Rabbi Jack Abramowitz is Torah Content Editor at the Orthodox Union. He is the author of five books, including The Tzniyus Book. His latest work, The Taryag Companion, is available from OU Press as well as on Amazon.
Language is a funny thing. Words that were once acceptable take on new shades of meaning and are replaced with new terms. These intended euphemisms may in turn acquire their own negative connotations and they will then be replaced with still newer terms. An inoffensive example: what was once called a boneyard became a graveyard.
Bill Cosby is in serious trouble. Rape allegations have dogged him for years and they’ve finally caught up with him. The last few times such allegations popped up, they quickly went away. This is in part because Cosby is so loved. People couldn’t bear the thought of toppling America’s foremost father figure from his hard-won
Everyone knows we’re not allowed to kill, right? After all, it’s one of the “Big Ten” commandments. Not exactly. What we’re not allowed to do is murder. Sometimes we actually have to kill. For example, if a violent person is pursuing an innocent victim with the intention of murdering him, we’re supposed to kill the
I wasn’t going to talk about Rabbi Barry Freundel. I really wasn’t. When I have occasion to reference a news story within the community, I tend to obscure the names of the involved parties because I find it unseemly to air our dirty laundry in public. When I do reference a current event, I give
There is a custom, before Yom Kippur, to swing a live chicken over one’s head while reciting a brief text. The chicken is slaughtered and given to the needy. This is called “kapparos” (atonements). Not everyone does this. Many people – including yours truly – perform the ceremony using cash, which is then donated to
Some people have lately expressed the idea that the religious authorities should keep their noses out of matters of tzniyus (modesty). These people feel that when “the rabbis” (as if there’s one collective group) talk about tzniyus, it’s because they have an unhealthy obsession with it. I disagree. Tzniyus is a legitimate area of Jewish
My colleague, Rivki Rosenblatt (OU Press) and I recently returned from staffing OU Alumni’s ten-day trip to Germany through an organization called Germany Close Up (GCU). GCU was founded by Dr. Dagmar Pruin. Dr. Pruin is not Jewish – in fact, she is an ordained minister in her church – but she studied Jewish studies
I’m not a big fan of the term “God-fearing.” To me, it seems misused. It’s completely backwards and it makes no sense. How so? Let’s examine. Imagine two individuals at two extremes of the religious/behavioral spectrum. One is a great, pious scholar. He studies, prays, performs acts of charity – the whole nine yards. The
It happened again. An Orthodox Jew – a teacher and a prominent member of his community – has been accused of a particularly heinous crime. I say “accused” not because he’s an Orthodox Jew but because this is America and a person has a presumption of innocence until he’s been proven guilty. I don’t believe
At the recent Oscars, Matthew McConaughey won the best actor award for his role in a movie called Dallas Buyers Club. From this, I infer (a) that there’s a movie called Dallas Buyers Club and (b) that there’s an actor named Matthew McConaughey. (A quick look at IMDB reveals that I have not seen anything he has been