Holidays

Holidays

Purim and Iran

Startling parallels between ancient Persia and Israel’s predicament today Twenty-five hundred years after our confrontation with one genocidal Persian madman, the Jewish people face another – Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the mad mullahs of Iran, who have repeatedly declared…

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Purim & the Last Laugh

What is the meaning of laughter? What makes people laugh? Triggers of laughter often transcend words and even intellect; laughter can even cross cultural boundaries. What makes something funny? I was once so embarrassed by my own laughter that I…

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Four Amazing Trees

Spiritual lessons from trees, for Tu B’Shvat. It was 110 degrees the morning we climbed the steep cliff near the Dead Sea. My husband and I thought we had enough water. But the air was so heavy with heat, I…

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Tu B’Shevat Q & A

The first day of [the Hebrew month] Shevat is the New Year for the tree according to the House of Shamai. The House of Hillel says it is on the 15th of Shevat. (Talmud, Rosh Hashanah 2a) Question: Why is…

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Sparkle Up Your Tu B’Shevat Seder

Winter fruit might seem less spectacular than the much more time-valued offerings of summer, but oranges and pears in particular, while quiet and “common,” can be the unexpected stars of simple savory dishes. This is perfect for Tu B’Shevat, the…

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I Wanna Be a Maccabee

Who are the heroes of Chanukah? The founders of the “Jewish Olympics” had a formidable task. To find a name for the games, they had to pick through Jewish history and find a hero who, if not actually athletic, was…

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Hanukkah: Lighting on Erev Shabbos

Navigating the delicate moments on Friday afternoon of Chanukah 1. When should one daven Mincha on erev Shabbos? Preferably, one should daven Mincha before lighting the menorah. This is the same sequence of events as in the Holy Temple, where…

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Chanukah Miracles: The Little Dreidle

Beis Yosef asked, “Why do we celebrate Chanukah for eight days if there was ample oil to last for one day?  It would seem that the miracle was that the oil lasted an additional seven days… in which case, Chanukah…

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Let There Be Light

Understanding the cultural clash between the Greeks and the Jews During the holiday of Chanukah, Jews relive their military and ideological victory over their Hellenistic adversaries. We still hear the echoes of this cultural clash today, as Winston Churchill wrote…

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ABC’s of Chanukah (Hanukkah)

Everything you need to know about the holiday of Chanukah – Hanukkah Chanukah (Hanukkah), the Festival of Lights, begins on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev, and lasts for eight days. On the secular calendar, Chanukah generally…

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Beating the Aravot

On the last day of Sukkot, Hoshana Rabba, we beat a bundle of willow branches (actually one is enough) on the floor (SA OC 664:4). The source for this “beating” is in the gemara (Sukka 44b) which states that the…

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Dancing with the Torah

A true Simchat Torah story He came by my house every six months or so, for a modest contribution to support the immigrant village he helped build in Israel to absorb new arrivals from Russia. His excited, high pitched voice…

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Shmini Azeret and Simchat Torah

God adds a special day at the end of Sukkot, a day of great intimacy with our Creator, as He asks His Jewish children to remain with him for extra personal time together. Imagine you throw a huge party and…

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Putin and the Torah

Rejoicing with the Torah because it is an exceptional book that has made us exceptional. Till now the best definition of chutzpah was probably that given by Leo Rosten in his classic work, The Joys of Yiddish: “Chutzpah is that…

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