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Vaetchanan: Comfort at Last

August 14, 2008, by

Jews tend to be peddlers, even when we have no things to sell. Yesterday, I met a young man who was trying to make a deal, a shidduch. He was sufficiently confused by my hashkafic world that he figured I can connect him with equally confused or confusing personalities. On that score, we’ll have to

Remembering the Destruction

August 7, 2008, by

The Three Weeks between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av are a time of special mourning for the Jewish people, but it’s not always possible to conjure up in your heart this real feeling of sorrow when you’re privileged to live in modern, thriving Jerusalem of 2008 (let alone if you are

As the City Burned

August 7, 2008, by

The following story is true, however the names and details have been fictionalized. The pounding in Shlomo’s head wouldn’t stop, but it was easily drowned out by the pain in his heart. The city lay in flaming ruins; human corpses were lying all around him, rotting in the searing midday sun. He hadn’t eaten anything

Devarim: Power of Real Tears

August 7, 2008, by

Chorma. The name doesn’t ring many bells – but it is a sad place – a very sad place. It’s another good reason to read Devarim before Tisha B’av. Here’s the story(1): But you were unwilling to go up, and you defied Hashem, your G-d. You grumbled in your tents and said, “Because of Hashem’s

Crying Over the First Beit HaMikdash

August 7, 2008, by

The Shulchan Aruch notes that we are obligated to fast on Tisha B’Av because of the terrible events that occurred on that day (Orach Chayim 549:1). The Mishnah Brura (based on the Mishnah in Taanit 26b) elaborates on this statement and lists five events which occurred on that day. Two of those events are rather

Devarim: Erev Tisha b’Av on Shabbat

August 7, 2008, by

Normally, the last meal eaten before the Tish’ b’Av fast is supposed to be a spare meal eaten in solitude, since the mourning of Tish’a b’Av begins already the day before. (In fact, the mourning customs begin already three weeks earlier, and then intensify beginning with the month of Av and then further with the

Devarim: Final Meal before the Tisha B’Av Fast

July 20, 2007, by

On the eve of Tisha B’Av, the final meal before the fast already has a mournful character. The meal is eaten in isolation, and only one cooked dish is permitted. The Shulchan Arukh mentions a custom to eat lentils, which are considered a mourner’s food; the Rema states that many eat boiled eggs, which are also

Balak: Fasting

June 29, 2007, by

The 17th of Tammuz is one of the four major fast days. As the name suggests, the primary way we commemorate tragic anniversaries is through fasting. Why is a temporary abstinence from eating such a vital aid to repentance? Here are two related approaches to this question. 1. COUNTERBALANCE There are two practical reasons for

Brushing Away the Dust

August 2, 2006, by

This Wednesday night, a few minutes before sunset, Zahava and I will put the kids into the car and drive twenty minutes east into the Judean Desert. Our destination: the ruins of King Herod’s mountain fortress; Herodion. We won’t be alone in our journey. Like the scene from the end of the film ‘Field of