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Our Jewish calendar is based on the lunar year, and Rosh Chodesh, literally the head of the month, occurs when the moon renews itself. It is a holiday — in that we daven mussaf, just like on Shabbos and Yomim Tovim, we do not conduct fasts, and the pious among our people eat a special seudah. Traditionally, women do not sew on Rosh Chodesh and refrain from performing heavy-duty tasks.
The Holidays are over (please, no applause). But if you find yourself already missing them, rejoice, rejoice. A pleasurable new compendium of poetry by newcomer Yossi Huttler will keep you warm until Chanukah, Purim and – dare we say it too soon – Pesach once again come into view.
Dear Brocha,... Today, I am a father of six bochurim b”ah. While I love and appreciate all of my children, unfortunately the Yomim Tovim aren’t filled with the good memories as in the days of yore. You see, one of my sons got involved with the wrong crowd, and at 16 he looks forward to Shabbos and Yom Tov as simply another opportunity to drink. Now that Sukkos is almost upon us, instead of joyfully anticipating, I am cautiously fearful about what Simchas Torah will bring.
For me, Israel is personal. I was born as Israel’s War of Independence raged, just weeks after the state’s miraculous birth. As I lay in the hospital room with my mother, the windows shattered with the relentless attacks of those who sought, once again, to destroy us – this time not on their bloodstained soil but on our own sacred land. Once again, by God’s hand, we prevailed. The few against the many. The weak against the so-called strong.
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.
If the phrase mishloach manos conjures up dreaded images of piles of sugar laden treats that no one wants to eat cluttering every available horizontal surface just weeks before Pesach, chances are that this is one part of the happiest of Yomim Tovim that you are not looking forward to.
As a Baal Teshuva who discovered the “emes” about eight years ago, I am often asked by my FFB friends in my very FFB neighborhood to describe what inspired my wife and I to take the plunge and more specifically, what it feels like to lead a Torah observant life after so many years of living on the “other side.”
Jews around the world are reflecting on the Jewish New Year season that recently passed. It seems that everybody is struggling with their resolutions to be better and to do better. All of us are worrying about the daunting lead-up to life's next chapter: Thanksgiving season. Xmas parties. Awkward situations, she'elot that make you blush to ask them. Bills. More bills. Tempers. Fourth quarter reports. Bosses cut losses by firing staff. Fear. Panic. You wonder what was gained by going through the Yamim Noraim. I have good news for you: The Spirit of the Seasons by Rabbi Jonathan Shooter can show you insights into the Yamim Tovim to soothe your soul and psyche.
A terribly sad version of the expression, "Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink," often comes to mind whenever I am approached by single parents (usually mothers) asking me to assist them in finding a caring, responsible adult to take their child or children (usually their son or sons) to shul on Shabbos and/or Yom Tov.
Like my previous story of Irv and Chaya, Seymour and P'nina were both beginning second marriages and they too had grown children who were married and had children of their own.
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