Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Divrei Torah

How Does Bentching Gomel Apply to Corona?

We bentch Gomel (recite the “Gomel” blessing) on being saved from a dangerous situation. How does that apply to the coronavirus? Arguably, everyone in the world is in a potentially life-threatening situation, those in the New York region and above the age of 65 even more so. Additionally, we are now in some form of quarantine. When we


The Plague That Ended on Lag B’Omer

The Gemara (Yevamot 61b) explains that, tragically, in the times of Rabbi Akiva, approximately 24,000 of his students died of a plague during the period of Sefirat HaOmer. Only five of his students reportedly survived. They were R’ Meir, R’ Yehuda, R’ Yosi, R’ Shimon Bar Yochai and R’ Elazar Ben Shamua. Rav Nachman, a later Gemara


Insights Into the Word ‘Cohein’

1. We were not alone in using the word “cohein” for a priest or leader. This word had this meaning in other religions and societies as well. This is evident from many places in Tanach: e.g., Malkitzedek (Gen. 14:18, “chohein le-keil elyon,”), Poti Fera (Gen. 41:45; “cohein on”), Gen. 47:26 referring to Egyptian priests (“admat ha-cohanim”), Yitro (Ex.


Lag B’Omer: The Radiance of Torah Learning

When I lived in Eretz Yisrael, every year on the morning after Lag B’Omer, my apartment in Yerushalayim smelled like smoke from all the bonfires that burned the night before. I would still feel the heat of the bonfires near the forest when I rode the Egged bus in Har Nof in the morning. What’s the big deal about bonfires on Lag


Corona Diary #6: Empty Cemeteries and Jewish Sovereignty

I just returned from the Gush Etzion cemetery having attended a very unusual Yom Hazikaron ceremony. It was a discouraging but also triumphant experience. Let me explain.

My family often refers to me as a crybaby—and they are right. When I witness an emotionally poignant situation, I find it difficult


Emotionally Intelligent Leaders

Toward the end of this week’s parsha, we read about the “mekalel”—the person who cursed Hashem, and whom Hashem determined his punishment to be the death penalty. Interestingly, however, before the sentence is actually carried out, the Torah first seemingly goes on a tangent by teaching laws related to interactions between humans,


Our Name Is Yehudim

This week’s parshiyot, Acharei Mot and Kedoshim, teach us the power of Hashem’s forgiveness. In the beginning of the parsha, Aharon is told to bring a sin korban, and later on he is told that once a year, Yom Kippur, will be a day of atonement for the Jewish people. However, only after hearing about the day of atonement does Hashem tell


Keeping the Torah on One Foot

As the COVID-19 situation continues, we are charting new territory. Many are coping with loss and others are trying to heal. Some are home all alone and have difficulty accessing food and provisions they need, in addition to having feelings of loneliness. Others who are blessed to be healthy still have their challenges. While working from


Can We Make Up Our Missed Torah Readings?

Most of us have missed the weekly Torah readings since March 21 (Vayakhel-Pekudei), some even from March 7 (Tetzaveh). When the time comes to return safely to shul, do we have to make up for the missed readings?

I. Skip

This isn’t the first time in history such a question has arisen. Rav


The Obligation of Kedusha

Parshiyot Acharei Mot-Kedoshim

The Book of Vayikra revolves around “Mikdash,” i.e., both the eventual Beit Hamikdash and the already completed Mishkan, beginning with the laws of korbanot that would be offered therein and continuing (in Parshiyot Shemini, Tazria and Metzora) with the laws of tumah


The Heroism of Kibbutz ‘Yad Mordechai’

There is a kibbutz just north of the Gaza strip called “Yad Mordechai.” It fought valiantly during the War of Independence, and its tenacious fighting for six days was able to significantly delay the Egyptian invasion. The kibbutz was on the main road between Cairo and Tel Aviv. If not for that delay, the Egyptian army could have


Gedolei Yisroel From America, Eretz Yisrael And Europe Give Chizuk to Klal Yisrael in Seminal Dirshu Tele/Video Conference

No matter where Yidden find themselves throughout the world, the coronavirus is upending their lives in unprecedented ways. The way our religious life and family life has been totally transformed has been extremely unsettling and difficult, to say the least!

This past Chol Hamoed,