Monday, August 15, 2022


Jewish Link Memes of the Week

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Scared for School

Dear Shayna B,

My name is Saralah and I’m going into first grade. I’m so scared for all the new beginnings. What if people steal my snack? What if my arm falls off if I raise it for too long? What if my morah is mean to me? What if the homework is too hard? I know you’ve already done first


Losing the Semantic Battle, Winning the War Against BDS

The last month may have set a record for BDS failures.

One aspect of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is literally a war of words. Words are powerful weapons, and both sides seek the adoption of their preferred nomenclature to influence public opinion. Israel and its supporters have


The Curse of Loneliness

In the course of blessing the Jewish people, Bilaam uttered words that have come to seem to many to encapsulate Jewish history:

How can I curse whom God has not cursed? How can I denounce the Lord has not denounced? From the tops of crags I see them, From the hills I gaze down: A people that


Bracha Achat Me’en Sheva — No Jew Left Behind!

There is a glaring contradiction in our Friday night beit knesset practices. On the one hand, at Arvit, we continue to say the “Bracha Achat Me’en Sheva” (the abridged version of the Amida recited by the Chazan after the completion of Shemoneh Esrei) even though its reason no longer applies. But, on the other hand, most batei


Where Wisdom Begins

”רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן עֲזַרְיָה אוֹמֵר,
אִם אֵין תּוֹרָה, אֵין דֶּרֶךְ אֶרֶץ. אִם אֵין דֶּרֶךְ אֶרֶץ, אֵין תּוֹרָה.
אִם אֵין חָכְמָה,

Ketubot 10b: Rav Chana of Baghdad

On Ketubot 10b, we encounter a small corpus of statements by Rav Chana of Baghdad, רַב חָנָא בַּגְדָּתָאָה. Rashi (Berachot 54b) explains the appellation as of a city, Baghdad (and Abraham Cohen describes this as possibly modern Eski Baghdad / Old Baghdad). Elsewhere, (Yevamot 67a) Rashi explains


‘Am Levadad Yishkon, U’VaGoyim lo Yitchashav’

The above statement is from Balaam’s blessing at Numbers 23:9. We know the meaning of the first three words, but what about that second phrase?

Regarding that second phrase, there is an important initial issue. יתחשב has the form of a “hitpael.” There are around 1000 words in hitpael


‘Hallelu et Hashem Kol Goyim’

The haftarah reading of Parshat Balak is a relatively short selection from Sefer Michah. The 17 pesukim that make up this week’s haftarah, seem to have very little connection to the portion of Balak. Besides the mention of how Hashem protected B’nai Yisrael by undermining the scheme of Balak to curse them, there appears to be no other


Seeing Beyond Ourselves

Parshat Balak is one of the most perplexing parshiot in the Torah. But perhaps the most fundamental question of all is: Why is this parsha in the Torah to begin with?

My father, in Unlocking the Torah Text Balak 2, points out that Balak is the only parsha in the Torah that takes place outside of the


Remembering René Slotkin, z”l


The ink had faded over the years, but it was distinct enough to read the numbers clearly: 1-6-9-0-6-1.

Given the fact that he taught physical education at Breuers, his short sleeve coach’s shirt did little to hide the tattoo that had been


‘René and I’ Documentary Shares Miraculous Story of Survival

Irene Hizme, z”l, and her brother René Slotkin, who was niftar this past week and was beloved in the Ohab Zedek community of Manhattan, were featured in a 2005 documentary about their miraculous story of survival as twins who endured the Nazi regime's infamous Mengele experiments. Both siblings were able to settle in

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