Saturday, April 01, 2023


More Than Motivation

In my adult life, weather has become big news, and I, like many people my age, though acknowledging the peculiarity of this fact, am still hooked on weather. I listen to the radio, watch the news and frequently check the weather on my iPhone. It may be snowing outside, which I can observe firsthand by simply glancing out my window,


A Letter to the 9,000 Remaining Jews in Ethiopia

I stood outside your blue and white synagogue in Gondar, Ethiopia, for the first time a little over a month ago, hoping to contribute to your community and teach you about Israel. In a land so foreign and different from anything I have ever experienced, I looked up at the Hebrew sign reading “The Hatikvah (Hope)


Shavuot 34

May these words of Torah serve as a merit le’iluy nishmat Menachem Mendel Ben Harav Yoel David Balk, a”h.


This week we learned Shavuot 34. These are some highlights.

Shavuot 34: Would a beit din


What Is the Meaning of the Word ‘Olam’?

The word “olam” appears over 400 times in Tanach (in various forms). Even though we are used to it meaning “world,” this was not its original meaning. Rather, almost every time the word appears in Tanach it is being used with a time-oriented meaning, e.g., “a remote period in the past,” “a remote period in the


Sephardic vs. Ashkenazic Choices for the Haftarah of Parshat Shemot

It is always intriguing to note the different choices for the hafatarah between Sephardim and Ashkenazim. A poignant example is the selection for Parshat Shemot. Sephardic Jews read Yirmiyahu Perek 1, the same haftarah read by all Jews the first Shabbat following Shiva Asar B’Tamuz. This represents the first of the t’lata


Changing the Wiring

During one of my visits to Eretz Yisrael a few years ago, I was getting ready to shave before Shabbos. Although my shaver was wired for American outlets, I had purchased a bunch of converters that would enable my devices to work in Israeli outlets as well. I plugged the shaver into the converter, which I then plugged into the


Shemos: A Moral Crossroads

The Torah recounts a puzzling episode when Moshe returns to Mitzrayim with the mission to lead the Bnei Yisrael out of Egypt. The verse says: “Hashem met him [Moshe] and sought to kill him” (Shemos 4:25). Really?? Rashi quotes a Midrash about a giant serpent swallowing Moshe, first from his head to his waist and then from his


Israel—Firmly Planted

Parshat Shemot

It is quite difficult to find a connection between the haftarah of Parshat Shemot, a selection from Sefer Yeshayahu, and the events depicted in the Torah portion itself. The parsha deals, by and large, with the difficult years of Egyptian bondage, the emergence of Moshe Rabbeinu


Rebbe Santa

This may seem like a strange topic for a rav of a Shul to talk about; however, since I enjoy sharing all facets of my life here at the shul, I am not going to exclude you from an interesting episode of my life which occurred just last night.

I am probably the only Orthodox rabbi who every year


Parshat Shemot Teaches Balance in Both Parenting and Education

In contrast to the Torah’s silence about the childhood of Avraham Avinu, Parshat Shemot is rich in information about the origins of Moshe Rabbeinu. In fact, the second chapter of Sefer Shemot highlights two competing truths that emerge in all children’s lives, and analysis of the parsha lends insight into approaches to


School Calendar Wars

Sometimes it feels like a war. Every school administrator is familiar with the competing interests and desires of various constituencies that lobby, argue and plead their respective cases. The battlefield is the school calendar.

The traditional school calendar, which provides a summer vacation


The Difference Between Being Estranged and Being Loved

We noticed an anonymous letter to the editor in The Jewish Link’s last edition (“On Adult Children Who Pull Away From Their Families,” December 28, 2017). It especially touched us because it was written by grandparents whose children have apparently chosen to no longer have anything to do with them, which in turn prevents

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