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Unmarked Stamp

5 Av 5773 – July 11, 2013
Mr. Spitz was going through the mail. "Typical assortment," he grunted. "One third bills and financial documents, one third solicitations, and one third junk mail."

Justice And Compassion

Shakespeare is expressing the medieval stereotype of Christian mercy (Portia) as against Jewish justice (Shylock).

‘Not of this Generation’

I may be 80 but my memory is as good as it was when I 40.

May Tisha B’Av Be Annulled?

4 Av 5773 – July 10, 2013
Question: Does a contemporary bet din have the authority to annul Tisha B’Av considering that the fast day is rabbinical, not biblical, in origin?

The Lines Before Sefer Devarim

This week we begin reading Sefer Devarim. The Gemara in Baba Basra 13b says that four blank lines must be scratched onto the parchment between each of the sefarim of a Sefer Torah (i.e. between Sefer Bereishis and Sefer Shemos).

Daf Yomi

The Shoemaker’s Children ‘If One Can Eat, One Can Sell’ (Pesachim 21a)

Q & A: Kiddush Levanah And Repeating Verses Three Times (Part II)

Question: I have numerous questions about Kiddush Levanah. First, why is this prayer called Kiddush Levanah? Shouldn’t it be called Chiddush Levanah considering that the prayer concerns the renewal – not the sanctification – of the moon? Second, why do we greet each other with the words Shalom Aleichem at Kiddush Levanah and why do we repeat the greeting three times? Is it because we have not seen a new moon for a whole month? Third, why does Kiddush Levanah – and other prayers – contain verses (aside from the Shalom Aleichem greeting) that we are supposed to say three times? Please elaborate on this mitzvah. Ira Warshansky (Via E-Mail)

Man: Preprogrammed For Greatness

“The ox knows its owner; the donkey the stall of its master; Israel doesn’t know, My nation doesn’t contemplate.” – Yeshayah 1:3 With these words, Yeshayah HaNavi begins the rebuke of his generation, a generation that strayed, that has left the ways of the Torah and turned to other gods and foreign ways.

My Happiest Tisha B’Av

I knew it wasn’t the right attitude to have but Tisha B’Av 30 years ago was one of the happiest days of my life.

Parshat Matot Massei

27 Tammuz 5773 – July 5, 2013
Louis XVI hoped that July 21, 1791 would be a turning point in the French Revolution. It was, but not quite the way he had hoped it would be. Louis had planned to cross into Austria, raise an army and invade his home country of France to crush the revolution. In fact, Louis and his family nearly made it to the border. They were a mere thirty miles away from putting his grand scheme into action. But a stable master recognized him when the carriage stopped to rest. The National Guardsmen were alerted and intercepted his carriage forcing him and his family to return to Paris embarrassed and humiliated. The French Revolution was about to take a dangerous and radical turn.

No Good Reason

The three weeks period between the 17 of Tammuz and Tisha b’Av, besides being a time to remember and mourn the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash in Yerushalayim, is a very special time to focus on love. The spiritual root cause of the churban and all the other tragedies of Jewish history that resulted from it was sinas chinam, disliking and hating each other for no good reason. So it only makes sense that the way to remedy this is to go out of our way, especially during these three weeks, to try to like and love each other -- even for no good reason.

Shabbos Mevorchim Menachem Av

On this coming Shabbos Parshas Matos-Masai we bentch Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av. Rosh Chodesh (on Yom Sheini - Monday, July 8) marks the start of the mournful “nine days” during which we restrict many activities normally taken for granted, such as eating meat and drinking wine (Shabbos is an exception), the purchasing and wearing of new clothes, doing laundry (the washing of children’s clothing may be permitted; consult your halachic authority), listening to music, swimming and participating in joyful pursuits.

Thoughts On My Visit To South Africa

27 Tammuz 5773 – July 4, 2013
Hashem has His own timetable and He allowed me to make my journey.

Catch 22

On Shabbat one should eat three meals. The Friday night and the Shabbat morning meals require Kiddush with wine and two challot, lechem mishneh, and the third meal, the seudah shlishit, requires lechem mishneh. The correct time for seudah shlishit is the afternoon. But what if it’s Shabbat Erev Pesach, when no chametz may be eaten after the fourth halachic hour of the day? No problem, some might think. Let’s use matzah for seudah shlishit. But that cannot be done either, because one may not eat kasher l’Pesach matzah on Erev Pesach and though it is Shabbat, it is also Erev Pesach. So if you cannot use challot or matzah for seudah shlishit, what should you do?

Lottery

Chaim and Zev had been roommates in yeshiva for a number of years. They had purchased, often jointly, many pictures of gedolim to adorn their walls. One of the most beautiful ones was a hand drawing of Rav Elyashiv, zt"l, that was not easy to find anymore.

An Aliyah For Someone Who Isn’t Fasting

Question: May a person who ate on Tisha B’Av receive an aliyah?

Q & A: Kiddush Levanah And Repeating Verses Three Times (Part II)

Question: I have numerous questions about Kiddush Levanah. First, why is this prayer called Kiddush Levanah? Shouldn’t it be called Chiddush Levanah considering that the prayer concerns the renewal – not the sanctification – of the moon? Second, why do we greet each other with the words Shalom Aleichem at Kiddush Levanah and why do we repeat the greeting three times? Is it because we have not seen a new moon for a whole month? Third, why does Kiddush Levanah – and other prayers – contain verses (aside from the Shalom Aleichem greeting) that we are supposed to say three times? Please elaborate on this mitzvah. Ira Warshansky (Via E-Mail)

Arei Miklat

In parshas Masei the Torah discusses the halachos regarding when one person accidentally kills another. The Torah says that a relative of the victim (goel hadam) may avenge the death of his relative by killing the murderer who acted accidentally. According to the Torah, the perpetrator must go to one of the arei miklat (city of refuge). While in the ir miklat the goel hadam may not kill the murderer who acted accidentally. If he does kill him while he was in the ir miklat, he will be liable for murder.

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