Home » Archive by Author

Articles by

When Your Friend Has No Taste
June 2, 2011 – 1:31 pm | 3 Comments
When Your Friend Has No Taste

When you’re dating someone, it is hard to believe your friends’ poor opinion of them comes from anything other than being misinformed. A common refrain is “you just don’t know her like I know her.” Sure – biblically.

Live Long And Prosper
June 2, 2011 – 3:12 am
Live Long And Prosper

Every “Trekkie” knows that Spock’s Vulcan salutation is accompanied by a strange hand gesture. What many don’t realize is that Leonard Nemoy borrowed this symbol from his traditional Jewish upbringing. It’s actually a one-handed version of two-handed priestly blessing gesture.

In Numbers 6:23-27, God instructs Moses that the priests shall “place My name upon the Children of Israel, and I Myself shall bless them.” The blessing the priests were to recite was:

May God bless you and watch over you.
May God shine His face toward you and show you favor.
May God be favorably disposed to you and grant you peace.

Birkat Kohanim, the priestly blessing, is also known as duchenen (Yiddish, referring to the duchan the special platform in the Temple from which the blessing was recited). Birkat Kohanim is also known as Nesi’aht Ka’payim (lifting of the palms/hands).

While Birkat Kohanim was bestowed daily in the Temple, current customs vary as to how often the blessing is bestowed by the kohanim (daily, every Shabbat, holidays only).

To bestow Birkat Kohanim, the kohanim (priests) stand facing the congregation, their tallitot (prayer shawls) draped over their head and arms. They stretch out their arms and, beneath the tallit, arrange their hands with the ten fingers separated to create 5 spaces (pinky-ring-space-middle-index-space-thumb-space-thumb-space-index-middle-space-ring-pinky). The position of the hands reflects the latticework mentioned in Song of Songs (2:9): “My Beloved…looks through the windows peering through the lattice.”

The prayer is recited responsively, one word at a time, first by the cantor and then repeated by the kohanim. While Birkat Kohanim is being recited, congregants are not to look directly at the kohanim and many cover their faces with their prayer books or prayer shawls, following the Talmudic dictum (Chagiga 16b) “One’s eyes will grow weak if one looks at the hands of the priests [during the blessing].”

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

The Old City
June 1, 2011 – 4:05 am
The Old City

New York may be the city that never sleeps, but Jerusalem is the “City of Gold.” This description usually refers to the city’s physical appearance (casting a golden light at dusk due to the unique Jerusalem stone with which its buildings are built).

The heart of the city is the “Old City,” “Ha’ir ha’atika.” As ancient as the walls of the Old City may appear, the Old City is NOT the original city in which King David dwelled. The City of David (Ir David, as it is called today) now being extensively explored and excavated, is to the southeast of the current Old City, although the Temple Mount is part of both cities.

The current Old City encompasses the Temple Mount (known in Hebrew as “Har Ha’bayit,” The Mountain of The House) and its Western Wall (aka Wailing Wall, Kotel Ha’Ma’aravi), as well as the area to its west and north. It is a treasure trove of Jewish history. In the 1970s, archeologists discovered and excavated the wall built by King Hezekiah to protect Jerusalem from the Assyrians, and the Cardo, the famous central road from Roman times. Other archeological sites in the Old City, include Wilson’s Arch and the remains of priestly houses from the era of the Romans.

The famous walls that surround the Old City today were erected by the Ottoman Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent, in the mid-sixteenth century C.E.. This enormous structure, with its 11 grand gates, encompassed structures from many previous eras in history, including the Temple Mount upon which stands the Al-Aqsa Mosque that was built in 705 C.E.

The Old City is divided into four quarters (Jewish, Armenian, Christian and Muslim – named for their local residents). The Jewish Quarter is the most modern quarter. Most of it was destroyed between 1948 and 1967, after the Jewish population of the Old City was taken captive and driven out of the city by the Jordanian army. During the Six Day War of 1967 (on the 28th of Iyar), the Israeli Defense Force took back the Old City and began rebuilding the Jewish Quarter.

