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Put Awe Back in Awesome

September 20, 2016, by

The home of the great composer Ludwig van Beethoven has been preserved and serves as a museum in Bonn, Germany.  One historical gem in the museum is the piano upon which Beethoven composed most of his renowned works.  The piano is estimated to be worth more than $50 million and is understandably roped off and

Selichot: Learning to Listen to Leaders

September 20, 2016, by

As Ashkenazim begin saying selichot this Motzaei Shabbat, it works out well that this is the sermon of Aruch HaShulchan’s that we’re up to… The Kinds of People We’ll Heed Amos 7;12-15 presents a conversation between Amatzyah, a priest in Bet El, and Amos, the prophet. Amatzyah dismisses Amos, telling him to go to Judea,

Brock Turner: No Responsibility, No Redemption

August 9, 2016, by

Remember Brock Turner, the Stanford University swimmer-cum- rapist? There was outrage a few months ago when he was sentenced to a mere six months for raping an unconscious woman. He was eligible to be sentenced to 14 years; prosecutors requested six years. (We previously discussed some terrible comments made by Turner’s father in a misguided appeal for clemency.) It has

Campers Receive a Hands-On Lesson in the Tradition of Kosher Slaughter

July 28, 2016, by

LAKEWOOD, Pa. — In the woods here on Tuesday, campers stood in a line holding quails, feeling their warm bodies and beating hearts in their hands. “Guys, do not bond with your birds,” Hillie Ackerman, 16, a camper from Brooklyn, warned his friends. The birds were about to be slaughtered. One by one, the boys

Chess in Jewish Law

July 27, 2016, by

The cerebral game of chess has long captured rabbinic minds. References to the game can be found even in Rashi’s writings (Kesuvos 61b sv. de-mitalela). However, its status within Jewish law is complex and debated. Four areas in particular have sparked discussion among halakhic authorities — Shabbos, testimony, vows and idolatry. I. Shabbos You would

A Lesson in Contrasts

May 4, 2016, by

Upon first glance, Parshas Acharei Mos appears to be extremely disjointed, for the first three aliyos of the parshah describe Avodas Yom Ha-Kippurim, the spectacular Yom Kippur Service in the Beis Ha-Mikdash, while the rest of the parshah addresses aveiros (sins) of desecration, such as sacrificing sanctified animals in unholy locations rather than in the Beis

2+2=5? Inconceivable!

April 14, 2016, by

A reader recently wrote me asking the following question: “Is God so powerful that He can change what is truth? Like 2+2=5? If God created something from nothing, does that mean truth is arbitrary?” I thought this was an excellent question, as well one that has been expressed in many ways. (I’ll come to that

Some Things Are Better Left Alone

April 11, 2016, by

The Torah’s treatment of a house that is contaminated by Tzora’as is quite unusual. Aside from the remarkable and exceptional notion of a house being afflicted with Tzora’as, Halacha states that a house cannot be declared as contaminated by Tzora’as unless the Tzora’as spots are visible in the house’s interior by natural sunlight. A house

Preserving Privacy and Protecting Capacity for Intimacy

February 16, 2016, by

Despite what you may have been told as a child, sharing is not always caring. We are living in a transparent generation where the trend is towards sharing in the extreme. Over coffee with friends, at the water cooler with co-workers, and increasingly on social media, people are revealing more and more about their personal

How Much Would the Mishkan Cost Today?

February 16, 2016, by

The tent itself was made up of 48 gold plated beams that were connected.  20 on each side plus 8 across one wall. The beams were 10 x 1 x 1.5 amot.  That comes to a surface area of 50 x 48 = 2,400 amot squared. Although there are many opinions, let’s say an ammah

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