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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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 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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Courage Under Fire: So How Does A Jew Respond When Caught Unexpectedly In ALoshon Horo Environment?

One of the most difficult aspects of Jewish life is dealing with the grave sin of loshon horo. The Chofetz Chaim, author of the Mishneh B’rurah compendium on the Shulchan Arukh that serves as the defining halakhic work for Ashkenazic Jewry in the modern era, nevertheless attached his name to his other great life’s work – on the laws of loshon horo. He felt that tackling the complexity of loshon horo law was the greater contribution he made in ...

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Forgive and Forget

In the real world, do people forgive?  Yes, of course.

And no.  Of course.

A spouse wrongs his wife or her husband.  He realizes his error and apologizes.  All seems forgiven and forgotten.  It was a mistake, a painful one that caused her husband or his wife terrible sorrow.

The hurt person responds, after a deep and emotional pause: “I forgive you.”

The relationship slowly resumes as it had been before, and life moves forward.

Then, one day later – maybe a week later, maybe ...

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The Price of Freedom

To facilitate pidyon shvuyim (redeeming captive Jews from secular prisons) we are commanded to go so far as to sell a community’s Torah scroll. Yet it is hard to rejoice that Bill Clinton pardoned four chassidim from the village of New Square, N.Y., along with an alleged tax evader who donated megabucks to Israel. In contrast to the complex moral and ethical questions that grated pro-and-con during discussions over the possible pardons of Michael Milken and Jonathan Jay Pollard, ...

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A Mindset that Drinking Is Not Cool, Vodka Vomiting Is Not Cool, Crookery Is Not Cool

When I attended yeshiva high school, everyone kvetchedabout the school: kids kvetched about the teachers, the facility, the bathrooms, the color the walls were painted. It was in the culture to kvetch about the place — even though we loved it so much. And then I went to college at Columbia University. Students at Columbia did not love that place as passionately as we loved our yeshiva high school. But no one kvetched at Columbia. (Yes, there were political riots — but it was a different ...

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Passover’s Uniqueness Among Our Holidays

Passover is unique among our holidays in that it brings us together, as extended families and communities, to worship and to learn and to eat and to enjoy the kids – all highlighted in one extraordinary evening at one large dinner table.

Some of our holidays, like Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, center primarily around public worship.  Some holidays focus on learning, as when we devote Shavuot night to Torah study.  Some focus on eating, as with Sukkot and its outdoor meals or Chanukah and its fried ...

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The Mourning Period of S’firat Ha-omer

With S’firat Ha-Omer, we now are in the midst of a period of mourning that compares with the first twelve days of the “Three Weeks” period in the summer.  Thus, during this mourning period, we do not conduct weddings, take haircuts, listen to music, or attend public entertainment like movies.  Home video rentals are not deemed the same as “going to the movies,” as anyone who makes it a practice to go to movies knows.  Some are stricter and do not ...

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