Megillah Aug 2, 2014

Pesach is the foundational holiday of the Jewish people, and the Exodus is the defining moment of Jewish history. A group of slaves formed a nation…

Devarim Aug 1, 2014

Sefer Devarim is the book of preparation to enter the land of Israel. Moshe Rabbeinu was to be denied the opportunity to lead - or even join - the…

Megillah Jul 30, 2014

Often it takes our enemies to whip us into shape. “Rav Abba the son of Kahana said: Greater was the removal of the ring [of Achashverosh] than…

Megillah Jul 25, 2014

When one makes a siyum to mark the completion of a tractate of Talmud, we recite the beautiful words of the hadran[1], that "we toil and they…

Megillah Jul 19, 2014

"Rav Yehoshua ben Levi said, women are obligated in the reading of the Megillah she'af hen, because they, too, were included in the…

Mattot Jul 18, 2014

Promises, promises. We are used to hearing them being broken, especially when they are made by our political leaders. Parshat Mattot begins by…

Megillah Jul 17, 2014

"These days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and that these days of…

Megillah Jul 14, 2014

The first daf (page) of Masechet Megillah focuses on the distinction between open and walled cites, regarding the timing of the reading of…

Megillah Jul 13, 2014

Masechet Ta'anit ends with a description of how, on the 15th of Av and on Yom Kippur, "the maidens of Jerusalem" would dance in the…

Balak Jul 4, 2014

Perhaps no greater question has vexed the Jewish people as that of our relationship with the nations of the world. Should it be one of integration?…

Jul 2, 2014

For most of the world, the year 1492 marks the anniversary of Christopher Columbus' voyage to America. Yet for Jews, the year 1492 is a year of…

Taanit Jun 29, 2014

Sukkot marks the beginning of the rainy season, and Rabbi Eliezer opines that we should start saying  masheev haruach umoreed hageshem starting…

Taanit Jun 26, 2014

"If not for my covenant, day and night, the laws of heaven and earth, I would not have created" (Yirmiyahu 33:25). Classical Jewish thought…

Taanit Jun 23, 2014

It is hard enough to do what is right. Our wants, desirers, egos, social pressure, and the like often get in the way of acting properly. Even when we…

Taanit Jun 21, 2014

Living in Canada, it is hard to get excited about rain. Often it puts a damper on nice summer plans. Even in Israel, where water is so much more of a…

Taanit Jun 17, 2014

One of the most popular images in our tradition is that of a tree. Its many component parts reflect the diversity of our community. Some, like the…

Taanit Jun 15, 2014

"Memati mazkirin gevurat geshamim, from when do we begin to mention the power of rain?" (Ta'anit 2a). Masechet Ta'anit opens with a…

Rosh Hashana Jun 14, 2014

The last Mishnah in Masechet Rosh Hashanah quotes a debate between the Sages and Rabban Gamliel on a fundamental aspect of prayer. "The same way…

Rosh Hashana Jun 12, 2014

The fourth and last chapter of Masechet Rosh Hashanah focuses on the mitzvah of shofar and the special davening—malchiut, zichronot and…

Rosh Hashana Jun 10, 2014

"Kol Yisrael areivim zeh bazeh, all Jews are co-signers [responsible] for one another" (Shevuot 39a). This is not just a nice idea…

Rosh Hashana Jun 8, 2014

G-d is known as kel mistater, a hidden G-d (Yishayahu 46:15). Being created in His image, man, too, should yearn for anonymity. As Rav Soloveitchik…

Rosh Hashana Jun 7, 2014

There is a widespread custom to decorate our shuls with flowers in honour of Shavuot. This beautiful custom commemorates the flourishing of the…

Shavuot Jun 3, 2014

"It was taught in the name of Rabbi Meir: Why was the Torah given to the Jewish people?" (Beitzah 25a). The simple answer—made famous by a Midrash…

Rosh Hashana Jun 2, 2014

In the last couple of posts, we discussed the fact that many of our prayers are likely to have little impact. We noted how many of the Talmudic views…

Rosh Hashana Jun 1, 2014

We are familiar with the term iyun tefillah from our daily davening, where iyun tefillah is included amongst "the things…

