Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Divrei Torah

Corona Diary #4: Four ‘Novel’ Questions for ‘Corona’ Pesach

Judaism has always encouraged questions. Our oral tradition is founded upon the Socratic method of questions and answers between study partners, or chavrutot. On the night of Pesach, questions are particularly pivotal; multiple irregularities are introduced into the Seder to prompt questions. In fact, the Torah itself encoded four different


Seder Night: The Promise of Matzah

This Pesach is a very difficult one for Jews all over the world. Many are mourning the loss of close relatives or friends. Others are sick and need a refuah sheleima. I personally know multiple people currently in the hospital. Many are there due to COVID-19. However, a few are there for happy reasons—they just gave birth to a


Gratitude From Love

The Jews are suffering heavily, and finally after decades upon decades of untold misery and pain, Hashem tells Moshe, “And now come, and I will send you to Pharoah, and take out My people—the Bnei Yisrael—from Egypt” (Shemot 3:10). We would think that Moshe wouldn’t hesitate for a moment, but rather spring into action and hasten


Shabbat HaGadol: A Unique Opportunity in Our Time

Just this week, I read a powerful piece by Rabbi Yogi Robkin from Plano, Texas. I was just blown away by his introductory quote from Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch, over 120 years ago.

“If I had the power, I would provisionally close all synagogues for a hundred years...Jews and Jewesses without synagogues,


Always There

Which verse in the Torah summarizes what Judaism is all about? A midrash quoted in the Ein Yaakov offers several different answers to this question. Ben Zoma suggests, “Shema Yisrael,” the basic statement of faith in Hashem that we declare every day. Ben Nanas maintains that “Love your neighbor as yourself” is a more inclusive


Corona Diary #3: Size Matters

There are rare and dramatic moments in history in which it becomes clear to humanity that we have reached the upper limits of technology and can proceed no further. God desires that we decipher and improve our world, thereby advancing the human condition. However, periodically He reasserts the limits of human achievement. When religious


Out of the Narrow Places: Nissan 5780

- בניסן נגאלו; בניסן עתידין ליגאל

Nissan is the month of redemption, past and future (See RH 11a); the month where at the seder we must each “see [her]self as if [s]he left Egypt,” per the Haggadah. To leave Egypt we have to see ourselves as in Egypt, however. And that task has for many become


Life Is Not Always a Bed of Roses

Reading through Tehillim, one might imagine that Dovid HaMelech, King David, had it made in life. He is often quoted as praising God and constantly thanking Him for the good things that occurred to him. For example, in Psalm 145, we read, “I will bless Your Name for ever and ever. Every day I will bless You and I will praise Your


World Siyum in Belarus Highlights The Eternity of Torah and Klal Yisrael

One of the only countries in the world that Hashem has spared from corona celebrates Siyum Hashas.

“I looked at the orchestra and had to rub my eyes. Was I dreaming? We were in the middle of a festive Siyum HaShas and the orchestra playing lively Yiddishe niggunim was the orchestra


Rabbi Hershel Schachter, Shlita, Issues Piskei Halacha on Coronavirus Issues


Over the last two weeks, Rabbi Hershel Schachter, rosh yeshiva at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary at Yeshiva University, where he has been teaching for more than 50 years, has been asked multiple complex halachic questions. As a result, he has issued at least 10 public piskei halacha (Jewish law decisions) in relation to


Corona Diary #2 : Praying for Jews and Praying for Humans

By Rabbi Moshe Taragin

During the past few weeks, we have all prayed as never before. Most of us have been unable to attend our normal houses of prayer. Nonetheless, the level of fervor and passion with which we pray is unprecedented. 

Facing this global pandemic, we pray in a universal manner—for humanity at large. This pandemic has highlighted


Coronavirus Diary Week #1

The current coronavirus crisis has toppled the world order, sent stock markets plummeting and has reshaped human consciousness. For many it is, and will remain, the most shocking event of their lifetimes. We certainly don’t know why God is challenging humanity, but we acknowledge that the crisis challenges us to reconsider our modern