Rabbi Wein.com The Voice of Jewish History

Rabbi Wein’s Weekly Blog

LEADERSHIP

Throughout the ages, Jewish leadership has almost always been defined in terms of knowledge, intelligence, vision and personal integrity. The paradigm of Jewish leadership was established by our first national leader, Moshe, and traces its line through the other biblical leaders and later through the great men of the Mishna and the Talmud. Through the long night of the Jewish exile, the leaders...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

DAYS OF FASTING

Having just recently passed through the fast day of the Seventeenth of Tammuz, the Jewish world sadly prepares for the fast day of the Ninth of Av, the day that marks the destruction of both Temples and commemorates other later national tragedies in Jewish history. The penultimate day of fasting on the Jewish calendar is naturally Yom Kippur. However, Yom Kippur differs from the other four...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

JEWISH MUSIC

Over the ages, Jewish music, so to speak, has always been religious, prayer music. However, over the past half century, really beginning with the Shlomo Carlebach era, Jewish music has branched out. In Israel, the popular songs and performers, although using Hebrew as the language of the lyrics, are not really in the Jewish music genre. The songs are the same in content and style as pop music the...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

TAXI DRIVERS

One of the most storied professions in Jewish lore is that of the baal agalah - literally, the owner of the wagon. Until the advent of the automobile and its attendant spin-offs - buses, motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, etc. - a horse or donkey and wagon was the staple method of ground transportation. The other alternative was to walk, a method of transportation used by most of humanity most...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

MONEY

The understanding, importance and nuances of money have been known to the Jews since earliest times. Though the rabbis of the Talmud correctly stressed that the Jews "do better" spiritually under conditions of poverty than under conditions of extreme affluence, they never promoted poverty as a way of life nor did they disrespect or condemn those who were wealthy, even though those who were...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

MESSIAHS AND MESSIANISM

One of the central tenets of Judaism is the belief in the coming of the Messiah and the betterment of the human condition through his efforts and presence. The biblical prophets of Israel foretold the coming of this great messianic era. Over the long exile of Israel from its homeland and the terrible persecutions visited upon the Jewish people, the Messiah came to represent the deliverance of...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

REMEMBERING

The twentieth day of Sivan was marked as a remembrance day on the calendar of Ashkenazic Jewry for centuries. It commemorated the terrible pogroms that Jews suffered in the Christian countries of Europe throughout the Middle Ages and it marked the culminating pogroms of 1648-9 led by Bogdan Chmielinicki. It is estimated that over two hundred thousand Jews were murdered in that war of Ukrainian...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

SHAVUOT

Shavuot is represented in the Torah as being the chag habikurim - the holiday of the first fruits. In the times of the Temple in Jerusalem, the bikurim offering was an annual event, an obligation placed on the Jewish farmer to bring the first of his crops to the altar in the Temple. There is an entire tractate in Mishna dealing with the ritual and laws of this event of bikurim. An integral part...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

SHAME

One of the three main character attributes that the Talmud ascribed to Jews is a sense of shame, of reticence and embarrassment. The other two are the traits of being merciful and of being kind to others in an active way. The Talmud goes so far as to say that any Jew who lacks this sense of being ashamed and embarrassed casts doubt as to whether his ancestors truly were present at Mount Sinai for...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein

GOOD FORTUNE

The rabbis of the Midrash stated that "everyone and everything requires good fortune - mazal - for successful existence." They added that this rule of life applied "even to the sefer Torah that is in the ark." Over the ages there have been many comments and interpretations offered for this enigmatic statement of Midrash. The two most commonly quoted explanations are as follows: In its simplest...

Posted in:
In My Opinion
by
Rabbi Berel Wein