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Testing And Prophecy

2 Elul 5773 – August 7, 2013
On the face of it, the test is simple: if what the prophet predicts comes to pass, he is a true prophet; if not, not. Clearly, though, it was not that simple.

Cutting Down Fruit Trees

The Rambam is of the opinion that a safek is permitted min haTorah. The rabbanan forbade one to take a chance and do something that is a safek issur. Many Rishonim disagree with this ruling and say that a safek is forbidden min haTorah. The Rishonim ask on the Rambam’s opinion from many places in Shas.

Prime-Time Prayer

Prayer is always an avenue to God. But in the month of Elul, the last month of the Jewish year, and during the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, God lends a particularly sympathetic ear.

Spiritual DNA And The Observance Of Shabbos

I recently heard a Pirkei Avos shiur in which the speaker said that our spiritual DNA derives from our patriarchs and matriarchs. The great tests they withstood and for which they gained ever greater prominence was witnessed by the Jews who followed them, many of whom succeeded in overcoming great challenges as well. It seems that an individual’s great effort helps the spiritual strength kick in.

Shabbos Mevorchim Elul

27 Av 5773 – August 2, 2013
The summer season we pined for on those dreary, shivery winter days is all but coming to a close. What better way for reality to sink in than the call of the shofar that wrests us from our repose on the first of Elul, reminding us that we have serious work ahead. Luckily we get thirty days to pull ourselves together, so that we have a leg to stand on when we petition Hashem on the Yom HaDin to grant us mechila for our shortcomings of the past year.

Close For Comfort

26 Av 5773 – August 1, 2013
What does it mean to be close to somebody else? One way is to be physically near them, but another, more spiritual way is to try to learn from them and emulate their good qualities. When the Torah instructs us to make ourselves close to, or cleave to Hashem, it doesn’t mean by trying to get to heaven in a rocket ship! Rather it means to think about Hashem and emulate His qualities of kindness, patience, fairness, etc. That is the real measure of how close a person is to G-d.

Parshat Re’eh

Our rabbis teach that the first step of repentance is ackowledging our sins and errors. If we feel that our behavior is on the right track then by definition we will fail to identify our shortcomings. Sadly, then our repentance will never leave the start gate.

Q & A: ‘The Scepter Shall Not Depart From Judah’ – Redux (Part II)

Question: The famous Iggeret of Rav Sherira Gaon references Yerushalmi Kilaim 9:3 and Kesubos 12:3 and states that Rabbi Judah the Prince descended from Hillel who, in turn, descended from the tribe of Binyamin – not Yehudah. The Iggeret also discusses how the Mishnah was written and how Rabbi Judah worked on it. Had Menachem read this Iggeret by Rav Sherira Gaon – who, incidentally, was a direct descendant of King David – I don’t think he would have asked his question. Yehuda T. (Via E-Mail)

Daf Yomi

Spoiled Rotten? ‘A Loaf Went Moldy And…Unfit For Human Consumption’ (Pesachim 45b)

Writing Hashem’s Name

In this week’s parshah the Torah writes about the mitzvah to destroy avodah zarah. At the same time, the Torah says not to do avodah zarah to Hashem your God. As the pasuk says: “va’avaditam es shemam min hamakom hahu, lo sa’asun kein la’Hashem Elokeichem.”

Cancelled Trip Assistant

Eliyahu was enjoying a relaxing summer after an intensive year of learning. He spent time with his family, learned a few hours each day in the community beis medrash, and worked sporadically when the opportunity arose.

Consumerism And The Overspent Generation

For forty years in the midbar the Jewish people ate mon. Guided by Moshe Rabbeinu, engaged in constant Torah study with every physical need taken care of, Klal Yisrael lived on a lofty spiritual plane. Now that they were being ushered into a different era – entering Eretz Yisrael where they would begin living in a natural manner – they were given many directives to retain their status as an exalted nation.

Kasher My Kitchen

Taste is everything. If the taste of chametz has been absorbed into a cooking vessel, such a vessel may not be used on Pesach unless it undergoes koshering, the halachically prescribed way of expelling the flavor of forbidden food such as non-kosher foods, meat and milk mixtures or chametz on Pesach from utensils and restoring them for use.

How to Give

These stories all have to do with the mitzvah of tzedakah whose source is in this week’s parshah.

The Breakfast Of Champions (Part III)

25 Av 5773 – July 31, 2013
With absolutely nothing to lose, including his employment for the coming year, Dan Zweifel devised a strategy for a team that could not seem to catch an offensive rhythm and for players that had protracted shooting slumps and 10-minute-long droughts. His solution, his only recourse, was defense.

Singing in the Rain

In an April Lessons in Emunah column, I wrote an article called “Learning to Dance in the Rain” about two friends who were very ill. One was in a hospice. The doctors had given up hope and the family waited with a heavy heart. But there was still One Doctor left. And He began to heal her. Slowly, the disease began to reverse itself, slowly it began to withdraw.

A Ray of Light Behind the Clouds

Let us understand once and for all that G-d is not a puppeteer and we are not puppets.

Parshas Eikev: Flowing Life

20 Av 5773 – July 26, 2013
Rabbi Yitzchak Zilber zt’l was a legendary leader of Russian Jewry for over three decades. He remained resolutely firm in his faith and practiced Torah and mitzvos throughout his arduous years behind the Iron Curtain, even in the brutality of a Russian Labor Camp. His autobiography, To Remain a Jew[1] is his incredible account of how he remained faithful to G-d even under the most trying circumstances. The following is just one anecdote recorded in the book:

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