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The Process of Sin

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It is a word that one hears frequently these days, in many contexts. The word is process. It is a word that reflects our growing recognition that there are very few things in this world that occur in an instant, yesh me’ayin, something out of nothing.

When one faces a complex set of circumstances, he is well advised to...

Torah Web Leil Iyun Scheduled for MAY 12

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The latest TorahWeb.org Leil Iyun will take place at 8:00 PM on Sunday, May 12, at Bnai Yeshurun. It will feature Rav Hershel Schachter discussing “The Role of Mesorah and Consensus in Psak Halacha,” and Rav Michael Rosensweig addressing, “What Must a Jew Believe? Foundational Beliefs and Their Practical Implications.”

TorahWeb.org events, serving the Teaneck area since 2000, are provided free of charge and take place in conjunction with the local shuls. TorahWeb, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, was founded in 1999 at the initiative of members of the community. Its goal is to disseminate divrei Torah and hashkafa, with special attention to contemporary religious and...

Holding onto our trip down memory lane

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Last month, President Obama challenged our memories. On a stage full of mothers who have lost children in recent gun violence attacks, the president spoke of continued efforts to tighten gun laws. With resistance to such laws stiffening in Congress, the President reminded us that after the Newtown shooting, “the entire country was shocked, and the entire country pledged—we would do something about it…that this time would be different.” The president continued, “We need everybody to remember how we felt 100 days ago and make sure that what we said at that time wasn’t just a bunch of platitudes, [but] that we meant it.” The president’s speech charged us not to let our...

Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance!

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One of the biggest challenges I have as a teacher and parent is motivating young people to sing and dance as they rejoice on Shabbat and on Jewish holidays.  One might think that it would be a greater challenge to make Talmud study relevant and to inspire today’s students to delve into the analysis of the intricacies of halacha.  Zemirot would seem to be more engaging than the study of the responsibilities of the ox-owner for damages. Similarly, one would expect it to be a greater challenge to explain to students why one should believe in a theology that is not accepted by the vast majority in the world and that presents many moral, theological and personal challenges.  Nevertheless...

The Four Cups of Redemption

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Perhaps the most fascinating halakha associated with the rabbinic commandment of daled kosot is mentioned in the first Mishna in Arvei Pesachim. The Mishnah (99b) states “…Even the poorest amongst Israel …must not drink less than the four cups of wine [on Pesach night] even if he/she [must receive a stipend] from the communal charity fund.”

The Rashbam emphasizes this point by stating that if the overseer of the fund cannot give the ani funds to purchase four cups of wine, then the poor have the responsibility to find funds through other sources, including borrowing, selling one’s clothing, and hiring oneself out in order to raise funds to purchase wine. The Talmud suggests...

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