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The Curious Customs of Lag B’Omer [photos]

18 Iyyar 5776 – May 26, 2016
The mysterious customs and origins of this mystical holiday.

Lag B’Omer Trivia

18 Iyyar 5773 – April 28, 2013
Some Lag BaOmer trivia you may not know.

The Claim Of The Daughters Of Tzelaphchad

22 Tammuz 5772 – July 11, 2012
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?

It’s My Opinion: Countdown

5 Iyyar 5772 – April 26, 2012
The days after Passover are referred to as sefirot, a semi-mourning period, marking a terrible plague that killed thousands of students of the great sage Rabbi Akiva. Tradition tells us that these deaths were the result of his students not being sufficiently respectful to each other.

Hashgachah Pratis: Readers Respond (Continued from Last Week)

21 Nisan 5772 – April 12, 2012
For the past several weeks I have been focusing on hashgachah pratis – personal, individual and national guidance that comes from heaven. Sadly, in our secular, high pressured, very often decadent society, many voices assail us and we have difficulty hearing the still small voice of G-d leading and prodding us.

Leaving The December Dilemma Behind

26 Kislev 5772 – December 21, 2011
No matter our stage in life, one is seldom comfortable feeling left out. Unfortunately, many American Jews experience exactly that feeling each year as Christmas approaches. The term “December Dilemma” is used to describe the tension many Jews feel sitting on the sidelines, unable to fully enjoy or participate in the distinctly Christian themes and activities occurring all around.

Where Did You Travel On Rosh Hashanah?

5 Heshvan 5772 – November 2, 2011
On the first day of this past Rosh Hashanah, I visited Milwaukee while my wife, Layala, traveled back to the shul of her youth in Brooklyn. When we met up later in the day for Yom Tov lunch at our Harrisburg, Pennsylvania home, we had a number of experiences to share with each other.

Unraveling Jewish Threads: James Sturm’s Graphic Novel Market Day

17 Adar 5770 – March 3, 2010
Greek and Roman mythology envisioned the fates -- the Moirae or the Parcae -- as spinners of thread. Clotho (Nona) wove life's threads; Lachesis (Decima) measured; and Atropos (Morta) cut. To the Greeks and Romans, the cosmos was artfully woven by deities, but was also unstable and liable to fray or to unwind piece by piece. Given the Greco-Roman gods' tendencies to act like children, the pattern of life was particularly chaotic.

Unraveling Jewish Threads: James Sturm’s Graphic Novel Market Day

Greek and Roman mythology envisioned the fates -- the Moirae or the Parcae -- as spinners of thread. Clotho (Nona) wove life's threads; Lachesis (Decima) measured; and Atropos (Morta) cut. To the Greeks and Romans, the cosmos was artfully woven by deities, but was also unstable and liable to fray or to unwind piece by piece. Given the Greco-Roman gods' tendencies to act like children, the pattern of life was particularly chaotic.

Looking For The ‘Finished’ Product?

24 Heshvan 5770 – November 11, 2009
I have been to many singles get-togethers over the years, and have noticed an unfortunate tendency by both men and women to give members of the opposite gender a quick glance over. Each is then given the label of being a "loser," "winner" (one worth making the effort to meet), and those who are "OK, but not really my type; so why waste my time and energy?"

I Am Saddened (Part Three)

4 Sivan 5769 – May 27, 2009
In my last two columns I published a letter from a mother/grandmother who felt very saddened and discouraged at the shameless chutzpah that marks today's parent-child relationship. In the first segment of her letter, she cited the disrespectful conduct of children, and in the second, she gave examples of the deplorable behavior of young adults - even married couples.

A Wake-Up Call Or Business As Usual?

3 Shevat 5769 – January 28, 2009
Last week I began to outline the three-fold formula that our sages advise will protect us from the painful birth pangs of the pre-Messianic era. Now with Hashem's help, I will continue, for this is a subject of great urgency. But to those who have sent e-mails and letters regarding personal problems, let me assure you that I will respond to all your correspondence personally.

Photojournalist’s Testimony: Photographs By Jerry Dantzic

12 Av 5768 – August 13, 2008
Lag B'Omer is a communal sigh of relief. Historically the plague that consumed 24,000 of Rabbi Akiva's students in the second century did not include the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer.

Secrets Bared

14 Iyyar 5767 – May 2, 2007
The powerful ox of Taurus symbolizes the month of Iyar. The bull's characteristic of stubbornness features positively when it manifests itself as uncompromising loyalty.

Learning The Hard Way (Part II)

26 Iyyar 5766 – May 24, 2006
I am still getting calls and e-mails from mothers and grandmothers with girls for "Avi" (a non-New Yorker), the ben Torah "earner" who was having trouble finding girls in his community willing to go out with him because he was not learning full time.

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