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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The Mitzvah of Knowing Truth

There is a popular misconception that “Judaism is not a religion of dogma” and that it makes no demands on belief.  However, it is clear from the Torah itself that there are obligations of the intellect as well as obligations of action.  In this week’s Parsha, Yitro,  we find the following, famous statements. I am the Lord your G-d, Who has taken you out of the land of Egypt, from the ...

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Clothes Maketh the Man or Woman (or do they?)

It is almost impossible to avoid media discussions about the clothes of the latest members of the British royal family.  A segment of a talk show is dedicated to this, newspaper articles, blogs and twitter feeds dwell on the most minute details of the royals’ fashion choices.  So, I thought that a few words may be in order regarding Judaism’s attitude to clothing, modesty and beauty. He has told you, O ...

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God Bless America

Abraham’s relationship with God was rooted in a covenant, an agreement between two parties, each having obligations toward the other.  Abraham and his descendants were obligated to practice circumcision, kindness and justice and to have faith in God.  God in turn promised that Abraham’s descendants would maintain a special relationship with Him.  They would be given the Land of Israel and would be a “blessing to all nations of the ...

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Summer of Ethics

We are now in the period of time known as Sefiras Ha’omer – counting of the Omer, the time between Pesach and the following festival which is Shavuot. Shavuot celebrates the giving of the Torah at Sinai, when the Jewish people received the Torah at Mount Sinai, which occurred the 50th day after the exodus of Egypt. And so, in between Passover, when we became a nation, we were born ...

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Lag B’Omer – The 33rd Day of the Omer (5779)

In the first century of the Common Era, the Jewish people experienced a major tragedy during the period of counting the Omer.  The greatest sage of the generation was Rabbi Akivah, who had taught vast numbers of people.  The Talmud relates that 24,000 (!) of Rabbi Akivah’s students, who constituted the primary chain of Torah transmission, died as a result of an epidemic between Passover and Shavuot. The Talmud states ...

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The Land Of Israel

The first commandment God gave to the first Jew was to go to the Land of Israel God spoke to Abraham, and said, "Go for yourself, from your land, from your relatives and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you."[1]   Abraham, Sarah, their family and their retinue all came to Israel, then known as Canaan.  They traveled around the land, engaged in commerce and, of ...

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Israel Independence Day 2019

During the period of the Omer, between Passover and Shavuot two significant events in modern Jewish history also occurred -- the founding of the State of Israel on the 5th of Iyar, 5708 (May 14th 1948) and also the liberation of the Old City of Jerusalem by the Israel Defence Forces on the 28th of Iyar, 5727 (June 7th 1967).   The day of founding of the State of Israel (Yom ...

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Countdown to Sinai 5779

The Jewish people’s journey toward nationhood began on Passover.  The Exodus redeemed them from physical slavery and subjugation, but they still lacked a national identity and purpose. This was conferred upon them only later -- when the Jewish people both heard and saw the words of God at Mt. Sinai. In those moments, the newly formed nation obtained its spiritual identity and national calling through the Torah, and the redemption ...

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