Chanukah Fun

What is Chanukah? On National Public Radio this week, a reporter posed this basic question to a young father attending a Chanukah party with his wife and two-year-old son. He responded, “You eat fried food. You have some doughnuts. You light some candles. You sing...

Alone with Friends

Jacob and his family were traveling to meet Esau and return to the Land of Israel. Jacob had his family and flocks cross the Yabok river before him, leaving Jacob himself alone on the other side. At that moment, a man — whom the Midrash says was Esau's personal angel...

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Thank G-d!

Upon the birth of her fourth child, Jacob’s wife Leah proclaimed, “This time I thank G-d - Odeh es Hashem.” She gave her son a name derived from "Odeh," thanks: Yehudah, or Judah. The Sages of the Talmud comment that this is the first time in Biblical history someone...

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A Healthy Transmission

The Torah spends a great deal of time discussing the life of our forefather Avraham, and that of Yaakov. By comparison, Yitzchak receives relatively short shrift. The offering of Yitzchak as a Korban, a sacrifice, is primarily told as a test of his father. It is...

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The Search for Unity

Readers know that I have written about anti-Semitism for a long time. Our hearts reel at its manifestation in a Pittsburgh synagogue last Shabbos morning. The Medrash says that Sarah passed away when she believed that her son Yitzchak had indeed died at HaShem's...

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Against the Grain

The Sages of the Talmud say that there were 10 times that Abraham's faith in G-d was tested, and he succeeded each time. The final test was to follow the command to slaughter his son Isaac, and offer him as a sacrifice. Although Isaac was the child for whom he and his...

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The Stubborn Independent

Are the values and opinions we hold dear really our own? We all take pride in thinking for ourselves, but are not many (all?) of our personal positions an echo of the culture we were raised in, or drawn from the last social media posting we read? From the shop of...

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