Chanukah Background

Chanukah begins in a short time so here is a little historical introduction to the Chanukah festival, to which we will hopefully add some spiritual insights in the coming weeks. Approximately 200 years before the events of Chanukah, hundreds of thousands of Jews returned from the Babylonian exile to the Land of Israel.  In time, they rebuilt the Temple in Jerusalem and established an independent Jewish monarchy.  Meanwhile in Greece, after ...

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In Appreciation of Winter

As a young boy growing up in Melbourne, Australia, fall was almost non-existent and winter only meant that I had to wear shoes when playing outside and, occasionally, a parka. It never snows in Melbourne, and a brutal winter day can sometimes go down to the mid-40s.  Immediately after I finished high school (in December, the beginning of the summer in Australia) I left to learn in Yeshivas ITRI in ...

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Chapped Skin and Washing

As the weather gets colder one of the things that I have been thinking of is chapped skin. Yes, my hands get very rough and chapped.  I use a hand cream on them, but, when I put on my tie I can actually feel the fabric catching on my skin!  I cannot help thinking that one of the reasons my hands are chapped is because as a religious Jew I ...

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Fall and Winter

I am here in New Jersey, getting colder and being more windblown as fall is in full fling and winter approaches. Winter gets very bad press in general. You know, people talk about someone reaching the winter of his days, in other words, he is shriveling up and dying. Winter is the opposite of summer, time of action and time of fun, time of going to the beach and amusement ...

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Vayishlach – Peace and Self-Defense

Jacob’s daughter, Dinah is kidnapped and victimized by Shechem the son of Chamor. When her brothers hear about this and enter into negotiations with Chamor, they deceive him and trick him into having all the men in his city undergo circumcision. When the men were weak and recovering, Shimon and Levi, entered the city and waged war on the inhabitants, killing the men and capturing the women and children. There is ...

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