The Ninth of Av

The fast of the Ninth of Av, Tisha B’Av, is the most famous and the most stringent of all the fasts relating to the destruction of the Temple and the Exile.  The very first tragedy to occur on this day took place soon after the Exodus from Egypt.  The Jewish people sent spies to the Land of Israel, in preparation for its conquest.  When the spies returned with a discouraging ...

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The Light in the Darkness

Despite the dreadful, heartbreaking nature of Tisha B’Av, an element of happiness is concealed within it.  Tisha B’Av  is called a mo’ed,  meaning festival, and certain prayers associated with sadness that are omitted on happy occasions are, in fact, not said on this day.  What is the source of the joy that lightens our mourning on Tisha B’Av?  Some commentaries explain that it springs from the knowledge that eventually, at ...

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17th of Tammuz – Broken Tablets and Burnt Scrolls

The Seventeenth of Tammuz, this coming Sunday, occurs exactly three weeks before Tisha B’Av and is the next most significant fast day.  The Mishnah states: Five things happened to our ancestors on the 17th of Tammuz — The First Tablets were broken, the daily offering ceased, the walls of Jerusalem were breached, the evil Apostomus burnt a Torah scroll, and an idol was set up in the Sanctuary. The first calamity to ...

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This is the Statute of the Torah

The Torah reading for this week begins with an intricate series of laws regarding purity, impurity and purification. This involved many details which appear to some to be, excessive, a complaint commonly heard about Jewish law in general. I would like to explain one idea behind all this detail: consistency. Consistency is much more difficult to achieve than one might expect. Imagine someone waking up one morning and making a firm ...

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Kaddish

I recently observed the Yarhzeit (yearly anniversary of the passing of a relative) of my mother, of blessed memory.  Part of the observance is saying Kaddish, a prayer that is said by mourners and by the prayer leader.  Kaddish  was instituted almost 2,000 years ago and is mentioned in numerous places in the Mishnah and Talmud.  Kaddish is written in Aramaic, the spoken language of the Jews in Israel and ...

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