Genesis: ‘From The Heart of a Lion’

October 17, 2017

 

Written by Alan Jay Gerber.

Originally appeared in The Jewish Star on October 8, 2017. 

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One of the most charismatic young rabbis in education today is Rabbi Aryeh Cohen, the Mashgiach Ruchani at the DRS High School in Woodmere. Rabbi Cohen has assembled in book form (“From The Heart of a Lion,” Penina Press) a series of eloquent and timely essays themed to each parasha in Bereshis. The content of each chapter fully lives up to the rabbi’s reputation of combining his analytic learning style with anecdotes relating to life’s experiences.

In Noach, next week’s parasha, Rabbi Cohen relates a personal relationship to demonstrate respect for authority especially in terms of religious reverence and mentorship.

The rabbinical authority in this essay was HaRav Nosson Finkel, zt”l, rosh yeshiva of the Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem, who was, in Rabbi Cohen’s words, the “foundation of my life as a Jew.”

The relationship that Rabbi Cohen describes illustrates the author’s style and the greatness of his subject.

“From the time I began to Read the rest of this entry »

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Meet the Author: American Interests in the Holy Land

September 10, 2017

 

Come meet author Lenny Ben-David!

 

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

6:00 PM in the Library of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

13 Tel Chai Street (corner of Rachel Emeinu), Jerusalem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

american interests

 “From the beginning to the end – U.S. Senators visiting the Western Wall in the 1930’s on the cover, to young Bobby Kennedy reporting on the 1948 Israeli Independence war in the last chapter – Lenny Ben-David’s essays and collection of 100 photographs portray the special relationship between the United States and the Jewish population of the Holy Land from a unique and memorable perspective.” – Senator Joseph I. Lieberman

 

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Other works by Lenny Ben-David:

American Interests in the Holy Land (2017)

World War I in the Holy Land (2018)

Biblical Sites and the Jews of the Holy Land (2019)

Revealed in Early Photographs

 


Jewish Veganism With Dr. Richard Schwartz and Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz

November 29, 2016

WhoStoleMyReligion9789655242348With Victoria Moran of Unity.fm

Among Newsweek‘s “Top 50 Rabbis in America,” Shmuly Yanklowitz joins Richard Schwartz, Ph.D., of JewishVeg for an inspiring hour on why veganism is a Jewish value and a human value.

Listen to the full interview here.

 


Review of Moadei HaRav

June 19, 2016

MoadeiHaRav web1By Rabbi Ari Enkin

Rabbi Shlomo Pick’s “Moadei Harav” is a welcome and refreshing window into the thought, style, and rulings of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik. This may very well be the clearest and most readable book on the Rav that offers readers of all levels a glimpse into the world of Rav Soloveitchik’s halachic teachings. Most other books on Rav Soloveitchik empathize his philosophy, and they are not always the most reader-friendly volumes.

I found almost all the essays to be practical and of great interest. Except for the entry on the status of Eretz Yisrael (“shem eretz yisrael” vs. “kedushat eretz yisrael”) all essays revolve around the holidays (hence the name of the book). Some of the essays I enjoyed most are the status of Kriat Shema on Yom Kippur (a davar shebekedusha?), Pirsumei Nissa of Chanuka (the difference between “revealing” and “demonstrating” the miracles of Chanuka) , the Status of  “Simcha” of the two days of Purim, the status of Purim eve (a detailed discussion on ata kadosh, kaddish titkabel, and shehecheyanu), the Mitzva of Charoset (Rav Soloveitchik’s interpretation of the Rambam), and the setting of the date of Shavuot (a look at several rishonim).

There is an extensive introduction of essays on the Rav and his style of Torah study and Talmudic analysis. This is a quality publication suitable for all.

This review originally appeared on Torah Book Reviews.


