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It Beats Writing Trashy Movies in Hollywood: Part 3

14 Iyyar 5772 – May 6, 2012
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

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks: Holy People In The Holy Land

11 Iyyar 5772 – May 2, 2012
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.

Rebuke: The Malpractice Of A Mitzvah

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.

Lost And Found

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.

Things I Do And Things I Don’t

29 Adar 5772 – March 22, 2012
The Dos Zakainim explains that the reason every korban must be brought with salt is to remind us that just as salt is a preservative that allows food to last longer, so too the sacrifices are permanently ours to cleanse us from our sins.

If I Only Had One Jewish App On My iPhone

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.

An Unseemly Hour

28 Adar 5772 – March 21, 2012
It’s my first moment of wakefulness, and I’m chilled to the bone. Pull the covers over myself, I’m thinking, while I decide to roll over to look at the clock. It’s 5:30 a.m. and I’m exhausted. But attending morning minyan – even once – is the least I can do.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks: The Power Of Art

21 Adar 5772 – March 14, 2012
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.”

A Prayer From The Heart

8 Adar 5772 – March 1, 2012
Jonathan, who once wondered how he would ever get his son close to Hashem, now knows he wasn’t the only one who wanted it. Hashem had an interest in it as well, and made it all come together.

Why It’s Important To Know Hebrew

Many of the most fascinating posts I come across are based on sources in Hebrew. These stories would fascinate you, yet I simply do not have the time to translate them all for you...

Tetzaveh: Honor And Beauty

7 Adar 5772 – February 29, 2012
The wardrobe Hashem designed for those who served in his Mishkan served not only to distinguish them but also to impress upon them the importance and significance of the service for which Hashem had selected them. Clothing itself is a form of serving Hashem.

You Aren’t What You Make (Arachin 23b)

3 Shevat 5772 – January 26, 2012
There are two different types of vows, nedarim, mentioned in the Torah. The first, which is the subject of Tractate Nedarim, is the prohibitive vow, nidrei issur, pursuant to which a person utters a vow not to do an action, which but for the vow would have been permitted.

Mitzvah Shopping

27 Kislev 5772 – December 22, 2011
He must be a very important person to get such an important mitzvah, I heard them say, as Mr. Loewenstein, the local assemblyman, stepped up to recite the Torah blessing before the reading of the Ten Commandments. And Mr. Kleppish was too embarrassed to tell his wife that he only got third galilah on Shabbat Rosh Chodesh Chanukah.

Parshas Toldos

27 Heshvan 5772 – November 23, 2011
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Title: The Scattered Tribe: Traveling the Diaspora from Cuba to India to Tahiti &...

20 Heshvan 5772 – November 17, 2011
There are three kinds of travelers: there are tourists, there are businesspeople, and then there are historians like Ben G. Frank. The last kind doesn’t simply go from here to there. They try to relive history and find the real meaning behind what they experience.

Why Was Avraham Allowed To Perform Hachnasas Orchim?

16 Heshvan 5772 – November 12, 2011
At the beginning of this week’s parshah the Torah writes extensively about Avraham Avinu’s act of hachnasas orchim for the three men who were passing by his tent.

The Chassidim Of Germany

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries the struggle between chassidim and their opponents, the misnagdim, reached its peak. In many cases, chassidim were barred from areas where the misnagdim were the majority. Certainly it was unheard of for a city to choose a chassidic adherent as its rav.

Q & A: Incongruous And Unbecoming (Part IV)

Question: Lately I've seen some young men who, though they wear a yarmulke, have ponytails or long unruly hair. I've even seen some ear piercings. Somehow I find this behavior to be incongruous. My real problem is that my own nephew and a few of his friends wear their hair in this manner. Even though his parents look upon it as a passing fad, I am at a loss to understand such behavior. Luckily, whether right or wrong, I've held my tongue. I wonder what the proper positive action to take is in this matter. No Name Please

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