Monday, September 26, 2022


Selichos: Keep Knocking on Hashem’s Door

When I was a child, my mother sent me to a nearby neighbor to borrow a bottle of milk. I was shy, but I went anyway. I rang the bell — no answer. I quickly rang again and got no answer. Relieved that no one answered, I turned around and went home. A few minutes later, my mother asked me about the bottle of milk. I said: “No one answered


Why We Should Love Work

”שְׁמַעְיָה אוֹמֵר, אֱהֹב אֶת הַמְּלָאכָה, וּשְׂנָא אֶת הָרַבָּנוּת, וְאַל תִּתְוַדַּע לָרָשׁוּת.“ (אבות א:י)

We are, of course, familiar with Shimon Hatzadik’s seminal statement (at the beginning of Avot’s


The Pursuit of Joy

Happiness, said Aristotle, is the ultimate good at which all humans aim. But in Judaism it is not necessarily so. Happiness is a high value. Ashrei, the closest Hebrew word to happiness, is the first word of the book of Psalms. We say the prayer known as Ashrei three times each day. We can surely endorse the phrase in the American


Understanding and Joining Our National Story

Our parsha opens with mitzvat bikkurim. Each year, the farmer brings his first fruits to the Beit Hamikdash in thanks to Hashem. The farmer then recites the viduy bikkurim, a series of pesukim (26:6-10) recounting Am Yisrael’s history—their arrival in Egypt and eventual enslavement, followed by their miraculous redemption and entry into


Get Going

How many taxes are filed on the night of April 14? Just ask all the accountants who come to the Seder bleary eyed. And how many people file for extensions and don’t complete them until Oct. 14?

My rebbe, Rabbi Berel Wein, often wryly notes that the procrastinator’s club is holding their first meeting


Justice and Righteousness

Parashat Ki Tavo

As we begin to study this week’s haftarah, a selection taken from the 60th perek of sefer Yishayahu, we quickly realize that it is a chapter whose text is focused on one theme alone: the theme of nechama, comfort. Of course, we are not surprised at this “revelation,” except that



The central beis midrash of Belz was packed with an overflowing crowd, throngs of chasidim were eagerly anticipating the solemn beginning of the Yamim Nora’im. It was Motzaei Shabbos, the first night of Selichos, and the great tzaddik — the “Sar Shalom” — Reb Shalom of Belz, was nowhere to be found. Little did the masses awaiting


Rava Confirms: Ketubot 68a

Ketubot 68a records a conversation between Rava and his father-in-law, Rav Chisda. Rava, a fourth-generation Amora born in Mechoza, studied from several teachers, such as Rav Chisda (of Sura academy), Rav Nachman (of Nehardea academy, which moved to Shkhanzib, then Mechoza), then Rav Yosef (of Pumbedita). While I’d primarily associate him


Does Pruzbul Ruin the Ability to Fulfill Shemitat Kesafim?

Question: My community has a project that in our pruzbul (a mechanism to obviate shemitat kesafim), one excludes a loan given through a gemach, upon which we fulfill the mitzvah of shemitat kesafim (voiding loans at the end of shemitah). Why can’t the pruzbul apply to everything, and I still fulfill the mitzvah by voluntarily


Zera Shimshon on Parshas Ki Sovo

”הָיָה אִם־שָׁמוֹעַ תִּשְׁמַע בְּקוֹל ידוד אֱלֹהֶיךָ לִשְׁמֹר לַעֲשׂוֹת אֶת־כׇּל־מִצְוֺתָיו אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ הַיּוֹם וּנְתָנְךָ ידוד אֱלֹהֶיךָ עֶלְיוֹן עַל כׇּל־גּוֹיֵי

Miscellaneous Interesting Words

Over the past two years, I have collected material on many words that do not warrant an entire column. I present this “collage” of material here. I am sure you will enjoy it.

Asterisk: This word means “little star” from the Greek “asteriskos.” “Aster” means star and “iskos” is


Accepting Responsibility

This week’s parsha, KiTavo, ends with the declaration, “Yet, to this day, the Lord has not given you a heart/mind to understand, or eyes to see or ears to hear.”

Our commentators, however, considered this verse to be more of a question: “You saw all that God did for you—when you were in

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