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Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

Jewish Thought

PICTURES 8/18/2019 11:09 AM

I am certain that all of you are aware that because of the ubiquitous camera, which is built into our mobile phones, many people now take a picture of anything and everything even if it does not really concern them or impact their lives. We live in a generation where everyone lives in the present and everything must be immediately recorded and disseminated as widely as possible. Because of this,...

PLURALISM AND HISTORY 7/14/2019 06:36 AM

Throughout Jewish history every era or number of generations has had its own buzzword that encapsulates within it the apparently new idea that was to replace the tradition of Torah study and observance as the core of Jewish life. In our generation the great buzzword that afflicts us is pluralism. Even though the word is hard to define, the idea that it represents is clear and dangerous. It...

IS MUSIC NEUTRAL? 7/7/2019 06:18 AM

When I am in a contemplative mood, which really does not happen too often, I enjoy listening to classical music on my computer. A few weeks ago, I was listening to Symphony, No. 2 by Gustav Mahler. While listening to this long and dramatic masterpiece of somber music, I thought about the composer and his tortured life. Mahler was a Jew in Vienna at the end of the 19th century. Despite his...

HAIRCUT LESSONS 6/30/2019 06:01 AM

Like many others I have my hair cut at least once a month and my beard trimmed then as well. Having one's hair trimmed and neat apparently is a Jewish value. The Talmud teaches us that the high priest of Israel had his hair trimmed daily. The monarchs of first temple times also had their hair cut on a regular basis and in a very timely manner. Long and unkempt hair and beards were apparently...

WHAT’S IN A NAME? 6/23/2019 11:58 AM

I have long been fascinated by the subject of the names of human beings especially Jewish names. It seems that names given to children throughout the centuries of Jewish life vary greatly and come and go in waves. Naturally, we have the names that appear in the Bible and those names have remained constant throughout Jewish history. Yet, it is obvious that certain names are much more popular than...

DINOSAURS AND PHONES 6/16/2019 10:51 AM

Over 30 years ago my congregation in Monsey, New York, as a token of great appreciation to me for my rabbinic services, installed a car phone in my automobile. It was a great big clumsy apparatus with the receptors housed in the trunk of my car and the phone itself, which was full-sized, sitting on the console next to me. I am certain that my congregation was well-meaning in giving me that phone,...

GREAT ISSUES. PERSONAL MOTIVES 6/11/2019 12:05 PM

I rarely if ever write about politics per se. All politics is messy and borders upon reviewing the worst instincts that exist within human behavior. I am not interested in washing dirty linen in public, and though I believe in democracy and its institutions and procedures, I am oftentimes unable to reconcile myself to the manner in which democratic elections or the legislative and executive...

AIR CONDITIONING 6/2/2019 06:04 AM

There is no doubt in my mind that one of the major technological improvements that we benefit from in our modern world is air-conditioning. There are great areas of the world that were previously almost uninhabitable because of the heat of their climate but that today are thriving large cities simply because the homes, offices, factories and automobiles operating in those high heat areas are now...

GOLDEN SILENCE 5/26/2019 11:25 AM

I have often written in the past about the inestimable value of the virtue of silence. The Talmud in its eternal wisdom values silence as being twice the worth of even the wisest of speech. Now I realize that I myself am violating this sublime rule by writing, which is a form of speech. But then I feel that the subject is worthy of note and reinforcement and more than necessary in our current...

STYLES AND FASHIONS 5/19/2019 11:07 AM

Though the holiday of Purim is long behind us in the calendar year it made an indelible impression upon me and taught me a lesson that I am reminded of even now. In our synagogue on Purim the congregants were dressed up in various costumes and headgear. Some of our old military veterans wore their military uniforms that, amazingly enough, still fit. Other people had outlandish costumes ranging...