On the Obsolescence of “Orthodoxy” and the Timeliness of “Observance”

We in the Observant community – my preferred term – historically have reflected, to our shame, a reduced sensitivity to the use of English language for transmitting values, ideas, and goals. “Colored People” started insisting on “Negro” as a transition to acknowledging a Peoplehood and abandoning an absurd term; they are not green, blue, or orange. Later, preferring to abandon the Spanish sobriquet for an American English term that paralleled the majority “White” culture, they moved to “Black.” And, for ...

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K’doshim: Separating the Holy from the Despicable

“Tell the entire assemblage of Israel: you shall be holy because I the L-rd your G-d am holy.” (Vayikra 19:2)

This week’s Torah portion lays out a comprehensive array of Divinely ordained commandments that define the range of Judaism’s unique values. Legislated to an assemblage of just-liberated slaves, these are the concepts and aspirations taught orally to Moshe at Sinai and thereafter transmitted in an appendix – the Written Torah. Through them, we were sculpted into an entity greater than ...

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The Disgrace of Shul-Sponsored Poker Games, “Las Vegas Nights,” “Casino Nights,” “Casino Evenings,” and Similar Games of Chance

It long has been my halakhic position that all synagogues should not – and many synagogues may not – sponsor, conduct, participate in, or otherwise associate with poker games, “Las Vegas Nights,” “Casino Evening” events, or other such events. As I have gotten to know Jewish communities outside main Torah centers, my position has solidified further that, at such places and at such times in Shuls’ and Jewish communities’ evolutions, such an halakhic position prohibiting these events is mandated. In reaching my opinion, grounded in several ...

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Census And Non-Census

Jewish population statistics fascinate me. As with other kinds of surveys, they tell some truths, misrepresent others. As Mr. Merlis, my yeshiva high school social studies teacher, used to say: “Figures can’t lie, but liars can figure.”

Surveys play a powerful role in influencing public policy. When advocates of a political party wrongly are told by surveys that their candidates will get beaten severely on election day, they are more inclined to stay home, not vote, and consequentially fulfill the ...

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Don’t confuse Judaism with ‘Jersey Shore’

A reminder that, contrary to what the P.C. crowd asserts, wine does indeed have a legitimate place on Purim

We are an American generation sadly marred by excess, addiction, and reduced public morals. On line at the supermarket we see magazines that headline Lindsay Lohan, Brittany Spears, and Charlie Sheen. Purim is around the corner, and the question arises: What’s the deal with getting drunk on Purim? So here’s the deal:

An alcoholic in recovery may not drink wine on Purim and ...

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Choosing to See the Forest: the Annual Xmas Dilemma

The Christmas season dilemma arises for so many Jews in our city that it sadly deserves attention and comment. When I was a boy, growing up in a parochial Jewish Brooklyn neighborhood, I certainly harbored no yearning for a Christmas tree at home. I was thrilled with my little homemade menorah and our family’s nifty electric menorah, which we placed in the living room window.

All of East 57th Street between Farragut and Foster Avenues had menorahs, all except for the ...

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Judaism’s View on Same-Sex Marriage : An Orthodox Perspective

Judaism believes that all people were created in the image of G-d. (Genesis 1:27)  Because G-d takes no form, we understand that we have been created in the image of His values.  The Talmud tells us, for example, that we should strive to emulate those values.  (Tractate Sotah 14a commenting on Deuteronomy 13:5)  As He clothed the naked, providing leather garments for Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:21), so we should clothe the naked.  As he visited the sick, when our Patriarch ...
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The Other Kind of Clergy Abuse: When Congregations or Individual Congregants with Social Pathologies Abuse Their Clergy

During my fifteen years in the practicing rabbinate and ten years as a practicing attorney, I have encountered – both first-hand and, as a result of my open discussion of those experiences, through the parallel and often horrifying experiences that many colleagues and even clients have shared with me – a whispered subject that shames American Jewish life: Clergy Abuse. In its Jewish dimension, I use the term “Clergy Abuse” to describe the shameful, disgraceful, and painful efforts by ...

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The Other Kind of Clergy Abuse: When Congregations or Individual Congregants with Social Pathologies Abuse Their Clergy

During my fifteen years in the practicing rabbinate and ten years as a practicing attorney, I have encountered – both first-hand and, as a result of my open discussion of those experiences, through the parallel and often horrifying experiences that many colleagues and even clients have shared with me – a whispered subject that shames American Jewish life: Clergy Abuse. In its Jewish dimension, I use the term “Clergy Abuse” to describe the shameful, disgraceful, and painful efforts by ...

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Give Your Rabbi a Break

Please note: This article was republished (and commented on by Rabbi Dov) from the original article published by Rabbi Shmuley Botech on the huffingtonpost.com website: here.

Every time I meet a rabbi or pastor who now is a full-time stock broker, a realtor, an entrepreneur with a storefront business or an export-import firm (not to mention a lawyer, an accountant, or even a therapist) — and I ask why they left the rabbinate — the answer typically is the ...

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