Author Archives: Akiva Males

Rabbi Akiva Males is the rabbi of the Young Israel of Memphis and a frequent writer on Torah topics. A longer bio and links to many of his articles are available on his shul website.

Coca-Cola Crates and Sukkos: Is It the Real Thing?

by Rabbi Akiva Males On October 3, 2004, the New York Times ran a human interest story about Sukkos entitled, “Holiday Fixtures, From Coke Crates to Sukkah Depot”. The article opens with the following account:  Rabbi Berl Haskelevich, 58, is no environmentalist. A cabala scholar, he can barely keep his recyclables straight. But this time of the year, he reuses ...

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What Does the Duchan Have to do with Birkas Kohanim?

by R. Akiva Males [1]This article was written in commemoration of the first Yahrtzeit (25 Nissan) of my father-in-law, Mr. Shmuel Feintuch (Shmuel ben Moshe), z”l, of Brooklyn, NY. I thank my father – Mr. U.H. Males … Continue reading A highlight of Tefilah B’Tzibur occurs when the Kohanim bless all who are present. These blessings are known as Birkas Kohanim, ...

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Scrolling Down the Pages of Jewish History

by R. Yechiel Spero (shared by R. Akiva Males) This story appears in R. Yechiel Spero’s Pesach Haggadah: Touched by Our Story (pp. 88-91) and is republished here with permission from the copyright holders (Arstcroll / Mesorah Publications, Ltd.). The pictures below — of the Tur Shulchan Aruch (printed in Berlin 1702) which belonged to Rabbi Yaakov Emden (Germany, 1697-1776) — were taken by  ...

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Passing For Christian During The Holocaust

Passing For Christian During The Holocaust: A New Look At Rabbi Ephraim Oshry’s Responsa by R. Akiva Males (reprinted from Tradition with permission) I – The Obituary [1]I thank Tradition’s editorial staff for their helpful suggestions, R. Dr. Jacob J. Schacter for his important comments on earlier versions of this article, and my father – Mr. U.H. Males – for … ...

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Peddler’s Grave – Was Jost Jewish?

Guest post by R. Akiva Males Rabbi Akiva Males serves as rabbi of Harrisburg’s Kesher Israel Congregation. An article I wrote on the vanished Jewish community of Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania appeared in the summer 2012 issue of the OU’s Jewish Action magazine (link). My research into that small community of hard-working and honest Jews in the middle of Pennsylvania’s coal ...

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Unmasking An Odd-Sounding Purim Custom

R Akiva Males / The following little-known story is related about the famed R. Moshe Isserles (Ramo). Ramo passed away on the thirty-third day of the counting of the Omer (Lag Ba’Omer) in Cracow, Poland. As such, one of his eulogizers thought it fitting to share thirty three praises of Ramo with those in attendance. After listing thirty two of his meritorious attributes, Ramo’s eulogizer struggled to think of one last appropriate accolade. Finally, an elderly member of Cracow’s Jewish community came forward to offer one final praiseworthy custom of their beloved rabbi: Each year on Purim afternoon, Ramo would disguise himself in a costume and go from house to house summoning everyone to return to the synagogue for evening services.

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