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OU Staff

The Lights of Chanukah: Laws and Customs

April 9, 2014, by

The Lights of Chanukah The Jewish tradition is that on the first night of Chanukah one flame is lit, on the second night two, and so on until the eighth night when eight flames are lit. Actually, the question of whether to begin the lighting with one flame and proceed, adding one each night, to eight on […]

Torah Reading for Chanukah: Part II

April 9, 2014, by

1. Because Chanukah is an eight-day holiday, and a week is only seven days, there has to be at least one “Shabbat Chanukah,” when Shabbat and Chanukah coincide. This year, we have a special blessing: two “Shabbatot Chanukah,” which can only happen when the first and eighth days fall on Shabbat, as they do this […]

Torah Reading for Chanukah: Part I

April 9, 2014, by

The first Chanukah was essentially a reclamation and rededication of the Beit HaMikdash, the Holy Temple, which had been misappropriated and defiled by the Greeks and their assimilated Jewish allies. It was the restoration of the spiritual center of the Jewish People, the earthly seat of the Divine Presence. It was appropriate, in that light, […]

Shabbat HaGadol: An Overview

April 9, 2014, by

Shabbat HaGadol, the Sabbath preceding Passover, derives its name (The Great Sabbath) from the importance of the approaching festival and from the Haftarah reading of the day that closes with an allusion to the “Coming of Elijah on the Great Day of the L-rd”.

Parshat Parah: Background

April 9, 2014, by

“This is the decree of the Torah, which Hashem has commanded, saying: Speak to the Children of Israel, and they shall take to you a completely red cow, which is without blemish, and upon which a yoke has not come.” (BaMidbar 19:2) This is an example of Law of the Torah which is considered completely […]

Parshat Shekalim: Background

April 9, 2014, by

Resh Lakish said “On the first of Adar, an announcement is made concerning the Shekalim.” (Masechet Megillah) The first of the Four Special Shabbatot is Shabbat Parshat Shekalim. It occurs either on the last Shabbat of the month of Shevat, or on the Shabbat which in that year coincides with Rosh Chodesh Adar, or on […]

Sefirat HaOmer: The Basic Meaning

March 10, 2014, by

The word “Sefirah” basically means “counting” or “the count.” What is being counted? One counts things of value. One counts units of time till a desired goal; for a child, it might be, “How many days till vacation?” For an adult, “How many weeks or months till I get my degree?” or “How many years […]

Basic Laws of Sefirat HaOmer

March 9, 2014, by

What are the Biblical sources? We find in the Third Book of the Torah, “VaYikra,” or Leviticus (so-called because much (but far from all) of its content is directed, for practical purposes, at the Tribe of Levi) Chapter 23, verses 15-16, the following: “U’Sefartem lachem Mi’Mochorat HaShabbat,…” “And you shall count for yourselves – from […]

Basic Law Difference: Purim vs. Sefirat HaOmer

March 8, 2014, by

Vive le Difference! It would seem that in connection with Purim, the obligation is one of “Mikra Megillah,” “Reading the Megillah.” The definition of communal “Reading” is “Mashmia L’Ozen,” “Making known to the Ear;” that is, transferring information from the parchment where the living words lie dormant, to the (heart and brain via the) ear. […]

The Four Shabbatot: An Overview

March 4, 2014, by

As an introduction to this topic, a (relatively) short introductory note would be helpful. On a regular Shabbat, the Parshah of the Week, which is divided into seven portions, is read publicly in the shul, or synagogue. For each of the seven portions, one congregant is “called up” to make “brachot,” or blessings, on the […]

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