At Home with the Mezuzah

(Mostly from my book, Gateway to Judaism) Now that I have been at home for over a week, teaching via Zoom, communicating via WhatsApp, not negotiating the traffic on the George Washington Bridge, I have had the time to look around our house.  The symbol that looks back at me from virtually every door is the mezuzah.  So, I thought it would be relevant to offer a few ideas about the ...

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Being Happy, Even Now

Despite the coronavirus concerns and despite all the hardships that so many people are experiencing, we are still in the month of Adar, the month of joy. It may sound strange to speak of simcha, happiness, at this time, but it makes pragmatic and religious sense.  This is especially true for those who are now homebound.  Will you be a better spouse, parent, sibling, child, caregiver if you are happier? ...

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Celebrating Under the Influence

One of the most peculiar laws of Purim is the obligation to drink wine, and even become intoxicated.  As the Talmud states, “A person is obligated to become inebriated on Purim, until he does not know the difference between ‘Blessed is Mordechai and cursed is Haman.’”  Excessive drinking is frowned upon by Jewish law, yet here it appears that the law specifically advocates drinking.  Clearly, a person may not become ...

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Tranquility and Tefillah

I was recently in Amsterdam where I was scholar in residence for a community Shabbaton. It was a wonderful experience, but hectic and exhausting as well. I arrived at Schiphol Airport at 6.15am in order to allow time to daven shacharis (pray the morning service) at the airport.  Thank G-d I was able to find a quiet space in an airport lounge, and although I am usually a little tense ...

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