Rabbi Wein.com The Voice of Jewish History

Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

In My Opinion

Post –Shavuot 5/16/2021 11:49 AM

Of all the holidays of the Jewish calendar year, Shavuot is the shortest – celebrated only for one day. Many times, this holiday somehow leaves people feeling unfulfilled by what they had hoped to be a spiritual and joyful experience. The reasons for this are numerous – all night learning sessions which engender a day of sleep, lack of any specific commandment associated with the holiday in...

A LOST CUSTOM 5/9/2021 12:00 AM

For most of my life, I was accustomed to visiting people in their homes and in receiving visitors in my own home. My generation communicated with each other by letter correspondence or face-to-face personal visits. I remember as a child how the colleagues and friends of my father and mother would come to visit us in our home on long Friday night winters in Chicago and how we would reciprocate. ...

TRAGEDIES 5/2/2021 11:46 AM

It seems that, in spite of the best efforts of human beings and societies, tragedies are unavoidable in the regular course of human existence. The tragedy that we in Israel suffered on Lag B'Omer is still too fresh and the wound is too open to be able to assess it properly. There will be the commissions of inquiry, recommendations as to future security and crowd control, as well as a frenzied...

LAG B’OMER 5781 4/25/2021 01:02 PM

The dark and sorrowful days of the counting of the Omer are interrupted suddenly by the day of commemoration that marks an abrupt ending to this sadness. According to the Talmud, it was during this period that tens of thousands of the students and disciples of the great Rabbi Akiva passed away. It was on the 33rd day of the count of the Omer when suddenly were no more deaths. The majority...

COUNTING THE OMER 5781 4/18/2021 11:33 AM

We are now in the middle of the counting of the Omer, the seven weeks from the beginning of Pesach until the holiday of Shavuot. Since there is a difference of opinion as to whether we are obligated to count the days or weeks, our custom is to count both. However, I have always been somewhat perplexed by the general explanation, according to Jewish tradition, that this count is meant to...

THE BOOK OF COMPLAINTS 4/11/2021 12:07 AM

When our children reached the age and stage of life when they were ready to get married, my wife and I were privileged to organize and participate in four weddings in a rather short space of years. Being a congregational rabbi, I naturally had to invite all the members of my congregation to the wedding ceremony and dinner. My wife and I labored long and hard over the invitation list and over...

COUNTING 4/5/2021 09:42 AM

We are now in the midst of the period on the Jewish calendar when we are engaged in a daily countdown towards the holiday of Shavuot. This commandment of counting the days begins with the offering of the first new grain of the Pesach harvest and concludes with the new produce of the agricultural year in the temple in Jerusalem on the holiday of Shavuot. Each of the 49 intervening days as...

PESACH 5781 3/21/2021 09:21 AM

The holiday of Pesach represents many basic values in Jewish life. Foremost naturally is that of liberty and freedom from oppression, slavery, and domination by others. The holiday is described as being the holiday of our freedom. But, there is another basic idea and value that underlies the commemoration of our exodus from Egypt and the beginning of our freedom. That value is the human capacity...

SPRING 3/14/2021 12:03 AM

I think that we can all agree that it is been a rather difficult winter that we have experienced over the past few months. Here, in Israel, it was a winter of political disarray, Corona issues and enforced lockdowns, and the usual, somewhat depressing, factors of winter – short days and long and often lonely nights. So, the advent of spring is certainly a harbinger of better times and brighter...

PRAYER AND CONCERTS 3/7/2021 02:57 PM

There is always an element of musical performance associated with Jewish prayer. In Temple times, Levites presented a musical performance every day in the Temple in Jerusalem, as part of the temple service itself. This presentation included musical instruments as well as a male choir. Josephus describes how many non-Jews from all parts of the Roman Empire visited the second Temple to gaze at...