the pillar of fire, far beyond the casual chaperone, would appear

‘Daily Giving:’ Changing the World $1 at a Time

Dr. Jonathan Donath wants to change the world, one dollar at a time. Several months ago he was at a maariv minyan at his shul and put a dollar in the tzedaka box. He realized his next day’s busy schedule wouldn’t allow him the time to get to shul. Having heard a powerful shiur emphasizing the importance of every

A History of Judaism and Idolatry

Reviewing: “God Versus Gods: Judaism in the Age of Idolatry,” by Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein. Mosaica Press. 2018. Hardcover. English. 398 pages. ISBN-13: 978-1946351463.

The subtitle of Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein’s remarkable study says a great deal about the immense task

‘Dirshu Ruined My Life!’

“You ruined my life!!” he said, as he grabbed me by both arms. Those were the startling words that a Yid who met Rav Dovid Hofstedter told him to his face when he happened to meet him in the streets of Boro Park. “I don’t have a day, I don’t have a night, I don’t even have a minute to go to a simcha….” With