Jewish Holidays

Breaking Heavenly Barriers

June 29, 2006, by

An interesting person in Jewish history was King Menashe — interesting, that is, in a negative sense. He was the son of King Chizkiahu, and one of his early acts was to kill his grandfather, the prophet Isaiah [see the drosha on Shabbos Shuva for some background]. This set the tone for his future actions, […]

Kol Nidrei Night

June 29, 2006, by

Recently I heard a remarkable story. During the Second World War, a German soldier was mortally wounded in battle, and as he fell, a priest rushed up to administer the last rites. With his remaining strength, the soldier pushed the priest’s cross away, and said: “Ich bin ein Jude!” [“I am a Jew!”] The priest […]

Yom Kippur Stories

June 29, 2006, by

An Interesting Halachic Ruling One Yom Kippur, the gabbai (synagogue beadle) told Rabbi Chaim Sandzer that a certain congregant, wealthy and miserly, had fainted from the fast and needed some water. Rabbi Sandzer said that he could have only spoonful of water. A few minutes later, the gabbai returned, saying the water had helped but […]

The Shofar of Elul and the Days of Awe

June 29, 2006, by

We did not blow the Shofar on the last day of Elul, the morning before Rosh HaShanah, in order to “confuse the Satan.” Perhaps this means that the Satan would think that “they’re finished blowing, and have nothing left for the Day of Judgment.” But we say “Ashrei HaAm Yod’ei Teruah!” “Fortunate is the People […]

Torah Readings On Yom Kippur

June 29, 2006, by

On the morning of Yom Kippur, two Torah Scrolls are removed from the Aron HaKodesh (Holy Ark). The Torah Reading is from Vayikrah (Leviticus) Chapter 16, verse 1-34. This portion discusses the instructions to Moshe and Aharon concerning the procedure for the priestly service on Yom Kippur, which would enable them to achieve atonement for […]

The High Priest’s Temple Service on Yom Kippur

June 29, 2006, by

“And the Kohanim and the people standing in the Courtyard – when they would hear the glorious, awesome Name, the Ineffable one, emanating from the Kohen Gadol’s mouth, in holiness and purity, they would kneel and prostrate themselves, give thanks and say, ‘Blessed is the Name of His glorious kingdom for all eternity.’” In the […]

The Special Prayers Recited on Yom Kippur

June 29, 2006, by

Kol Nidrei On the eve of Yom Kippur while there is still daylight, Jews congregate all across the globe wearing white. They don their tallitot (prayer shawls) and Kol Nidrei is chanted with a sense of emotional anticipation and a centuries-old feverishly moving melody. Dating back until at least the ninth century, Kol Nidrei, at […]

U’Netaneh Tokef: Background and History

June 28, 2006, by

“Let Us Tell How Utterly Holy This Day Is” The Background The prayer entitled “U’Netaneh Tokef” is attributed to a Rabbi Amnon of Mainz, Germany, who lived about one thousand years ago. The story behind this piyut, a prayer-poem, is sad and poignant, and may shed light on the prayer itself. The Bishop of Mainz […]

Yom Kippur: A Day to Become Close to God

June 22, 2006, by

Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai said concerning a king, “Should he fine me, his penalty is not eternal” for I would be able to earn more money. “Should he imprison me, his imprisonment is not eternal” for he might die and his successor will release me. “Should he kill me, my death is not eternal for […]