Sunday, April 30, 2017


The Day My Father Took Me to the Movies

When I was a young boy, going to the movies was just about the height of entertainment, especially for a 10 year old. I remember I wanted some attention from my father, so one day I asked him to take me to a movie, not any special movie, just one that happened to be playing. I didn’t care which movie, I just wanted to sit next to

From the Desk of an 18-Year-Old Yeshiva Student:  L’Shana HaBet B’Yerushalayim?

Over the past several decades, it has become the norm in most Modern Orthodox communities for high school graduates to study in Israel for a year at yeshiva or seminary. This remains the case, with a slight modification: yeshivas are now pushing the standardization of two years of study in Israel, the second year being more

Bava Batra 67 and 68

May these words of Torah serve as a merit le’iluy nishmat Menachem Mendel Ben Harav Yoel David Balk, a”h.

 This week we learned Bava Batra 67 and 68. These are some highlights.

Bava Batra 67: May one have a private mikvah in his

Pesach: The Case of the Missing Chametz


Then the beams of flashlights.

Followed by the glow of a candle.

The Birnbaum family was scouring the house for the last morsels of chametz before the Passover holiday began. The bedikat chametz search party

A Stunning Statistic About the Orthodox Community

What a statistic! The current issue of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action reports (https://www.ou.org/jewish_action/03/2017/data-divorce-q-dr-yitzchak-schechter) a study by Dr. Yitzchak Schechter (a clinical psychologist and director of the Center for Applied Psychology at Bikur Cholim in Monsey, New York) that reveals that the

Ve-Higadeta Le-Vincha (Ex. 13:8): What is the Meaning of Ve-Higadeta?

Ve-higadeta le-vincha bayom hahu… (“You shall tell your son on that day”) is a key verse of the Seder night. But what exactly does vehigadeta mean? I will now present several approaches. (Note: I usually save the likeliest approach for last!)

Approach #1: Explain the reason. This

Feeling Freedom

On the Seder night, one of the great tzadikim of Yerushalayim physically brings to life the words of the Haggadah. In the very beginning of the Haggadah we invite all others to join with us at our Seder. This tzadik stands outside of his home on the road and asks passersby if they have a place for the Seder. Legend has it that the

From Past Exodus to Future Redemption

Shabbat HaGadol

Parshat Metzora

After studying today’s haftarah, one realizes that there seems to be very little connection to the fact that it is the final Shabbat before the chag of Pesach, although that is the only reason why the rabbis chose to

Ol’ Man River

Recently, I saw an article about the American classic song “Ol’ Man River” from the 1927 musical and 1936 film classic “Show Boat.” The song was composed by Jerome Kern, a secular Jew with hardly any connection to his faith.

The song contrasts the struggles and hardships of enslaved

Full Circle in Our Personal Journeys Toward Freedom

Part IV

We recently began Sefer Vayikra, which is devoted to the topic of korbanot, the manner in which we’re meant to get “close” to Hakadosh Baruch Hu. At first glance, this seems odd, since “animal sacrifice,” appears to be counterintuitive to the goal of connecting with

Pesach: Transformation and Redemption

The Pesach Seder coming up very soon at a home near you will not be offering a different story. Still, the bookstore will no doubt have several new Haggadahs to tempt you with new ideas and new insights. Is this just marketing or re-packaging? Not really. The goal of the Seder is to transform us into a new person. As such, we are

21st Century Freedom

“In every generation, we are obligated to act as if we, ourselves, were taken out of Mitzrayim.” As parents and educators, in keeping with the theme of Pesach discussions with our children, let’s consider how we can help adolescents connect to the feeling of escaping from slavery when we live in a free world