Sukkot: The Twin Pillars
Pesach and Sukkot are the twin pillars of the Jewish year. They are exactly six months apart, each on the fifteenth day of the first month of their respective years. Pesach marks the apex of the lunar year that begins in Nissan, and Sukkot does the same for Tishrei, the beginning of the solar year. That both these holidays begin on the 15th of the month is no coincidence, as it on the 15th that the moon is full. Like the moon, the...Continue Reading »
Chagigah 14: Acher, Please Return
One of the hallmarks of the Western world is its inclusiveness. Great attempts are made to make all feel included, no matter their ability or their lifestyle. This is a most beautiful sentiment. Society has become more sensitive to the needs of people who not so long ago were shunned. Yet at the same time, being welcoming and inclusive does not mean that we are to accept any and every lifestyle choice as proper. We must learn to separate the...Continue Reading »
Rosh Hashanah: Do I Need to Pray?
"On Rosh Hashanah, we read 'on the seventh month on the first day', and the maftir reads, 'is not Ephraim my precious son'; and some say we read 'and G-d remembered Sarah', and the maftir with Chana (Shmuel 1,Chapter 1-2). And now that we have two days, on the first day, we do like 'some say', and on the morrow, 'and G-d tested Abraham'; and the...Continue Reading »
Tisha B'Av: The Joy of Jerusalem
"Whoever mourns for Jerusalem will merit seeing its joy" (Ta'anit 30b). Our Sages seem to be offering words of comfort to those pious Jews over the millennium, who faithfully internalized the suffering of the Jewish people. Though they would not merit seeing the rebuilding of Jerusalem in their own lifetime—that is a blessing reserved for our generation—they would merit seeing the joy of Jerusalem after they were...Continue Reading »
Shavuot: Why Were We Chosen?
"It was taught in the name of Rabbi Meir: Why was the Torah given to the Jewish people?" (Beitzah 25a). The simple answer—made famous by a Midrash that is taught at a very young age in all Jewish schools—is that we wanted to. "The Lord came from Sinai and rose from Seir unto them, He shined forth from Mount Paran (Devarim 33:2)...Rav Yochanan says: This teaches us that the Holy One, blessed be He, offered the Torah to...Continue Reading »