Asher Meir

Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir is one of the Jewish world's best-known lecturers and educators in the area of business ethics. Rabbi Dr. Meir is known by a wide audience from his "Ethics@Work" column in the Jerusalem Post, through the popular syndicated column "The Jewish Ethicist," and through his lectures and books. His extensive background includes a Harvard education and obtaining a Ph.D. in economics from MIT. He has worked on the staff of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Reagan Administration. His rabbinic ordination is from the Israeli Chief Rabbinate. Rabbi Dr Meir's works combine a professional grasp of the detailed workings of the 21st century economy with a highly-developed sensitivity to the eternal ethical messages of Jewish law and tradition. For a number of years he served as a Senior Lecturer in economics and business ethics at the Jerusalem College of Technology. Rabbi Meir's first book, "The Jewish Ethicist," was released in February 2005 and rapidly obtained remarkable reviewer approval. The American Library Association's Booklist applauded it as "an important source of ethical insights for Jews and non-Jews alike," while the Jewish Press noted that the author "combines up-to-the-minute knowledge of his field with thousands of years of Jewish tradition." Rabbi Meir's second book, "Meaning in Mitzvot," distributed by Feldheim, provides insights into the deeper spiritual and ethical meanings of the daily practices of Jewish law, has been warmly received by readers. Dr. Meir is a regular member of the Ethics Committee of the Prime Minister's office and of the Israel Economic Association. He has spoken as an invited expert before the Knesset Law Committee. He is a frequent speaker at professional gatherings on business and economic ethics, as well as a lecturer for popular audiences.

Vaeira: Hagomel

December 29, 2010, by

A person who has been saved from a dangerous situation recites the “gomel” blessing, acknowledging that HaShem does good even to sinners (SA OC 219). There are many unusual halakhic features of this blessing: 1. The gomel blessing should be said only in the presence of ten. Yet generally, the only blessings which require ten

Shemot: Removing Shoes

December 21, 2010, by

Our parsha contains the very first revelation experienced by Moshe Rabbeinu, the greatest of all prophets: “Don’t approach here; remove your shoes from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground”. (Shemot 3:5.) Removing the shoes seems to be a powerful testimony to spiritual elevation and holiness. As the Ramban points

Vayechi: Number of Windows in Shul

December 15, 2010, by

Last week we discussed the various reasons given for the custom to have windows in a shul. Among the sources mentioned was a passage in the Zohar (Pekudei II:251a) which is brought down in the Beit Yosef (OC 90). The passage is based on a verse from Shir HaShirim: “Behold, one stands behind our wall,

Vayigash: Havdala and Eliyahu HaNavi

December 9, 2010, by

A central theme of the Motzei Shabbat hymns is Eliyahu the prophet. Kitzur Shulchan Arukh gives two reasons for this association: Our prophets foretold that Eliyahu, who never died but rather ascended skyward in a fiery chariot (II Kings 2:11), will return to augur the coming of the Moshiach (Malakhi 3:23). However, so great is

Miketz: Milk Foods

November 30, 2010, by

The Rema writes that it is proper to eat cheese at Chanukah because of the miracle that was wrought through milk, when Yehudit gave milk to the enemy leader to make him sleep, and thus was able to kill him (Rema SA OC 670:2). Of course this theme of the righteous woman who entices and

Vayeshev: Placement of the Chanukah Menorah

November 23, 2010, by

The Talmud rules that the ideal way of fulfilling the mitzva of Chanukah lights is by lighting them at the entrance to the house, so that they are clearly visible to passers-by. However, our Sages continue, when there is danger in doing so – because of hostile non-Jews – it is sufficient to light the

Vayishlach: Tearing the Hair in Mourning

November 17, 2010, by

“You are the children of HaShem your God; don’t cut yourselves, nor make baldness between your eyes for the dead” (Devarim 14:1). The second half of the verse forbids a pagan mourning custom of tearing out the hair; it is clear that “between your eyes” actually refers to the hair above the forehead (SA YD

Vayeitzei: Placement of the Head Tefilin

November 10, 2010, by

The Torah says that the head tefillin should be “frontlets between your eyes” (Devarim 11:18). However, this expression does not mean actually between the eyes, for example the bridge of the nose. This is clear from a subsequent verse: “You are the children of HaShem your G-d; do not cut yourselves, nor make baldness between

Toldot: “Urging Vows”

November 4, 2010, by

A vow (neder) is a kind of oath that works by imposing a prohibition on a particular object by likening it to a sanctified item. For instance, instead of swearing that he will not eat cake (shevu’ah=oath), a person may prohibit cake to himself (neder) (SA YD 204). If a person regrets a vow he

Chayei Sarah: Burial Shrouds

October 27, 2010, by

The burial of Sarah discussed in our portion provides an opportunity to discuss the important and ancient custom of the shrouds or burial garment. Jewish burial is always in a simple linen shroud or sometimes a prayer shawl for a man (SA YD 352). Burying the departed in a garment is considered a testimony of

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