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Q & A: Harsh Punishments (Part II)

Question: I find it very difficult to understand the punishment of death that was meted out to Rabbi Akiba’s students. If he was so great, we can assume that his students were of a superior caliber as well. If so, why did they deserve such a harsh punishment? Zelig Aronson Queens, NY

The Merit Of Living In Israel

Yaakov Avinu received word that his brother Eisav was coming to greet him. He understood fully well that this was not to be a warm family reunion. Eisav came accompanied by a band of four hundred armed men, bent on revenge. The Torah says Yaakov was “very frightened,” so he prepared for war.

A Silver Atarah On A Talit

Question: I have heard that some halachic authorities disapprove of placing a silver atarah on a talit. Is this true?

Insights From The Plague Of Leprosy

Although the tzoraas affliction is no more in contemporary times, it teaches lessons that are eternal. Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, explains that foremost among these lessons is the greatness of Torah leaders and their wisdom. Another lesson: The opportunity the affliction presented to the afflicted for repentance and seld-improvement.

I Will Keep Dancing…

I’m learning to walk again. Every step is painful. I go with a walker. There is a security belt wrapped around my waist which the physical therapist watches carefully so that in case I stumble she will be able to catch me. As I make my way, the nurses and other health care personnel smile and congratulate me: “You’re doing wonderful! You’re doing great!”

A Lesson To Be Learned

It was early evening in Jerusalem. I was exhausted, and thankful that the light rail train had arrived. Along with all the other passengers, I jockeyed for a place to stand where I could place some of my bundles on the floor. At the next stop a seat became available, and I was grateful to be able to claim it.

An Interview with Rabbi Moshe Zuriel

Rabbi Zuriel: "With the ingathering of the exiles, we need a Sanhedrin to implement various changes since Judaism is a developing matter; it's supposed to be dynamic. He showed me in one of his works twenty items that the Tosafot changed. Today however, he added, we're like the Karaites, we don’t want to change.

For The Sake Of His Name

When Rabbi Berel Wein began working for the O.U. kashrus division, he shared an office with Rabbi Alexander Rosenberg a’h, the founder of the kashrus division and its administrator for thirty years.

Parshat Shemini

More than 1500 people died on the Titanic. As a result of the tragedy, out of date conventions and procedures were changed, navigational mistakes were identified and corrected, and the threat of ice was taken seriously—even in the era of modern ships. Walter Lord, in his seminal book on the disaster, A Night to Remember (1955), wrote: “Never again would men fling a ship into an ice field, heedless of warnings, putting their whole trust in a few thousand tons of steel and rivets. From then on Atlantic liners took ice messages seriously, steered clear, or slowed down. Nobody believed in the ‘unsinkable ship.’

Birthday Parties (Part II) (Keritut 2a, Shabbat 25a, Yevamot 2a and Pesachim 32b)

In addition to karet, there is another type of premature death at the hand of God known as “mita bedei shamayim.”

Shemini – Strange Fire

The commentators discuss the meaning and implications of the “strange fire” brought as an offering by Nadav and Avihu. In his discussion of this perplexing passage, Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, discusses their early demise and observes that their death served a greater purpose (through the sadness that ensued) and that despite receiving a divine death penalty, the Torah regards them as great people.

Food For The Soul

“Tell Bnei Yisrael, “These are the creatures you should eat.” – Vayikrah 11:2 Chovos Halevovos (Sha’ar Avodas Elokim 3) explains that Hashem created man out...

From Structure To Continuity To Spontaneity

Why was spontaneity wrong for Nadav and Avihu, yet right for Moshe Rabbeinu? The answer is that Nadav and Avihu were kohanim, priests. Moses was a navi, a prophet. These are two different forms of religious leadership. They involve different tasks and different sensibilities, indeed different approaches to time itself.

Praying For The Sick

Question: During Kriat HaTorah, many congregations recite a general prayer for ill people. What is the source of this custom? Also, in many congregations, instead of the gabbai announcing each name, all of the shul’s members are asked to silently say the name of the ill person to themselves while the gabbai remains quiet for several moments. Is this proper?

Reb Elimelech M’Lizhensk (Part VII)

In 1648 and 1649 Bogdan Chmelnitzky and his hordes of Cossack warriors perpetrated an annihilation campaign against the Jews of Poland and the Ukraine. Almost 100,000 Jews and 300 communities perished at the hands of these murderous mobs. All of the Jews, including infants, were targeted for murder; the general populaces nearly always joined in the attacks, and the torture and degradation of Jews was an integral aspect of the murderer’s procedures.

Daf Yomi

When The Service Is Done ‘Once Permitted To Kohanim, Me’ilah Does Not Apply’ (Me’ilah 4b)

Q & A: Harsh Punishments (Part I)

Question: I find it very difficult to understand the punishment of death that was meted out to Rabbi Akiba’s students. If he was so...

The Yellow Star

A little more than six months ago, my sister-in-law passed away after battling a serious illness. For more than 30 years she had given symposiums on the Holocaust to youngsters in the Philadelphia area, and we talked about her activities many times on our visits to the U.S. After her passing I was determined to do some kind of volunteer work for Yad Vashem in her memory.

Tales of Rachel’s Tomb, a Strange Fire, the Golden Graft, the True Foundation

From rallying Rachel's children to reclaim their identity and holy roots, to purchasing and delivering a Sefer Torah to the empty un-walled streets in front of Rachel's Tomb, to petitioning to have regular scheduled trips of Egged buses eight times daily, Rachel's Children Reclamation Foundation now finds itself in a dilemma: whether to be silent like Rachel or cry like Rachel.

Will Pig Eventually Be Kosher?

In this week’s parshah the Torah teaches us which animals are kosher to eat and which are not. The Torah says that the pig, although it has split hooves, is not kosher since it does not chew its cud. The medrash on this pasuk says that the reason that the pig is called “chazir” is because in the future Hashem will return (lehachzir) the pig to Bnei Yisrael and permit it to be eaten.

My Own Hashgachah Pratis

Several weeks ago I started a series on hashgachah pratis, or Divine Providence. Every believing Jew knows that events do not just unfold randomly; the story I told of two brothers named Yaakov and Yedidya clearly testified to that reality in a contemporary setting.

The Ultimate Title Match

Pesach is the time of redemption and salvation, which can often come from the most unexpected sources. Such is the story of a boxing title fight in Yankee Stadium that launched a young boy from Russia on a journey to discover his Jewish heritage in Israel.

Pesach – Season Of Emunah

Historically, one of man’s greatest shortcomings has been taking credit for Hashem’s work. Only too often does a man find success and, in his arrogance, feel his power and his might created his empire. The Torah warns us, Remember: it was Hashem who brought all this to be.

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