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The Proper Times For Reciting Shema

14 Av 5772 – August 1, 2012
There is a fundamental difference between the times set for reciting the Shema and all other prayers. Whereas our sages linked the times for prayers to the times of the Temple sacrifices, the time for reciting Shema is fixed by the Torah itself – “beshochbechah uvekumechah” – when you lie down and when you get up.

Numbers Don’t Tell The Story

Near the end of Parshas Va’etchanan, so inconspicuously that we can sometimes miss it, is a statement with such far-reaching implications that it challenges the impression that has prevailed thus far in the Torah, giving an entirely new complexion to the biblical image of the people Israel:

So Happy Together

The day following our oldest daughter’s wedding in Eretz Yisrael was the day we had planned for my husband to return to his job in the U.S. I was staying for another week in Israel with the rest of our children and my dear mother in order to participate in the remaining wedding celebrations.

Remembering Har Sinai

In this week’s parshah Moshe Rabbeinu recounts ma’mad Har Sinai – the giving of the Torah on Har Sinai. Additionally, the Torah warns us earlier in the parshah not to forget the revelation that we witnessed at Har Sinai, for as the pasuk says: “Only beware for yourself and greatly beware for your soul, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen and lest you remove them from your heart all the days of your life, and make them known to your children and your children’s children” (Devarim 4:9).

Renewing The Face Of The Earth

I sleep every Tisha B’Av night on a narrow cushion in front of the Me’aras HaMachpelah in Hebron. I do this because the following chiddush came to me many years ago: When the spies went to Israel, the pasuk says “vayavo ad Chevron” – “and he came until Hebron.” He instead of they. Rashi says only Calev ben Yefuneh went to Hebron, to pray to Avraham Avinu that he not fall for the plan of the spies.

Another Family Torn Asunder

My previous two columns focused on the fragmentation that has affected one frum family. Many readers may consider the story described to be a rare occurrence. I wish this would be the case. To be sure, each family crisis is its own unique tragedy, but the common thread of hatred is always there.

What Are We Fasting For?

10 Av 5772 – July 29, 2012
A few years ago, I happened to be in Los Angeles for the fast of Tisha B'Av. Towards the end of the fast, between afternoon and evening prayers, the rabbi of the shul asked if I could say a few words to the congregation to explain the significance of the holy day and the fast.

Caring For Our Parents: A Child’s Hardest Job

9 Av 5772 – July 27, 2012
They say that one mother can take care of five children, but five children cannot take care of one mother. One of the most challenging situations, and perhaps the most unnatural, is when children need to take care of aging or infirm parents. Why is this so difficult and why do so many of us fail at caring for our parents when they need us most?

Summer Weekend

Mr. Blank worked through the summer, so his family stayed in the city. "It would be nice to get away to the country for a weekend," his wife suggested.

When Tisha B’Av Occurs On Shabbat Or Sunday

8 Av 5772 – July 26, 2012
Five tragedies occurred on Tisha B’Av. It was decreed that those who left Egypt would not enter the land of Israel, the first and second Temples were destroyed, the city of Betar was captured with thousands massacred, and Turnus Rufus plowed the site of the razed Temple. Consequently, Tisha B’Av was declared a day of national mourning and a fast day.

Daf Yomi

Sorrow And Joy ‘Proclaim Your Troubles So That Your Friends Pray For You’ (Niddah 66a)

Devarim: Like The Sand Of The Sea

Moshe's blessing to the nation of Israel is interesting in that a similar blessing, which Hashem had given Avraham and Yizchak, had already been fulfilled. Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, observes that among the greastest blessings is abundant offspring, and therefore this blessing was particularly auspicious – even the third time around.

Q & A: Chazzan And Congregation (Part IX)

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

Music During The Nine Days (Part II)

7 Av 5772 – July 25, 2012
Question: Is it prohibited to listen to music in the privacy of one’s home (or car) during the Nine Days?

The Tenth Man

I know what you’re thinking. You have already concluded that this is one of those heartwarming stories about the anonymous tenth man who completes a minyan in some far-off region, under mysterious, if not downright miraculous, circumstances. Likely as not, he turns out to be Eliyahu Hanavi.

A Family Torn Asunder

Last week I shared a tragic letter of family disintegration. What could have been a most beautiful mishpachah was torn asunder by one son and his wife who decided to sever all relationships with their siblings. Despite all the efforts on the part of the parents and the siblings, this son and his spouse remained refused to be reconciled. When simchas came – births, bar mitzvahs, weddings – the parents were invited but never the siblings. To add insult to injury the parents were treated disrespectfully on all of these occasions.

The Aveilus Of Tisha B’Av Week

One may not perform several actions during the week in which Tisha B’Av falls. This is referred to as shavua she’chal bo. For example, one may not take a haircut or wash his clothing (Ashkenazi Jews are forbidden in these actions prior to the week of Tisha B’Av in accordance with the ruling of the Ramah). The Mechaber (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 551: 4) writes that in a year when Tisha B’Av falls on Shabbos and is pushed off to Sunday (as it does this year) there is a machlokes as to whether there are any prohibitions during the week before Tisha B’Av. The Mechaber seemingly sides with the view that there are no halachos of shavua she’chal bo in such circumstances.

Music During The Nine Days (Part I)

2 Av 5772 – July 20, 2012
Question: Is it prohibited to listen to music in the privacy of one’s home (or car) during the Nine Days?

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