Category: Uncategorized

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Shalom Rav

Two variants of Shalom Rav were found in the Cairo Geniza. Given the similarities between Cairo and Israeli nusachos, it is assumed to have been the Nusach Eretz Yisrael in the days of the tannaim and Israeli amora’im. Another indication is that Nusach Provence, the berakhah was always “Shalom Rav“. The Provencial community, which was a true center of Jewish...

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Orthodoxy

Before I define the label “Orthodox”, I want to spell out what kind of entity is being labeled. The Enlightenment and the fall of the ghetto walls created a religious crisis for Ashkenazic Jewry. First for those in Western Europe, but the development does reach Eastern Europe over the course of the next several decades. Until then, for most people...

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Boycott Facebook

Shurat haDin — Israel Law Center finally demonstrated what Jewish Facebook users have felt anecdotally, that Facebooks’s dread of catering to Islamophobia has them underenforcing their own rules of appopriate content when posted by an Arab or Muslim group. They are thereby enabling the incitement to kill our people, our friends and/or family in Israel. Protection they are extending in the reverse. Yes, response to reported posts...

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Mazal Tov!

The Jewish People have been invited to the wedding of Ariel Bigel to Sarah Tichyeh Litman! Binyanei haUmah, Jerusalem at 10:30 pm tomorrow (Thursday, November 26th, 2015) Yaakov Litman Hy”d, the kalah’s father, and Netanel Litman Hy”d, her brother, were taken from us by the a terrorist’s hand while on the way to the chasan’s aufruf. The words gracing the...

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בן חמישים לעצה

Among the list of landmarks Rabbi Yehuda ben Taima lists in psychological development (Avos 5:21) is “בן חמישים לעצה — a 50 year old is [ready] for planning / advice”. (This is 10 years after “בן ארבעים לבינה” — that 40 year olds are capable of comprehension.) Generally this is taken to mean that when someone turns 50, they should...

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Qoheles in a Nutshell

While tradition skips over the who said to whom before identifying the significant word or two to take as the text’s name, there are exceptions, notably Vayiqra (both the parashah and the book) and Qoheles. Focusing on Qoheles, there is good reason for that: דִּבְרֵי קֹהֶלֶת בֶּן דָּוִד מֶלֶךְ בִּירוּשָׁלָ‍ִם. The words of Qoheles son of David, king in Yersushalayim: (1:1)...

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The Great Seal of the United State of America

Resolved, That Dr. Franklin, Mr. J. Adams and Mr. Jefferson, be a committee, to bring in a device for a seal for the United States of America. – Journals of Continental Congress, July 4th, 1776 Rabbi Meir de Soloveitchik (as the rabbi of the Spanish Portugese Synagogue jokingly calls himself) recently mentioned this committee and the resulting seal when introducing...

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Why Chumash Has Subtly Different Duplications

The Arukh HaShulchan (OC 431:21) writes: …והנה לדינא: חמץ ושאור – הכל אחד, שהרי מצינו שני פסוקים המתחילים ב”שאור” ומסיימים ב”חמץ”, דכתיב: “[שִׁבְעַת יָמִים מַצּוֹת תֹּאכֵלוּ] אַךְ בַּיּוֹם הָרִאשׁוֹן תַּשְׁבִּיתוּ שְּׂאֹר מִבָּתֵּיכֶם [כִּי כָּל אֹכֵל חָמֵץ וְנִכְרְתָה הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַהִוא מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל מִיּוֹם הָרִאשֹׁן עַד יוֹם הַשְּׁבִעִי.]” וכתיב: “שִׁבְעַת יָמִים שְׂאֹר לֹא יִמָּצֵא בְּבָתֵּיכֶם כִּי כָּל אֹכֵל מַחְמֶצֶת [וְנִכְרְתָה הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַהִוא מֵעֲדַת...

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Desire and Will

A gett must be given willingly, and for the past 1,100 years (among Ashkenazim, eventually reaching Sepharadim as well) received willingly as well. However, when a husband is obligated to dissolve the marriage, beis din is authorized to compel him using excommunication, economic sanctions, prison and even corporeal punishment as necessary. Today in Israel, the batei din for divorce are...

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Yisurim

Rabbi R Yitzchak Eisenman recently wrote a “Short Vort” essay that asked: Many of us recall with horror the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School which occurred almost two years ago…. What ever happened to Sandy Hook Elementary School? Is there a memorial somewhere in the school? Are children still learning the ‘three R’s’ there? No, there are no children...

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My Dream Synagogue

Here are things my dream Growth Oriented Shul would provide that normal shuls today do not: Qiddush after leining, before mussaf, combined with a devar Torah or text learning. Our attention spans have shrunk. Rather than fight it, and ending up with people who come late, talk, walk out for Kiddush Club, we build the service around this limitation. It...

