Monday, September 26, 2022


Teshuva Is the Answer

This last sedra of the year, Nitzavim, seems perfect as a precursor to Rosh Hashanah. It begins by stressing the unity of the Jewish people: “You are all here together, from the heads of the tribes to the simple citizens; the men, the women and the children; the natural-born citizens as well as the converts.” It even includes all those


Cooking for the Yomim Tovim in Israel

This Rosh Hashanah and Sukkos, numerous Americans will spend Yom Tov in Israel. When Americans travel to Israel for Yom Tov, they often do one of two things: a) They either bring their choice cuts of meat from the United States with them (as at least two local people do every year) or b) they purchase their meats there.


Rosh Hashanah: Yom Teruah and Yom Tekia

Rosh Hashanah is defined by the shofar. Not only is hearing the shofar the central mitzvah of the day, we integrate both the longer tekia blasts and the shorter teruah blasts, which includes the sounds we call the teruah, shevarim and shevarim-teruah, into the core tefillah of the day. As these sounds must be created by human lips


Can Mashiach Come on Rosh Hashanah?

We believe, with complete faith, that Mashiach will come and we wait daily for his arrival. Does that mean that he can come any day? On the one hand, this is all a theoretical exercise. When he comes, he comes. We won’t tell him, “Sorry, it’s the wrong day.” However, the Sages discussed this, which means there is value in learning


Acknowledging Hashem’s Sovereignty

I went to Costco a few days ago. The lot was SO full, I had to park in a remote area of the parking lot! As I walked in, it looked like people were buying out the store—their carts were overflowing. It reminded me of those popular store contests, where the winner gets half an hour inside the store to fill up his cart. Really smart winners


One or Two Breaths?

Question: I will be blowing shofar in an Ashkenazi minyan. What should I be doing about blowing tashrat (tekia-shevarim-teruah-tekia) — with neshima achat (shevarim and teruah with “one breath”) or shtei neshimot (a significant break between them)?

Answer: The Gemara (Rosh Hashanah 34a)


Full of Hot Air

One night this past summer, camp was graced with a performance from a professional balloonist/magician. He was not only spectacular, he was also very funny, and it was an all-around enjoyable show. Throughout the show, in between tricks and sometimes as part of his tricks, he would blow up balloons in various shapes and sizes and


Complete Exultation

Parashat Nitzavim

“Sos asis baShem! —I shall exult in God!”

No longer do we hear how Hashem urged the prophets to comfort Israel. No longer do we read how Israel wept because God had abandoned them!

Nor does she claim that


Why Judaism?

This week’s parsha raises a question that goes to the heart of Judaism, but which was not asked for many centuries until raised by a great Spanish scholar of the 15th century, Rabbi Isaac Arama. Moses is almost at the end of his life. The people are about to cross the Jordan and enter the Promised Land. Moses knows he must do one


Zera Shimshon on Parshas Netzavim

אַתֶּם נִצָּבִים הַיּוֹם כֻּלְּכֶם לִפְנֵי יְדֹוָד אֱלֹהֵיכֶם רָאשֵׁיכֶם שִׁבְטֵיכֶם זִקְנֵיכֶם וְשֹׁטְרֵיכֶם כֹּל אִישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל

“You are all standing here today, all of you, before


Authentic Chinuch

In our parsha, Moshe describes a time when Am Yisrael will sin against Hashem by serving their neighbors’ idols in Eretz Yisrael, and delineates the resulting punishment — their expulsion from the land.

Moshe then adds an important addendum (29:28): “Hanistaros la’Hashem Elokeinu, v’haniglot


Aleinu: Who Is Doing the ‘Le-Tacen?’

Many years ago, I wrote an important article on Aleinu. It was first published in Hakirah in 2011. I improved it thereafter and included it in my “Esther Unmasked” (2015). I explained that a very strong case can be made that the original version of Aleinu should read “לתכן”(to establish the world under God’s sovereignty), and

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