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Gifts
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King Solomon teaches us that “He who hates gifts will live”[1] which essentially means that one should always strive to make ends meet through one’s own efforts and not through the handouts of others.[2] The Talmud notes that the average human lifespan seems to have gotten shorter when people became accustomed and comfortable to living […]
Pirkei Avot in the Summer
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There is a widespread custom to study one chapter of Pirkei Avot each Shabbat afternoon during the summer months.[1] Some observe the custom for the first six weeks following Pesach thereby completing the entire tractate of Pirkei Avot once[2] as a preparation for Shavuot and “kabbalat hatorah.”[3] In most communities, however, the Pirkei Avot study […]
Forgetfulness
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The Talmud cautions us numerous times against allowing ourselves to forget anything which we have learned. In fact, we are taught that one who allows oneself to forget any of one’s Torah studies violates a prohibition of the Torah[1] and is compared to one who takes his own life.[2] In an effort to assist one […]
Using God’s Name
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Although one is never to use God’s name in routine conversation, or any time for that matter outside of study or prayer, one is permitted to use God’s name in full when teaching children how to pray and recite blessings.[1] For example, although when referring to God in conversation one replaces His name with the […]
Shoes
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Although they are worn at the bottom of one’s body and usually left to be put on last – shoes occupy a prominent place in rabbinic and halachic literature. In fact, among the many blessings of thanksgiving which are recited each morning is a special blessing which refers specifically to shoes.[1] Indeed, the unique wording […]
Fingernails
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One should be sure to trim one’s fingernails each week before the arrival of Shabbat in order to ensure that one has a pleasant appearance in honor of Shabbat.[1] It is interesting to note that anytime one trims one’s fingernails one should preferably not do so in a finger-by-finger order.[2] The suggested order for the […]
The Position of the Bed
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One is advised to position one’s bed so that it faces north-to-south rather that east-to-west.[1] This notion originates in the Talmud[2] which teaches that the positioning one’s bed in this manner is conducive to a number of benefits, as we will soon see. While these guidelines are intended primarily for the marital bed,[3] this arrangement […]
Shomer Peta’im Hashem – God Watches Over the Unwise
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One can’t help but notice how so many people routinely engage in dangerous activities without thinking twice. This conduct seems to contradict the Torah’s prohibition against engaging in anything which may be damaging to one’s health.[1] Indeed, we are required to avoid dangerous activities even more so than ritual prohibitions.[2] Whether it be smoking, air […]
Verbal Abuse
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An often overlooked area in interpersonal relations is that of “ona’at devarim,” verbal abuse. The Torah tells us that causing another person any form of pain – even with words – is strictly forbidden.[1] Verbally abusing another person is forbidden whether or not other people are present. In fact, if others are present one transgresses […]
Embarrassing Others
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It should go without saying that embarrassing or insulting another person is a serious transgression of the Torah. The Talmud even equates embarrassing another person with murder.[1] We are taught that one should sooner have oneself killed rather than embarrass another person.[2] This idea is derived from Tamar who was ready to have herself killed […]