Monday, August 19, 2019


Return, Not Ruin

Parshiyot Matot-Masei

The haftarah we read this week, a selection chosen from the second perek of Sefer Yirmiyahu, is a direct continuation of last week’s haftarah, taken from the first chapter of that book. In this selection, however, Yirmiyahu is no longer conversing with Hashem but is

Temurah 10

May these words of Torah serve as a merit le’iluy nishmat Menachem Mendel ben Harav Yoel David Balk, a”h, and Meira Chaya Nechama Bracha, a”h, bat Reb David Mordechai Fishel, sheyichyeh.

This week we learned Temurah 10. These are some highlights.


‘Shevet’ and ‘Mateh’: The Words for ‘Stick’ in Tanach

The Tanach has several words for stick: shevet, mateh, mishenet, and makel. What is the difference between them?

Let us analyze the easiest one first, “mishenet.” The root here is shin-ayin-nun. This verb means “lean, support.” So a “mishenet” was originally a stick used for

Rabbi Moshe Menachem Mendel Spivak: Giving the True Creator of the Daf Yomi His Due

On July 17, Dr. Henry Abramson wrote an article for the Orthodox Union website titled “Meet the Non-Jew Who Put the ‘Daf’ in ‘Daf Yomi.’” In his article, Dr. Abramson argued that there is a need to give credit to Daniel Bomberg, the non-Jew who paid Jewish scholars to clean up the Talmud text from the handwritten

The Hebraization of Jewish Surnames

Part I

The Hebraization of surnames exploded in popularity with the beginning of Zionism and the revival of the Hebrew language (1). But it has a much older genesis, dating back to at least the Middle Ages. For instance, in Jewish Provence, toponyms were used, so a man from Lunel (literally,

Saying Goodbye to Eva

On July 4, 2018, I said goodbye to Eva Mozes Kor, Holocaust survivor, Mengele twin, my friend, mentor and inspiration, in the Krakow airport for what would be the final time. We had just concluded a life-changing journey to Auschwitz with the Davidson College men’s basketball team, an idea that

Musings on Marking the Fifth Anniversary of Our Aliyah

On July 8, 2014, Israel launched Operation Protective Edge. We were making Aliyah on July 21, with Nefesh B’Nefesh. People asked, “You’re going? You’re going into a war zone! Are you still going?”

“Of course!” we said. “We sold our house, our belongings are on

Book Review Briefs

There are a number of books I have been meaning to review for a while, but they seem to get put at the bottom of the stack. So briefly noted, here are some interesting titles:

“Teach Them Diligently: The Personal Story of a Community Rabbi,”

This Could Happen to Us

As a proud member of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO), I have the opportunity to connect with organizers from around the world. To date, I have attended five NAPO conferences and earned three NAPO Specialist Certificates (Residential Organizing, Workplace Productivity, and Life

Proposed Bipartisan NJ Law Would Prohibit Anti-Semitism in Schools

Within the past few months, the state of New Jersey has earned a distinction that most Jews would find rather undesirable—according to the ADL’s Annual Audit of anti-Semitic Incidents, released in April, New Jersey had the third highest number of anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. in 2018 (after

Italian Idyll V: The Chofetz Chaim Speaks Italian?

On every trip seasoned travellers take abroad, they usually leave some time unscripted, leaving to chance some aspect of the trip to allow for spontaneous, and often unexpectedly remarkable, occurrences. One such event took place on the Shabbat the Rabinowitzes spent in Fiuggi last summer. Prior to their departure from the

The Land Of Israel: An Example of the Joys and Complications of Inheritance

With inheritance comes an obligation to act with decency and to ensure that
 all of our siblings are provided for and treated with respect and protection.

The practice of estate law pervades all aspects of my life, professional, religious and personal. I cannot avoid making