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Article Archive for September 2011

It’s The Interpretation
It’s The Interpretation

From a distance, halacha, Jewish law, appears to be black and white. In reality, however, much of Jewish law is left to the subjective interpretation of experts. A person with a legal question (such as how to attend a business lunch in a non-kosher establishment) asks his/her rabbi who either paskens (renders a legal decision) or refers the question to someone of greater learning and authority.

Autumn Plum Tart Autumn Plum Tart

There is usually something that keeps non-baker types from actually making desserts. The die-hards will make dessert no matter what, but non-baker types have their “lines in the sand”.  I find that rolling out or making a pie crust is a top contender for non-baker types as the leading reason to: purchase dessert from the store, con someone else into making it or to skip it and buy some Ben and Jerry’s!

Lauren and Adam: “October 2008: I’m still on JDate. On break at work, I log in…”
Lauren and Adam: “October 2008:  I’m still on JDate.  On break at work, I log in…”

We’ve survived moving, living at both sets of parents’ houses for an extended period of time, buying and renovating a house…

Benjamin, The Son of Jacob
Benjamin, The Son of Jacob

The youngest of twelve brothers and one sister, Benjamin, the son of Jacob, appears in the Biblical narrative to be a passive personality whose life is seemingly dictated by the fate of those around him. His mother, Rachel, died while giving birth to him. Knowing that she would not survive, with her last breath she called him Ben-Onee, the son of my mourning. His father, however, called him Binyamin (Benjamin), which means son of my right hand.

Eight years younger than his charismatic brother Joseph, Benjamin was only nine when their father was informed that Joseph had been killed. The sole surviving son of Rachel, Benjamin took Joseph’s place as his father’s beloved child.

After their first trip to Egypt to buy grain because of the famine in Canaan, Jacob’s 10 eldest sons were afraid to return to Egypt for more food, since the Viceroy (really Joseph incognito) had commanded that they not appear before him again without their brother Benjamin. But when the grain ran out, and with great reluctance–only after Judah vowed to protect Benjamin–Jacob allowed his youngest to leave.

When the brothers arrived in Egypt with Benjamin, they were greeted with a feast at which “Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as any of them” (Genesis 43:34). Afterward, however, Joseph planted a cup in Benjamin’s sack and had Benjamin arrested for theft. Horrified, the brothers returned to Joseph, pleading Benjamin’s innocence. Judah even offered serve as a slave for life in Benjamin’s stead. Seeing the brothers’ strong commitment to protect Benjamin spurred Joseph to reveal himself.

Oddly, throughout all this action, nothing is actually heard from Benjamin himself. Benjamin is an enigmatic character. According to one Midrash, he knew all along that Joseph was alive but did not tell Jacob. Passive as he may seem, the Midrash reveals that Benjamin was one of the few completely righteous individuals to ever live.

Copyright © 2011 National Jewish Outreach Program. All rights reserved.

My Search for Mr/Ms Spiritual Right My Search for Mr/Ms Spiritual Right

When I was in junior high school, I read the book Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse and became fascinated with the idea of setting forth on my own spiritual quest. During spring vacations, when our family would drive from Chicago to Florida, I began the practice of looking out the window at various landscapes trying to find the perfect place for me to live like a hermit and reach enlightenment. The minimum requirements included a grassy area by a stream and a tree. My requirements for a hotel in Florida, however, included a vending machine and a swimming pool. As I got older, my spiritual search led me away from trips to Boca to treks in the Himalayas where my soul soared in the heart of Buddhist teachings while the rest of my body kvetched from the affects of altitude. From Nepal to Bhutan, I saw myself as an adventurer and seeker, always looking out for that perfect moment of Nirvana, just around the corner, or keeping a watchful eye for the perfect Buddhist monk or nun with a shaved head who would, through word or action, invite me into the world of enlightenment.

Rena and Scott: “…he was new at the JDate thing…”
Rena and Scott: “…he was new at the JDate thing…”

“By the end of our first date, we had already discovered our mutual love of NY football and baseball and decided to go out again.”

Is it a good thing to “flirt” on JDate if you are sincere? Is it a good thing to “flirt” on JDate if you are sincere?

I commend you for reentering the world of dating. I’m sure it’s tough, but well worth the effort. You’d think that men in their 50’s and 60’s would be done playing games and be ready to pursue their romantic interests in a direct manner. Unfortunately, not all are. Those are the ones that you don’t want to waste your time getting involved with in the first place.

The Mother Bird
The Mother Bird

There are many mitzvot in the Torah for which there are no given explanations. These mitzvot are known as chukim. For instance, there is a prohibition against wearing wool and linen together in the same garment. Among these chukim is one known as shiluach ha’kayn, sending away the mother bird: If one comes upon a roosting mother bird, one must send the mother bird away before gathering the eggs or the young chicks.

Atone for Your Sins Atone for Your Sins

I’ve amassed a list of common dating sins based on my own experience as both a victim and a perpetrator and paired them with some of my favorite kosher wines for wrapping it up, righting the wrongs, and starting fresh in 5772.  L’Chaim!

The Jews of Brazil The Jews of Brazil

The Jewish community of 21st century Brazil is much like that of other South American Jewish communities. The Brazilian Jewish community is diverse, consisting of Ashkenazim and Sephardim, traditional and assimilated Jews, the wealthy and the poor. Jews are generally accepted within the larger Brazilian population.

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