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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 (Via E-Mail)
While working for the U.S. Census Bureau in 1990, I knocked on the door of Soviet ?migr?s in Boro Park and proceeded to converse with them about their recent arrival to the United States. This elderly couple had come from Moldavia. They were survivors of both Nazi and Communist tyranny.
We had just finished celebrating the High Holidays in Boca Raton. With the intensity of those days behind us, we were looking forward to visiting my family in New York. The kids were so excited and counted down the days until they would see their Bubby and Zayde, aunt, uncle, and cousins. Never did I realize that while I was deciding what clothes to pack for the Yom Tov of Sukkos, I would also be packing clothes for my father's levayah.
I was walking down Coney Island Ave. when I saw an old acquaintance eating in a non-kosher restaurant. I wanted to approach him and ask him if he would be interested in putting on tefillin. But I felt hesitant, and wrestled internally to overcome my embarrassment. Finally I gathered enough confidence to enter the restaurant and approach my friend. Greeting him warmly, I gently asked if he would like to put on tefillin. He politely refused and, after a brief conversation, I was on my way.
I have often been told that, when it comes to Jewish self-discovery -teshuvah, it is easier to reach out to females than to males and, indeed, there are some indications of this. But I have found this theory to be wrong. If, in some circles, there are more females attending Torah study programs, it is only because the men have not yet been tapped. The truth is that the pintele Yid is as potent in males as females and is able to ignite the heart of a man even as that of a woman. Just as the pintele Yid is not affected by the ravages of time, so it is not subject to gender differences.
A few weeks ago I was completing the silent amidah at the morning minyan I attend in my local shul. Suddenly, a cold breeze shot through the room. I headed back to the door of the bet midrash where we pray and saw that a young observant woman I know had propped the door slightly ajar in order to hear the repetition of the Shemoneh Esrei and the reading of the Torah.
One of Steven Ari-Z Leiner's fondest childhood memories, he says while taking a break from campaigning, is when on his 13th birthday the late Bobover Rebbe helped him put on his tefillin. The Bobover Rebbe, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, and Maimonides are some of his heroes. Some of his secular role models include John F. Kennedy, Mayor Bloomberg, Warren Buffet, and Paul Krugman, he adds.
The time was 6:03 a.m., and I was already late for shul. My father had passed away in October of 2008, and I was saying Kaddish for him. Morning prayers began at 6 o'clock. I had to be there within four minutes or miss the rabbinic Kaddish. To worsen matters, I hadn't taken my 3 a.m. Parkinson's medications on time, and I had begun to feel a rise in what I call my "trembling index."
When soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces went into combat against Hamas in Gaza, they were armed with the highest level of military equipment Israel could provide them. Some of the soldiers were also armed with "spiritual ammunition" provided to them earlier this week by the Orthodox Union (OU), which delivered 102 packages consisting of tefillin, tzitzit and a siddur with Tehillim prepared especially for soldiers on the battlefield. The materials were brought to Gaza by Rabbi Avi Berman, director of OU Israel, and represent the first disbursement of the special fund created by the OU to provide the items to soldiers who wanted to add a spiritual component to their armament. Funding for these packages was provided by Beth Jacob Congregation of Beverly Hills, CA. In the next few weeks, hundreds more of these packages will be provided by the congregation to soldiers returning from Gaza. "The IDF arms the soldiers with their military weaponry; the OU's mission is to arm them with spiritual ammunition as they put their lives at risk," said OU Executive Vice President Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb. The fund-raising campaign is taking place in OU synagogues across North America. The tefillin delivered to the 102 soldiers on Sunday cost $33,000. Another 70 soldiers are on the waiting list to receive their packages. "Commanders who have been with the IDF for a long time were telling me that they didn't remember such a spiritual high in the army since the day after the Six-Day War," Rabbi Berman told The Jewish Press. "These tefillin represent Jews in America whose heart is with the soldiers who are risking their lives in Gaza. The soldiers are putting the tefillin on at a critical time in their lives, and the people who contributed are hoping that they will continue to do so forever and ever."
In my last column I promised that, B'Ezrat Hashem, I would outline constructive steps to help reverse the madness that seems to have overtaken our world. One of the most powerful weapons that we, the Jewish people possess, that has been our shield from the genesis of our history is prayer. Through genuine prayer, we can conquer and triumph over every adversity.