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Article Archive for August 2010

Beer!
Beer!

In Tractate Pesachim 107a, beer lovers can find an interesting discussion about the use of beer for kiddush or havdalah. “Rabbi Hisda asked Rabbi Huna: Is it permitted to recite kiddush over [date] beer? [Rabbi Huna replied] In as much as I asked Rav, and Rav asked Rabbi Hiyya, and Rabbi Hiyya asked Rabbi [Judah the Prince] about pirzuma (barley beer), ta’ainy (fig beer) and asne (a fruit beer) and he could not resolve it for him, can there be a [different] question about [date] beer?”

Halachic Authorities
Halachic Authorities

The connection between Rabbi Jacob ben Asher (the Tur, Barcelona, Spain, 1269-1340), Rabbi Joseph Caro (Safed, Israel, 1488-1575) and Rabbi Moshe Isserlis (Cracow, Poland, 1520 – 1572) is an excellent example of both the international Jewish community and of Jewish scholarship in general.

Singled Out in a Small Town
Singled Out in a Small Town

Small town life is really centered on married couples, except for the bar crowd which is not great for dating.  I really don’t fit into either group and am looking for some suggestions that can change my social situation

The Alarm Clock
The Alarm Clock

New beginnings are always difficult.  For those who are not “morning people,” every day is a new beginning, and we must be thankful to whoever invented the alarm clock, which keeps us from being labeled as “slothful” and “lazy.”

Hang on to Summer
Hang on to Summer

The market stalls are bursting with produce. It seems as though everywhere I turn there is an abundance of riotously colored fruits and vegetables. The possibilities seem endless-so much food, so little time.

Read This Blueprint Please
Read This Blueprint Please

Most people can understand the layout and basic measurements of a building from its blueprint. But it takes an expert–an architect or an engineer–to use those blueprints to build a house.

Zodiac
Zodiac

Horoscopes are fun to read, especially when they tell you that you are about to get rich or find sudden fame. While telling the future through one’s horoscope is not part of Judaism, this does not mean that all aspects of astrology are false.

Corn 101
Corn 101

I eat corn only during the month of August. It is not that I do not like corn-it is that I only like it when it is fresh off the stalk and locally grown. There …

Birthday Cake For Shabbat Birthday Cake For Shabbat

It is highly unlikely that Moses, Hillel even Maimonides (all experts on Jewish law) ever worried about what to write on a child’s birthday cake. But different societies have different norms, and, today, a birthday cake with a delightfully sugary “Happy Birthday” is standard for any birthday celebration.

Touched By An Angel
Touched By An Angel

Virtually all topics concerning life are covered in the vast and varied discourses of the Talmud. Life, afterlife, and even pre-life. In Talmud Niddah (30b), the sages discuss the experiences of a baby as it passes from life in the womb to life out of the womb:

“It [the fetus] is also taught all the Torah from beginning to end, for it is said, ‘And He taught me, and said to me: Let your heart hold fast My words, keep My commandments and live,’ (Proverbs 4:4) … As soon as it sees the light, an angel approaches, slaps it on its mouth and causes it to forget all the Torah completely, as it is said, ‘Sin crouches at the door’(Genesis 4:7)…”

While a child is still in the uterus, according to the Midrash, an angel teaches it all of the Torah. When the child passes into the world, the angel touches the child just above the lips, creating the vertical groove between the upper lip and the nose (philtrum), and the child forgets everything he/she had known.

Great, so once we knew everything, but now we don’t. What’s the point?

In this way, when a person is confronted with emet, with truth, emanating from the Torah, he/she will be more likely to recognize it and be drawn to it. An example: the mitzvah not to steal. Your average person will feel that this is just an obvious law. But it is obvious only because it is something that was learned years before in that “mysterious” time just before we entered the world.

Copyright © 2010 National Jewish Outreach Program. All rights reserved.

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