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December 9, 2016 / 9 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

The Rav On The Holidays

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

Title: Moadei HaRav: Public Lectures on the Festivals by Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik
Author: Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Pick
Publisher: Urim Publications

 

There is no need to state in these pages that Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik was one of the greatest Talmudists of the past few hundred years. But for English readers, there has long been a dearth of books in English that captured the depth and breadth of R’ Soloveitchik’s Talmudic genius.

In Moadei HaRav: Public Lectures on the Festivals by Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Pick has written a fabulous work, based on his notes from the Rav’s shiurim. Rabbi Pick is a former student of the Rav, who now teaches Talmud and Maimonidean thought at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, and brilliantly captures the Rav’s ideas in these lectures.

The book begins with an introduction to Rav Soloveitchik’s methodology of Torah study. Rabbi Pick then writes 17 chapters on various Talmudic issues. For me, the most startling point in the introduction is that while the Rav, who studied in Berlin and was familiar with the methodologies of academic Talmud research, was fundamentally opposed to it. Rabbi Pick writes that the Rav felt that way as he thought academic Talmud both focuses on insignificant matters, and puts too much significance on the consequence of socio-historical or psychological processes.

While the subjects are often dense and abstract, Rabbi Pick is able to provide an extremely clear overview of the topics, to which he does a very good job of explaining the topics in traditional Brisker fashion.

As to the lighting of Chanukah candles, the custom, based on the Talmud, is to light “until there are no people on the street,” which is generally accepted to be about 30 minutes after sunset. In the shiur on Chanukah, the book quotes the Rav who was of the opinion that it is impossible today to say that candles should be lit at that time, since there are indeed still people on the street.

In his novel and original way of thinking, the Rav felt that in the United States the time of “until there are no people on the street” is approximately 6:30 p.m. 7:00 p.m. Since people will go out, there is another time of lighting which would be between 11:00 p.m. and midnight.

The Rav clarified that during the period of Chazal, there was only one period of time “until there are no people on the street,” as opposed to the situation today in the United States where there is a wave of people returning home after a day’s work, and then after dinner a second wave of people going out for the evening.

That is but one of scores of examples where Rabbi Pick is able to share the Rav’s insights and innovative approaches to a countless halachic topics.

This is not an easy book, given the depth of the content. But for those looking to gain a deeper understanding of the Rav’s approach to a number of different topics, Rabbi Pick has done a tremendous service bringing his notes to the English reading public.

Ben Rothke

Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport Braces for 30,000 Travelers to Uman

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

Israel Airport Authorities and workers at Ben Gurion International Airport are bracing themselves for the onslaught this week when 160 flights will depart to Uman, in Ukraine.

Some 30,000 travelers are flying to the grave site of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov on what is for many an annual pilgrimage on Jewish high holy days, arriving at the tomb of the 19th century Chassidic rebbe just before Rosh Hashana, the holiday on which he deemed it most important for his Chassidim to gather with him during his lifetime.

Rebbe Nachman, who lived from 1772 to 1810, was a great-grandson of the Baal Shem Tov. He combined mystical teachings of Kabbalah with Torah scholarship in his teachings of the thousands of followers who were attracted to his movement, which was not dynastic, and not a traditional Chassidic court.

The concept of God taught by Rebbe Nachman, that one could speak to Him as a “best friend,” that He is someone with whom anyone could connect on the simplest of levels, made the Divine completely accessible, and God easily approachable to those who felt alienated by religion. To this day, the Breslov movement remains vibrant and continues to attract new followers.

Rebbe Nachman visited Israel from 1798 to 1799, spending time in Haifa, Tverya (Tiberias) and Tzefat.

In Israel, travelers to Uman are being asked to arrive at the airport four hours ahead of schedule in order to ease the processing due to the massive crowds that are expected.

Registration processing and passport control will take place both in Terminal 1 and in Terminal 3. Some 1.7 million travelers are expected to pass through the airport during this holiday season — about eight percent more than the number of travelers seen last year, officials said.

Hana Levi Julian

Netanyahu Holds Security Meeting Ahead of High Holidays

Monday, September 19th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday held a meeting to assess the security situation ahead of the Tishrei holidays—Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. Netanyahu called for in creased police presence, especially in the Old City and around the Temple Mount, directing “determined action” against any attempt to violate the public order there. In the case of Jews on the Temple Mount, these actions are normally determined by the Waqf agents, who are empowered to assess the level of spiritual engagement exerted by any Jew on the Temple Mount, and to decide whether said Jews have crossed the line and got dangerously close to their Father in Heaven.

