To Be or Not to Be?

We are just beginning the month of Ellul, the month of preparation for the Jewish New Year, Rosh HaShana and also for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  It is customary for Ashkenazim (Jews of European origin) to blow the shofar every day of the month of Ellul at synagogue after the morning service.  Sephardic Jews (of Middle Eastern and North African origin) begin special prayers known as Selichot, at ...

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Clean Hands and the Temple

During the Covid-19 pandemic I have been washing my hands every more than normal.  As an observant Jew even in normal times I am constantly washing my hands. When we wake up in the morning, we wash our hands by taking a cup and pouring water over each hand three times. Before we eat bread we wash our hands in a similar manner and say a blessing. Before we pray ...

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Cause of the Destruction

We are at the end of the three week period of mourning for the destruction of both the first and second Temples and, in general, for all the tragedies of the exile and dispersion of the Jewish people. What terrible sins led to the destruction of the Temple and the exile of the Jewish people?   If we understand the fundamental flaws that precipitated these events, we can begin to take ...

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Don’t Take Israel for Granted

The Talmud in Tractate Chulin says something quite astonishing. It states that “idolaters outside of Israel are not really idolaters; they are just following the customs of their ancestors.”  In other words, authentic idolatry only exists in Israel! Now that is a shocking statement, because it appears that Israel, the holy land, the land of prophecy, the land where all the commandments apply, the land where almost all the prophets ...

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The Three Weeks

The Seventeenth of Tammuz begins a three week period of mourning that culminated with Tisha B’Av, the Ninth of Av.  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 occur on ...

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