Rabbi Wein.com The Voice of Jewish History

Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

Jewish Thought

IMPLOSION 7/5/2020 12:00 AM

Even a cursory review of world history allows the reader to realize that great and mighty countries and empires fall not necessarily because of outside pressures, but because of the implosion of the society itself. Rome ruled the world for over five centuries, and, at the height of its power, it succumbed to barbaric tribes. The breakup and disintegration of the Empire came as Rome was...

Isolation 6/28/2020 01:23 PM

When I returned to my home in Jerusalem from a three-month long sojourn with my children in the United States, I observed a self-imposed quarantine of fourteen days in my home. I discovered that isolation from personal contact with other human beings is truly a form of mental and physical distress. I fully understand now why house arrest, let alone solitary confinement, are viewed by criminal...

The Eternal Question 6/9/2020 11:10 AM

As the corona pandemic hopefully wanes, and as we attempt to return to some sort of normalcy and emerge from our isolation, I have reflected on the fact that there is an enormous theological question raised by the events of the past few months. This theological question has always existed and has always been discussed in Jewish life and by Jewish scholars. But this question has never been...

Commentary on Zoom 5/31/2020 09:44 AM

I have been conducting classes and lectures on Zoom for about three months now. I admit that Zoom is a great creation and that it enabled many of us to remain connected one to another, and to be able to study together. However, as with all good things in life, like chocolate and ice cream, they have their limitations and perhaps should only be done in moderation. I find it quite difficult to...

Sights and Sounds 5/25/2020 06:04 PM

Being cooped up in the houses of my children, in Woodmere and Monsey, over the past two months has left me with an ambivalent feeling regarding the experience. On one hand, my family bonds have been strengthened by the fact that I have spent more time with my children in person and with my grandchildren via the miracle of Zoom, than I ever imagined I would still be able to do. But, on the...

Long Lost Relatives 5/10/2020 11:33 AM

Because of the increased use of Zoom over the past months, people have been listening to my lectures who otherwise would have been deprived of that great benefit since they do not live in the Rechavia section of Jerusalem. Because of this, as well, I have discovered relatives that I never knew existed and with whom I have had no connection. The discovery of long-lost relatives always comes...

These are the times… 5/3/2020 03:55 PM

At the low point of American fortunes in the Revolutionary War against England, the American army wintered at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. It was one of the most bitter winters in recorded history, not only weather-wise, but in all other respects for the ragged army of George Washington. He was down to about 3,000 troops. The British had 10,000 troops in New Jersey plus 6,000 mercenaries,...

Rabbi Yaakov Perlow zt”l 4/26/2020 12:00 AM

A wonderful person whom I knew for the past half century, Rabbi Yaakov Perlow, passed away recently from the plague of the Coronavirus. He was better known as the Novominsker Rebbe. He was a person of many talents and of wide perspective. In our Jewish world today, such a person is becoming exceedingly rare. There are not many people like him who were able to bridge different groups and who...

Boredom 4/19/2020 03:03 PM

One of the effects of being cooped up in one's home for weeks on end, which is the situation for many if not most of us over the past month, is the fact that sooner or later it becomes very boring. Boring is a curse for rabbis, teachers, lecturers, and unfortunately for students as well. There is no comment more devastating to someone who has made a presentation, to say to that person, "I was...

Jews and Judaism 4/13/2020 06:34 PM

I have often quipped that one should never confuse Jews with Judaism. Jews are human beings, subject to all human failings, foibles, and various patterns of behavior and thinking that do not always coincide with the values and the true ideas of Judaism. Nevertheless, over the centuries, in the main, Jews and Judaism were attuned and aspired to the same beneficial conditions for society and for...