Prime Minister Netanyahu ordered Knesset Speaker MK Yuli Edelstein to continue to prevent MKs and cabinet ministers from going up to the Temple Mount during this sensitive period, such sensitive period being defined as “always.”

The Prime Minister also directed that activity be increased against PA Arab incitement on social networks, including Facebook, with the goal of removing inflammatory content. He also instructed that a response team be established to refute disinformation about Israeli policy on the Temple Mount, such as the Jews are plotting to destroy the Al Aqsa mosque.

Netanyahu received an update on IDF operations and the reinforcement of units along the roads and inside Judea and Samaria communities.

Also participating in the meeting were Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Israel Policy Deputy Inspector General Zohar Dvir, Jerusalem District Police Commander Yoram Halevy, the deputy Director of the ISA, an IDF representative and personnel from the National Security Council.

David Israel

IDF Fearing New Violence over High Holidays

Friday, September 9th, 2016

As the “knives intifada” is about to enter its second year — it began on the eve of Rosh Hashanah 5776 with the stoning murder of Alexander Levlovitz hy’d — Israeli security forces anticipate the flames of Arab rage to be reignited. The fact that the Jewish high holidays this year coincides with the PA and Gaza municipal elections—which are already being fought over by both Arab regimes, will add to an already explosive situation.

David Israel

Garin Tzabar: Helping Lone Soldiers Feel At Home In Israel

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

These lone soldiers, hailing from countries including the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Turkey and Azerbaijan arrived in Israel without their families to join the Israel Defense Force and help build the Jewish nation.  ’Garin’ means seed in Hebrew but can also refer to a group of people who collectively immigrated to Israel and ‘tzabar’ refers to the ‘sabra’ cactus fruit which is prickly on the outside but soft and sweet on the inside, a euphemism to describe Israelis.

The Garin Tzabar program is in charge of bringing these lone soldiers to a kibbutz or Israeli city, providing them with an adopted family, a Garin community that supports them throughout their army service and Hebrew classes to assist their immersion into the IDF.  Several months from now the new recruits will begin to serve in the Israeli Army.  The Garin Tzabar  ensures lone soldiers receive support and attention on their birthdays, during holidays, Shabbat, and their days off .

The State of Israel officially welcomed this year’s Garin Tzabar participants during a special ceremony held at Tel Aviv University. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu  gave a video greeting praising these young Jewish men and women and  numerous other government officials attended the event.

MK Sofa Landver, who addressed the group, stated, “We are here to receive the immigrants and the soldiers in our country, the most wonderful country in the world. It’s you who have come to serve and defend Israel. You will change the world.” A representative of Nefesh B’Nefesh added, “It’s not just a plane ride, it’s the destination and that’s Israel. Enjoy your new life.”

Netta Gelb, a new Garin Tzabar participant, was born in the Israeli city of Netanya and has spent the past 15 years growing up in Canada. Although she has Israeli relatives,  she is leaving behind her parents and siblings.  Gelb expressed the excitement many Garin members felt when she said, “I have been really looking forward to this for a long time.”

Michael Kosky, another Garin Tzabar participant, added, “We have come here to play our chapter in Jewish history. I am part of this program. Good luck to every one here.”  A lone soldier already serving in the IDF named Ariella, who hails from an Argentine family and grew up in both America and Israel told the audience that she holds dear the “values of loyalty to the state, its people, and the Tzabar members” and said to the new recruits “If you live together, you will learn a lot.”

Eitan Press contributed to this report.

Visit United with Israel.

Rachel Avraham

What’s the Point of Celebrating Tu B’Shvat in Exile?

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

How could I not write a blog about Tu B’Shvat?

In the Land of Israel, we’re already happily celebrating Tu B’Shvat, the holiday of the trees. School children sing songs praising the Land of Israel and thanking Hashem for its fruits. Bus loads of students and families go on field trips throughout the country, and saplings are planted with great joy and spirit. And a festive meal of thanksgiving, highlighted by a cornucopia of fruits of the Land, will grace our tables on Shabbat.