Rosh Hashana May 29, 2014

"At four times the world is judged: On Pesach for produce; on Shavuot for the fruit of the tree; on Rosh Hashanah, all who come into the world…

Yom Yerushalayim May 28, 2014

"Ten miracles were performed for our ancestors in the Beit Hamikdash...and no one ever said to his fellow, 'the place is too cramped for me to sleep…

Yom Yerushalayim May 28, 2014

"Ten miracles were performed for our ancestors in the Beit Hamikdash...and no one ever said to his fellow, 'the place is too cramped for me to sleep…

Rosh Hashana May 26, 2014

Sometimes one can glean the most interesting information from the most unexpected places. "Our Rabbis taught: [one who] gathered a vegetable on…

Rosh Hashana May 24, 2014

History is not something that greatly interested our Talmudic Sages. Of course, such was the norm for all in the ancient world; and history as a…

Rosh Hashana May 22, 2014

"You shall afflict your soul on the ninth of the month [of Tishrei] in the evening, from evening to evening you shall rest" (Vayikra 23:32…

Rosh Hashana May 20, 2014

"The first of Nissan is the New Year for festivals" (Rosh Hashanah 2a). There is no holiday that begins on the first of Nissan. Rather, the…

Rosh Hashana May 14, 2014

The defeat of Babylonians by Cyrus the Great in 539 BCE led to a (temporary) golden age of Jewish life under Persian rule. Cyrus allowed the Jewish…

Rosh Hashana May 12, 2014

Rosh Hashanah conjures up images of prayer, repentance, and new beginnings. It is the time of year when we are more focused on spiritual matters and…

Rosh Hashana May 11, 2014

"Arba Rosh Hashana hem, there are four New Years; on the first of Nissan is the New Year for kings and festivals" (Rosh Hashanah 2a).…

Behar May 9, 2014

The Torah was edited with great precision. This is the idea behind the notion that "there is no chronological order to the Torah". Items…

Yom Ha'atzmaut May 6, 2014

One of the Rambam's principles of faith is the eternity of the Torah. While historical circumstances may prevent the performance of certain…

Yom Ha'atzmaut May 6, 2014

One of the Rambam's principles of faith is the eternity of the Torah. While historical circumstances may prevent the performance of certain…

Beitzah May 3, 2014

In Talmudic times, animals were generally slaughtered only when there was a known buyer ready to eat from the animal before him. Lacking methods of…

Beitzah May 2, 2014

Shabbat and Yom Tov are gifts to the Jewish people, and the Jewish people only. As such, we are permitted to benefit from work by a non-Jew on these…

Emor May 2, 2014

Being a kohen today is not what it used to be. While one may receive more aliyot and lead birchat hamazon on a regular basis, a kohen is…

Beitzah Apr 29, 2014

There is arguably no greater figure in Talmudic literature than that of Hillel the Elder. He combined the Torah leadership of Moshe Rabbeinu[1] with…

Beitzah Apr 27, 2014

Often, when studying Gemara, we fail to appreciate how different day-to-day life was for our ancestors. Yeshiva study tends to focus on conceptual…

Kedoshim Apr 25, 2014

One of the features of the scientific world is classification of different species into their various groupings and subgroupings. The Torah itself…

Beitzah Apr 24, 2014

All of us are sinners. To be human means that we make mistakes, both inadvertent and intentional. Our tradition shows great respect for those who…

Beitzah Apr 20, 2014

We live in an age of specialization. Whether it is business, medicine, sports, Torah, or technology, we train people to be expert in one…

Beitzah Apr 18, 2014

Our Sages defined a chacham as one who is roeh et hanolad, who foresees the results of his actions. We live in a world which is focused on the here…

Apr 18, 2014

What is it about leaders that so many of them seem to be embroiled in ethical controversy? We in Ontario have a gas-plant scandal that won’t go…

Pesach Apr 14, 2014

“And it was at the end of four hundred and thirty years, in the middle of that very day, that the legions of G-d went out from the land of Egypt” (…

Pesach Apr 14, 2014

“And it was at the end of four hundred and thirty years, in the middle of that very day, that the legions of G-d went out from the land of Egypt” (…