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Kallah XII: Finding Joy in Everyday Transitions

An intensive exploration into living life more skillfully What if you could … find joy in everyday transitions? get beyond judging the good and bad of transitions? bring order to the chaos of change? direct your growth with greater intention? live all of life with an enthusiastic heart? You can learn all this and more by joining a warm, supportive...

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Achdus

My dear brothers and sisters, One thing that struck me is how heavily Hashem pointed out to us the concept of achdus, of unity, in how this tragedy unfolded. First, note the communities each of the boys come from: Eyal YifrachHy”d spoke his Hebrew with a Yemenite accent, Gil-ad ShaarHy”d was a Sepharadi whose family was from Morocco, Naftali FraenkelHy”d...

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Torah Lishmah and Nefesh haChaim

Nefesh haChaim is a collection of Rav Chaim Volozhiner’s writings organized posthumously by his son and successor, R’ Yitzchak. We can see this in the self-description in the title page of the early editions of the Nefesh haChaim which opens, “Yir’as Hashem — for Life! Notebooks of holy writings of the true genius who was famous for his Torah and...

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And the Path of the Moon at Night

Somewhat off topic for this blog, but I hope it will help those following daf yomi who are getting to the topic of astronomy and cross-examining witnesses to determine Rosh Chodesh (Rosh haShanah, mostly around 23b-24a). Really, the statements about the appearance of the moon can be deduced from two things you already know. 1- The moon rises one less...

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A Kingdom of Priests

We are here between ourselves, so we may frankly make the confession that we did not invent the art of printing; we did not discover America, in spite of Kayserling; we did not inaugurate the French Revolution, in spite of some one else; we were not the first to utilize the power of steam or electricity, in spite of any...

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Amoraim and Amoraim

I am not a fan of the revadim (layers) method of gemara study. In short, this is a way of analyzing the gemara by teasing out the various layers of halachic discourse through the centuries we simply call “chazal”. My opposition isn’t so much that I think there is anything heretical or evil about it, just that this isn’t the way the...

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Process and Permanence

When you drop a drop of ink into a cup of water, the ink spirals around in some chaotic pattern and eventually diffuses until the entire liquid is a uniform light blue. Even though each time you repeat the experiment the dance and spiral is different, something about it in the general is predictable. If you had different snapshots of...

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Redemption and Teshuvah

My friend Neil Harris wrote over on his blog Modern Uberdox: I pray that this Pesach brings an end to the exile of the self and a redemption of the person I was created to be. On which I commented: First reaction: Beautiful! Second reaction: Woah, wait a second, how then is Pesach different than Yom Kippur? (not meant rhetorically)...

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Pagans in Our Midst

נענה רבן גמליאל ואמר: “צְדָקָה תְרוֹמֵם גּוֹי…” (משלי יד:לד) — אלו ישראל. דכתיב (דברי הימים א יז:כא) “וּמִי כְּעַמְּךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל…” [וגו’] “…וְחֶסֶד לְאֻמִּים חַטָּאת”(משלי שם) — כל צדקה וחסד שעכו”ם עושין, חטא הוא להן. שאין עושין אלא להתיהר בו. וכל המתיהר נופל בגיהנם, שנאמר (משלי כא:כד), “זֵד יָהִיר לֵץ שְׁמוֹ עוֹשֶׂה בְּעֶבְרַת זָדוֹן.” ואין עברה אלא גיהנם שנאמר (צפניה א:טו),...

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The Curriculum at Volozhin

On the April 6, 1858, the government ordered the closure of the yeshiva in Volozhin. There is no record that anyone from the government tried to implement this order. But on the 22nd, R’ Gershon Amsterdam led a delegation to have the ruling repealed. Among the things presented to the government was the curriculum at the yeshiva. Here is my...

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Shaarei Yosher, sec. 4: Connecting – part 4

And there are more levels in this of a person who is whole, who can connect his soul to feel that all of the world and worlds are his “I”, and he himself is only one small limb in all of creation. Then, his self-love helps him love all of the Jewish people and [even] all of creation. ועוד יש...

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Ten Reasons to Attend Kallah IX

Reasons to Attend Mussar Institute Kallah IX Where: The Mussar Kallah will take place at beautiful and serene Illinois Beach Resort, located in Zion, Illinois, amid 4,100 acres of a protected state park, right on the shore of Lake Michigan.The Illinois Beach Resort One Lake Front Drive Zion, IL 60099 Driving Directions When: Friday November 11, 2011 at 4:00 PM...

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The Ninth of Av, 3830

The second half of parashas Naso is quite repetitious. The head of each tribe brought a gift for the consecration of the Mishkan. Each gift was the same, but aside from some slight but intriguing grammatical differences, all twelve are recorded in the same words. Seemingly repeatedly. The Ramban (on 7:1) explains that each korban was in fact unique. Even...