Sephardim, Ashkenazim, and the Hannukah Menorah: Halakhah and History

It has already long been demonstrated that in describing Ashkenazim and Sephardim in the Middle Ages one cannot speak of two totally distinct and unrelated ethnic and cultural identities. Although geographically separate and culturally different, Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews did not flourish in ... Read more →

The Pleasure of Ruchniyus: Jewish vs. Greek Thought

A common theme of Chanukah focuses on the differences between the Greek and Jewish worldviews.  While the Greeks are concerned with the physical and aesthetic, the Jews take faith in the spiritual, ruchniyus.[i]  We believe in a non-tangible G-d and a Torah that demands not only pragmatic ... Read more →

Forgetting Torah and Today’s Derech Halimmud

While Chanukah primarily focuses on the struggle of the Jewish people to preserve the Torah from external forces, during Chanukah we must also remind ourselves of our obligation to preserve the Torah on an internal level. Specifically, we must analyze the Torah’s attitude towards those who ... Read more →

Lighting Neiros Chanukah in Shul

The requirement to light neiros Chanukah in Shul (see S”A 571:7) is a strange one. No one fulfills their individual obligation through this lighting. What are we doing it for? How could we make a beracha on it? There are multiple reasons brought down by the Rishonim as to why we light neiros ... Read more →

Latkes and Applesauce, Ikar and Tafel

It is well known that when presented with two foods, one an ikar and the other a tafel, we recite a beracha on the ikar, nullifying the need for an additional beracha on the tafel.  For example, when eating a peanut butter sandwich, no beracha on the peanut butter is necessary, as the beracha ... Read more →

Kim Lei B’d'raba Minei by Chayvei Misos Onsim

The majority of Perek Eilu Na’aros, this year’s limud in the Yeshiva, deals with the concept of kim lei b’d’raba minei — the concept that when a person is obligated for two different punishments, such as the death penalty and a monetary obligation, the person only ... Read more →

Elul: A Time for New Beginnings

Elul is a time for new beginnings: a new zman, a new year at Yeshiva, and opportunities to rethink and restart the way we conduct our lives. But beginnings are not simple. As the midrash tells us (Midrash Sechel Tov, Shemot): “kol hatchalot kashot” – “all beginnings all ... Read more →

Out of the Blessing and the Curse

Parashat Nitzavim talks to us in a very specific way: “When these things shall come upon you – the blessing and the curse – which I have placed before you, repent with your hearts, amongst all the nations where Hashem, your G-d, has sent you.” Our generation has lived with the ... Read more →

Va’asisem Olah: Self-Sacrifice in the Rosh Hashanah Davening

Rav Chaim Volozhiner makes a startling, yet basic observation regarding the Rosh Hashanah davening.  In Nefesh Chaim Sha’ar Beis, Perek Yud Aleph, Rav Chaim points out that the text of the Amidah for Rosh Hashanah makes no mention of our personal desires for the new year. Instead, the Rosh ... Read more →

Repentance: A Change We Can Believe In?

As we approach the Yamim Nora’im and the ten days of repentance, we tend to feel a déjà vu; we feel a déjà vu that is not necessarily always a positive one. As we reflect, introspect, and examine what it is that we have done wrong this year, as we wonder “what is it that [...]