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Q & A: Shir HaShirim On Pesach

Question: Why do we read Shir HaShirim on Pesach? Also, why do we generally read it on the Shabbat of Chol HaMoed as opposed to the first days of Pesach? Finally, why don’t we recite a blessing over the reading of Shir HaShirim as we do for Megillat Esther? Menachem (Via E-Mail)

Preparing For Pesach

For weeks before Pesach the people in small towns across Poland, Lithuania and Russia lived only with the Yom Tov in mind. The housewives turned their homes upside down, the matzah bakery became alive, tailors and cobblers prepared to meet the seasonal rush, and the children worked themselves into a pitch of excitement, which they could not have endured had they had to wait for the seder night one day longer than they already did.

Personalize It – Crystallize It!

Whether you are staying home for Pesach or going away, it is nice to have something new to enhance this special Yom Tov. With rhinestone monograms now so readily available you can turn many household items from ordinary to extraordinary.

Weighing Our Words Carefully

Dear Dr. Respler: I am, Baruch Hashem, a healthy mother and grandmother who was recently trying to be helpful to my married daughter. After Shabbos my daughter, who has a large family, had many dishes piled in the sink. I planned on rinsing the dishes and placing them in the dishwasher, and then straightening up downstairs while she put her younger children to sleep. Aware of my plans my daughter, who loves me and means well, said, “Ma, please don’t work so hard. I will put the children to sleep, and then I can clean up and load the dishwasher quickly. I will do it quicker than you, and I want you to relax.” I was hurt. I know that she really wanted me to take it easy, but suddenly I felt like an old, useless woman. Do you think my daughter was right? How can I tell her how I feel without hurting her? My husband and I are planning to move in with my daughter, son-in-law and their children for Pesach. We always enjoy going there, but I do not feel good when I cannot be useful. I would like to help my daughter over Pesach, and would feel better if she allowed me to help her. Please advise me. A Healthy Grandmother

A Child-Centric Seder

Dear Gary, As Pesach approaches, I get worried because I want to have a great Yom Tov, and yet, every year, the seder ends in some sort of fighting and arguing. My husband wants the seder to be all about divrei Torah and so do I, but between the younger children (who we want to be awake for the whole seder) and guests, we somehow end up in stern looks and squabbles. I'm happy we have guests or else we'd probably start yelling at each other and even Eliyahu Hanavi would bail. I know everyone jokes about how tough Pesach is, but I can't see the humor anymore – and neither can my children. What can we do to manage a calm (I don't even wish for happy) seder? A Sad Mom

Pesach: The End Of Victimhood

The Midrash (Shemot Rabbah 18:12) describes “leil shimurim,” the “night of watching,” the night before the redemption, as one of the glorious nights in Jewish history.

Reb Elimelech M’Lizhensk (Part VI)

The popularity of the rise of chassidus did not go unnoticed by those who did not share the same allegiance. As long as the movement was limited to the commoner and isolated in a few pockets of Poland no one perceived it as a threat. But all of this had changed by 1772.

Purim And The Tyranny Of Beauty: A Plea to Mothers of Girls in Shidduchim

I know I’m going to be crucified, but if the appeal I make below helps even one girl in shidduchim, then it will be worth all the fury and outrage that shall inevitably descend upon my soon-to-be beleaguered head.

Purim Afterthoughts

Purim is the one Yom Tov all Jews can celebrate. Special knowledge is not required and the demands of its observance are easy enough.

Pesach Without Pressure

I hate to tell you this, but Pesach without pressure is a myth. No matter what anyone tells you (and it’s usually men who tell you that Pesach preparations can be tension free), it just doesn’t exist. To be fair, I don’t know that there is any major holiday or occasion that doesn’t involve some kind of pressure. Eliminating the stress entirely is not a realistic goal. But minimizing it is.

Singles In Crisis – A Reader’s Thoughts

Last week’s column was meant to be the last, for now, on the subject of shidduchim. Because of the problems singles experience in finding their soul mates, I had devoted several columns to the subject and was prepared to move on – until I received an e-mail I feel is a must read in order for us to gain a better understanding of the pain some of our singles are experiencing.

A Sense Of Belonging

"I just know you are going to love it here…" the sugary voice of the real estate agent broke through my daydream in which our future house featured prominently. "This yishuv is known for its warm and friendly atmosphere; there are several shuls to choose from; you'll never find a house at this price so close to Yerushalayim; and the schools are some of the best in the country."

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

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.

How To Avoid Shopping ‘Till You Drop

Who doesn’t want to save money? The siren call of sales lures us all, and few are able to resist stocking up.

A Plea To My Husband’s Ex

I am writing to you on my husband’s – your ex-husband’s – behalf. While driving home from work the day after Sukkos, my thoughts were occupied with his broken heart. I do not always clearly hear his pain, but that day my heart began to ache for the pain you are putting him through.

How To Clean Your House In Seven Days Or Less

When I was first married, a good friend invited us over for Shabbos. Nechuma works multiple jobs, has six children, and always produces the most lavish Shabbos and Yom Tov meals. When I asked her what her trick was, she told me: “A house always looks nice as long as it is clean.”

As They Grow

Dear Readers, Over the long stretch of Yom Tov, I spent a lot of time in the park (in three different states) while enjoying the antics - some of them hair-raising - of my grandchildren as they swung, slid, jumped and hid. As you can imagine, the park was full of heimishe men, women and children, happy for the opportunity, after three days of being indoors at shul and at the dining room table, to work off excess calories (the adults) and excess energy (the kids).

Yom Tov Family Crisis

Last week I interrupted a series of columns on the subject of “holiday mayhem,” concerning the problems faced by many families whose adult children come home for Yom Tov with their families.

Where Did You Travel On Rosh Hashanah?

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.

‘Forget About It!’

Yanky was going through difficult times. "My company merged over a year ago and I got laid off," he poured his heart out to Moish, a neighbor. "I've been trying everywhere to get a job, but nothing's available."

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