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March 28, 2015 / 8 Nisan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Passover’

Is it Time to Abandon Kitniyot?

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Rabbi David Bar-Hayim of Machon Shiloh, in this video, argues that it is time for Ashkenazim to abandon the prohibition against eating Kitnyot (legumes) on Pesach.

After hearing his argument, what do you think?

Anti-Terror Airport Squads Briefed on Tefillin and Matzah

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

The Transportation Security Administration has made its employees aware the Jews with a kippa and praying with tefillin are not necessarily terrorists.

This good news should help Jews relax when praying at the airport or on the airplane during the Passover holiday.

This is no laughing matter.

When a Jewish teen put on his tefillin and prayed on board a US Airways four years ago, the crew panicked and aborted the flight from LaGuardia Airport, landing in Philadelphia amid unfounded fears of a terrorist bomb.

The tefillin’s two small Scripture-filled boxes were a bit strange to the nervous crew. After all, they could be explosives inside. Or maybe a collapsible Uzi.

And those straps! There are two straps hanging down from the tefillin that are put on the head, and there is a strap on one arm, so who knows? Someone who never saw tefillin in his life could run away with his imagination and suspect that the straps could be wires from an explosive device.

The plane landed, and the boy, a lot more scared than the crew, was met by police, the FBI and bomb-sniffing dogs

And he didn’t even get a chance to pray.

A similar incident the following year caused the pilots of an Alaska Airlines flight to lock down the cockpit and alert authorities because of three Orthodox Jews with tefillin on the flight from Mexico City to Los Angeles.

When the same thing happened on a flight in New Zealand, the country’s Race Relations Commissioner said the armed response was unfortunate and showed “an exaggerated fear of terrorism.”

So this time, TSA is prepared and instructing staffers that tefillin are not bombs, the kippa is not designed to hide a bomb, and matzah is not a bomb.

“Our workforce is aware of the unique items carried by individuals and religious practices individuals may engage in while traveling,” said a TSA statement. This may include reading of religious text or participating in prayer rituals. Observant travelers may be wearing a head covering, prayer shawl, and phylacteries — in Hebrew, kippa, tallit, and tefillin.”

The TSA has also informed baggage inspectors to be careful with matzah packages.

Perhaps they have explained to them that matzah is not suspicious cardboard. Hopefully, workers understand that they are not to be munching on any cookies made with leavened bread when checking matzah packages

“Some travelers will be carrying boxes of matzah, which are consumed as part of the Passover ritual. Matzah can be machine or handmade and are typically very thin and fragile, and break easily,

“Passengers traveling with religious items, including handmade matzah, may request a hand inspection by the TSO of the items at the security checkpoint.” TSO is the abbreviation for Transport Security Officer.

Agudath Israel of America, an umbrella group for Orthodox congregations, expressed its “profound thanks” for the notice, stating that the agency has been deeply sensitive to our community’s needs and concerns on this and many issues.”

But if a worker does accidentally break a matzah in half, who gets the Afikomen

(JTA contributed to this report.)

Below is the TV report of the tefillin-bomb scare four years ago.

Manischewitz Sold to Equity Firm

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

The Manischewitz Company, well known for its wine and Passover foods, has been sold a week before the Passover holiday.

Sankaty Advisors, an arm of the private equity firm Bain Capital, purchased the Newark, N.J.-based purveyor of kosher foods for an undisclosed price, the Associated Press reported Tuesday, less than a day after the deal had been first disclosed by The New York Times.

Under its new owner, Manischewitz is expected to promote kosher as an indication of quality food rather than just a religious designation, according to the Times.

“This investment reflects our confidence in the Manischewitz brands and team,” Sankaty Advisors said in a statement last week. “Manischewitz has earned a position as one of the most highly recognized brands in the world, and it has distinguished itself through a passionate commitment to producing the highest quality kosher products possible. We believe Manischewitz is well positioned to grow due to rising mainstream interest in kosher foods.”

Decades ago, Manischewitz was virtually the only wine that was poured into cups at the Shabbat table every Friday night and for the Seder on the first night of Passover.

Its unbelievably sweet Concord wine made it the butt of jokes, but since there was not much else around in the kosher wine business, the sticky liquid was accepted as the standard.

The Manischewitz Company  was founded by Rabbi Dov Behr Manischewitz, in 1888. It later began producing matzo, gefilte fish and borscht.

“Manischewitz has earned a position as one of the most highly recognized brands in the world, and it has distinguished itself through a passionate commitment to producing the highest quality kosher products possible,” Sankaty Advisors said in a statement, disclosing no terms of the deal.

JTA contributed to this report.

Shiloh’s Children Hard at Work Baking Matzohs

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Even as their parents are scrubbing and fixing and rearranging their homes in time for Passover, children in the Jewish community of Shiloh are working as well – making matzohs.

The community, located in the Binyamin region near Samaria, has a 20-year tradition of allowing its children the privilege of baking matzohs just before the Passover holiday.

During the process the children learn the special laws of the holiday while enjoying the practical aspects of preparing matzohs.

The original ancient city of Shiloh, mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, is situated at the modern Khirbet Seilun, south of Tirzah, 10 miles north of the Jewish community of Beit El in Samaria (Shomron).

Shiloh was the official capital of the ancient nation of Israel before the First Holy Temple was built in Jerusalem. It was located north of Beit El and is mentioned in the Book of Joshua and in Judges.

