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Q & A: Selichot Restrictions (Part I)

27 Elul 5772 – September 13, 2012
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

Parshas Nitzavim

26 Elul 5772 – September 12, 2012
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For Internal Peace And International Cooperation

The 10-day period from Rosh Hashanah-Yom Kippur is, as is well known, a time to begin personal introspection – an occasion to look back at one’s mistakes of the past year and plan the needed changes to improve oneself in the New Year. In the U.S. it is also a time for Americans to make positive “resolutions."

Reb Elimelech’s Ascent To Leadership (Part XII)

Wandering from town to village, the Holy Brothers neglected their physical needs and were sustained by meager coins or scraps of food that were donated along the way.

The Master Conductor Of All Events

The incident occurred during The Three Weeks when work at my place of employment for the summer months came to a standstill. I was to meet with a couple of high school buddies of mine at the train shelter in Cedarhurst, from where we had planned to walk to the park.

Mentioning Rosh Hashanah In Davening

The Mishnah in Rosh Hashanah 32a lists the Yom Tov’s berachos and the order in which we must daven on Rosh Hashanah. The Mishnah says in the name of Rabbi Akiva that we begin with the berachah of avos. We then recite, in this order: gevuros (atah gibor); kedushas Hashem; kedushas hayom (we incorporate malchuyos in that berachah); zichronos; and shofros. This is followed by avodah hoda’ah and birchas kohanim (sim shalom). The Gemara there brings a beraisa that cites a source in the Torah for reciting each one of these berachos.

The Curse Of Family Breakdowns

Several weeks ago I shared a letter from a heartbroken mother whose children had shut the door in her face. Time and again she tried to open that door, but despite all her attempts she did not succeed. No matter how she humbled herself and begged, no matter how many people interceded on her behalf, it was to no avail.

Carrying Both Pain And Faith

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is a kind of clarion call, a summons to the Ten Days of Penitence that culminate in the Day of Atonement. The Torah calls it “the day when the horn is sounded,” and its central event is the sounding of the shofar.

My Father, Dayan Grunfeld

One cold December evening, I walked into my father’s book-lined study to light the Chanukah candles, which were placed beside the window that overlooked a high street in North London.

Ki Savo: Emulating The Creator

20 Elul 5772 – September 6, 2012
Many passages in the Torah appear at first glance to be repetitious. Often, each iteration has a unique and deep message. Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, finds such a case (in the passage of the Blessings and Curses) in the Torah's instruction to keep Hashem’s commandments and walk in His ways. Also in the passage of the Blessings and Curses, Rabbi Miller highlights the great blessing of a long life.

Missing Payment

Dr. Oren had a small psychology practice and rented office space from his colleague, Dr. Wieder, on Thursday afternoons. The rent amounted to $500 for the month. Since the two usually did not see each other, the arrangement was that Dr. Oren would leave the rent money in the top drawer of the desk.

Daf Yomi

A Vicious Cycle ‘Many Different Kinds Were Set Before Him’ (Berachos 41a)

The Intricacies Of Selichos

There is a custom to say Selichos before Rosh Hashanah. Sephardim have the custom to say Selichos during the entire month of Elul, while Ashkenazim follow the custom of the Ramah (Orach Chaim 581:1) to only say Selichos for a minimum of four days prior to Rosh Hashanah – beginning with Motzaei Shabbos. The Ramah quotes from the Kol Bo that certain communities had the custom that the ba’al tefillah should also be the chazzan for the remainder of the day. The Magen Avraham explains that this is because of the general rule that when one begins a mitzvah he should complete it.

L’Zera Yaakov Tizkor

A passage at the end of the Zichronot blessing in the Mussaf Amidah of Rosh Hashanah appears to have two slightly different versions. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim, 591:7) rules that this is the correct text: “V’akeidas Yitzchak hayom l’zaro tizkor.” It also rules and those who change the words and specify “l’zera Yaakov tizkor” are mistaken and guilty of changing the text instituted by Chazal. The source for this ruling is a responsum (chapter 38) by the Spanish and then Algerian Rivash (14th century).

Selichot

19 Elul 5772 – September 5, 2012
However remote the prospect of acquittal, a Jew must never give up. God commands us to challenge indictment with prayer. And the rabbis urge us to confront sentencing with hunger strikes. And so, the Midrash tells us, when Moses stood before God, at a loss for words with which to defend the sin of the golden calf, God Himself donned a tallit, took to the prayer stand, and showed Moses how to pray and what to say:

Routes And Roots To The Truth

The five-year-old boy was in a church in Puerto Rico with his parents. As they and his grandparents were Catholics, that made him Catholic – as far as his young mind could figure.

The Meanings Of Shema

It would be reasonable to assume that a language that contains the verb “to command” must also contain the verb “to obey.” The one implies the other, just as the concept of a question implies the possibility of an answer. We would, however, be wrong. There are 613 commandments in the Torah, but there is no word in biblical Hebrew that means “to obey.” When Hebrew was revived as a language of everyday speech in the nineteenth century, a word, letsayet, had to be borrowed from Aramaic. Until then there was no Hebrew word for “to obey.”

A Himmel Geshrai

“A himmel geshrai” is a Yiddish phrase that, loosely translated, means “a tragedy of such catastrophic proportions that the heavens themselves cry out.” Sadly, every one of the letters on family breakdowns I’ve featured these past several weeks can be summed up as “a himmel geshrai.”

Tishrei’s Universal Message

The start of the Jewish New Year, the month of Tishrei, is filled with holy days, among them four foundational celebrations: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah-Shemini Atzeret.

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