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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Survivor, Persia!

We will be celebrating the festival of Purim very soon, so I would like to give you an overview of the history, background and significance of this festival.  The Purim story begins about 900 years after the Exodus from Egypt.  The Jews had been living in Israel continually, since they first entered with Joshua.  For 410 years, King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem had been the focal point of Jewish spiritual ...

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Person to Person

The Ten Commandments were inscribed on two tablets, on the first tablet, were five statements about the relationship between a person and his or her creator (God and  parents).  The second five focus on the relationship between a person and his or her peers. The design of the tablets teaches us, that in order to be complete, people must cultivate proper relationships with their peers just as much as they ...

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The Ties That Bind

As different as the Super Bowl and the Siyum Hashas were, they nevertheless shared one thing in common: The desire of the human for connection and unity.  It is our belief that since the human soul was created with a similarity to Hashem and with the obligation to increase and cultivate that similarity, it therefore seeks out Oneness.  Hashem, as the Shema states, is One – He is uniquely one, ...

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Giving a Donation to Yourself

We are now in the month of Shevat and approaching the onset of spring, heralded by TuBishvat.   I would like to discuss some of the unique mitzvot that apply in the land of Israel. Many of the various tithes and agricultural taxes follow the seven cycle of the the Sabbbatical year, Shemitta.  In the seventh year of the agricultural cycle, Shmittah, no new crops are planted and only maintenance work is ...

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