Moshe Katsav Requests Passover Prison Leave

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Former President Moshe Katzav requested leave from prison on Sunday in order to spend time with his family for the Jewish holiday of Passover.

Katzav, who petitioned the Lod District Court, is serving a seven-year sentence for rape and sexual assault.

His last furlough from prison was on March 16, for the holiday of Purim, but in his request, the former president claimed “special circumstances” in which prisoners may apply for furloughs.

Katzav petitioned the district court because the Israel Prison Service denied his request for another furlough, citing a rule stating the minimum period of time required between vacations.

Under the law, he is not technically eligible for more “vacation” time from prison until at least a month after Passover.

Finding Food for Needy Settlers for Passover

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

The Shomron (Samaria) Regional Council is preparing Passover food packages for families in their region who are finding it difficult to make ends meet. According to Anat Tzafrir, head of the Charity and Volunteer Unit at the Council, “We encounter difficult situations such as families, some victims of terror attacks, who are at the verge of starvation.”

At least 100 basic food packages are prepared monthly, according to Tzafrir. The need grows exponentially with the unique demands of the Passover holiday.

Some 34 Jewish communities are included in the Shomron Regional Council catchment area, most nestled among the soaring hills that separate Jerusalem from the Mediterranean coast and the Galilee. Those who live in such communities – which are part of Israel’s defense line in holding the territory won in the 1967 Six Day War — tend to be self-sufficient and strong-minded individuals able to survive on bare essentials. But even with those points in their favor, certain basics are necessary for a reasonable life, especially one with a family.

Security and defense of the perimeter is provided by each community’s own civil defense team, as well as by the IDF. But making sure there is enough food on the table has become for some a cause for tears and frustration in a region tension is already a fact of life.

Food packages are not the real answer to the problem – but it is certainly one way of relieving at least some of the pressure so everyone can have a joyous holiday of freedom.

A Literary Analysis of Shir Ha-shirim

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

I. The Need for a Literary Approach

Each year, as we read the magnificent love story of Shir Ha-shirim, we encounter the sacred flames of passion between the Jewish people and the Almighty expressed in the work. Whose heart wouldn’t be stirred by the depiction of the Dod (male lover), symbolizing God, knocking at his beloved’s door, begging her to let him in, or by the riveting drama of the Re’aya (female lover) – the Jewish people – returning to her beloved as the mutual bonds of affection are restored?

The gripping emotional experience of reading Shir Ha-shirim each Pesach leaves little time for a systematic study of the literary and poetic detail of the work, particularly the plethora of imagery contained therein. A deeper understanding of the poetic style, language and form allows us to more fully appreciate how the words and images blend with the emotional development of the drama and contribute to the narrative flow.

It is therefore worthwhile to undertake this study now, prior to the reading of the Megilla, so that the stylistic techniques can work their literary magic and intensify our emotional participation in the reading of Shir Ha-shirim. This Megilla is, after all, the “Poem of Poems,” and, given its poetic nature, we must approach the text accordingly, from the perspective of poetic analysis.

In his introduction to “Moreh Nevuchim,” the Rambam already noted the relationship between human aesthetic sensitivity and the Scriptures, thus encouraging the implementation of literary techniques in the study of Tanakh:

The key to understanding all that the prophets said, and to the knowledge of its truth, is the understanding of the parables, of their import, and of the meaning of their expressions. You already know that which God said, “I spoke parables through the prophets” (Hoshea 12:11) and “Propound a riddle and relate an allegory” (Yechezkel 17:2). Furthermore, because of the frequent use made of parables by the prophets, one prophet says, “They say of me, Is he not a maker of parables?” (ibid. 21:5). You know how Shlomo began his book, “For understanding proverb and epigram, the words of the wise and their riddles” (Mishlei 1:6).

II. The Re’aya’s Impulsiveness and the Dod’s Restraint From the moment the curtain rises, the Re’aya finds herself struggling to reach the long-awaited reunion with her lover (the Dod). She passionately yearns for him, and she runs after him through the hills and valleys. The only pursuit occupying her at this time is meeting her Dod and capturing his love.

However, he is less than quick to respond. He stands behind the fence, peering in from beyond the window and through the cracks in the wall, but refuses to appear. She cries, “Tell me, you whom I love so well; where do you pasture your sheep? Where do you rest them at noon?” But all he can reply is, “Go follow the tracks of the sheep.” She wants to locate him immediately, but all he tells her is to follow his tracks he left behind. She is confused and frustrated: why won’t her Dod come to greet her and take her into his arms?

As readers, we, too, cannot understand this game of hide-and-seek. Why does her Dod retreat, slip away, resist her pressure and deny her advances? Why does he seem to appear and then hide, begin to approach and then flee?

The answer lies in the unique character of the Re’aya. She is infused head to toe with unbridled passion; she is bursting with boundless emotional energy. She does not calculate her steps – she simply charges forward in a stream of uncontrolled love. The text describes not a gradual process of emotional development, nor a systematic progression of a relationship and its internalization for the long-term. Rather, she drives headlong straight towards the most intense levels of affection. This passion drives her relentless pursuit of her Dod, but also creates a stumbling block before the realization of her fantasies. So physically and emotionally drained is she from her frustrating pursuit of her Dod, from her races through the hills and valleys in the scorching sun (1:7), from the late, nighttime hours (3:2) of impassioned, premature yearning, that when the long-awaited moment finally arrives, she cannot get out of bed to let her Dod inside.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/a-literary-analysis-of-shir-ha-shirim/2014/04/01/

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