On How to Lean toward Leniency: Halakhic Methodology for the Posek

November 17, 2015

One of the very serious questions that faces every posek is what degree of flexibility does he have in determining his decisions, whether in the direction of stringency or that of leniency. Is he inexorably bound by the rulings of the Shulhan Arukh, for example? Or may he take a position which is more stringent than that of the Mehaber ? (It is generally agreed that he may add stringencies to his own private practices.) Conversely, can he take a position of leniency, which would seem to contradict the standard rulings?

We know that there are certain well-defined areas of halakha where the posek is given considerable leeway and personal freedom, and may even be encouraged in the direction of koah de-heteira adif (favoring the position of leniency). For example, the Talmud declared that mi-shum igun akilu Rabbanan, i.e., in the case of agunot one should lean toward a permissive path. So too, bi-khdei hayyav, mi-pnei kevod ha-beriyot, hefsed merubbeh, shaat ha-dehak, mi-shum tzaara, etc. On the other hand, in certain cases one may rule more stringently, in accordance with the principle of lifnim mi-shurat ha-din. Read the rest of this entry »


After the Hoolocaust the Bells Still Ring on NY Journal of Books

November 1, 2015

By Charles S. Weinblatt AftertheHolocustWeb1

Joseph Polak is from the same nation as Anne Frank, The Netherlands. As Jewish children, they are taken captive by Nazi Germany, deported to Westerbork and then to Bergen-Belsen, where Anne dies from typhus. Joseph has the rest of his life to make sense of the Holocaust, to find a way to re-connect with a God painfully absent from the destruction of his people.

Joseph is an infant when he and his parents are forced onto Nazi train transports and sent to Westerbork. Joseph’s father dies shortly after their next train transport. He and his mother face years of starvation, brutality, and deplorable conditions. They, along with other Jews, await final transport to a Nazi death camp. Read the rest of this entry »


Tisha B’Av and Vegetarianism

July 22, 2015

By Richard H. Schwartz

There are many connections between vegetarianism and the Jewish holiday of Tisha B’Av:

1. Tisha B’Av (the 9th day of the month of Av) commemorates the destruction of the first and second Temples in Jerusalem. Today the entire world is threatened by climate change, and modern intensive livestock agriculture is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

2. In Megilat Eichah (Lamentations), which is read on Tisha B’Av, the prophet Jeremiah warned the Jewish people of the need to change their unjust ways in order to avoid the destruction of Jerusalem. Today, climate scientists are warning that the world may be very close to a climate tipping point when climate change will spin out of control, with disastrous consequences, unless major changes are soon made. Vegetarians join in this warning, and add that a switch toward vegetarianism is an essential part of the major changes that are required.

3. On Tisha B’Av, Jews fast to express their sadness over the destruction of the two Temples. Fasting also awakens us to how hungry people feel. So severe are the effects of starvation that the Book of Lamentations (4:10) states that “More fortunate were the victims of the sword than the victims of famine, for they pine away stricken, lacking the fruits of the field.” Yet, today over 70% of the grain grown in the United States is fed to animals destined for slaughter, as an estimated 20 million people worldwide die annually because of hunger and its effects and almost a billion of the world’s people are chronically malnourished..

4. During the period from Rosh Chodesh Av to Tisha B’Av known as the “nine days”, Jews do not eat meat or fowl, except on the Sabbath day. After the destruction of the second Temple, some sages argued that Jews should no longer eat meat, as a sign of sorrow. However, it was felt that the Jewish people would not be able to obey such a decree. It was then also believed then that meat was necessary for proper nutrition. Hence, a compromise was reached in terms of Jews not eating meat in the period immediately before Tisha B’Av.

5. Jewish sages connected the word eichah (alas! what has befallen us?) that begins Lamentations and a word that has the same root ayekah (“Where art thou?”), the question addressed to Adam and Eve after they had eaten the forbidden fruit. Vegetarians are also respectfully asking, “Where art thou?” What are we doing re widespread world hunger, the destruction of the environment, the cruel treatment of farm animals, etc.? Perhaps failure to properly hear and respond to ayekah in terms of stating “Hineni” – here I am, ready to carry out God’s commandments so that the world will be better – causes us to eventually have to say and hear eichah. Read the rest of this entry »