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The Fifth Glass of Vodka

October 15, 2009, by

As a young scholar, the great Chassidic Rebbe R’ Bunim traveled extensively on business throughout Eastern Europe. In his own mind, however, his real occupation was not the pursuit of wealth but the opening of souls. One rainy winter night, R’ Bunim happily found shelter from a frigid downpour at an inn along his route.


September 30, 2009, by

“Did I tell you what happened to me on Erev Sukkot?” my friend Atara asks me. We sit in her kitchen as she spices her salmon. Our children play outside in the Sukkah. Blessed Chol Hamoed. “No. Tell me,” I say. So she does. *** Erev Sukkot. Atara poured apple cake batter into a flimsy

The Same Old Story?

September 10, 2009, by

One fateful Rosh Hashana Day, the soul of Gershon Kleinbard stood in an endless line of living souls, each waiting to appear before the Master of the Universe for the moment of judgment and reckoning. Only the great tzaddikim sense this encounter; the vast majority of mankind is oblivious to this occurrence. Nonetheless, in the

Ki Tavo: Be Happy!

September 3, 2009, by

One senses something incredibly deep going on in bikkurim, a seemingly simple mitzvah of delivering the first produce of the seven species up to Yerushalayim to the kohen. It is a mitzvah whose protocol greatly transcends its content. Consider the following mishnaic snapshot of the 2nd temple annual bikkurim parade: How were the bikkurim taken

Struggle for Prayer

July 15, 2009, by

I can’t daven. I’ve tried- I mean really tried- not just the shutting my eyes tightly and swayed type of tried. I’ve tried charts and incentives, threats and no end of internal mussar talks. I’ve tried saying the words slowly, and then super fast as not to let myself lose concentration. I’ve tried having different

Swine Flu: Getting Us Back to the Basics

May 13, 2009, by

It started with a young boy in Mexico who came down with an unusual and virulent flu. It’s become a global scare that is nearly pandemic. Swine flu, or Influenza A H1N1 as the experts call it, is a new strain of influenza virus that is sweeping across the world, bringing fear, cautionary measure, and

Happiness: When You Have Lost Everything

May 13, 2009, by

I recently bumped into one of my father’s colleagues. Approaching the age of retirement, he clearly had a lot on his mind due to the latest swing of the fiscal pendulum. This is the story he shared with me. “When my wife and I were younger I was earning by the buckets,” he said. “I

Seekers, Keepers

May 6, 2009, by

Back when I was growing up in Cleveland Ohio, Lag B’omer was a great excuse for a school trip. While I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit it, the countdown to Lag B’omer was nearly as fervent as the countdown to Shavuot. Up until about fourth grade we’d only go to some big park. But then we

Kedoshim: The Greatest Victim

April 29, 2009, by

I vaguely recall a father recollecting a Shabbat experience wherein his three year old son was pounding his two year old daughter. After being duly admonished and receiving his requisite lecture, the boy knowingly responded: “Abba – we don’t hit on Shabbat?” The kid had figured it out; hitting his sister was a Shabbat prohibition.

An Illuminating Message

It started slowly, mere wisps of pink painted upon a deep blue sky. Then a golden glow suffused the horizon, getting brighter with each passing moment. And suddenly – she was there. She slid above the rolling mountains, first the tiniest sliver, then a half circle, and finally, a huge, glowing orb of fire. She