Monday, November 23, 2020

Divrei Torah

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


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


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


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


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



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


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


Expanding Our ‘I’

At the beginning of Elul last year, the Mir Yeshiva in Yerushalayim found itself in an overwhelming deficit. Three weeks before Rosh Hashanah, the rosh yeshiva and HaRav Benny Carlebach flew to America for a six-hour visit to meet with 150 close supporters. The situation was dire. The yeshiva was four months behind in paying the married men


God’s Part in Our Teshuva

Teshuva is God’s ultimate gift to all of humanity. The ability to invert our past, transmute our personality and rehabilitate our broken relationship with God is His exquisite gift to man, the pinnacle of His creation. Religiously sensitive people crave this process and greatly anticipate the “inflamed and fiery” days toward


Rosh Hashanah: Themes and Stages of Teshuva

The birth of a new year is a time of reflection and resolution, when hope and inspiration fill the air. We dream about what this upcoming year holds in store for us, how we can make the rest of our life the best of our life. We all have ideas, ambitions, and aspirations that we yearn to bring to fruition, and the new year gives us


Where Are We Going To?

Waiting for the train to come, Einstein then realized that he couldn’t find his ticket. As he frantically searched around for his ticket, the conductor of the train, which was now at the stop, reassured Einstein that he can get on the train even though he doesn’t have the ticket. Einstein acknowledged the gesture but told the conductor,


Where Did Moshe Go?

Parshat Vayeilech begins with the words:

“And Moshe went and he spoke all of these words to all of Israel.”

The Torah relates that Moshe “went” somewhere, but doesn’t tell us the destination. Where did Moshe go?

The Kli