Wednesday, April 24, 2019


The Meanings of ‘Sanverim’ and ‘Nefesh’

“Sanverim” (samech-nun-vav-resh-yod-mem) appears only three times in Tanach: at Genesis 19:11 and II Kings 6:18 (twice). The first is when the men who pressed Lot were smitten with “sanverim.” The second is at II Kings 6:18, concerning the men who were with Elisha. What is the meaning of this unusual word?

Defilement and Purification

The special haftarah read this week, Shemini parshat Parah, is a selection taken from sefer Yechezkel where the navi delivers his words of prophecy to the exiled nation living in Bavel. These prophecies deal with the events that were—or would be—taking place during his time, including the punishments that would befall the

Between Religious Expression and Communal Norms

Conventional interpretations of Nadav and Avihu’s fate in this week’s parsha suggest that individual religious expression is disapproved of by God. The standard read of this story suggests that the lesson to be learned is that when individuals explore in religious settings in any way outside of the strict laws set out by God,

Seneor and Sons: How Seneor Became Coronel, and the Sages They Produced in the Sephardic Diaspora

Part 2

As mentioned last time, the Seneor family were from the upper class of Castilian society at the time of the expulsion. Slight correction: I erroneously wrote that Shlomo Seneor was a brother of the famed Abraham Seneor, but he was more than likely a nephew

Reporting Live From Israel

One of our grandsons wrote to us yesterday and asked us if we were going to write our weekly article for The Jewish Link on the ground, reporting from the Gaza border while watching the rockets being directed at Israeli cities as far away as 50 miles. Sorry, Hillel.

Instead, we have been

Celebrating Purim and World Down Syndrome Day

March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day. This year, it was also the 14 of Adar, Purim. In the tradition of taking lessons from our ancient holidays to enlighten our daily lives, I have been thinking about the story of Esther and how it relates to Down syndrome.

The first parallel is fairly

Exploring the Mitzvah and Meaning of Passover ‘Haroset’

Reviewing: “Haroset: A Taste of Jewish History” by Susan Weingarten. The Toby Press 2019. English. Hardcover. 192 pages. ISBN-13: 978-1592645169.

Haroset occupies prime real estate on the Passover Seder plate, but what is it actually doing there? We say a blessing over the

Reinvigorate Your Pesach Seder

Reviewing: “Faith and Freedom Passover Haggadah: With Commentary from the Writings of Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits.” Edited by Reuven Mohl. Urim Publications. 2019. English. Hardcover. 160 pages. ISBN-13: 978-1602803336

In May 1958, President Oscar Fasman of Hebrew Theological

Passover 2019: With a Little Help From My Friends

Passaic is a special community, such that three of my friends have come out with their own versions of the Pesach Haggadah this year. So with a little help from my friends and their Haggadahs, I’ll be having a more interesting Pesach in 2019.

If there was an award for most

‘The Steinsaltz Tehillim’ Bridges the Gap to the World of Psalms

Highlighting: “The Steinsaltz Tehillim” (Hebrew and English Edition) by Adin Steinsaltz. Koren Publishers Jerusalem. 2019. Hardcover. 624 pages. ISBN-13: 978-9653019690.

The Steinsaltz Center has announced the publication of “The Steinsaltz

The Rabbanit’s Haggadah

Reviewing “The Jewish Journey Haggadah: Connecting the Generations” by Rabbanit Adena Berkowitz. Gefen Publishing House. 2019. English. Hardcover. 248 pages. ISBN-13: 978-9652299123.

On Rosh Chodesh Adar, my dear friend Rabbanit Dr. Adena Berkowitz sent me her

Rav Netanel Wiederblank’s Book Takes on the Big Questions

Reviewing: “Illuminating Jewish Thought: Explorations of Free Will, the Afterlife and the Messianic Era,” by Rabbi Netanel Wiederblank. The Toby Press; Maggid Books and RIETS Press. 2018. English. Hardcover. 686 pages. ISBN: 9781592644988.

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