Parshat Ki Tavo

This week’s portion, Ki Tavo, is best known for its bikkurim (first fruits) passages, the verses we are commanded to recite when bringing our first fruits to the Kohen at the Temple in Jerusalem (Devarim 26:5-10). You will recognize the text as one of the most frequently quoted passages in the Torah because it comprises the core of the Passover seder service, as it concisely recounts the story of travel to and enslavement in Egypt ...

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Parshat Ha’a’zinu

Your child comes home and says she wants to be a doctor someday. Your spouse or serious beau tells you he or she dreams of being something greater. And you douse the dream with a comment: “You aren’t smart enough,” “You don’t have the skills needed to do that” or “No one will take you seriously.”

Or that same person, rather than dreaming of embarking on a career or changing one, dreams of intensifying her relationship ...

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New York “monster-in-law” sues her son for defamation

[quoted as legal expert on First Amendment defamation law and civil procedure,by Reuters 04-15-11]

(Reuters) – Lia Joseph became known worldwide as “monster-in-law” last year, after the media seized on a lawsuit filed by her own son accusing her of trying to stop him from marrying his fiancee.

Now Joseph has filed a lawsuit of her own, alleging defamation and infliction of emotional distress and seeking more than $15 million in damages.

Her suit, ...

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Discussing American Law on Curbing E-Mail Spam

[interview, as legal expert on First Amendment speech and web-spamming law, on German National Public Radio 06-09-11]

Spam senders are not safe from Daniel balm. The Californian sued them in court and has made his appeal to the profession. Former marketing executive is said to have earned his complaints more than a million dollars.

Whether willing women, cheap potency pills or extra income possibilities, all lands every day in various mail accounts. While most click Delete, the Californian Daniel Balsam takes action against the sender of spam.

Law against spam

Years ...

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Susan Powell’s family files suit to keep journals off Web permanently

[quoted, as legal expert on First Amendment privacy law and defamation law, by The Salt Lake Tribune 09-02-11]

To one family, the diaries are a reminder of a missing daughter whose husband has seemingly trampled her reputation since she disappeared.

To another family, childhood journals of Susan Cox Powell show evidence that points to why the 28-year-old mother of two vanished inexplicably on Dec. 6, 2009 — and why the public should stop asking them what happened to her.

Now, a Washington judge is set ...

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Counterpunch: Hollywood Isn’t Fair to Jews either

When African American filmmakers are upset about perceived inequities in Hollywood, they can blame the Jews. When a Christian (Nikos Kazantzakis) writes a sacrilegious novel about Jesus and a second Christian (Martin Scorsese) converts the book into a film, fundamentalists on the periphery still find an angle to blame the Jews.

They are lucky.


Whom shall the Jews blame for Hollywood’s decades-long denigration of Jewish women and mockery of Jewish tradition? The Christians? The Japanese? The Mongolians?

Consider Hollywood’s unique mistreatment of Jewish women. Michael ...

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On Nitpicking, Pilpulistic Nonsense, and Hair-Splitting in the Law

Twenty years ago, a friend arranged for me to have lunch with a prominent Jewish name-partner at a major Los Angeles law firm. My friend explained to me that the partner is non-religious and particularly skeptical about Orthodox Judaism – all of its “nitpicking over minutiae, pilpulistic nonsense, and hair-splitting over technicalities.” I was about to begin law school after having practiced actively as a pulpit rav for ten years, and I appreciated the opportunity to meet with someone who ...

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On the 3 Morning Brakhot: “WHO DID NOT MAKE ME A . . .”

The Grammatical Tenses of Brakhot.

Most brakhot are expressed in present or present-progressive tense:  “Thank you, G-d, Who does/ performs [xyz]”.  Who brings forth bread from the earth. Who creates fruit of the tree.  Who creates different types of foodstuffs.  Who gives the Torah.  Who gives the rooster understanding to distinguish between day and night.  Who is extolled with praises.  Who sanctifies Your Name in public.  Who forms light and creates darkness, makes peace and creates everything. Who heals all flesh and does wonders.  Who gathers the remnants of His nation Israel.  Who ...

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Understanding How to Daven an Amidah — How to Pray from Your Heart

In the course of several shiurim I taught “For Women Only,” we studied concepts of Tefilah (Prayer) that seem worth sharing with men, too.

The Shacharit service in the Morning and Mincha in the Afternoon are Torah-based, time-centered commandments, while Maariv at Night was added later by our Sages. (That is why we do not conduct a formal “Cantor’s Repetition” –chazarat ha-Shatz — of the Amidah during Maariv). For each Tefilah, the central components are: (i) the Sh’ma(although not at Mincha) and (ii) the Amidah. The Sh’ma is recited at Shacharit and Maariv in ...

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To Pray, To Daven, To Feel: So Where’s the Fire?

When I was a boy in yeshivah k’tanah, I davened with kavanah – although I cannot mean that I actually knew what I was saying. One day, someone took me aside, in Shul on Shabbat, a religious person who meant well for me, and told me that I daven too slowly. He kindly taught me how to daven faster, to keep pace with everyone else. He explained that I should move my lips, make a soft buzzing sound, and try reading the words ...

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