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

The Feast of Weeks
May 31, 2011 – 3:00 am
The Feast of Weeks

Shavuot, which we begin celebrating next Tuesday night (June 7th), is the only holiday in the Torah not listed by the date on which it is to be observed. Rather, the Torah teaches that this festival takes place on the day following the 49th day after the first day of Passover (see Counting of the Omer). The name Shavuot, therefore, reflects the fact that this holiday occurs seven complete weeks (shavuot) after Passover. In mystical terms, the number 7 represents the natural order of things, and so, a complete, natural cycle has occurred.

The natural cycle that has been completed is agricultural. Therefore the holiday is also called Chag Ha’bikurim, The Holiday of the First Fruits, and is the time when the offering of the First Fruit of the harvest was brought to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem as a gesture of thanksgiving for the successful crop.

Seven times seven days, the count of 49, expresses the natural cycle, but Shavuot takes place one day after the seven weeks–one step beyond the natural cycle. It is, therefore, also representative of an event beyond nature.

When the Israelites left Egypt, the people acted as though they were merely cousins bonded by mutual misery. By the end of seven weeks, however, at the base of Mount Sinai, the former slaves rose above their human limitations and, by accepting the Torah, took upon themselves a total commitment to God, the final step in becoming the Nation of Israel. Shavuot is therefore also known as Z’man Matan Torateinu, the time of the giving of our Torah.

Like all holidays on the Jewish calendar, Shavuot celebrates both the “mundane” and the holy, and, in this way, reminds us that nothing in life is mundane.

*This Treat was originally published on May 21, 2009. It is being re-Treated to help us better understand the holiday of Shavuot.

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

Homemade Strawberry Jam
May 27, 2011 – 10:12 am
Homemade Strawberry Jam

Once you get the hang of homemade jams, you can riff on the basic recipe. Add some rhubarb for a tangy addition. Add peppercorns and hot peppers for a piquant version for savory items. Easy to do and nothing tastes better than homemade! I do not use pectin in this jam. The sugar will help thicken the jam as will cooking the moisture out of the berries.

Call Him Ishmael…Rabbi Ishmael
May 26, 2011 – 3:05 am
Call Him Ishmael…Rabbi Ishmael

It may seem surprising that the Talmud quotes a sage named Rabbi Ishmael. Biblically, Ishmael the son of Abraham and Hagar, is portrayed as a wild trouble-maker sent away from Abraham’s home.

Why does this widower want an older woman?
May 25, 2011 – 11:20 am | 3 Comments
Why does this widower want an older woman?

Who can say if this will be become a romantic love match? The fact you are so far apart geographically makes it unlikely. It’s very hard for any long-term relationship to happen with geography like that, simply because you can’t spend day-to-day time together. BUT there are certainly plenty of people who have united their distant stars with smashing success, so never say never.

Make Me the High Priest
May 24, 2011 – 6:29 am
Make Me the High Priest

The Talmud (Shabbat 31a) relates the strange story of a non-Jewish man who wished to convert to Judaism in order to ultimately become the High Priest of Israel.

Online Dating: A Single Person’s Guide to Marriage
May 23, 2011 – 11:16 am | One Comment
Online Dating: A Single Person’s Guide to Marriage

As a professional matchmaker of 21 years, trust me, I’ve seen and heard it all!  The most common complaint that I hear from my clients (men) is that women lie about their weight and age. One of the worst things you can do ladies! Men fall in love through their eyes, and if you show up to a date weighing 20 pounds heavier than your picture…well, I’m sure you know the end result!  If you expect realistic results, then you need to do the same.

Lynell and Charles
May 23, 2011 – 10:52 am | 5 Comments
Lynell and Charles

“She is the best person I’ve ever known, and I’d say that even if I didn’t love her; I not only love her, I admire her.”

Jmag Search
Search now! »
Please enter a zip code.

polls

  • How far would you drive for a first date?

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...