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Saturday, October 31, 2020
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Divrei Torah

Is Leisure Kosher?

The Jewish attitude to leisure is complex and reveals a fundamental divide over religion. The New York Times reported this summer that a Hasidic camp had ceased sports activities. If taken at face value, the article implies that Judaism, or at least the Satmar version, forbids any leisure activity. Is this an accurate depiction of

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Yosef’s Enduring Chanukah Message

Just last week I brought my car in for an oil change. I asked the gentleman helping me how long it would take for my car to be serviced. He told me that I should be on my way in an hour, and directed me to the waiting room. I walked into a room at full capacity but, slowly, each chair emptied as names were called. As time passed I

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“...But By My Spirit...”

It is a common scene in the United States at this time of year. The shopping malls, television commercials, and all public venues are transformed visually. As December 25 approaches, we see the evidence that we do indeed live in a predominantly Christian country. Images of Santa Claus and his reindeers, evergreen trees with dazzling

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Sanitizing Our Souls in the Pursuit of Purity

If one were to examine the fundamental precepts of Judaism, there is one concept that seems to be pervasive throughout our history and prevalent in multiple facets of our religious observance. Taharah, ritual purity, is one of the hallmarks of our practice as Jews and manifests itself in a variety of ways across the

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Parshat Vayishlach: The Better Angels

Executive Vice President, Emeritus of the Orthodox Union

Do you believe in angels? Have you ever met one? I do, and I have. Let me tell you about the ones I’ve met.

But first, why do I believe in angels? Well, it is because I believe in the Bible, and the Bible

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Parshas Vayetze: Two Meanings of Maturity

How do you define “maturity”? The dictionary definition asserts that it is a state of being full-grown, ripe, or fully developed. But I think that the common man gives a subjective definition to maturity in one of two other ways.

Maturity, depending upon whether one tends to be idealistic or leans

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Toldot: Friday Night with Grandpa

Veteran readers of this column are familiar with my paternal grandfather, Chaim Yitzchak Weinreb. He was an old-school Jew, with roots in the region of eastern Poland known as Galicia. He had studied under renowned Talmudists back in the old country, and his fervent wish was to see his grandchildren grow up to be dedicated Talmud

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Parshat Chayei Sarah: Mourning Sarah

Grief is the most powerful and most painful of human emotions. Yet, it is an emotion that few human beings can avoid in their lifetime. We all face loss, and we all grieve.

Interestingly, the first death of which we read in detail in the Bible is a murder. And the reaction of the murderer is one of

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Psychological Insights from the Torah

Torah wisdom and psychological theory and practice agree that “emunah” is the critical card in building successful relationships. Moreover, the relationship of Adom and Chavah, with Hashem and with one another, establishes a paradigm for all the relationships humankind experiences.

In this

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Person in the Parsha, Vayera: Optimism Pays

It may not have been the first day I reported to my new job, but it was not many days later that I first met Richard Hood. I had joined a team of new Ph.D.s, some trained as psychologists and some as educators, whose assignment it was to breathe new life into a very old-fashioned–one might even say backward–school system in suburban

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Parshat Lech Lecha

While the words of the Torah itself can be difficult to decipher, it is sometimes an even greater challenge to understand that which is not written at all. Such is the task that faces Biblical commentators in the beginning of Parshat Lech Lecha. The Parsha opens with God’s first commandment to Avram, in which Avram is told to

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Easy Spirituality

Executive Vice President Emeritus of the Orthodox Union

The French poet Baudelaire once remarked that the devil’s greatest success is his ability to convince us that he does not exist.

Whereas Judaism does not believe in the devil quite as Baudelaire does, it does

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