Monday, September 28, 2020


Ariella Steinreich: Our Woman in the Gulf

The Jewish New Year kicked off with the hope of longed-for peace for Israel and its neighbors with the signing of treaties with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain, a move that one Jewish public relations executive who has worked extensively in the Gulf countries predicted will have a domino effect in the


Corona Diary #15: Do We Deserve a ‘Corona Discount’ This Yom Kippur?

Personal success in life is about “stretching”: Can we transcend our current confines to achieve even higher ground? In many ways, teshuva is the “greatest stretch”: Can we stretch beyond our current personalities and transform into someone we are currently not? Teshuva requires tremendous emotional energies: honesty,


The Sailors Ask Yona,’ ‘What Should We Do?’

Despite the raging storm and despite establishing Yonah’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the sailors still endeavor to save Yonah along with their own lives. The sailors’ question (Yonah 1:11) “Mah naaseh lach,” “what should we do to you?” is another example of their midat harachamim, extraordinary kindness that goes well


Asking for Hashem’s Help

Rabbi Avraham Kalmanovich was going to various shuls and asking if he could make an appeal to help the Mir Yeshiva in Brooklyn. One of the shuls told him, “Rabbi, we apologize but we can’t allow you to speak. We have had too many bad experiences with people who speak on and on and go way over their allotted time.” Rabbi Kalmanovich


‘Hashem, What Do You Want Us to Learn From This?’

What do You want us to understand from this?

How do we distance ourselves and draw near in this pain?

We want to live with You

And not to be alone

ומה אתה רוצה שנבין

Reflections From Yom Kippur, 1974

Sorry, but this will be a high-anxiety Yom Kippur. Even the wave of relief from the shofar blast signaling the end of the the fast will be short-lived. The pandemic, with its face coverings, social distancing, hand washing and isolation, has been with us for many months and will still be there when the fast is over. And because Yom Kippur


Teshuva: A Prescription for Personal Growth

Caplan’s Log - Tuesday, September 22, 2020, 5:50 a.m., Edison, New Jersey

The first Selichot/Shacharit service of the morning at Congregation Ohr Torah in Edison is about to begin. One of the gabbaim approaches me and asks me to lead the Selichot service this morning. I tell him that I would not be a


Teshuva 101

Teshuva is on the forefront of our collective minds as we approach Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year. By and large, adults can understand and properly approach the five basic elements of teshuva: hakarat ha-chet (recognition of one’s sins as sins), charata (remorse,) azivat ha-chet (“abandoning” or desisting from sin),


A Lesson in Forgiveness

Yom Kippur was considered by our sages to be one of the happiest days of the year (Bava Batra 121a). This was because we were guaranteed that our sins would be forgiven and that we would be able to start out fresh again. Our slates would be cleared and our accounts would be renewed. The caveat was that this was true only for sins between


Rationalization: Power, Peril and Penitence

We have all had those moments. Somewhere in the depths of our consciousness, we know we have done something wrong. It is really uncomfortable to admit the wrongdoing, so we find logical reasons for the unacceptable behavior and we become really invested in believing these reasons.

Maybe you


Teshuva During a Pandemic

Shabbat Shuva
Parshat Ha’azinu

The haftarah for Shabbat Shuva is taken from three (some have the minhag of reading from two or even one) different books of Trei Asar, the Minor Prophets, with each selection focusing on the theme of teshuva. The opening cry of the first of the “minor”


The Goat to Azazel

At Leviticus Chapter 16, there is a strange ritual that takes place on Yom Kippur. The high priest takes two goats. After a lottery, the one designated for Hashem is sacrificed as a חטאת. On the other one, the high priest puts both hands on its head and confesses the sins of the entire nation. He then sends it לעזאזל via an