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Mitzvah Shopping (Yoma 33a and 57a)

2 Shevat 5774 – January 2, 2014
He must be a very important person to get such an important mitzvah, I heard them say, as Mr. Loewenstein, the local assemblyman, stepped up to recite the Torah blessing before the reading of the Ten Commandments. And Mr. Kleppish was too embarrassed to tell his wife that he only got third galilah on Shabbat Rosh Chodesh Chanukah. Meanwhile, in the neighborhood shtiebel, Maftir was sold for $500 and petichah for $20.

Just One Voice

When our ancestor Yosef found himself alone and abandoned in Egypt, the image of his father that kept him anchored.

Education: the Key to Success

Moses did not speak about today or tomorrow. He spoke about the distant future.

Shabbos Mevorchim Shevat

25 Tevet 5774 – December 27, 2013
The month of Shevat, according to the Sefer Yetzirah, is associated with the letter tzaddik. A Tzaddik is, literally, a righteous person, one who eats to live, to have the energy to serve the Ribono shel Olam – versus the gluttonous, insatiable kind that live to eat, to satisfy their corporeal cravings.

Parshat Vaeira

Moshe's name would forever remind him of the kindness that Pharaoh's daughter did for him by taking him out of the Nile, and serve as a lodestar to him as he interacts with his people.

Responding to the Yahrzeit Columns

Reader response to my two-part column on yahrzeit was overwhelming.

The Multidimensional Four Cups Of Wine

24 Tevet 5774 – December 26, 2013
In this week’s parshah (Shemos 6:6) Hashem tells Moshe to tell the Bnei Yisrael the four leshonos of geulah: v’hotzeisi, v’hitzalti, v’ga’alti, and v’lakachti. The Mishnah in Pesachim 99b says that a poor man should be given four cups of wine, even from money that is allotted for tzedakah. Rashi there quotes a Yerushalmi in Pesachim that cites Rabbi Yochanan’s opinion that the four cups of wine that we are commanded to drink at the Pesach Seder correspond to the four leshonos of geulah as mentioned above.

Breakfast And Happiness (Part III)

“I never said I have nothing to complain about,” she intoned with an expression that belied her age. “I just don’t see the wisdom of protesting. I am fine and I am being adequately nourished.” And with that she went back to her cereal.

Family Ties

Not long after my mother died, I was sitting on campus talking with a friend and mentioned that it had been a long time since I had seen a frog. I used to love going out into the garden with my mother and our St. Bernard dog in the autumn evenings and see the frogs come out. I have a thing about frogs – probably from reading too many fairy tales.

Trees In Shul

Question: Is it proper to decorate a shul with trees?

The Measure Of The Man

Before each person is born, he is predestined for certain abilities and talents, a particular level of intelligence, and an exact disposition and temperament. At the end of his days, he will be compared to what he could have become. How far did he grow? How much did he accomplish with the tools given to him? This system is subjective. How much of his potential did he fulfill?

Q & A: Shabbat Shuttle? (Part I)

Question: Is it permitted on the Sabbath or holidays to take a shuttle to synagogue? The neighborhood shuttle runs from 9-5 daily, is driven by a gentile, has a designated stop schedule, and is free of charge.

Daf Yomi

A Line Of Demarcation ‘…Until He Came… Between The Two Curtains…’ (Yoma 51b)

Purchasing Agent

"Yossi is getting married in three weeks," Moshe said to Yehudah. "He mentioned that if a few friends wanted to chip in, he would be happy to get a washing machine as a gift. Are you interested?"

Shabbat, Shabbat Shabbaton

If they would invent a Mah Nishtanah for Shabbat/Yom Kippur, it would go like this: “Why is this Friday night different from all others? On all other Friday nights we enjoy a festive Shabbat meal. Tonight? No dinner!” The question is a good one. According to many opinions, it is a Torah obligation to celebrate Shabbat with three festive meals and it is a Torah violation to fast on Shabbat. Why then, do we not postpone Yom Kippur to Sunday like we do with all other fasts

Child Raising

18 Tevet 5774 – December 20, 2013
Imagine Amram and Yocheved, the parents of Moshe Rabbeinu and Aharon Hakohen. We know who they were, but what do we know of their child-raising techniques? What was the central pillar of their home that helped foster these two spiritual giants?

Firing Line

Mrs. Simon had been teaching for seven years at a girls’ elementary school. The school had expanded rapidly during the previous decade as the local Jewish community grew. Each grade boasted four parallel classes.

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