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Listen To Your Messages

6 Sivan 5773 – May 14, 2013
If a man suspects his wife of infidelity, he is to bring witnesses and warn her not to go into private quarters with the man in question. If she violates that warning, he is to bring her to the kohen, who will give her the “bitter waters” to drink. If she was falsely accused and was innocent, she will be blessed with children. If she was guilty, she will die a gruesome death.

A Cardinal Message

A flash of red caught my eye, and I looked up and saw a cardinal perched on the picnic table on my deck. What a miracle, I marveled. You’re beautiful. Thanks, Hashem. And then my mind’s wheels began to roll, and it struck me that several miracle stories had come my way this week. The stories prodded me to think of and feel Hashem’s presence as a more tangible and vivid reality.

One Woman’s Journey (Part One)

Over the years I’ve received letters from all over the world in which people share feelings and thoughts they’ve experienced upon becoming became Torah observant. Usually these letters arrive not long after the writers had heard one of my speeches. No matter where a particular speech took place, and no matter whether I spoke the language or had to use a translator, the magic always works. In reality, it’s not magic at all but a little voice in the soul – the “Pintele Yid,” that spark of G-d’s Word engraved on all our neshamahs. Here is one recent letter.

Every Step Counts

2 Sivan 5773 – May 10, 2013
By the time these words are printed, there will be only a few more days left before Shavuos. We hope that up until that point, we will still have been counting the days of Sefiras Ha’Omer with a bracha, but we also know that too often, despite our best efforts, we drop out of counting with a bracha some time before the count is complete.

Who Did The Redemption?

1 Sivan 5773 – May 9, 2013
In this week’s parshah the Torah tells us that the bechorim were replaced by the levi’im to serve in the Mikdash. The Torah says that there were 273 more bechorim than levi’im. Those bechorim could not simply be replaced, and had to be redeemed. Hashem told Moshe that each bechor should give five shekalim to Moshe, who, in turn, should give them to Aharon and his sons. With that, they would be redeemed.

Celebrating Yom Yerushalayim

Question: Is there anything special that one should do on Yom Yerushalayim?

Q & A: A Sefirah Dilemma (Part III)

Question: As the shamash in a small community shul with an aging population, I am faced with numerous challenges. The following is only one of them. During sefirah, different people daven for the amud for Ma’ariv. Once, a bar mitzvah was one of them. On another occasion, a very recent ger lead the service. Were these individuals allowed to lead the congregation in counting sefirah? I also wonder, in general, if everyone should be trusted to lead the counting. What if someone forgot to count on one of the previous nights but does not inform anyone of this? No Name (Via E-Mail)

Daf Yomi

Spreading the Wealth ‘Giving to Only One Poor Person’ (Eruvin 63a)

The Riverdale Eruv

29 Iyyar 5773 – May 8, 2013
The purpose of the eruv is to enclose on all sides the area in which one wants to carry, so that it becomes a private domain, a reshut hayachid. If the area in question is a karmelit, a space that qualifies neither as a public domain nor as a private domain, gaps in the eruv structure may be bridged by means of a constructive or symbolic doorway called tzurat hapetach. A tzurat hapetach is made up of two posts, each called a lechi, and a crossbeam or overhead wire called a korah.

It’s Not Where You’re At

Less than a year after the giving of the Torah, Hashem told Moshe to again count the Jewish people. The Sforno points out that this counting was unique as it counted each person by name, whereas thirty-eight years later, when the Jews were about to enter the land of Israel and were counted again, there is no mention of counting by name.

Take It Or Leave It?

The winter was over, and the days began to get longer and warmer. The sun shone brightly in clear skies, grass and flowers were blooming, and the trees were producing layers of green foliage.

Perfect Harmony

It was a lovely summer night in the Holy Land. My husband and I, and a dozen or so of our colleagues, straggled into our hotel, exhausted but exhilarated after a long action-packed day of touring and activities. As we entered the lobby, we heard the unmistakable melodic strains of a piano being played in an adjacent room.

Torah As A Marriage Contract

On the face of it, the connections between the sedrah and haftarah of Bamidbar are slender. The first has to do with demography. Bamidbar begins with a census of the people. The haftarah begins with Hosea’s vision of a time when “the number of the children of Israel will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or numbered.” There was a time when the Israelites could be counted; the day will come when they will be countless. That is one contrast between the future and the past.

Independence And Dependence

Last week I wrote about the many disappointments in life. So often we dream of something, wish for something, pray for something – only to discover that when it happens, it is not quite the way we envisioned it. I illustrated this concept through a Hungarian story I recalled from my childhood about a little boy who more than anything else wanted a rocking horse, a coveted toy in Hungary.

Shabbos Mevorchim Sivan

23 Iyyar 5773 – May 2, 2013
It is with great excitement and expectancy that we bentch Rosh Chodesh Sivan — which comes out on Friday (May 10 on the English calendar).

The Long Shortcut

How can a person make sure that things will work out right? By doing what is right. When Hashem told the Jewish people to rest their fields and not plant any crops every seventh year, shmitta, it was a huge test of faith, as no crops meant no food! But Hashem also told them that if they did what’s right and listen to Him, they wouldn’t lose out because He’d miraculously give them enough crops in other years to more than make up for the year of rest. And that’s what happened.

Parshat Behar-Bechukosai

The story is told about Alfred Sloan, the CEO of General Motors, who in the middle of a meeting where everybody was in agreement, stopped the discussion and said: "I propose we postpone further discussion of this matter until our next meeting to give ourselves time to develop disagreement and perhaps gain some understanding of what this decision is about".

The Friday Night Simchat Bat

22 Iyyar 5773 – May 1, 2013
Question: Upon the birth of a son, common custom is to hold a Shalom Zachor on Friday evening for family and friends. But what about the birth of a girl? Some Modern Orthodox families hold a Simchat Bat on Friday night, but there doesn’t seem to be a source for this in Jewish literature. Are these Jews acting properly?

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