Lag B’Omer – The 33rd Day of the Omer

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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Passionately Israel

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

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Is Independence Good?

We will be celebrating the State of Israel’s 69th Independence Day very soon (May 2nd), an occasion for gratitude to G-d and also to the people who sacrificed so much to create a homeland and a Jewish state for the first time in over 2000 years. However, this upcoming event raised a question in my mind, “Is independence a Jewish value?”  It struck me that there are (at least) a ...

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