I often ask my high school students what they consider the most difficult mitzvah to observe. The two most common answers I receive are keeping Shabbat and keeping kosher. Considering that I teach in a communal high school where the overwhelming majority of the students are not shomer Shabbat and few are strictly kosher, this is pretty much what one would expect to hear. From the outside looking in, these mitzvot do appear most difficult—and for one not brought up keeping these mitzvot, they are.
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For most of the world, the year 1492 marks the anniversary of Christopher Columbus' voyage to America. Yet for Jews, the year 1492 is a year of tragedy, a date in Jewish history etched in infamy. It marked the end of perhaps the greatest Diaspora community in Jewish history, the birthplace of Rav Yehuda Halevi, Rambam, Ramban, Shmuel Hanagid, Rav Yosef Albo, and countless others greats. Spain is the country where, at least for a time, Jews and Muslims lived side by side in peace, with mutually beneficial interaction. May we merit the return of such!
It’s always important to remind ourselves to be thankful for those things we take for granted—like having electricity. As many of you know firsthand, and many others have undoubtedly heard, we Torontonians are slowly recovering from an ice storm that began this past Shabbat. Of course, some are luckier than others. Our home is still amongst the 90,000 Toronto households (down from over 300,000) who eagerly await the return of power and heat to our homes.
Monday morning at 1:30AM here in Israel, I joined over one hundred million of my fellow earth dwellers to watch Superbowl XLVI. When halftime rolled around, I imagine there were far fewer of us who left the broadcast and surfed over to the YU Torah Superbowl Halftime Show, to view a series of short shiurim relating to the theme of sports (particularly football) and Judaism. Despite the objections of some of my guests, leaving Madonna to listen to a shiur seemed like the obvious choice to me.
Memo issued by Religious Services Ministry forbids practice of barring women from eulogizing loved ones, accompanying the dead to grave sites. The result of a concerted effort by Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat, the document stipulates that as long as the family agrees women can fully participate in funerals.