Rainbow in the Clouds

Parshat Noach: Somewhere Over the Rainbow

The Torah portion of Noach is concerned with the total collapse of humanity, leading in the end to the almost complete destruction of all living creatures in the flood. The few people who survive the disaster are given a promise by the Almighty that there will never be a second flood. However, the author of […]

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Lonely man

Parshat Noach: A Righteous Tzaddik

These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a good and just man. He was a pure man in his generation. [Genesis 6:9] The saga of Noah and the flood is well known, yet Noah remains an elusive personality. What was the nature of Noah’s goodness? The description of Noah as TZADDIK — which can […]

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Happy family sitting inside car

Shabbat Israelit – Inviting Guests Who Drive on Shabbat

In anticipation of the upcoming Shabbat Israelit, we have been asked by many people – especially those living in all-religious communities – about inviting guests for Shabbat dinner, if they know that those guests will drive home after the meal. This is a question that the Beit Hillel Beit Midrash Hilchati has dealt with in […]

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Live Life to the Fullest

Parshat Bereshit: Doing and Being

The year is 1954. Years before the Israeli masses began streaming into India, Azriel Carlebach, the legendary editor of the newspaper Maariv, traveled to India and summarized his experiences in his book “India – a Travelogue.” Carlebach understood well the difference between Western and Eastern worldviews. He quotes a discussion with the Indian prime minister […]

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Desert Tent

Placing Our Trust in God

You shall live in Succot (booths) for seven days, all citizens in Israel shall live in Succot (booths); in order that future generations may know that I made the Israelite people live in booths, when I brought them out of the Land of Egypt, I am the Lord your God.” (Vayikra 23:41-43) The Torah informs […]

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Sukkot Jewish Holiday in Israel

Sukkot and the Joy of Existence

  The root ש-מ-ח is associated with the holiday of Sukkot. In the book of Vayikra (23:40) we read: וּלְקַחְתֶּם לָכֶם בַּיּוֹם הָרִאשׁוֹן פְּרִי עֵץ הָדָר כַּפֹּת תְּמָרִים וַעֲנַף עֵץ עָבֹת וְעַרְבֵי נָחַל וּשְׂמַחְתֶּם לִפְנֵי ה’ אֱלֹהֵיכֶם שִׁבְעַת יָמִים. This chapter, which delineates the Jewish holidays, applies the term of simcha only to the holiday […]

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Flowing Water

For a Blessing and Not as a Curse…

In Israel, the month of Cheshvan is a month of transition. The summer and the chagim are over and we look to the winter for our annual rainfall. The fact that in Israel we must rely on the winter’s rain to sustain us through the long dry season only stresses our dependency on Hashem. Rain […]

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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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