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.
There has long been a massive debate in Anglo Jewry as to whether we should take a unified stance in our support for the State of Israel or openly air our differences. It’s mostly been a noisy and shrill debate, but it’s the wrong debate – as it is deflecting us from the real issue.
I was walking home from my weekly Tehillim group when I encountered a very worried-looking young woman. She told me she had been standing outside her apartment when she encountered an old man. He seemed lost, and did not respond to her offer of help. She noticed he was not wearing shoes.
From Parshat Vayeishev to the end of Sefer Bereishit, we read the story of Joseph and his brothers. From the very beginning we are plunged into a drama of sibling rivalry that seems destined to end in tragedy.
I visited the cemetery with my friend during Aseret Yemei Teshuvah. After visiting my grandfather, z”l, we visited my friend’s husband’s family. As we were wending our way among the graves and discussing names, she pointed out that her newest granddaughter is named after her husband’s mother, a”h. Then she told me two stories about her family.
By any standards it was a shocking episode. Jacob had settled on the outskirts of the town of Shechem, ruled by Hamor. Dinah, Jacob’s daughter, goes out to see the town. Shechem, Hamor’s son, sees her, abducts and rapes her, and then falls in love with her and wants to marry her. He begs his father, “Get me this girl as my wife.”
Chosen recently to participate in a clinical trial for an illness, I trekked my way to my assigned isolated room in the hospital – solo. I didn’t mind being one of the few patients who came alone to the hospital, as my personality liked being miserable by myself.
Upon returning home from food shopping, I had to park my van a block and a half from where I live. It was difficult for me to carry the heavy food packages and my pocketbook, but I managed to get to the beginning of my block.
What kind of man was Jacob? This is the question that cries out to us in episode after episode of his life.
The parents of Reb Elimelech M’Lizhensk, Eliezer Lipman and his pious wife, Mirish, emanated from families that could trace their lineage all the way back to Rashi, Rav Yochanan Hasandlar of Talmudic fame and even King David. They lived in the townlet of Lapachi, not far from Tiktin.
Even before they were born, Jacob and Esau struggled in the womb. They were destined, it seems, to be eternal adversaries. Not only were they different in character and appearance, they also held different places in their parents’ affections.
Psychologists are always quoted in holiday-themed articles about the seasonal blues. We are stressed from our holiday preparations and we remember our loved ones who are no longer with us.
Abraham, the Sages were convinced, was a greater religious hero than Noah. We hear this in the famous dispute among the Sages about the phrase that Noah was “perfect in his generations,” meaning relative to his generations:
I was on a city bus as it stopped for a young boy frantically waving his arms, fearful the bus might not stop for him on this snowy February afternoon. As the boy, wearing a thin jacket, boarded the bus, he searched his pockets for bus fare, found nothing, and told the bus driver he had left his money at home. “Could you please let me ride this bus?” he asked. “I promise to give you the money tomorrow. It’s so freezing outside, and it’s such a long walk home.” The bus driver refused, ordering the boy to leave the bus immediately.
About 15 months after the Second Lebanon War, we were called up to reserve duty in the Gush Talmonim region, part of the Binyamin Regional Council. On the second Friday night, I enjoyed the privilege of leading the entire company in singing, "Shalom Aleichem." Although there wasn't even a minyan of shomrei Shabbat men, the soldiers pulled out their hats in honor of the song (a handful placed a hand on their heads), and all respectfully rose to their feet - including the Bedouin trackers.
For 10 years our front door was 35 feet from the busiest road leading in and out of Morristown, New Jersey. Zoom, zoom, zoom…one car after another going 40-50 miles per hour, not only during the morning and afternoon rush hours, but all week long. Even when we stood by our front door, we had to yell at the top of our lungs to call to our children who were playing in our tiny front yard.
Between the Flood and the call to Abraham, between the universal covenant with Noah and the particular covenant with one people comes the strange, suggestive story of Babel:
Two years ago Mrs. S. was divorced after an unhappy, childless marriage. Now in her mid-60s, she has no interest in finding a new husband. At this time, she told me, she is just beginning to discover herself as an independent adult, and she is reveling in the opportunity to make her own choices on everything from what to cook for dinner to what color to paint the bedroom.
Just when it seemed that the Jews could never recover from the ruinous events of the 17th and 18th centuries, their plight was worsened yet, by even heavier taxes imposed by the Polish government.
I live at Scharf's Ateret Avot, a residence for seniors. I get around via a motorized wheelchair. This gives me the independence to go where I choose.
I have a girlfriend I'll call Esti who works for a kiruv organization. During the summer semester, this organization offered an experiential history program. They taught a subject for a week, and then the next week toured the places they discussed in order to experience history firsthand. If they studied the First Temple era, for example, they would then visit the City of David.