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Taking Ruth into Home Stretch

May 25, 2009, by

“Shvoo-oat? That’s a new one. Is it one of those minor holidays?” I’d met Sharon downstairs at the mailboxes in our building’s lobby. I’ve never figured out exactly what floor she lives on in our twenty-one story building. Our relationship was made up of brief conversations in the elevator, me getting off in the single

Shavuot: A Wedding, Omer & Ultimate Humanity

May 21, 2009, by

1. Shavuot night is like a wedding without worrying about the color scheme – a night of pure encounter. Torat Hashem Temimah Meshivat Nefesh – Torah heals the soul. Pikudei Hashem Yesharim Misamchei Leiv. It brings great inner joy. So why do we stay up all night? It’s like that first taste of love. Picture

Naso: Milk Foods on Shavuot

June 5, 2008, by

A custom mentioned in many places is to eat milk foods at Shavuot, particularly in the daytime meal. In a previous column (as well as the forthcoming book) we connected this to the gemara’s view that milk is made from coalesced blood. (Niddah 9a.) Blood is generally a symbol of our bestial nature; the Jews

A Sacred Remembrance

June 5, 2008, by

On Shavuos she lit the candles. So many candles, melting into wax puddles in their flimsy silver tins. The small flames were a thin pale blue like the veins on the back of her hand. To me they were nameless and faceless, just empty heat and flickering light. But not to her. To her those

Shavuot Can Be a Picnic

June 5, 2008, by

Creating a menu for Shavuot can literally be a picnic. We’ve counted our Omer and now the fun begins! Food for the holiday should be happy, healthy and beautiful. We have a bounty of fresh produce to choose from at this time of year and we should enjoy it. I’m planning to start with a

Take the Lead

June 5, 2008, by

Shavuot is just around the corner, and most of us are trying to remember what it is exactly that we are supposed to gain from the holiday. We know that it commemorates the day the Torah was given to the Jews on Mt. Sinai, but that is where we go blank. On Pesach we recreate

Shavuot Is Always Dairy Delicious

June 4, 2008, by

Shavuot, which begins this year at sundown on June 8th, celebrates the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. Shavuot has been celebrated as an agricultural festival since the times of the Temple. It was said that when the Torah was given on Mount Sinai, the barren desert exploded with blooming flowers, as if the

Capturing the Wall: The Story of Shavuot 1967

June 4, 2008, by

A brilliant flash shattered the darkness. The lonely climber saw in that blink of an eye that he was almost at the top of the peak, and around him a gorgeous valley spread with lakes reflecting the awesome mountain. And then it was dark again. Life flashes with those moments where everything is clear. So

Shavuot: For the Love of Torah – 4 Mini Reflections

June 4, 2008, by

1. They call it the Magen Avraham’s kasha. The most famous question regarding this least famous of Jewish holidays: Shavuot is 50 days after Pesach. Go back to the original Revelation and work out the math (we were redeemed on a Thursday and received the Torah on a Shabbos); it turns out that we received

Bringing in the First Fruits

May 31, 2007, by

A kilometer away from our community of Rosh Tzurim in Gush Etzion, is a dirt road named Derech Avot, the way of the Patriarchs. In this area our forefathers and ancestors tread. Two mikvaot, ritual baths, were found in very close proximity of each other on Derech Avot. It is surmised that one was for