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Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

WATCH OUT FOR EXCESS

There is a custom amongst Jews that in the period after the holiday season of Tishrei, and after Pesach as well, that is popularly called "behab." This word is the Hebrew acronym for the days of the week - bet, hay, bet - Monday, Thursday, Monday. On the first series of the days of Monday, Thursday, Monday falling in that order in the months of Cheshvan (after Succot) and Iyar (after Pesach),...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

SECURITY

One of the elusive goals of human beings is to become "secure." We search for financial security and certainly hope for physical security. The promise of every Israeli politician (and American, British, French, etc.) is to provide physical security for the citizens of the country. Yet, even in times of peace and quiet - rare as they may be - humans are always gripped by a certain unease regarding...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

YOM KIPPUR AND JEWISH MEMORY

The central theme of Yom Kippur is naturally repentance and heavenly forgiveness. This theme is emphasized in the order of the prayer services of the day. The recitation of the confession of our sins and shortcomings and our commitment to try and do better are an integral part of all of the prayers of this holy day. Yet, there is another, more subtle and not openly expressed idea that haunts the...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

SHOFAR

The sounding of the shofar serves as the centerpiece of the services of Rosh Hashana. The rabbis of the Talmud considered the ability to sound the shofar a skill and not "work" in the halachic sense of the latter word. The sounds of the shofar are relatively simple ones - a long flat note called tekiah; a breaking, wailing, three note sound called shvarim; and a nine-note staccato sound called...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

NATIONAL JUDGMENT AND PERSONAL REPENTANCE

This period of time on the Jewish calendar is the time of Selichot, when penitential prayers are recited in the early morning before the actual shacharit morning services. The Ashkenazim will begin the recital of selichot this coming Saturday night/Sunday morning while the Sephardim have been reciting selichot since the beginning of Elul. The selichot that precede Rosh HaShana are of a national...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

SELF IMPROVEMENT LEADS TO NATIONAL IMPROVEMENT

One of the salient points of Judaism is that it treats and deals with individual Jews and their behavior while at the same time it sponsors a program for the national entity of Israel as well. In Judaism, the individual is responsible not only for personal behavior but for society as a whole. The Talmud long ago reminded that we are all guarantors one for another. Personal piety, if not extended...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

ALL FROM THE SAME HAND

Yosef Mendelovitch, the famous Prisoner of Zion who helped bring down the "Evil Empire" of Soviet communism and atheism, relates that he decided to wear a kippah while in prison. He cut out a piece of cloth from his flimsy prison garb and placed the cloth on his head. Though the prisoner warden ordered him to remove the cloth from his head, it being a violation of prisoner clothing regulations,...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

COMFORT AND CONSOLATION

Judaism has a formula for dealing with tragedy when it strikes. That formula is contained in the halacha of aveilut, mourning itself. The recognition of death and tragedy as being inescapable parts of one's life experience is what forms the underpinnings of that process of halacha which eventually leads to the ability to move forward in life even though one's heart may be forever irreparably...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

THE SHADCHAN

Matchmaking is an old, traditionally blessed and honored Jewish occupation. In fact, the Talmud attributes matchmaking to be the Lord's primary preoccupation. Only Jews speak about the Lord in such an intimate fashion. In any event, the shadchan as matchmaker appears as part of every Jewish society and in all times and places. Reliance on "official" (read professional) shadchanim waxed and waned...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

TIME, SPACE AND SIZE

In halacha, measurements of time, space and size are essential ingredients of proper observance of mitzvot and ritual obligations. There are set time limits for the recitation of prayers and for the entry and exit of the Sabbath and holy days, there are minimum sizes for the required halachic consumption of certain foods and drinks and there are space (height, width, etc.) measurements that...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein