Jews In Booths

Five days after the intensity of Yom Kippur, Sukkos, the festival of joy and happiness, begins.  This festival lasts eight days in Israel and nine days everywhere else.  The Torah describes the festival as follows: …On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the Festival of Sukkot, a seven-day period for God: On the first day shall be a sacred holyday when you shall not do any laborious work: On ...

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Is Fasting an Act of Suffering?

One of the best-known features of Yom Kippur -- sometimes the only thing people know about this day -- is the fact that we are forbidden to eat and drink. What is the meaning and purpose of these prohibitions on Yom Kippur? An anthropologist visiting a synagogue on Yom Kippur might think that since no one is eating or drinking for an entire 24-hour period, the congregants are all suffering terribly. ...

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To Be or Not to Be? The Question of Rosh Hashana

According to Jewish tradition, before God created the first human being, a debate took place in the heavenly court. When the Holy One blessed Be He came to create man, the ministering angels formed into groups, some saying that man should be created, some saying that he should not be created…[the angel of] Kindness voted to create man, because people would perform acts of kindness,[the angel of] Peace voted not to ...

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On Happiness

What is the meaning of happiness? How do we achieve it? It appears from this week’s Torah portion, Ki Tavoh, that happiness is a major value and indeed is looked at as a duty as well. The Torah tells us that one of the reasons for G-d punishing the Jewish people was that they did not serve Him with the appropriate amount of joy, Simcha. How do we understand Simcha? There ...

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Are You Listening?

As we approach Rosh Hashana and anticipate the blowing of the shofar during prayers, I would like to present five different shofar soundings from our history. The sixth will be, G-d willing, the shofar that heralds the redemption and the Mashiach. Shofar During the Inquisition - Sefer HaTodaah, Rosh Hashanah, Eliyahu KiTov Ferdinand and Isabella, King and Queen of Spain, expelled the Jews from Spain in 1492. It was the ...

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