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28 Tammuz 5777 -
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Parshat Pinchas

24 Tammuz 5772 – July 13, 2012
When national tragedy struck on November 22, 1963 Vice President Lyndon Johnson was inadequately prepared to assume the presidency. The Kennedy people had done their best to sideline him throughout the first three years of JFK’s term. Thus, he was not in the know in regards to many of the important initiatives Kennedy had proposed, but that would now become his responsibility. Additionally, there was substantial personal ill will between LBJ and Kennedy’s people - especially JFK’s younger brother Bobby, the attorney general.

Pinchas: Zealous For Hashem

23 Tammuz 5772 – July 12, 2012
“Pinchas Ben Elazar Ben Aharon the kohen turned away my wrath from upon the sons of Israel by his zeal for my sake in their midst; and I did not bring destruction upon the sons of Israel because of my jealousy. Therefore, say, behold, I give to him my covenant of peace” (25:11-2). This is a special proclamation of acclaim. Though Moshe certainly approved of Pinchas, Hashem here teaches the necessity to render public recognition to the righteous.

Just One Tile!

The Alperts needed some work done around their house. The contracted Mr. Fixler, a general handyman, to do the job. While working on one of the fixtures, Mr. Fixler accidentally knocked his drill off the ladder. It landed with a thud on the floor of the entranceway, cracking a tile.

Reb Elimelech M’Lizhensk (Part X)

22 Tammuz 5772 – July 11, 2012
To the misnaged-opponent, chassidus was not perceived as a different strand of normative Judaism, nor as a movement to uplift downtrodden Jews – but as an existential threat to Judaism itself. And the threat was no longer viewed as a futuristic potentiality; it was a real and imminent danger, for the movement was no longer limited to just the commoner but had infiltrated the ranks of scholars.

Daf Yomi

Soul Food ‘It Comes To Include A Fragrance’ (Niddah 52a)

Q & A: Chazzan And Congregation (Part VIII)

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)

The Claim Of The Daughters Of Tzelaphchad

The Gemara in Baba Basra 119b relays the following conversation that took place in this week’s parshah: Moshe Rabbeinu was teaching the halachos of yibum when the daughters of Tzelaphchad approached him with the following question: Our father died in the midbar and did not have any sons. Why then is our mother not required to fulfill the obligation of yibum? And if the fact that he had daughters is the reason that she is not obligated to fulfill this requirement, why then can we (his daughters) not receive an inheritance – just like sons would?

Shopping For Priestly Garments

I receive letters and e-mails every day from all parts of the world. Sadly, there is no shortage of problems. Pain and suffering abound. How to navigate the turbulent waters of the world we live in is a challenge for everyone.

Important Moments In Becoming A Ba’al Teshuvah (Conclusion)

Feeling more alone than at any time since arriving in New York, I looked inside myself for anything that could anchor me to bring me back to who I was, to move away from illusions of romance to my central sticking point. Suddenly and unexpectedly, being a Jew meant more to me than anything else in the world.

Them and Us

19 Tammuz 5772 – July 8, 2012
"Monopoly was created for a summer Shabbat and Fast Days…"! So I heard, time and again, in my early years. Years later, I know rather too well that while "Monopoly" has a place in the Jewish home, I am not sure about it's appropriateness to either Shabbat or a Fast-Day.

Balak: The Attempted Takeover

17 Tammuz 5772 – July 6, 2012
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.)

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