Chanukah is a celebration of the miracle of Jewish spiritual survival. After millennia of attempts to assimilate us, whether through force or persuasion, we are still here. But, it is not mere physical survival that we celebrate. After all, the genes of the Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians and Greeks have also physically survived. The miracle [...]
The idea that any one people could be “chosen” or have a Divine revelation was completely contrary to Greek belief. Their campaign against Judaism and the Jews did not focus on physical extermination, but rather attempted to eradicate the Jews as a special people. One example of this effort was the Emperor Ptolemy’s translation of [...]
In a perfect environment, a dreidel could be stand on its tip without toppling. Rabbi Becher explains that in our world, the Dreidel must be spun from above in order for it to stand. This is a allegory for a Jew: As long as he continues to spin, he can continue to stand up. View [...]
Rabbi Becher explains that the Gemora describes a human as a "seeker". John Glenn, who died during the past week, represents the idea of a human being who is a seeker - who goes "beyond" and is not content on where we are. View this video directly on Vimeo.
Chanukah starts in about a week and a half, and without doubt it is one of the most popular of our festivals amongst Jews in general, even if not observant. A lot of people identify with Chanuka, and there is a lot of misunderstanding of its significance. Chanuka marks a clash of cultures - Judaism [...]
Terrorists have started nearly 200 deadly fires in Israel over the past few days, destroying hundreds of homes and endangering thousands of lives. Rabbi Mordechai Becher discusses taking these tragic events and turning them around for the good. View this video directly on Vimeo.
Jacob and Esau One of the most fundamental principles of Judaism is the belief in human free will. No one is born righteous, and no is born evil; it is the person’s choice to be good or evil. Morality, reward and punishment, and indeed the entire purpose of creation, are all predicated upon free will. [...]
Washington Heights, where I teach regularly, is an extremely windy location. My bobby pin is greatly challenged holding my yarmulke onto my, fairly short, hair. Holding my yarmulke on, picking it up and chasing it down Amsterdam Avenue, has made me think about it a little more. The word yarmulke, is made up of two [...]
We have exceptionally good weather recently for this time of year, a phenomenon that some attribute to climate change and global warming. What is the Jewish attitude towards the global warming? I think that the question of climate change is an empirical question and therefore Judaism doesn’t really have an opinion about it. In addition, I [...]
Noah was told to put a "tzohar" in the Ark. Rabbi Mordechai Becher discusses whether this word means a "window" or a "light" and what the practical difference can mean for our own lives. View this video directly on Vimeo.