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Publishing Torah Books
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The last of the 613 commandments of the Torah is for each individual to write a Torah scroll, or to have one written: “Now write for you this song, and teach it to the children of Israel” (Devarim 31:19). This is a fitting culmination for the commandments – providing the means for their preservation and […]
Confusing the Accuser – Part 2
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Last week we pointed out that Chazal and the Rishonim explain quite a number of shofar customs based on the principle of “confusing the Satan”, the accuser. One approach we presented was to explain that by blowing the shofar earlier (already in Elul), more times (standing and sitting) and in more ways (various kinds of […]
Yaaleh v’Yavo
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On days which have a musaf prayer, that is, Yom Tov, High Holidays and Rosh Chodesh, we say the prayer yaaleh veyavo in the blessing on the restoration of the Temple service. The essence of this prayer is that our prayers should ascend on high and be heard and responded to by G-d. The stages […]
Tying Shoes – Part 2
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The Shulchan Arukh states that the right shoe should be put on first, but the left shoe should be tied first. Last week we gave one explanation: wearing clothes, and particularly shoes, represents strengthening and protection; tying represents binding or restraint. The right side, representing mercy, is particularly in need of strength and protection; the […]
Teshuvah
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Thursday night, the month of Elul begins. The day specifically mentioned in the Torah as the day of atonement is the tenth of Tishrei, Yom Kippur, but the entire ten days from Rosh HaShana until Yom Kippur are also called the “Ten days of repentance”. And to a lesser extent the entire month of Elul […]
Shofar in Elul
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There is an ancient custom to blow the shofar in Elul. The source is in the Midrash: “On Rosh Chodesh [Elul] the Holy One, blessed be He, said to Moshe: Ascend the mount unto Me. And they sounded the shofar in all the camp, that Moshe ascended the mount, so that they shouldn’t further err […]
Prozbol
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Our parsha relates the various mitzvot relating to the release of debts in the shemitta year: the commandment to release debts when this year passes, the commandment to abstain from collecting these debts (Devarim 15:1-3), and at the same time a warning not to refrain from lending money in anticipation of the release. (Devarim 15:9-11.) […]
Avoiding Celebration for a Mourner
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Our parsha opens with the declaration of thanks made by the farmer who brings his first fruits. He affirms that he separated out tithes including maaser sheni, and adds, “I did not eat of it during mourning” (Devarim 26:14). The sadness of mourning is a contradiction to the joy required for eating maaser. (Technically this […]
Investing Money Wisely
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The gemara gives us sage advice about how to diversify our portfolios: “Rebbe Yitzchak said, a person should always divide his money into three: one third in land, one third in trade, and one third in hand” (Bava Metzia 42a). The need to keep a certain portion in money (“in hand”) is hinted at in […]
Wearing and Tying Shoes
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The Shulchan Arukh states that we should don our right shoe first, and then the left; but tying shoes is in the opposite order – first left, then right. (SA OC 2:4.) The source for this law is in the gemara Shabbat 61a. Rebbe Yochanan states that the left shoe should be put on first, […]