Nothing is more dangerous for a person than to remain spiritually stale, and we are therefore required to count the 49 days of the Omer. In order to prepare ourselves for the upcoming celebration of Shavuot and the giving of the Torah, we are asked to climb a ladder of 49 spiritual steps, each day adding another dimension to our souls.
Contrary to what is commonly believed, the story of the Exodus was mainly one of Divine silence, in which only occasionally a word of God entered the human condition. While Pesach Haggada relates the miracles, the “empty spaces” in between tell us of a frightening Divine silence of some 38 years. And just as our forefathers must have often wondered where God was all those years, so do we. But just as they made it through, so must we.
Why continue to praise God for a hidden miracle when it seems that even hidden miracles came to an end with the Holocaust? This question should be on the mind of every Jew who celebrates Purim.
Some appropriately irreverent thoughts to…well, no, not to ponder on the occasion of Purim.
For hundreds of years, we Jews have followed the custom of completing the yearly Torah reading in the synagogue on the day of Simchat Torah, only to immediately begin all over again. Why the rush? There is nearly no time to contemplate what one has read the previous year!
As is well known, the Succah visualizes our life span in the world. For what is a Succah? It is a frail structure which we need to dwell in for seven days. Many commentators remind us that these seven days represent man’s average life span which is about seventy years.
This awesome thought is the focal point of Yom Kippur. Am I worthy to have a claim on life? Or, have I been born but lost my right to live? This is by far the most important question for man to ask. The trembling of the earlier generations on Erev Yom Kippur was indeed that of great pachad (fear) – not fear of punishment or death, but of not rising to the challenge of living in God’s presence and fulfilling one’s destiny!
Something strange happens on Rosh Hashana. We spend hours declaring God’s majesty, using poetic and unique phrases. We refer to Him as the Ultimate King and Mover of this world. We ask Him to strengthen and reinforce His relationship with us and show us His omnipotence.
Rabbi Cardozo writes: “Maybe we should literally go out in the streets and help people, sit down with our ideological enemies and see where we can find common ground, instead of simply reciting more kinot?” And yet, there are reasons why we should continue to fast and read Eichah on Tisha b’Av. Here are just a few of those reasons
In the wake of the destruction of Jerusalem the leaders of the Jewish people despaired. But the ordinary Jews did not. Despite the total collapse of Jewish life, they opted for the impossible. They not to listen to their leaders, but continued building the nation of Israel, as they had previously been taught by the very sages who now despaired. Sometimes, the simple man has more faith in the Jewish future than the greatest Talmudic scholar.