Rabbi Wein.com The Voice of Jewish History

Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

In My Opinion

THE ABSENCE OF CIVILITY 7/15/2018 02:13 PM

There was a time, well within recorded memory, when political differences and legislative proposals that people had could be discussed and decided with a modicum of civility and even courtesy. That seems not to be true anywhere in the world any longer. Here in Israel we are accustomed to bitter politics and a great deal of personal venom. Yet, somehow this pales in comparison with the current...

THREE WEEKS 7/8/2018 11:13 AM

According to Ashkenazic custom, the period beginning on the fast of the 17th of Tamuz and ending after the fast day of the ninth day of Av is the longest slice of time dedicated to remembering any historical event having occurred to the Jewish people on the Jewish calendar. In the general world such days and commemorations are usually limited to one day such as a Memorial Day commemoration....

THE SADDEST DAY 7/3/2018 09:49 AM

There is no doubt that the saddest day on the Jewish calendar is the commemoration of the fast day of the ninth of Av. The day marks the days of destruction of the first and second temples in Jerusalem millennia ago. It also harbors within it the commemoration of many other sad and tragic events throughout Jewish history. From the original reluctance of the Jewish people to enter the land of...

CHARITY 6/24/2018 09:47 AM

Giving charity, helping the needy and acting in a compassionate way towards those who need our help, is one of the pillars of Judaism and Jewish life. We are trained from our earliest days to share our wealth with those who, for various reasons, find themselves helplessly in need. The Talmud places great stress on giving charity and doing so in a regularly, compassionately and in an honorable...

WHAT HAPPENED? 6/17/2018 11:56 AM

I have an acquaintance in the United States with whom I occasionally converse and share ideas. He is a retired Rabbi who for many years was a leading figure in the Conservative rabbinic movement in the United States. Even though we have long agreed to disagree on theological matters, nevertheless all relations are cordial and sometimes even interesting and stimulating. Neither of us are...

TRAVEL INSURANCE 6/10/2018 09:55 AM

I am planning to travel this summer for 10 days to Russia on a tour sponsored by my Destiny Foundation. Long experience in traveling has taught me to always purchase adequate travel insurance before embarking on such a trip. We are prone to all sorts of mishaps that are completely unforeseen in regular daily life, in our homes and on the street. Traveling and being in a foreign country only...

LOST LUGGAGE 6/3/2018 12:37 PM

There are many discomforting and even unpleasant experiences that await those of us who travel by airplane in our current world. Air travel was once considered a luxury experience, apart from one’s final destination. Well, the combination of terrorism, enhanced security measures, crowded planes, narrow seats, somewhat surly service and other sundry annoyances have turned air travel into a chore...

GRATITUDE 5/21/2018 12:44 PM

As I have often pointed out in these columns, Judaism is to be seen not only as a system of laws and commandments but, even more importantly, as a system of values and overriding attitudes. It really is the value system of Judaism that determines the application of the laws and commandments of the Torah. Without a true understanding of the underlying values and attitudes of the holy and eternal...

AVOT 5/13/2018 09:57 AM

Both the Mishnah and Talmud are unique in their style of composition for in effect it allows the students thousands of years later to feel as though they have entered into that ancient study hall to hear the discussion of the scholars of Israel. Though most of the text of the Mishnah covers matters of law, ritual, commandments and observances, the tractate called Avot deals almost exclusively...

DAYS IN MAY 5/6/2018 10:49 AM

There are times in life that one is able to see the beginning and end of an idea or movement in its entirety. When I was a child I remember vividly that the first day of May was called May Day and was the day of celebration of the proletariat Left. Fiery speeches, and loud bands, tens of thousands of marchers waving red flags all dominated the media and street of the day. The mood of the day...