The popularity of the rise of chassidus did not go unnoticed by those who did not share the same allegiance. As long as the movement was limited to the commoner and isolated in a few pockets of Poland no one perceived it as a threat. But all of this had changed by 1772.
We think of a sin as something we did intentionally, yielding to temptation perhaps, or in a moment of rebellion. That is what Jewish law calls b’zadon in biblical Hebrew or b’mezid in rabbinic Hebrew. That is the kind of act we would have thought calls for a sin offering. But actually such an act cannot be atoned for by an offering at all. So how do we make sense of the sin offering?
It’s my first moment of wakefulness, and I’m chilled to the bone. Pull the covers over myself, I’m thinking, while I decide to roll over to look at the clock. It’s 5:30 a.m. and I’m exhausted. But attending morning minyan – even once – is the least I can do.
The name Bezalel was adopted by the artist Boris Schatz for the School of Arts and Crafts he founded in Israel in 1906, and Rav Kook wrote a touching letter in support of its creation. He saw the renaissance of art in the Holy Land as a symbol of the regeneration of the Jewish people in its own land, landscape and birthplace. Judaism in the Diaspora, removed from a natural connection with its own historic environment, was inevitably cerebral and spiritual, “alienated.”
I lost control of my car while driving in Brooklyn when a speeding taxi slammed into me. I thought my life was about to end when my car slammed directly into a tree. Baruch Hashem I survived, even though the taxi driver never stopped to help me.
There is a deeper message in Parshat Tetzaveh - the principle of the separation of powers, which opposes the concentration of leadership into one person or institution. All human authority needs checks and balances if it is not to become corrupt. In particular, political and religious leadership (keter malchut and keter kehunah) should never be combined. Moses wore the crowns of political and prophetic leadership, Aaron that of priesthood. The division allowed each to be a check on the other.
Shabbat is a time of menuchah, of rest. It is also a time of simcha, of happiness. We are often too busy during the week to stop and think about how we can do something simple to bring simcha into someone else’s life. When we can combine the menuchah of Shabbat together with its inherent simcha, we can bring ohr laYehudim, light to all of us.
It is not what G-d does for us that transforms us, but rather what we do for G-d. A free society is best symbolized by the Tabernacle. It is the home we build together. It is only by becoming builders that we turn from subjects to citizens. We have to earn our freedom by what we give. It cannot be given to us as an unearned gift.
My children were growing up and leaving the nest. Wanting to fill up my days with a challenging project, I heard through a friend that a local high school needed an English teacher.
First in Parshat Yitro there were the Asseret Hadibrot (the Ten Utterances, or general principles). Now in Parshat Mishpatim come the details.
Baruch, from the village of Radovitz, was a sharecropper who barely eked out a living. His income was at the mercy of the infamously cruel Poritz, who owned the Radovitz environs.
I thank Hashem that my daughters play “shampoo gemach", and I take pride in our community, which stresses gemachs and acts of gemilas chesed. Families try to find ways to help others, and people go out of their way to search for opportunities to practice kindness.
Recently, I discovered a frum website, www.jewish-e-books.com, that allows one to download hundreds of Jewish books – both in English and Hebrew. Having written a sefer myself, I was able to get it put on their website.
In September 2010, BBC, Reuters and other news agencies reported on a sensational scientific discovery. Researchers at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University of Colorado showed through computer simulation how the division of the Red Sea might have taken place.
My friend Mrs. Rosen (not her real name) asked me to share her story. A widow for several years, she recently moved back to the community where she grew up so that she could help her elderly parents.
There is a fascinating moment in the unfolding story of the plagues that should make us stop and take notice. Seven plagues have now struck Egypt.
The following inspiring story was told to Rochelle Rothman by her close family member. It truly shows how Hashem runs the world, and helps us in all of our endeavors.
Reb Elimelech M’Lizhensk was considered one of the finest students of the Baal Shem Tov’s successor, the Maggid MiMezretch. When the Maggid passed away, his disciples gathered for the funeral and then had to decide who would succeed their master.
The parshah of Va’eira begins with some fateful words. It would not be too much to say that they changed the course of history because they changed the way people thought about history. In fact, they gave birth to the very idea of history. Listen to the words:
Reb Pinchos, born in Romania, moved shortly after birth with his parents to Vienna. As a teenager, he learned in another city and took his Gemara with him. Pinchos remembered how his rebbe always liked to teach from his Gemara.
Here is an amazing story. I recently made a bar mitzvah for my second son. I went to have my daughter's hair done in Flatbush, and had to be at the hall two hours later.
It’s lately become a family joke. During the course of a day, something occurs that touches me. My kids see the wheels turning in my head and ask, teasingly, if I have another idea for one of my columns. It can be a simple kindness, or it can be one of the miracles that Hashem has wrought for us.
What do porcupines do in winter? asked Schopenhauer. If they come too close to one another, they injure each other. If they stay too far apart, they freeze. Life, for porcupines, is a delicate balance between closeness and distance. It is hard to get it right and dangerous to get it wrong. And so it is for us.
To this day, this true story makes the hairs on my neck stand up straight. It’s a story whereby too many “coincidences” just “happened.”
Wherever the two holy brothers went on their self-imposed exile they generated a spirit of repentance. Their standard routine was to admonish themselves out loud for their supposed crimes, when in fact their “sins” were precisely the ones that the villager within earshot needed to rectify.