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My column on prayer last week touched sensitive chords in many hearts. It is apparent that in our troubled times people are struggling with the entire concept of prayer. Does it really work? Is there Someone listening, or is it a waste of time?
Tevye decided to stay in Shoshana until the birth of Hodel's baby, which was only a month away. He forbade Bat Sheva to speak...
Jacqueline Nicholls, a Jewish artist from England, presents us with a formidable challenge. Namely, what is the role of a contemporary Jewish Woman artist and how does one confront patriarchal dominance? She presents her response to both queries in her current exhibition at the JCC Manhattan, beautifully curated by Tobi Kahn and organized by Tisch Gallery director Megan Whitman. The results are breathtakingly forceful, subtle and insightful.
My name is Eli Freundlich. I was 18 and had just graduated Torah Voddath in Williamsburg. America had entered the war a few years before. I wanted to be drafted so was happy when I received my notice. It was July 1943 - July 27, 1943 to be exact – when I was sworn into the American Army.
Guma Aguiar, a Florida businessman and philanthropist who went missing in June, left his tefillin on his abandoned boat.
Phil and Mike were part of a team of construction workers building a skyscraper in the middle of the city. When it was time for their lunch break they sat down together with their feet dangling twelve stories from the ground. Phil opened his lunch box and peered in, “Peanut butter and jelly?! Again peanut butter and jelly! I have had enough! If I get peanut butter and jelly again tomorrow, so help me I’m going to jump right off this structure.” Mike then opened his lunch box and peered in, “Tuna fish?! Again Tuna fish! I can’t take it anymore. If I have tuna fish for lunch one more time I’m going to jump off with you.”
If a Jew is thrown into prison and he doesn’t have tefillin, then he can’t perform the mitzvah of putting on tefillin. But the mitzvah of tefillin isn’t cancelled because of this. The very first morning that he gets out of jail, he once again must perform the mitzvah of putting on tefillin
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.
We recently layned Parshas Naso which contains the Biblical source for the obligation of a married woman to cover her hair. An eesha sotah is a woman whose husband suspects her of having acted immorally. The Torah commands the Kohein to take various steps to demonstrate that the sotah has deviated from the modest and loyal path of most married Jewish women (Rashi 5:15-27). Among the procedures, the pasuk clearly states: “ufora es rosh haisha…” and he shall uncover the hair of the head of the woman (5:18).
The Rambam, in Hilchos Beis Habechirah 1:12, derives from the pasuk in this week’s parshah, “u’veyom hakim es haMishkan… – and on the day the Mishkan was set up…” (Bamidbar 9:15), that the Beis HaMikdash can only be built by day, not by night. Further in that halacha the Rambam writes that both men and women are obligated in the mitzvah of building the Beis HaMikdash. The Kesef Mishneh explains that the source for the halacha that women are obligated in this mitzvah is from the pasuk in parshas Vayakhel: “v’kol ishah chachmas lev beyada tavu – and every wise-hearted woman spun with her hands.”
When I finally made aliyah, I knew lots of people, and was already half “Israeli”. I lived in Jerusalem with the saintly old lady I had met on my first visit, and spent my days running around with Rabbi Hazani, designing street posters and helping him with the campaign to free the Jewish Underground until he dragged me to the Machon Meir Yeshiva
It is simply not the same to put on tefillin or keep kashrut or observe Shabbat in the Diaspora as in Israel. The Torah is the constitution of a holy people in the holy land. Only in Israel is the fulfillment of the commands a society-building exercise, shaping the contours of a culture as a whole. Only in Israel does the calendar track the rhythms of the Jewish year.
According to the Targum, it appears that if Reuven ate a ham sandwich and I didn’t rebuke him, I would be punished for his sin. This seems difficult to understand. Why should I be punished for his sin? At most, you might argue that if I was capable of rebuking him and didn’t, I would be responsible for the sin of not rebuking him. But how do I become responsible for the sin he perpetrated? He transgressed it; I didn’t.
My son lost his backpack when traveling back to his base. He had put it in the hold of the bus in which he was traveling. He would need to replace his wallet, tefillin, clothes, books, phone charger and all of his documentation. Of course the tefillin was the most important item of all. It was a bar mitzvah gift from his grandparents and specially written for him, and we all know how expensive tefillin are. But obviously the sentimental value was irreplaceable.
This past week I saw a video preview of an upcoming iPod app that excited and inspired me to the point of near tears. It was for RustyBrick’s jaw-dropping ArtScroll Schottenstein Talmud app. Unfortunately that app won’t be out for another few months (but take the time to check out the preview at www.rustybrick.com), yet I realized after months of writing this column that I had yet to give the due attention to RustyBrick’s Siddur app.
The name Bezalel was adopted by the artist Boris Schatz for the School of Arts and Crafts he founded in Israel in 1906, and Rav Kook wrote a touching letter in support of its creation. He saw the renaissance of art in the Holy Land as a symbol of the regeneration of the Jewish people in its own land, landscape and birthplace. Judaism in the Diaspora, removed from a natural connection with its own historic environment, was inevitably cerebral and spiritual, “alienated.”