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Wednesday, October 21, 2020
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Divrei Torah

“Religion is Good for You”

“Religion is good for you.” “A religious person is a mentally healthy person.” Statements such as these could not have been made when I was a graduate stu­dent in psychology back in the 1960s. Quite the contrary. The prevalent belief in the mental health profession then was that reli­gion was a neurosis, and that religious peo­ple needed to abandon their

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Devarim: The Final Oration

Scene: The Parsi­panny Hilton Grand Ballroom. A hall filled with red, white, and blue balloons and streamers, with ap­proximately 200 people standing around, looking a bit dejected. A man in a pin-striped suit with perfectly coiffed, grey hair approaches the podium. (Loud applause.)

“Thank you. Thank you. I just got off the phone with Joshua Franklin and

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The Jewish Obsession: Parshat Devarim/Shabbat Chazon

The popular media often accuses the Jewish people of an obsession. Some accuse us good-humoredly of an obses­sion with food. Others maliciously accuse us of being obsessed with money. I agree that there is a Jewish obsession. I maintain that it is justice with which we are obsessed.

I define an obsession as an idea that dom­inates our thinking even when there

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“Who Was Your Teacher?”

Except for the saints among us, we all boast. Sometimes we boast about our own natural endowments, our good looks, or our athletic prowess. Often we boast about our achievements, social or professional.

There is one type of boasting that seems to be unique to the traditional Jewish commu­nity. That is a boasting not about oneself, but rather about one’s

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“Humble, Not Meek”

I don’t usually disa­gree publicly with lec­turers, particularly when they are expressing opin­ions which are most­ly consistent with my own. But there was one time when I felt that I had to speak up and ob­ject to one of the speaker’s expressions.

It was at a lecture on the subject of self-ab­sorption. The speaker characterized the time we live in as

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Two Jews, Three Opinions: Parshat Korach

We all nod our heads in agreement when we hear the phrase, “Two Jews, three opinions.” We similarly chuckle when we hear the anecdote about the Jew who was discovered after years of living alone on a desert island. His rescuers noticed that he had built two huts aside from the one he lived in. He told the puzzled people who saved him that they were shuls, or

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“Memory Loss”

When one reaches a certain age, he does not have to be reminded that his memory is not what it used to be. These days, one receives e-mails, unsolicited of course, with such titles as “Eight Tips for Improving Memory,” and “Preventing Memory Loss in the Aging Person.” Undoubtedly, one of the conse­quences of the passage of the years is the fad­ing of some,

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Distinctly Different

The term is one that I first heard back in high school. There are times that I find it helpful, and there are times I find myself resistant to using it. The term is “Judeo-Christian.”

I understand that this term was first used back in the early 19th century to refer to the fact that the roots of the religion of Christianity are to be found in the

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Naso: The Coca Cola Nazirite • Bamidbar 6: 1-21

Once, in the town of Spring Lake, there lived a girl named Sari who loved Coca Cola. Now, I know what you’re thinking: Who doesn’t love a nice glass of Coke every once in a while? It’s “the pause that refreshes,” after all. But I mean Sari really loved Coca Cola. She drank it morning, noon, and night. (And I can only speak for myself, but to me, Coca

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Parshat Bamidbar: My Teacher, My Father

It was November, 1938. Dark clouds were gathering over all of Europe, and particularly over the Jewish communities in countries like Poland and Lithuania. Although few foresaw the horrific extent of the Holocaust that lay ahead, everyone knew that those communities were in very grave danger.

One man, a teacher and leader of those communities, found himself in

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Parshat Bechukotai: The Walking Tour

I am the type of person who has always believed that the only way to learn about something important is to buy a book about it. For example, it has been my good fortune to have traveled widely in my life and to have visited many interesting cities. Invariably, I bought guidebooks before each such visit, with detailed itineraries describing the “not to be missed”

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The Halachic Status of Partnership Minyanim

Professor Aaron Koller in his recent YU Commentator article “Women in Tefillin and Partnership Minyanim” (published online 2/19/14), responds to a pair of letters written by my Rebbe, HaRav Herschel Schachter. Prof. Koller implies that R. Schachter’s objection to “partnership minyanim” is not halachic, but sociological, and that partnership minyanim

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