With Israel surrounded, as ever, by implacable enemies and forced to endure withering assaults of negative international opinion, we can take needed comfort and learn an important lesson from the Torah context of some key phrases in the Yom Kippur liturgy we recited just days ago.
It was no ordinary walk home on Yom Kippur night a year ago. The clear air was the kind lungs get high on. The moon's bright essence in a star-studded sky lit my path along the familiar yet now deserted winding country road. Even the crickets' rhythmic chirping seemed muted in the surrounding stillness.
"I want a new me. But every year after Yom Kippur it seems the 'old' me is still here. After all those heartfelt prayers! The shofar blowing! Fasting! Crying! What happened to all my good intentions?"
A standing-room-only crowd of mourners paid tearful tribute Monday night to Yoseph Robinson, the beloved liquor store employee gunned down last Thursday as he tried to protect his girlfriend from a masked gunman.
The most dramatic and important political change in Israel over the past 20 years has been the transformation of the Israeli Left from a movement of political naivet? to one of, in an increasing number of instances, political sedition.
Our world is divided into two groups: those who support Israel and those who do not. There is no middle ground.
Among the bitterest aspects of the ancient tragedies commemorated during our recent national period of mourning was the crushing disappointment felt by the Jewish people when we were betrayed by our erstwhile allies: "I called for my friends [those who had professed love for me] but they deceived me" (Eicha 1:19).
Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell's recent proclamation of Confederate History Month provoked a firestorm of criticism, with many accusing him and those who commemorate their Southern ancestors' bravery of ignoring or even defending slavery.
"It's been a long time since American Jewry has been [so] shaken," declared the Israeli newspaper Haaretz in its July 9 Magazine cover story. Judging from the volume of chatter thundering across the upper firmament of the media heavens, this is no exaggeration.
"Ani ma'amin I believe with complete faith in the coming of Mashiach and wait each day for him to come."
Regarding the positive Torah commandment to pray, Rambam writes, "This commandment obligates each person to offer supplication and prayer every day and utter praises of the Holy One, blessed be He; then petition for all his needs with requests and supplications; and finally, give praise and thanks to God for the goodness that He has bestowed upon him - each one according to his own ability" (Mishneh Torah 1:2).
One Jew. One lonely Jew. Our brother. Our sister. Our neighbor. Our friend. Frustrated. Bewildered. Alone.
Many are puzzled by the widespread support in European democracies of Palestinian groups and Arab states that promote genocidal anti-Semitism. After all, Palestinian and broader Arab anti-Semitism draws heavily, in its anti-Jewish propaganda, on Nazi models, and Western Europe and the European Union are supposed to be opposed to everything touching on Nazism and its genocidal policies.
In 1939, when Reb Sholom Halberstam, brother-in-law of the saintly Bobover Rebbe Shlomo Halberstam, and some other Jews were fleeing from the approaching German armies, they came to a Polish town where the sexton of the synagogue, upon hearing their story, told them to stop running because the arrival of the Messiah was imminent.
In the summer of 1993, shortly before I was to participate in an international conference on the concept of the hero in Jewish history, I began researching how Israeli society had perpetuated the memory of the Yishuv (Jewish community in pre-state Israel) parachutists from World War II.
Lo Signov - You Shall Not Steal. On the surface, it sounds quite uncomplicated. (Aren't even young children taught not to help themselves to something - anything - that is not theirs?) If we are honest with ourselves, however, we'd have to agree the myriad ways this commandment is breached render it less straightforward than the two simple words might at first glance imply.
Jews have been accused of harming and murdering of non-Jews since the 12th century in England, when the Jewish convert to Catholicism Theobald of Cambridge proclaimed that European Jews ritually slaughtered Christian children each year and drank their blood during Passover season.
Shame wells up in me as I thread my way through the cluster of young wives standing near my home, animatedly talking with one another as their children play at their feet. Four shopping bags dangle from one arm, five from another, and I shift them uncomfortably as I carry them from my car, practically bent over from their weight.
Thirty years ago - Friday evening, May 2, 1980 - in Hebron. Inside Me'arat HaMachpelah, the massive 2,000-year-old Herodian edifice above the tombs of the biblical patriarchs and matriarchs of the Jewish people, the Shabbat service had just concluded.
"There is a thin line between love and hate," the saying goes. Two opposite emotions, yet one can so easily transmute into the other.
Editor's Note: Monday, April 19 (5 Iyar), is Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israel's Independence Day. To mark the occasion, we've excerpted portions of an address by then-Israeli Ambassador Abba Eban to the UN General Assembly's Special Political Committee on November 17, 1958.
It was evident, in the years preceding World War II, that humanity had no desire to throw a saving rope to the drowning Jewish people.
Late last year, I was flying from Los Angeles to San Jose - a trip I have made many times in the course of my professional career. Over the years, I have watched the San Jose airport transform itself - from a one-building terminal with rental cars parked on the curb to an international airport with rental car facilities much larger than the entire airport I first visited many years ago.
A few months ago, football's New York Jets willingly accommodated Jewish fans by moving their home opener from the evening to the early afternoon of the same day. That evening - Yom Kippur - would have presumably found thousands of the Jets faithful in synagogue and not at the Meadowlands or glued to their television sets.
The city of Haifa is still recovering from the trauma of the summer of 2006, when it, along with the rest of northern Israel, was targeted by thousands of Katyusha rockets, fired from southern Lebanon by Hizbullah terrorists. Haifa has also been targeted by several suicide bombers who carried out mass murders against civilians in buses and restaurants.