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OU Staff

“Kumsitz”: The Post-Seder Concert

February 25, 2011, by

Literally: “Come, Sit Down” What is the “Kumzitz?” Actually, nothing; that is, it’s a made-up term in the context of the Seder, but the “Kumzitz,” which means an informal concert of songs, is a very good description for what happens after the Seder. Those still awake sing five (or six) songs (in Eretz Yisrael, where […]

Chanukah – Light or Fire?

November 29, 2010, by

Chanukah is treated in the Talmud in a rather puzzling fashion. In response to the question, “What is Chanukah?” the Talmud relates the story of the cruse of undefiled oil found by a priest in the Temple. Why this relatively minor incident, to the exclusion of almost everything else? Would we not expect the Talmud […]

Sweet Potato Latkes

November 25, 2010, by

Here is one that goes great with Apple Sauce: 1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and coarsely grated 2 scallions, finely chopped 1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour 2 large eggs, lightly beaten 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon black pepper Vegetable oil DIRECTIONS: Stir together potatoes, scallions, flour, eggs, salt, and pepper. Heat a film of […]

Laws of Chanukah

November 25, 2010, by

Chanukah begins on the evening of the 25th of Kislev and continues for eight days. For the entire eight days of Chanukah it is forbidden to fast or to eulogize. It is permitted to work; however it is customary for women not to work for at least the first half hour of the candles’ burning, […]

The Secret of the Dreidel

November 25, 2010, by

The Dreidel A children’s game, played in the firelight of a cold winter night, the Chanukah Menorah silently glowing in the window… The dreidel. Its four sides spinning around the still point in the turning circle; spinning so fast that its sides blur into nothingness… The dreidel. So seemingly insignificant – and yet this little […]

It’s a Woman Thing

November 25, 2010, by

The general rule in Halacha (Jewish Law) is that women are not obligated in time-bound Positive Mitzvot (Commandments); that is, Positive Commandments to be performed at a specific time – for example, Listening to the Shofar or Dwelling in the Sukkah. However, they are obligated in certain time-bound Positive Mitzvot. These include Lighting the Lights […]

The Inner Meaning of the Four Species

September 19, 2010, by

At face value, the mitzvah of “Taking the Four Species” begs explanation. On the one hand, Halacha stipulates that once a person has lifted the Species (for the sake of performing the mitzvah), he has fulfilled his obligation (Sukkah 42a). On the other hand, after lifting the Species, one should wave them right away, as […]

Ushpizin: the Royal Guests

September 19, 2010, by

The “Ushpizin,” The Seven Guests On Pesach, at the Seder, we express the idea that “In every generation, each person is obligated to see himself as if he were one of the redeemed Jewish slaves.” Similarly, on Sukkot, as we sit and enjoy the festive meals, we are privileged to have as our company seven […]

Laws and Customs of Erev Yom Kippur

September 14, 2010, by

The day before Yom Kippur is considered to be a quasi-festival day. Traditionally, “all who eat on the ninth are considered to have fasted on the ninth AND the tenth.” It is thus a mitzvah to eat and drink Erev Yom Kippur. This both gives us strength for the fast and substitutes for the usual […]

Our Daily Bread: More than the Sum of its Calories

June 17, 2010, by

The restaurant was bustling. Joyous noise and laughter filled the room as waiters and waitresses bustled to and fro, bringing trays of food or removing the empty plates of sated diners. The tables were filled with people enjoying their meals – extended families celebrating a birthday or graduation or promotion at some of the tables, […]

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