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Divrei Torah

Why Is This Holiday Different From All Others?

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I have always been amazed by the “popularity” of the Pesach holiday. People who may not enter a synagogue more than three times a year will find themselves at a Pesach seder. Jewish families engage in the greatest display of Hachnasat Orchim on this majestic evening as they invite distant relatives, co-workers, friends...

Rethinking Expecting and Expectations

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There are many expectations of members of the Orthodox community. We expect our young men and women to work hard in college and pursue lofty professional goals. We expect young men and women to marry young. We expect young couples to start growing their families in a timely fashion. Along with all the excitement that fills the first years of marriage comes pressure to have children. “Nu—what’s taking so long?” inquire well-meaning, albeit overzealous, family members. For couples struggling to conceive, this communal expectation exacerbates the pain of infertility.

Aside from the unwanted explicit intrusions, there are other forms of pressure far more pernicious. How common is it...

Is Esther True?

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The holiday of Purim celebrates the story told in the biblical book of Esther. Yet, as we read the Megillah, some people ask whether the story is historically accurate. Historians have long questioned the historicity of the events described in Esther. The Megillah reads more like a political thriller than a historical record or even a religious tale. Despite the clear historical setting, historians have found no evidence of the people or the events. Is Esther true?

Some may respond that the book can be true even if it is not historically accurate. The great prophets of Israel taught us moral, not historical, lessons. Even if the story is just a parable, its lessons remain equally strong...

Three Dimensions

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Since my childhood, I have been an avid reader. When I first discovered the joy of reading, I read everything I could get my hands on. Even today, my taste in reading is very eclectic. However, there is at least one genre of literature that I seem to avoid.

I do not read science fiction. I trace my distaste for science fiction to one of its common themes: the possible existence of a fourth dimension. Somehow, the three dimensions of our ordinary reality are quite enough for me. The possibility of a mysterious fourth, of a “black hole” in the universe, is one that I have always dismissed as unimaginable.

The three dimensions of our existence are not only part of our physical reality...

Differentiating Between Good and Evil

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Many questions have arisen following the arrest, investigation and indictment of the youths suspected of committing crimes of violence and murder. The most important question is how to prevent adolescents, from upstanding families, from falling into deplorable and destructive behavior.

It is fruitless to speak about the suspicion of serious crimes, because it may turn out these youths are not guilty; hopefully, this will be the case. However, it is possible to address what we do know. Clearly there are youths among the residents of the hilltop communities who bring public shame to the Torah and the nation. They claim to love Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel), but they abhor all those...

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