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Yom Kippur Thoughts

10 Tishri 5773 – September 25, 2012
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)

Q & A: Selichot Restrictions (Part II)

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

Judgment And Reckoning

Question: A basic Jewish belief is that everyone ultimately will be judged. This final judgment is called din v’cheshbon, judgment and reckoning – see Avot 3:1. What is the difference between these two terms? What is din and what is cheshbon?

Maftir Yonah

There is a machlokes between the Mechaber and the Rema concerning the berachos recited on the Yom Kippur haftarah by Minchah. The Mechaber says (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 622:2) that we take the Torah out and read the parshah of arayos and then read Maftir Yonah. He says that we recite the berachos of the haftarah before and after the haftarah. If Yom Kippur falls out on Shabbos, we mention Shabbos in the berachos. The Rema argues that we do not recite the berachah of “al haTorah v’al ha’avodah” by Minchah.

All In The Mind

It was Yom Kippur eve. The shul began filling rapidly as the time approached for Kol Nidrei. Herzl Machlis sat in his seat, cloaked in his tallis and kittel, quietly reciting Tefillah Zakkah, composed by the Chayei Adam 150 years ago.

The Last Command

By now Moses had given 612 commands to the Israelites. But there was one further instruction he still had to give, the last of his life, the final mitzvah in the Torah: “Now therefore write this song and teach it to the people of Israel. Put it in their mouths, that this song may be My witness against the people of Israel” (Deuteronomy 31: 19).

Vayelech: Giving Thanks

We live in an age of conveniences – and dangers. Our affluence presents dangers to our quest for spiritual perfection, which the Torah cautions against and which Rabbi Avigdor Miller elaborates on in Parshas Vayelech.

My Personal Shofar Blower

Rosh Hashanah memories take us to our shuls, homes and families. They remind us of promises made about how we would change our lives and rearrange our priorities. There may also be memories of the delicacies we ate when we were children – the chicken soup, gefilte fish and great desserts. And one sound, the sound of the shofar blasting away with its shrill notes of tekiah, shevarim... and finally the long, very last sound – the tekiah gedolah.

Behind The Name On The Cover: Jerome Schottenstein And His Sponsorship Of The ArtScroll...

With memories of the Siyum HaShas still fresh in people’s minds, many Jews around the world have been purchasing a Tractate Berachot in order to take part in the 13th cycle of Daf Yomi, the daily study of one daf of Talmud Bavli.

A Pathway To Teshuvah

27 Elul 5772 – September 13, 2012
Yom Hadin is almost here and this time of year brings with it a range of emotions. Some people are excited - a new year, the start of school, new clothing. For others, Rosh Hashanah instills fear - the need to correct wrongdoings, to beg for forgiveness and make promises to be better. For still others, there is a feeling of being overwhelmed - either by the awe of the Yom Hadin or perhaps the reality of so many days of Shabbos, Yom Tov, Shabbos (that's a lot of cooking and baking). We are often so busy taking care of all the “things" that need to be done, that we don’t have enough time for spiritual and emotional preparation. It feels like most years I come to Selichos feeling as if I haven't done enough to prepare.

‘To Be A Bee Or Not To Be, A Bee’

An elderly carpenter was eagerly preparing for retirement. When he informed his employer/contractor of his plans, the employer asked him if he could do him a personal favor and build one more house before he left. After so many years of working together the carpenter felt he could not refuse, and so he begrudgingly agreed. It quickly became apparent that the carpenter’s heart was not in his work. He resorted to shoddy workmanship and he used inferior quality materials. It was an unfortunate way to end a dedicated career.

In The King’s Presence

We all know that there are some synagogues that, unfortunately, only reach full capacity several days a year. There is something about these days that arouses even many unaffiliated Jews to attend High Holiday Services. In fact, each one of us also feels the holiness, and it helps us to be on our best behavior. We make sure to come on time to davening and we daven slower than usual. We are extra careful in our observance of halacha and how we treat the members of our family.

Parshat Nitzavim

Colin Powell, despite reaching the pinnacle of power, has never forgotten his simple roots in the Bronx. This proud connection to his past manifests itself in many ways, ranging from his work ethic to his love of hotdogs. It also manifests itself in his appreciation of what the “regular guy” brings to the table in every organization.

Two Days Rosh Hashanah, Eruvin And Eggs

Why is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, so different from other Jewish holidays? On the face of it, it does not seem to follow any pattern. It is celebrated for two days, not only in the Diaspora but also in Israel. Yet the Sages refer to the two days of Rosh Hashanah as one long day – yoma arichta.

Netzavim: Choose Life

“The life and the death I have given before you…in order that you should live, you and your seed.… And you shall choose life” (30:19). “Choosing life” is one of the highest accomplishments (Shaare Teshuvah III:17). This means that not only does Hashem allow us the free will to choose (a principle that materialist psychologists deny), He also gives us the information that we possess free will.

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