On Tu B’Av and Ahavat Chinam
Tu B’Av is colloquially known as the Festival of Love. It was one of the two best days of the year, along with Yom Kippur: Rabban Shimon son of Gamliel said: “Israel did not have better days than the fifteenth of Av and Yom Kippur, when the maidens of Jerusalem would go out wearing borrowed […]
Unlocking the COVID-19 Lockdown: Halakhic Perspective on Leisure Activities
As we begin to emerge from lockdown and society gets used to our new routine, it is important to examine the halakhic ramifications of the new reality. The lockdown may be over but not the pandemic, which is still actively taking lives around the world. What are the halakhic guidelines for going out to public […]
Understanding Na’aseh V’Nishma in a Post-Modern World
The breakdown of authority and the rejection of commitment in post-modern times are posing an unprecedented challenge to the continuity of Jewish tradition. I fear that if we fail to provide a comprehensive, authentic response to these challenges, even our halakhically observant Jewish communities will shrink dramatically within a generation or two.
Between Matan Torah and Da’at Torah
Next week, we will commemorate the shloshim of Rabbi Nachum Eliezer Rabinovich zt”l, one of the giants of our generation. As we approach Shavuot, I wish to consider the validity of Da’at Torah through the prism of his unique approach, which I discuss at length in my new book “The Narrow Halakhic Bridge –A Vision of Jewish Law in […]
Ke’Ish Echad be’Lev Echad – Changing the Culture of Rabbinic Disputes
A new elected rabbi came to his new shul for the first time, filled with excitement. His first rabbinical challenge occurred during Kriyat Shema. Half the congregants stood up to recite the Shema and the other half remained sitting. Then, the sitting folks started yelling at those standing to sit down, and the ones standing […]
Yom Ha’atzmaut, ‘She’Hecheyanu’ and the Coronavirus
Yom Ha’atzmaut during Corona times will look very different to anything we have ever experienced. In Israel, total lockdown will replace the endless holiday traffic jams, and a modest home-grill will for many take the place of the traditional charcoal barbecue. But this year, more than ever, it is imperative to thank Hashem for the […]
Zooming in on Leil HaSeder’s Zoom Controversy
The global Coronavirus crisis and its unprecedented implications present many challenges to the poskim. One of the polemics that has arisen recently is the option of utilizing the Zoom application for the Seder to include elderly family members who will spend the Seder alone, due to the demand for social distancing in particular from adults […]
Reciting the Kaddish De’Rabbanan in a Virtual Minyan Under Extraordinary Circumstances
1. Introduction Due to the rapid spread of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), most of the synagogues in Israel and worldwide have shut their doors. The most effective way to combat the spread of this virus is through “social distancing.” Given that, by definition, synagogues are places for gathering and drawing closer to people, they have become […]
The Israeli-Arab Conflict: A Spiritual Perspective
The Origins of the Conflict In recent weeks, we have witnessed historic peace agreements between Israel and several Arab countries, with talk of more accords on the way with additional countries. At the very same time, expressions of radical Islamism are becoming more extreme, and the poison of Islamic terrorism spreads unchecked across Europe and […]
Changing the Culture of Dispute
The remedy for the whole of society must begin with our personal actions, so I wish to suggest a road map to conduct what our Sages define as ‘machloket le’shem shamayim’ (dispute for the sake of Heaven). If we can implement these principles in every conversation, argument and conflict in our lives, between families and friends, in the workplace and in the political arena, and especially on social media, it will bring our society to a much healthier place.
Gone with the Winds of Political Correctness
The world is being washed over by waves of political correctness amid protests over the brutal death of George Floyd. Classical movies such as “Gone with the Wind” are being pulled from a film library and using the word “women” instead of “people who menstruate” has become controversial and illegitimate. Discrimination is always wrong, and […]
It’s Time to Consider Coming Home to Israel
An abridged version of this article appeared here on JTA on June 1, 2020 On Purim this year, I was celebrating with friends in Boro Park. The streets were filled with people wearing costumes and Purim masks, celebrating and rejoicing. No one had the slightest clue that N-95 masks would soon take the place of […]
Emerging United from the Global Crisis
Over the past couple of years, both Israeli and American society have experienced growing levels of divisiveness and hatred. Public discourse has become disrespectful and violent, filled with contempt and incitement. COVID-19, this tiny virus that has become the joint enemy of all humanity, has brought a sense of proportion back to our lives and forced us to let go of these divisive elements, by demonstrating how much we are all dependent on one another.
“Due to their closeness to G-d they perished” – Reflections on the Williamsburg Funeral
The sight of the crowded funeral in Williamsburg, together with the provocative words of Mayor De Blasio talking about “The Jews”, was a troubling experience for many of us. New York’s Chassidic community has suffered more than a thousand casualties from the COVID-19 pandemic, and many Gedolei HaTorah have succumbed to the plague. My heart […]
The Song of the Balconies
One of the moving experiences that will be engraved in all of our Israeli Coronavirus Pesach memories is the balcony sing-a-long of “Ma Nishtana” on a night that was very different from every Leil HaSeder we have experienced in the past. The balcony sing-a-long is not a new phenomenon during the Coronavirus pandemic, but an […]
On Uncertainty and the Festival of Freedom
The ability to lean fearlessly into uncertainty for a long while and to feel comfort and security precisely in the landscape of question marks. There is redemption in a profound experience of uncertainty. It’s an opportunity to embrace our vulnerability and to realize that there is something much bigger than us. It is an opportunity to discover that the real sense of safety comes from the divine side of us and our engagement with it. “Let go and let God”!