Thursday, March 30, 2017

Divrei Torah

Examining Parshat Noach

We encounter Noach in this week’s parsha, who symbolizes an entity of rest (the root word being menucha), whose chief mission was to carry on the world in its already existing state. He is about bridging the gap of generations, not introducing chidush.

However, when analyzing the Book of

The Torah’s Perspective on Friendship in Marriage

As we continue to explore the role of friendship in marriage, it strikes me how relevant this topic is to the month of Elul. During this period of time, when we are preparing to be forgiven for our sins, we are expected to pay close attention to our interpersonal relationships; this obligation is reflected in the well-known acronym for Elul: “Ani L’Dodi, V’dodi

‘Arise and Shine’ in Parshat Ki Tavo

Throughout these post-Tisha B’Av weeks, we have emphasized the point made by Tosafot (Megilla 31b) that the words of consolation and the visions of the future redemption found in these haftarot become increasingly powerful and optimistic with each passing Shabbat. Today’s reading, the sixth of the seven haftarot, does not disappoint us as it opens with the

Engaged in the Search

If only real life was as simple as the child’s game of “hot and cold”! When searching for an item, the child is prompted when they are close to finding the object or become more distant from it. There is a sense of confidence that is instilled within the searcher each time they are told that they are “getting warmer.”

In reality, when a person loses

The Great Sephardic Yichud Controversy

Three of the greatest Sephardic authorities of the prior generation, Rav Ovadiah Yosef, Rav Shalom Messas and Rav Ovadiah Hakayah, all agree that Sephardim should continue to follow their age-old tradition to defer yichud until after the wedding. According to Sephardic tradition since the time of the Radbaz (16th century), a Sephardic chatan and kallah do not retire to

Ki Tavo: The Battle of the Jersey Tomato

It was the last thing Morah Yehudit taught Josh in Chumash class when the school year ended in June. Bikurim. After the Israelites conquered the land, the farmers were to take their first ripened fruit to the Beit Hamikdash, the Temple, and present it to the Kohen. It was a beautiful symbol of how the

Bava Kama 108 and 109

This week we learned Bava Kama 108 and 109. Here are some highlights.

Bava Kama 108: A tzadik in the moment

Reuven had a problem with recidivism. He would steal. Then he would feel bad. He would repent and return the stolen items. Then he would steal again. He would feel bad. He would repent and return the stolen goods. Then he would

Is Somebody Sitting Here?

David was excited to attend the training he was sent to for work. The room was filled to capacity when he arrived, and although he was on time there were only a handful of seats remaining. He managed to grab a seat at one of the front tables and was grateful that at least he had a place to put his books and write. Others who were even a moment late were confined to

Pride Under Attack

This week, America marks the 15th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. A few years ago, I was recounting to my fifth grade Ashar students my personal memories of that horrific day. I mentioned that it was the first time in my life that I, and many of my friends, felt genuine fear.

I also related that immediately after the attacks there was a sudden surge of

The Promise of Children to Inhabit Desolate Cities

Parshat Ki Teitzei

This week’s prophetic selection, the third and fifth in the series of seven haftarot of consolation, is taken from the 54th and 55th chapters of Yeshayahu. Interestingly, the opening prophecy of Chapter 54 is read for Parshat Ki Teitzei while the later prophecy is read for

The Jewish Count From Creation

Nowhere in Tanakh is anyone counting from creation, and even after the period of the Tanakh, there is no evidence for use of our Jewish count from creation in the several centuries that followed. What is the origin of this count?

As further background, if one looks at how Jews dated events in the Amoraic and Geonic periods, we see a contrast between the Jewish

After a Summer of Eruv Inspections, a Powerful Question Emerges

A gnawing question arose after devoting much of this past summer to inspecting more than 20 communal eruvin in North America. Ranging from Canada to California, Chicago to Washington D.C., Nassau County to Bergen County, the same conclusion emerges in virtually every eruv I reviewed: every eruv needs a Yom Kippur.

On Kippur we recite “Hayom ya’amid