Yom Yerushalayim: Sason and Simcha
Numbers play a significant, if usually symbolic, role in Jewish thought. Perhaps the most symbolic number is seven, representing completeness; the most obvious example is Shabbat, the highlight that completes the week. Even our new year, Rosh Hashanah, takes place in the seventh month, and the holidays of Pesach and Sukkot are meant to be seven days long. Shavuot, the culmination of the exodus, is celebrated after seven weeks of seven days. The...Continue Reading »
Shavuot: A New Holiday
The shalosh regalim of Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot are a celebration of great historic events coupled with the recognition of G-d's role in our agricultural success. Even if the land of Israel experiences drought and the like, the knowledge that G-d controls nature is quite comforting. These three pilgrim festivals, with their deep ties to the land, resonate differently in the land of Israel than they do in the Diaspora. Hence it is not...Continue Reading »
Pesach: Where Is Hallel?
It is the holiday of Pesach that celebrates our becoming a nation and is the cornerstone of Judaism. Remembering the Exodus provides the backdrop to so many of our mitzvoth, whether it is Shabbat or Yom Tov, tefillin, mezuzah, kindness to strangers, or our sexual ethics. On Pesach, we focus on the meaning of freedom; but the mitzvah to remember the Exodus, zechirat yetziat mitzraim, is one that must be fulfilled each and every day, if by nothing...Continue Reading »
Yom Ha'atzmaut: Redemption and Return
Rav Soloveitchik was asked why our generation was the one to merit witnessing the creation of the State of Israel. After all, there were so many generations much more pious than ours, so much more worthy than us. The Rav answered, simply, that our generation needed it. Previous generations were able to flourish in their Judaism even without the benefit of a state. But after the horrors of the Holocaust, Jewish life simply could not continue,...Continue Reading »