Rabbi Wein.com The Voice of Jewish History

Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

Jewish Thought

THE POWER OF THE INDIVIDUAL 9/15/2019 12:54 PM

Historians over the past few centuries have been heavily influenced by a Marxist view of the world and of human events. In this understanding of the past, present and future, great external forces such as the competition of the classes, stages of economic development and powerful historical and sociological forces somehow determine human behavior and explain human history as well as current...

PASSAGE OF TIME 9/8/2019 12:28 PM

It is common to mark our lives by measuring the passage of time. This is completely natural since we are mortal, and time has become the most precious of all worldly commodities. As we stand at the end of the old year and the beginning of the new year, we certainly think of ourselves in terms of time – past, present and future. Yet, we realize that we do not really control our time but rather...

LOOKING FOR OURSELVES 9/1/2019 12:13 PM

There is a natural curiosity within each of us as to our origins and ancestry. There are even many organizations, professional, educational and commercial enterprises as well that are solely devoted to ancestral and genealogical searches. Building family trees is a very popular avocation in our world. All of this is very true in general society, but it is also a frequent occurrence in Jewish...

A PARKING SPACE 8/26/2019 09:48 AM

Some people asked me – well, not too many people, in fact only a very few – how do I come up with topics to write about every week. And looking back at the situation, I must admit that I have been doing so for decades. So, it is reasonable to think that there really is nothing new that I could write about. But human society and individuals are so fascinating that there always is something...

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,...