Matzo ball soup

Eating on the Day Before Yom Kippur

R. Ḥiyya bar R. Difti taught: It says, “And you shall afflict yourselves on the ninth” [Lev. 23:32]. Now on the ninth do we fast? Do we not fast on the tenth? Rather, this is to tell you that anyone who eats and drinks on the ninth, the Scriptures considers it as if he fasted […]

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Private property warning sign on boundary gate

To the Infinite and Beyond: Attaining Taharah

The goal of the avodah (worship) of Yom Kippur is usually understood as the attainment of kaparah, forgiveness from Hashem and from each other. However, the Torah itself tells us that the climactic goal of Yom Kippur is “tit’haru – you shall be purified.” For on this day He shall effect atonement for you to […]

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Second Temple Model of the ancient Jerusalem.

Itzumo Shel Yom: The Power of Yom Kippur

According to Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi in Yoma 85b, Yom Kippur atones for all sins in the Torah, both positive and negative, regardless of whether or not the sinner did teshuva. Seemingly, even if a person sins and persists in his rebellious ways, all is forgiven by Yom Kippur. Rebbi’s method raises the question: how can […]

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rating survey

The High Holy Days: Belief in Man

The High Holy Day season is upon us, filling our minds and hearts with so many thoughts and emotions that go beyond our normal framework. This unique time of the Jewish year stands in stark contrast to the New Year’s experience marked by the Gregorian calendar: The approach to Rosh Hashanah is counted down by […]

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Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Achieving Personal and Public Change

The new year before us presents us with an opportunity for renewal and change. However change is not always simple for us. What stands in our way? Why aren’t we able to change the way we would like, and what are the tools which will help us to prepare for the new year? Let us […]

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Happy Man in Wheat Field

Vidui For What We Did RIGHT This Year

This message is being written during the wee moments of this past year and the last days of the month of Elul, the month designated to repentance and return to G-d, reaching its height on Yom Kippur [Tractate Rosh Hashana 18a.] However, this month also marks the last in the past year, as we prepare […]

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All we need is love.

Love Stands a Chance

The Sefer Yetzirah (Chapter 1, Mishna 1) relates that God created the world with a story. This teaches us that life itself is an ongoing story, and a true story does not end. Five years ago, on Rosh Hashanah, I was part of one of the most influential stories of my life, and this month, […]

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Curved Shofarim

The Deeper Meaning of the Curved Shofar

At the beginning of his book Paradoxes, Max Nordau describes a childhood experience. As a child, he would play a certain game with his friends. One of the friends would scribble some points, lines, and random shapes on a piece of paper. Another would try to connect the dots, lines and shapes to make a […]

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shana tova 5775

Working Together To Unite Israeli Society

As the new year draws closer, we enter into a period of personal and national Cheshbon Hanefesh (spiritual accounting) during an extraordinary time in Jewish history. In response to a traumatic summer of heightened international anti-Semitism and a war for Israel’s existence that seemed never ending, Israeli society experienced an unprecedented level of solidarity and […]

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Not Fair!

The Mamzer and the Rabbis

  This article appeared in Rabbi Evan Hoffman’s weekly Torah essay titled Thoughts on the Parashah and is posted here with his permission. Scripture places severe social restrictions on the mamzer. “No mamzer shall come into the Lord’s assembly. Even his tenth generation shall not come into the Lord’s assembly (Deuteronomy 23:3).” The meaning of […]

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