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The Upsherin

19 Tishri 5773 – October 4, 2012
Have you ever been to an upsherin, a hair-cutting ceremony? I had never been to one until I was invited by my gentleman friend, Sy, to attend one in honor of his great-grandson, Gabriel, given by his grandparents, Steve and Robin Kerzer. Even Sy, an Orthodox Jew, had not heard of it. Both of us knew it was the custom not to cut a boy’s hair until he was three years old, but we had no idea what was involved.

Technology, Yom Kippur, Ahmadinejad

As we Jews know, there are no coincidences, no random happenings. As a matter of fact, in lashon hakodesh, the holy tongue, the very word “mikreh,” translated as “it happened,” actually means “kara mei Hashem” – “it happened from G-d.”

Z’man Simchasenu – The Time of Our Happiness

12 Tishri 5773 – September 27, 2012
Sukkos! What an exciting Yom Tov! So many different mitzvos, each with their own color and flavor. Dwelling in the sukkah, taking the 4 species, dancing at the simchas beis hashuava and on Simchas Torah … Nevertheless, there is one theme which runs through all these aspects. “Vesamachta bechagecha atah uvincha, uvitecha, ve'avdecha, va'amasecha, vehaLevi, vehager, vehayasom. veha'almanah asher bish'areycha - You shall rejoice on your festival along with your son and daughter, your male and female slave, and the Levite, proselyte, orphan and widow from your settlements” (Devorim 16:14).

Parshas Ha’azinu: Never Give Up!

Yom Kippur was but a few days ago and we were all feeling the closest to Hashem that we feel all year. And now it’s time to build the sukkah. But before we move on with the holiday cycle we need to see what we can do to retain at least some of those special feelings of Yom Kippur. This week’s haftorah guides us on just such a path.

Yom Kippur

Even Moses, who spoke with God one on One, was not allowed to see Him during his lifetime. “You cannot see my face, for no man shall see me and live.”

Standing And Sitting For Kiddush On Sukkot

Question: Should a person recite kiddush standing or sitting on Sukkot? If he stands, should he sit down after saying the berachah of leshev ba’sukkah or remain standing?

Daf Yomi

Pomp And Circumstance ‘Endeavor to See the King’ (Berachos 58a)

Q & A: Selichot Restrictions (Part III)

Question: The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch states that an individual praying selichot without a minyan is not allowed to recite the Thirteen Midot or the Aramaic prayers. What is the rationale behind this halacha? Moshe Jakobowitz Brooklyn, NY

Ha’azinu: Giving Praise

“When I proclaim the name of Hashem, give greatness to our G-d (32:3). When we hear a berachah, it is proper to exclaim "Baruch Hu u’Baruch Shemo" (“He is blessed and His name is blessed”) when Hashem's name is pronounced. But much more is intended. The mention of that most important word (in any language) should evoke the greatest reverence and love and devotion. How much should we exert ourselves in this function?

May A Woman Build A Sukkah?

The Gemara in Sukkah says that the sechach that one must use for his sukkah must be detached from the tree in order for it to be fit for use. The Gemara (Sukkah 11a) discusses what a person must do if one put branches on his sukkah before they were cut off from the tree. The Gemara concludes that branches must be detached from the tree and he then must shake them.

Mothers, Fathers, And The Curse Of Family Breakdowns

10 Tishri 5773 – September 25, 2012
In my most recent column I wrote about ways of improving family relationships, and raising children who have derech eretz and respect for their parents. I will continue on that same theme here.

All’s Well That Ends Well

On August 29, 2011, I took my three kids to a New York Mets baseball game and was sitting in the front row. During the last inning, my 12-year-old son Eliezer was hit in the face by a line drive (the clip is on YouTube, “Baseball hits boy, Mets-Marlins”). He was rushed to the hospital and received eight stitches; he was discharged the next day.

‘I Inspire Myself’

We first met Shlomie (name and some details have been changed) over 20 years ago. He davens in our shul, and he and my husband share a love of photography. Over time, we got to know each other well.

Yom Kippur Thoughts

Yom Kipper, the Day of Atonement, is the supreme moment of Jewish time, a day of fasting and prayer, introspection and self-judgment. At no other time are we so sharply conscious of standing before God, of being known by Him. But it begins in the strangest of ways.

Preparation is Key to a Successful Shabbat

"It is a Sabbath of Sabbaths for you, and you shall afflict yourselves, It is an eternal statute” (Vayikra 16:31). This is how our Torah sums up the upcoming experience of Yom Kippur: a Sabbath of all Sabbaths. Rather than use the more colloquially known "Yom HaKippurim," The Day of Atonement, the Torah reading of Yom Kippur morning uses the above term to summarize the twenty-five hour experience we are about to step into.

Use Fish not Chicken for Kaparot

8 Tishri 5773 – September 23, 2012
Notions of animal cruelty do not apply to fish under Jewish law, so by using a fish for the Kapparot ritual one would avoid causing unnecessary pain to an animal yet still have the benefit of using a live creature for the ritual.

A Lifetime Guarantee

6 Tishri 5773 – September 21, 2012
I rarely take the extended warranty when purchasing new electronics. I figure that this warranty must not be worth much if they feel the need to pressure me into buying it. They must know what I have learned the hard way: there is no such thing as a real guarantee. In my more naive days, I purchased this "peace of mind," as they call it, but never cashed in. Usually, by the time the item broke, I had forgotten about the extended warranty and purchased a replacement.

Daf Yomi

The Lady Of The House ‘One Blesses First On The Wine…’ (Berachos 51)

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