Thursday, July 02, 2020


The Redemptive Power of Eruvin

The Ba’al Shem Tov

The Ba’al Shem Tov (cited in Mikveh Mayim 3:6 and elsewhere) is quoted (in Mikveh Mayim 3:6 and elsewhere) as interpreting the pasuk in Chabbakuk 3:12 (and see Metzudot David ad. loc.) “בְּזַעַם, תִּצְעַד-אָרֶץ,” bezaam (bet, zayin, ayin, mem) Hashem will


Hidden Miracles

This Shabbat we read both the parshiyot Chukat and Balak. This is not a common occurrence and it happens only on a year when Shavuot falls on Erev Shabbat. Since Shavuot is celebrated in Eretz Yisrael for but one day, as the Torah requires, the second day of Shavuot celebrated in chu”l (“chutz la’aretz”) is marked in Israel as the


Halakhic Evolution in American Orthodoxy

Reviewing: “Social Change and Halakhic Evolution in American Orthodoxy” by Chaim I. Waxman. The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization in association with Liverpool University Press. 2017. English. 226 pages. Hardcover. ISBN-13: 978-1906764845.

Until the 19th century, the term Orthodox


Was Rashi Motivated by Non-Exegetical Factors in His Torah Commentary?

As we all know, Rashi generally took his answers from the midrash instead of offering suggestions of his own. In the view of Nehama Leibowitz, Rashi was strictly an exegete and consistently chose the midrash that best fit with the plain sense of the verses, and adapted it slightly if necessary. No other considerations influenced


Smile! Make My Day

Several weeks ago, I received a call from a friend who lamented that he was lonely; since the beginning of the lockdown he has been separated from his wife due to pandemic restrictions. We had a long chat, which I hope alleviated some of his despair. All of us have experienced some level of loneliness—some more, some less. But there is


Please Don’t Blame the Schools

While we all have had to adjust to a new normal or even a temporary new normal, I feel I have to respond to “The Forgotten Children of the Pandemic,” by Heather Feigin (June 18, 2020). While I have no doubt that the author comes from a sincere place both personally and professionally, I have to question some of her very extreme points


What Would You Do?

“Ew, a Jew.”

I heard the statement through the grapevine only a few days ago, yet according to a friend I heard it a year after it was made. I remember the night at my university. I was standing on a stage and leading a game of Jeopardy for the audience. Jeopardy is a game with no discrimation in its


Denouncing Racism and Misinformation

While I am pleased to see pieces in The Jewish Link that illuminate the need for recent protests to honor Black lives, I am saddened and angered by troubling viewpoints that forsake empathy and seek to uphold racially oppressive systems, as well. Last week, I took issue with two entries, in particular: Jonathan S. Tobin’s “When US


One Woman’s Reflections on Returning to Shul in the COVID-19 Era

I was seated on an uncomfortable metal folding chair in a parking lot, directly facing the garbage dumpster, with the sun in my eyes, trying to breathe through a mask, and the humidity and heat causing my glasses to fog up so I could barely see. And then I had to wrestle with the mechitza curtains that blew over my head in the


Lessons From the Stock Market Meltdown and Recovery

Part 2

In last week’s column I explained why I believe that market timing as a strategy is a fool’s errand. By jettisoning one’s portfolio out of fear, greed or plain hubris, an investor quite often ends up regretting their decision. Market timing is a mistake in the category of questionable


Miscellaneous Twains VI

After a long hiatus, I ran into Mark Twain recently who was eager to share some of his thoughts on recent current events. He began by telling me how upset he felt over the coronavirus pandemic and the disruptions and loss of life it brought in its wake. He then listed several observations on how we might better withstand the changes wrought


Yair Leolam Announces Winners of Project SHINE 2.0 Contests

(Courtesy of Yair Leolam) This year, as a result of COVID-19 and the accompanying disruption and uncertainty in all our lives, we decided to shift the focus of Project Shine and created three contests dealing with the theme of “Finding the Good in Times of Crisis.” Each contest was open to two age groups, sixth to eighth and ninth to