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Sunday, January 24, 2021
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Divrei Torah

Dirshu Yom Limud U’Tefillah Inspires on Chofetz Chaim’s Yahrzeit

What do Houston, Miami, Brooklyn, The Five Towns and Lakewood all have in common? All of them were cities that participated in Dirshu’s momentous Yom Limud U’Tefillah to commemorate the yahrzeit of the Chofetz Chaim and all that he stood for. They joined hundreds of other communities in every continent aside from

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To Where Do We Return?

This week is called Shabbat Shuva, meaning the Shabbat of return, but where are we returning to? Micha, the navi of the haftarah, tells us that if we repent we can return to Israel; however, I feel that it is more than just returning to Israel. When he says “Israel return,” he could be expressing that teshuva (repentance) is us

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Heaven and Earth

In its preface, “Shirat Haazinu” calls upon shamayim va-aretz (“heaven and earth”) to bear witness. Their very mention beautifully ties together the end of Sefer Devarim with the very beginning of Sefer Bereishit, but why are they summoned as witnesses?

Rashi quotes the two classic approaches:

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No One But Me

Entrenched in a life abandoned from God, the Gemara (Avoda Zara 17a) tells us of a to-be-great person by the name of Elazar ben Burdaya. Living a life totally devoted to satisfying desires that were in complete odds with God, he finally came to an epiphany, seeing with penetrating clarity what the meaning of life really is, and how much he

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Rosh Hashanah:  It’s Scary but It’s Safe

It’s scary, but it’s safe. These words have a deep meaning for my wife and myself. We lived in Maalot Dafna, Yerushalayim for the first six years after we got married, a few decades ago. One night, in the month of Elul, a terrorist planted a bomb underneath the gas tank of a tractor trailer that was parked a few buildings away from our

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The Déjà Vu of Rivers: Starting a New Year With COVID-19

Twenty-five hundred years ago, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus argued that no person “can step in the same river twice” because the river is always changing, always flowing. I believe that the Torah presents a similar but significantly more nuanced observation with a critical difference. Parshas Vayeilech begins with Moshe

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When Shabbat Is Shofar

This year, we do not blow shofar on the first day of Rosh Hashanah because it is Shabbat. To prevent people from carrying a shofar where there is no eruv—something very relevant this year when many people will be praying in homes and backyards—the entire Jewish people will refrain from blowing shofar on the first day. That is the

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Corona Diary #14: Coping With a Rosh Hashanah 'Without'

The term “without“ best captures this year’s challenging Rosh Hashanah. Due to health guidelines, so many classic features of Rosh Hashanah will be missing this year. Most regrettably, corona limitations will deeply alter our tefillah format, and we are all anxious about this new reality. This will be a Rosh Hashanah “without”: We

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Are We Soldiers or Sheep?

I believe that we can all agree that this year the awesome days of Rosh Hashanah will be different from past years. Many of us may not even be allowed to attend the synagogue for public worship. Others will pray and assemble in open outside areas. There is a rhythm to our holidays that the coronavirus has interrupted. Nevertheless, Rosh

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L’chaim! To (the Good) Life!

The Midrash relates that Adam haRishon was given a panoramic tour of all the future generations. At one point during the tour, Adam noticed that the future David ben Yishai—David haMelech, was only going to be granted a grand total of just three hours of life. Adam asked Hashem “How many years of life do I have?” Hashem said “One

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HomeShuling

Optimists say every cloud has a silver lining. Often, though, it takes time to see the silver. When the storm clouds of COVID blew in, and our shuls and yeshivas closed, I wondered how we would manage. I don’t merely refer to the practical challenges of being home with our kids every day, but also how would our family fare spiritually

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On Chofetz Chaim’s Yahrzeit, Gedolim Urge Learning The Daf HaYomi B’Halacha Mishnah Berurah Program

The Chofetz Chaim’s yahrzeit is a tremendous eis ratzon, a remarkable time to invoke Divine mercy. In the last generations, there has perhaps been no one person who has had as profound an impact on Klal Yisroel as the Chofetz Chaim. The list of what he gifted Klal Yisroel is endless. Two of his greatest gifts were his

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