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Destruction, Repentance and Rebuilding

September 19, 2019, by

Every year, I’m struck by the way the themes of the month of Av seem to morph seamlessly into those of Elul. During the summer, we talk about the variety of sins blamed for the destruction of the first Beit Hamikdash, and focus especially on reversing the sinat chinam, baseless hatred, that brought about the

It’s Pronounced “Jif,” Not “Giff” (And Why That Matters)

September 18, 2019, by

I usually write about matters of Jewish thought but, given my background in linguistics, my pedantic personality and my tendency to use words like “pedantic,” I occasionally write about things like grammar, spelling and punctuation. I must not be alone in such interests because my column on the Oxford comma was surprisingly popular. When I

Selichot, Teshuva and Elections in Israel

September 12, 2019, by

Parshat Ki Teitzei presents a seemingly harsh set of guidelines for inclusion within the Jewish people. Marriage is strictly limited to pedigreed Jews and, additionally, not all races are granted access into Judaism. Certain nationalities, such as Amon and Moav, are completely excluded based on past national misdeeds. Other nationalities such as the Egyptians are

Even the Devil Can Cite Scripture

September 11, 2019, by

There is a certain Jewish activist organization that opposes Israel’s “occupation” of the West Bank and Gaza. The week of parshas Shoftim, this organization tweeted: This shabbat is Shabbat Shoftim. That parsha contains the enduring quote ‘tzedek, tzedek tirdof–justice, justice shall you pursue” Shabbat shalom to everyone who pursues justice, too Many, many people had

Opening Words for Elul Zman: On the Shloshim of Dvir Sorek H”YD

September 5, 2019, by

On Sunday, we were privileged to host the honorable President, Mr. Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin for Elul Zman at Ohr Torah Stone’s Robert M. Beren Machanaim Hesder Yeshiva. Addressing the president and our students and faculty, I shared: Mr. President, thank you for joining us at the opening of Elul Zman.  Today, standing here as a

Book Review: God versus gods

September 4, 2019, by

God versus gods: Judaism in the Age of Idolatry Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein Mosaica Press For 12 years, I’ve served as the administrator of the OU’s Nach Yomi, the two-year cycle of Neviim and Kesuvim (Prophets and Writings). As a result, I’ve had the good fortune to review Nach half a dozen times. One thing

Kosher World

August 29, 2019, by

At the core of Jewish identity lies Kosher dietary laws and kosher eating. Almost every “identified” Jew maintains some minimal standard of a kosher diet. Kosher laws themselves are Divine will and do not change with the passing of time – they are eternal and immutable.  However, the manner in which we experience these guidelines,

It Kind of Is Your Fault

August 28, 2019, by

One of the most interesting aspects of my job is the random assortment of questions that I’m privileged to answer. It’s always enlightening to see what others come up with that might not have occurred to you or me. Two of the more interesting questions I’ve fielded recently include, “If God spoke to Moses face

The White Coat

Symbols.  The ancient world had symbols for fertility, wealth, birth and death.  Today’s world is replete with them.  The blue-and- white wheelchair occupied by a stick figure.  The red circle with a line imposed over a black lit cigarette.  The peace sign.  The list is endless.  The power of symbols endures because symbols are creative,

“Naar Hayisi Gam Zakanti”

August 20, 2019, by

There’s a verse from Tehillim that (with the exception of the Chabad minhag) is recited at the end of bentching (birkas hamazon/grace after meals) and is sung as a beautiful niggun. It goes: Naar hayisi gam zakanti v’lo ra’isi tzaddik neezav v’zaro m’vakesh lachem. I was young and I became old but I never saw