Rabbi Wein.com The Voice of Jewish History

Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

CONVERTS

Jewish history is rich in the stories of righteous gentiles who converted to Judaism and made tremendous contributions to Jewish life, culture and scholarship. Unfortunately, there have also been many instances when the convert was insincere in the conversion process to Judaism and great problems, both personal and national, resulted. Judaism views insincere conversions as personally damaging to...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

THE JEWISH HOMELAND

Over the past one hundred fifty years there have been many plans advanced as to the establishment of a Jewish national state. The one that was realized was the one advanced by the Zionist movement of building a Jewish state in the Land of Israel, our historic and biblical homeland. This triumph of Zionism in establishing a Jewish national home in the Land of Israel was naturally based on the...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

PARTNERS

The word partners - shutafim in Hebrew - usually connotes in the mind of the reader or listener a business type of commercial relationship. In Jewish law, the cases of partnership arrangements and their inevitable disputes are many and varied. In fact, the laws of partnerships occupy a large section of the entire code of Jewish civil law as represented in the Choshen Mishpat section of the...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

JEWISH DRESS

The tradition of Jews is to dress modestly. Over the ages and in different communities, this has had varied expressions in the type of clothing worn but in all instances the common denominator of Jewish clothing was that it enhanced modesty of appearance. Because Jewish clothing was many times distinctive from the clothing of the rest of society, the non-Jewish world took notice of this mode of...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

MELAVE MALKA

The departure of the Shabat from a Jewish home on Saturday night is a time of bittersweet feelings. It is difficult to simply leave behind the spirit of serenity and well being that the Shabat engenders and it is especially difficult to do so in a sudden and abrupt fashion. The memories of family interaction, Torah study, holy prayer, special foods and physical and mental leisure linger on....

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

HAVDALA

The end of the Shabat is marked by the ceremony of havdala. The word havdala literally means separation, and in this case it refers clearly to our leaving the Shabat, or better put, the Shabat's leaving of us. But in a deeper and far truer sense, the word havdala means a clearly marked sense of differentiation. One of the primary values of Judaism is the ability to separate and differentiate in...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

STRENGTH

Having just completed the reading of the book of Bereshit this past Shabat, I was again privileged to participate in the traditional Jewish custom of reciting publicly the blessing "chazak, chazak v'nitzacheik." This blessing is proclaimed at the conclusion of the reading of one of the five books of Moshe. This custom is an ancient one, dating back to Talmudic times in Babylonia and the Land of...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

BEARDS

There is a long tradition in Judaism for men to have beards. This is based originally on the Torah prohibition against shaving facial hair with a straight razor. This prohibition is directly applicable to five places on the head - the connecting point of the chin bone to the skull on both sides of the head, the point of the chin and the area of the bone near the ears of the person. However, the...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

KNEIDLACH

Even though the Jewish world is now barely recovering from the annual Chanuka onslaught of latkes and sufganiyot, I am nevertheless going to write about another food and its appearance in Jewish history. I was inspired to do so by the words of a noted Israeli politician and then cabinet minister who recently voted against the Israeli government's proposed budget for 2005. He justified his vote...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

LASTING HEROES

One of the tendencies of modern historiography is to debunk past heroes. Revisionist historians have blackened the name of some of the great people of the past by dwelling extensively on their human foibles and personal difficulties. Not only does this attitude reinforce the false idea that there are no real heroes in the world, it indirectly absolves all of us from ever attempting to be a hero...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein