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Almost everyone is familiar with the famous first Rashi on the Torah. He asks why does the Torah begin with the account of Creation? After all, since the Torah contains the commandments which Hashem gave to Am Yisrael, it should have begun the precept concerning Rosh Chodesh - the first commandment given to the Israelite Nation.
If Eve had read www.jewishsexuality.com, she wouldn’t have followed after her eyes and got us all kicked out of the garden. If Adam had read jewishsexuality.com, he wouldn’t have eaten the “apple.” Today, we don’t have to make the same mistakes they did. We have the teachings of the Torah and the advice of the Sages to rely upon. While I won’t quote from the holy Zohar here, for people who enjoy the secrets of Torah, there’s a lot more to the snake than his pretty long tail.
One of the most informative books I have ever read on the subject of early 20th century American Jewry was Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet’s biography of Bernard Revel, the 1st President of Yeshiva University. The picture painted of American Jewry in the Revel bio matches that of Rabbi Rakeffet’s own autobiographical account of growing up in pre-war era New York. To put it simply - Orthodox Judaism as we know it today did not exist.
“Isn’t it ironic that kids whose parents fail to set and enforce limits feel unloved and angry? Although they tend to test and protest, we have learned over and over again that limits are what kids really want. Invariably, when we talk with out-of-control teenagers or adults who were juvenile delinquents and lucky enough to survive, we ask them, ‘If you could go back to when you were a child, what would you change?’ Most of them say something like, ‘I wish my parents had reeled me in when I was a kid. Why didn’t they make me behave?’
As the men danced around below us, I had a lot of time to notice the people who were there - many are friends and neighbors of mine; children and grandchildren of people I know. The rabbi that is so loved in this community; a woman who regularly collects food for needy people. This one has a child who is ill; a boy with Down Syndrome who is so loved and cherished. This family has more boys than I can count; this one just had a daughter who got married. She's a grandmother now. Her son just got engaged. That one there is married to her over there. And on and on - a community of people.
During the reign of King Solomon, the Nation of Israel was at its prime. We lived in peace in our own homeland. A Jewish government ruled over the country from the majestic city of Jerusalem. All of the people gathered for the Festivals at the Temple three times a year. Jewish law went forth from the Sanhedrin. Prophets communicated the word of the Lord to the Nation and the world. A powerful Jewish army guarded the country’s borders. Torah was studied in great academies of learning. Hebrew was spoken on the street. The leaders of foreign nations flocked to Jerusalem to pay tribute to the Jews.
The U.S. covenant with the Jewish State dates back to Columbus Day, which is celebrated around Sukkot (October 8). According to "Columbus Then and Now" (Miles Davidson, 1997, p. 268), Columbus arrived in America on Friday afternoon, October 12, 1492, the 21st day of the Jewish month of Tishrey, the Jewish year 5235, the 7th day of Sukkot, Hoshaa'na' Rabbah, which is a day of universal deliverance and miracles. Hosha (הושע) is the Hebrew word for “deliverance” and Na’ (נא) is the Hebrew word for "please." The numerical value of Na’ is 51, which corresponds to the celebration of Hoshaa'na' Rabbah on the 51st day following Moses' ascension to Mt. Sinai.
In my most recent column I wrote about ways of improving family relationships, and raising children who have derech eretz and respect for their parents. I will continue on that same theme here.
Rabbi Kook’s advice is to set out correcting the transgressions of the past which are within the person’s reach to correct. This will set into motion a snowball of t’shuva whose inner force will lead him to correct matters more and more difficult, until he succeeds in redressing all wrongs.
There is a machlokes between the Mechaber and the Rema concerning the berachos recited on the Yom Kippur haftarah by Minchah. The Mechaber says (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 622:2) that we take the Torah out and read the parshah of arayos and then read Maftir Yonah. He says that we recite the berachos of the haftarah before and after the haftarah. If Yom Kippur falls out on Shabbos, we mention Shabbos in the berachos. The Rema argues that we do not recite the berachah of “al haTorah v’al ha’avodah” by Minchah.
But it is even more foolish in my view to not teach the science in the first place. Ignorance is our worst enemy. Because the minute one finds a contradiction to the insistence that only the most literal interpretation of the Torah is acceptable, believers can and often will sadly go the way or Mrs. Brown.
The Gemarah in Kiddushin (82a) indicates that homosexuality is not something that Jews have to deal with because “Jews are not suspect to be homosexual”. In fact the Rambam (Issurei Biah 22:2) uses this Gemarah as a basis for a Halachik ruling. So, how do we understand this Gemara and Rambam in the light of the many people who present to therapy struggling with this issue?
Many passages in the Torah appear at first glance to be repetitious. Often, each iteration has a unique and deep message. Rabbi Avigdor Miller, zt”l, finds such a case (in the passage of the Blessings and Curses) in the Torah's instruction to keep Hashem’s commandments and walk in His ways. Also in the passage of the Blessings and Curses, Rabbi Miller highlights the great blessing of a long life.