Journal

Dueling Seudot: Purim vs. Shabbat

by R. Yaakov Hoffman When Purim falls on Friday, Purim and Shabbat are at cross purposes. On the one hand, one is supposed to have a large and festive seudah in honor of Purim. On the other hand, this meal could potentially spoil one’s appetite for the evening’s Shabbat meal. How should one balance these two considerations? Based on the ...

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The Parting of the Sea

by R. Yisrael Isser Herczeg 1) Shemos Rabbah 23:1 comments on the first verse of Shiras HaYam, “The Song of the Sea”: “Then (אז) Moshe sang” (Shemos 15:1).[1]The entire phrase reads, אז ישיר משה ובני ישראל. This is the idea referred to in the verse, “Your throne has been affirmed since then (מאז); [You are eternal]” (Tehillim 93:2).[2]The entire verse ...

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Shul Challenges: Engaging Young Adults After COVID-19

by R. Aton Holzer, MD There has been a considerable amount of discussion online regarding the return to normalcy in Jewish communal life, and in particular, to the shul, after the pandemic has finally concluded. Anecdotally, rabbis have particularly noted the absence of young families in synagogue participation during this time, even to the extent allowed, and in activities that ...

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Aaron Koller’s Sacrifice of Judaism

by R. Rafi Eis Aaron Koller’s Unbinding Isaac: The Significance of the Akedah for Modern Jewish Thought (University of Nebraska Press/JPS, 2020) is a timely analysis of some of the dangers of contemporary forms of religious fanaticism, but his conclusions promote another set of perilous contemporary attitudes. The book has two purposes. Koller first explores the morality of the Akedah, ...

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Please Don’t Think The Vaccine Can Save Us

by R. Gidon Rothstein Sadly, it needs to be said before I can get to my point. Of course, I intend to take the vaccine, with gratitude to the researchers and heath care workers who have worked diligently on producing it. I wish I could get it faster, to be able to put this time of trouble behind me, and ...

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Is it Permissible to Dance on Shabbos and Yom Tov?

by R. Moshe Kurtz This year, many synagogues will reluctantly curtail or omit the dancing from their Simchas Torah services in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. R. Hershel Schachter published a responsum (Piskei Corona #55) on October 2nd, 2020 in which he advised that similar to Hoshanos either the chazzan (prayer leader) should be the only one making ...

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The Redemptive Power of the Etrog

by R. Alec Goldstein The very first sin in human history was when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, but the Bible never specifies what that fruit was. In some circles, there is widespread—but mistaken—belief that the fruit was an apple, apparently because the Latin word for “evil” and “apple” are spelled similarly: mālum vs. mălum. Really, a mistake ...

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Remember Your Creator

by R. Yisrael Isser Zvi Herczeg The Rambam includes an unusual phrase in his description of teshuvah which, when analyzed, completely refocuses and redefines the repentance process. The Rambam writes (Hilchos Teshuvah 3:4): Although blowing the shofar on Rosh Hashanah is a decree of Scripture,[1]A commandment of the Torah for which there is no obvious rationale. there is a subtle ...

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From Tu B’Av to Elul: Resilience and Renewal

by Leonard Grunstein The fifteenth day of the Hebrew month of Av (Tu B’Av) and Yom Kippur are referred to in the Mishna,[1]Mishna Ta’anit 4:8. Talmud[2]JT Ta’anit 4:7, at page 26a (pages 23a-b of the Zhitomer ed.) and BT Ta’anit 30b. and Midrash[3]Eicha Rabbah Petchta 33. as one of the most joyous days of the year. As we understand why ...

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All Go Up To Jerusalem

by R. Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron Translated by R. Yitzchok Tendler R. Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron served as the Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel 1993-2003. He passed away this past April. R. Yitzchok Tendler serves as Executive Director of Congregation Beth Jacob in Atlanta, GA. He frequently lectures on topics related to Jewish History and modern Israel. הכל מעלין לירושלים Hakol Ma’alin Le’Yerushalayim Rabbi ...

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