This is the holiday of Eretz Yisrael! I suppose next to my love for Hashem, I love the Land of Israel more than anything else in the world. Without Eretz Yisrael, the Jewish Nation is shattered, destroyed. Outside of Eretz Yisrael, we are like fish out of water. We can’t survive as a Nation. We have no national soul. We’re just individuals in other people’s lands, like the dry bones the Prophet Ezekiel describes. Dry bones in the graveyard of foreign lands.

Without Eretz Yisrael, the Torah is a shrunken, truncated, mini-version of the complete Torah of Eretz Yisrael. Two-thirds of the Mishna deals with laws that can only be performed in Israel. Without Eretz Yisrael, God Himself is reduced to a second-string diety, seemingly not strong enough to keep His Chosen People in the Land He gave them, for there is no greater desecration of the Name of God than when the Jewish People are scattered in exile amongst the goyim (Ezekiel, 36:20). Without Eretz Yisrael, there is no prophecy, no Beit HaMikdash, and the Divine Presence doesn’t appear in the world.

I’m not the only one who loves Eretz Yisrael. God also loves the Land of Israel with a towering love, watching over it like a favorite child, from the beginning of the year to its end, just like it says in the Torah.

I love Eretz Yisrael so much, I never want to leave it. I can’t imagine living anywhere else. If I was forced to leave the Land of Israel, it would be a terrible punishment. The worst punishment there could be. The Rambam describes the love of God like a man who is passionately in love with a woman and always wants to be with her – so too a Jew should actively yearn, every single minute, to always be in Israel. It’s part of being a Jew. It’s the integral part of keeping the Torah. As Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi explains in “The Kuzari,” it’s the main part of serving G-d completely, being in the place where the Torah can be most completely observed. Like with all the commandments of the Land which can only be performed in Israel. Living a life of Torah in Eretz Yisrael is what Judaism is all about. If a Jew doesn’t feel a powerful, throbbing yearning to be in Eretz Yisrael, then something is wrong with his understanding of Torah.

On Tu B’Shvat we eat the fruits of Eretz Yisrael as described in the Torah, “For the L-rd your G-d brings you into a good Land, a Land of water courses, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a Land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a Land of olive oil, and date honey; a land where you shall eat bread without scarceness, you shall not lack anything in it…” (Devarim, 8:8).

During the festive meal celebrating the holiday, our Sages instruct us to first eat the fruits which appear in the Torah verse closest to the word “Land.” From here, Rabbi Kook writes that the person who is closest to the Land of Israel, and who exerts himself the most in its settlement, is the closest to perfection, and he will be blessed first in the World To Come. (“Ayn Iyah,” Berachot 41; and “Olat Rayah,” Vol. 1, pg. 375). Thus if you have two Jews of equal religious observance, but one lives in the Diaspora and the other in Eretz Yisrael, the Jew who lives in Israel is first in blessing and closer to Jewish perfection.

What an incredible blessing and honor and privilege to live here! In Israel, before you eat fruit that’s grown here, you have to separate the tithes, trumot and ma’aserot, and make the proper blessing (or be sure that the fruit seller has done it for you). You can’t do that with the fruits that grow in the Diaspora. The mitzvah doesn’t apply in the Diaspora. There aren’t any tithes because the fruits there aren’t holy. The land there isn’t holy. The air there isn’t holy. It’s a place of spiritual impurity. In fact, it’s so impure there that Jews forget what real holiness is, and that they are supposed to be living in the Holy Land, and not in the impure lands of the gentiles.

For all of you who are still in exile in foreign lands of the gentiles, at least go out and buy yourself some fruit and wine from the Land of Israel. Make a party! Bless Hashem for the good Land He has given us, and for its fruits and overflowing bounty. As it says in the Gemara, the surest sign of the end of the exile is when the trees in the Land of Israel give forth their fruits in abundance (Sanhedrin 98A, see Rashi there). That time is now! There are fruit trees all over the country. Supermarkets are filled with mountains of fruits. Oranges, apples, peaches, pears, grapefruit, kiwis, bananas, lemons, pomegranates, figs, dates, olives, pomela, avocadoes, and on and on and on. That’s the surest sign of Geula! You don’t have to wait for Mashiach – the Redemption is happening now!

This Tu B’Shvat, may you all be blessed from the Land of Israel and merit to be a part of it as soon as you can.

Tzvi Fishman

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/felafel-on-rye/whats-the-point-of-celebrating-tu-bshvat-in-exile/2013/01/24/

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