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Balak: The Attempted Takeover

We often sit through the haftorah wondering, “Why do we read the haftorah anyway?” Krias HaTorah of the parsha makes sense—we read a portion of the Chumash each week so that we finish the entire Torah over the course of the year. But we’re not reading a portion of Navi each week so that we can finish all of it on some kind of schedule.

Daf Yomi

Can’t Have It Both Ways ‘A Minor Who Reaches Maturity’ (Niddah 46a)

May One Finish Davening After The Z’man?

In this week’s parshah Balak hires Bilam to curse the Jews. The Gemaras in Berachos 7a and Avodah Zarah 4a say that there is a very brief moment during each day when Hashem allows himself to get angry. The Gemara says that no one was ever able to exact that moment except for Bilam the rasha, as it says: “veyode’a das elyon – and he knew Hashem’s knowledge.”

The Three Weeks And The Nine Days

One does not have to be superstitious to recognize facts. It is a historical fact that the period between the Seventeenth of Tammuz and the Tenth of Av was plagued by recurring tragedies.

Q & A: Chazzan And Congregation (Part VII)

Question: I understand that at a minyan, the chazzan is required to repeat Shmoneh Esreh out loud so that people who may not know how to daven can fulfill their obligation to daven with the chazzan’s repetition. What, however, should the chazzan do when he reaches Kedushah and Modim? I hear some chazzanim say every word of Kedushah out loud and some only say the last part of the middle two phrases out loud. As far as the congregation is concerned, I hear some congregants say every word of Kedushah and some say only the last part. Finally, some chazzanim and congregants say Modim during chazaras hashatz out loud and some say it quietly. What is the source for these various practices? A Devoted Reader (Via E-Mail)

Balak: A Covenant Forever

In the aftermath of the episode of Zimri and the Midianite women, Hashem struck down 24,000 Jews. Yet immediately afterward, Hashem reaffirmed his tremendous love for Israel. Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, explains that this is in character with Hashem's quality of chastising severely the nation he loves so dearly.

Lollipops Don’t Fall From The Sky

Last week I published a letter from a thirty-eight year old single woman who lamented that despite her having become a ba’alas teshuvah, forsaking her secular life, committing to Torah and mitzvos, going to rabbis, receiving berachot – in short, doing all the “right” things – she has failed to find her bashert, her soul mate. She wondered where G-d was and what all her sacrifices were all about. She was angry at G-d and regarded all her efforts as having been for naught. “My joy in Judaism has disappeared,” she wrote. The following is my response.

Important Moments In Becoming A Ba’al Teshuvah (Part I)

You don’t become a ba’al teshuvah overnight. There were many events in my life that contributed to the deepening of my religious commitment, including a party I attended with young, beautiful church members who tried to make me one of them, and how I met their “Jewish priest.” (I’ll discuss both experiences during the course of this continuing column.)

‘Frumer’ than God?

I am deeply concerned that a new religion, though close to Judaism but not part of it, is being formed based on a so-called "frumkeit" not defined as a mere "Chumra" [stringency], but rather actually violating clear laws and regulations set down by God for the Jewish people to follow

The Soul of the Stranger

From elected officials to people in the street, from the highly educated secular upper class to yeshiva students to the working poor, numerous Israelis seem to share a lexicon and intellectual framework which denigrates and dehumanizes Africans, belittles their suffering, and trivialized their plight.

The Torah Source For Covering One’s Hair

We recently layned Parshas Naso which contains the Biblical source for the obligation of a married woman to cover her hair. An eesha sotah is a woman whose husband suspects her of having acted immorally. The Torah commands the Kohein to take various steps to demonstrate that the sotah has deviated from the modest and loyal path of most married Jewish women (Rashi 5:15-27). Among the procedures, the pasuk clearly states: “ufora es rosh haisha…” and he shall uncover the hair of the head of the woman (5:18).

Every Day Is Graduation Day!

On the 43rd day of the Omer I asked a child how many days there were to go. He immediately answered that 37 days remained. In response to my inquiry about his calculations, he excitedly announced that there were 37 days left to the school year! While all of us--he included--were counting down to the monumental day of receiving the Torah, he was also counting the days until he would be absolved of learning the very same Torah in the formal school environment!

A Unique Iranian Custom

Question: It is known that some sephardim generally arrive at a simcha a few hours subsequent to the time noted on the invitation. Is there any logic behind this custom?

Chukas: Chastisement And Perfection

Hashem criticized His holy nation relentlessly, yet Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, observes that for 38 of Israel's 40 years in the desert, Hashem expressed no criticism at all. Herein is a lesson in Israel's greatness.

A Revolutionary Rabbinic Idea For Organ Donations

JERUSALEM – A leading Orthodox rabbi in Israel has a revolutionary proposal for the harvesting of organs from a clinically dead patient. At present, his proposal not only has no support from other rabbis, it is also against Israeli law – but he is not fazed.

Daf Yomi

Rebirth Of Sorts ‘Immersing Contaminated, Emerging Pure’ (Niddah 42a)

Rov Or Chazakah: Which Is Better?

The beginning of this week’s parshah discusses the halachos of a parah adumah (red heifer). The red cow is shechted and burnt, and its ashes are sprinkled on one who is tamei meis. The individual thereby becomes pure.

Q & A: Chazzan And Congregation (Part VI)

Question: I understand that at a minyan, the chazzan is required to repeat Shmoneh Esreh out loud so that people who may not know how to daven can fulfill their obligation to daven with the chazzan’s repetition. What, however, should the chazzan do when he reaches Kedushah and Modim? I hear some chazzanim say every word of Kedushah out loud and some only say the last part of the middle two phrases out loud. As far as the congregation is concerned, I hear some congregants say every word of Kedushah and some say only the last part. Finally, some chazzanim and congregants say Modim during chazaras hashatz out loud and some say it quietly. What is the source for these various practices? A Devoted Reader (Via E-Mail)

Sealed Envelope

Mr. Meyers scurried around the wedding hall, making sure everything was properly in place; his son was getting married. "Could you please watch this envelope?" he asked his close friend, Mr. Koenig.

Depending On A Wise Sister

It is a scene that still has the power to shock and disturb. The people complain. There is no water. It is an old complaint and a predictable one. That’s what happens in a desert. Moses should have been able to handle it in his stride. He has been through far tougher challenges in his time. Yet suddenly he explodes into vituperative anger:

‘My Joy In Judaism Has Disappeared’

Raised in a secular family, she followed the usual pattern of the last couple of generations, placing marriage on the back burner in favor of relationships.

Jewish Connections

Yom Yerushalayim, a national day of thanksgiving to Hashem for the liberation and reunification of the Holy City of Yerushalayim, is celebrated in Israel with many different meaningful programs. One of them is the annual bike ride from Hebron to Yerushalayim, celebrating the former’s liberation.

Parshas Korach: ‘Impulsive Wealth’

In 1978, Michael Aun won the Toastmaster’s International Speaking contest in Vancouver. He remarks that although he is well-known for winning the contest in 1978, he lost it in 1977 in Toronto, because he went seven seconds over his allotted time. In his words, “Do you know what you do after you lose a contest because of seven seconds? You go up to your hotel room and you cry. But after a while, you realize that you can go for it again. A year later I won it in Vancouver. I often say that we have to remember that you often have to go through Toronto in order to get to Vancouver.”

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