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Rabbi Eliezer Silver Meets President Taft

Excerpt from the new OU Press book, The Silver Era: Rabbi  Eliezer Silver and His Generation, by Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff   On June 12, 1912, [Rabbi Eliezer Silver] was part of a delegation which called upon William Howard Taft, the twenty-seventh president of the United States. It was the first time that such a group […]

Parshat Behar-Bechukotai: A Casual Curse

Excerpted from Rabbi Shmuel Goldin’s ‘Unlocking The Torah Text: An In-Depth Journey Into The Weekly Parsha- Vayikra’ Context As Parshat Bechukotai and the book of Vayikra draw to a close, God delivers a stinging rebuke and warning to the Israelites. Known as the Tochacha Haketana, the small rebuke (in contrast to a second, larger rebuke found in […]

Parshat Behar: Yearning to Be Free

Excerpted from Unlocking the Torah Text –Vayikra by Rabbi Shmuel Goldin Two specific commandments to count seven cycles of seven units each, leading to a fiftieth culminating unit, appear in the Torah within the span of two contiguous parshiot. In Parshat Emor, the Torah commanded the counting of the forty-nine days of the Omer (seven weeks, each […]

Parshat Kedoshim: The Meaning of Holiness

Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s Derashot Ledorot: A Commentary for the Ages – Leviticus Kedusha, holiness, is by all means the most important principle of Judaism. The highest ideal to which any person can aspire is that of holiness. All the commandments of the Torah were given so that Israel could become a “goy kadosh,” […]

Parshat Emor: Why Do We Count?

Excerpted from Unlocking the Torah Text –Vayikra by Rabbi Shmuel Goldin In the midst of the Torah’s discussion concerning the festival cycle, immediately after the commandment concerning the Omer offering (a barley offering in the Temple which marks the beginning of the harvest and allows the use of that season’s grain), the following mandate is found: And […]

The Sabbath of Greatness

Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s Festivals of Faith: Reflections on the Jewish Holidays Many reasons have been offered as to why this Sabbath before the holiday of Passover is known by the name Shabbat ha-Gadol. Allow me to commend to your attention one such reason, which I find particularly significant. The author of the Tur, one […]

The Seder Night: Exalted Evening

Excerpted from ‘The Seder Night: An Exalted Evening’ A Passover Haggadah with a commentary based on the teachings of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik; Edited by Rabbi Menachem D. Genack Click here to buy the book סדר הקערה The Talmud (Pesachim 114b) discusses the requirement to place shenei tavshilin, two cooked items, on the Seder plate, […]

Mi She’asah Nissim: The Prayer

He who performed miracles for our ancestors Excerpted from Yerach Tov: Birkat HaChodesh in Jewish Law and Liturgy, but Rabbi Elchanan Adler Why do we mention our exodus from Egypt and pray for redemption specifically in the context of Birkat HaChodesh? What resonance do these memories and prayers have with the institution of Birkat HaChodesh? […]

Parshat Shmini: Mysterious Tragedy

Excerpted from Rabbi Shmuel Goldin’s Unlocking the Torah Text – Vayikra Context Finally, after seven days of preparation, an eighth, celebratory day of investiture dawns for Aharon and his sons. On this day, they will publicly assume the kehuna, an honored priestly role to be bequeathed, in perpetuity, to their descendents. At God’s command, the […]

Neither Here Nor There

Excerpted from Rabbi Norman Lamm’s Festivals of Faith: Reflections on the Jewish Holidays Toward the end of the Book of Esther, which we shall read this week, we are told that after their miraculous deliverance the Jews accepted upon themselves the observance of Purim forever after. Kiyyemu ve-kibbelu, the Jews “confirmed and took upon themselves” […]