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A Song For The Dove
September 16, 2011 – 3:05 am
A Song For The Dove

Most songs written for Shabbat (zmirot) focus on either God’s resting from creating the world on the seventh day or on the relationship of the Jewish people to Shabbat. The Sabbath song Yom Shabbaton certainly incorporates these two elements, but its chorus presents a unique association attributed to the Sabbath day. This zemer’s chorus describes an event that occurred in the times of Noah–far after creation and many centuries before there was a Jewish nation: “On it [the Sabbath] the dove found rest, there shall rest the exhausted ones.”

I Am To My Beloved
September 15, 2011 – 3:04 am
I Am To My Beloved

The Torah verse that epitomizes the emotions of love is: “Anee l’dodi v’dodi lee” – I am to my beloved, and my beloved is to me (Song of Songs 6:3). The ideal love relationship according to the Torah is one in which both parties are willing to give themselves to their chosen partner (in a healthy way, of course). The Hebrew acronym for the verse Anee l’dodi v’dodi lee is “Elul,” the name of the Hebrew month that precedes Rosh Hashana.

When speaking of Rosh Hashana, the sages discuss the great sense of awe that one must feel. They do not, however, mean awe as in fear. Rather, they mean awe as in a sense of being overwhelmed by the greatness of God. The purpose of Rosh Hashana is not simply to make people feel guilty for their mistakes or promise to do better (although that too is important), but, as with much of Jewish life, it is to help develop each individual’s relationship with God.

To have a relationship with God, a person must recognize all of God’s roles–including King and Judge, as is the focus of Rosh Hashana. During Elul, however, we focus on God as the Beloved of the Jewish people.

In many rabbinic allegories, the Jewish people are likened to a bride while God is portrayed as the waiting groom. The Jewish people (both as individuals and as a nation) can gain the most by recognizing that God loves His people and wishes to bring blessing upon their home.

I am to my beloved, and my beloved is to me. When “I” (meaning the Jewish people) can truly give to “my beloved” (meaning God), then God will become ours in a beautiful and divine partnership.

This Treat was originally published on August 21, 2009.

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

Amy and Andrew: “I finally caved and joined JDate.”
September 14, 2011 – 3:28 pm
Amy and Andrew: “I finally caved and joined JDate.”

We are now married, with new jobs, a new home and a renewed appreciation for the strength we draw from each other… Ani L’Dodi, v’Dodi Li

Gift-Giving to Men
September 14, 2011 – 10:05 am | 5 Comments
Gift-Giving to Men

Giving gifts to men can be as confusing as multivariable calculus. In this case, less is more. The ideal gift says, “I care, but I’m not trying to buy your affection.”  The gift-giving formula all depends on how well you know him and how long you’ve been dating.  Unless you’ve been together for at least four months, taking him out for a romantic dinner on his birthday is going overboard.  Here are some guidelines to help hone in on that perfect gift to prevent him from fleeing in the opposite direction

Whose First Fruits?
September 14, 2011 – 3:05 am
Whose First Fruits?

When the Oral Law was first codified, most Jews lived in agrarian settings. Today, being less familiar with agrarian culture, some people find it difficult to relate to some of the discussions in the Mishna (Oral Law) regarding planting or livestock. Although we may no longer farm or herd flocks, the importance of responsible land ownership and use is a value that has remained throughout time.

For Jewish farmers in the land of Israel, one of the mitzvot that is part of the cycle of crop production is that of bikkurim, the first fruit offering. The first fruit to blossom on each plant of the seven species of the land of Israel (wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates) is marked (with a string) to be set aside for an offering at the Temple. One might assume that this mitzvah would apply to all farmers, but, in fact, the rabbis understood the pronouns in this commandment to be very specific: “You shall take of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you shall bring in from your land” (Deuteronomy 26:2).

The Mishna (Bikkurim 1:2) states that “tenants, lessees, or occupiers of confiscated property–or a robber–may not bring them…because it says, ‘the first-fruits of your land.’” As significant as the first fruits are, the relationship of the farmer to the land upon which the plant grows is also important.

But ownership of the land is not the only criteria. “These may not bring them [bikkurim]: He who plants on his own soil, but sinks [a shoot] so that [it] nourishes from the territory belonging to an individual or to the public…[or similarly]…so that it grows on his own property”(Bikkurim 1:1). In other words, this mitzvah can only be performed by one who makes certain not to infringe of the property rights of others or the public.

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

Heather and Peter: “People ask us how we met. We tell them JDate!”
September 13, 2011 – 10:48 am
Heather and Peter: “People ask us how we met. We tell them JDate!”

Not many things are perfect in life; but JDate, along with destiny and a little luck, is. Maybe luck runs in the circle? Heather’s sister Jennifer is married to Scott (both former JDaters) and they know other people married and/or dating from JDate.

It’s The Interpretation
September 13, 2011 – 3:05 am
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
September 12, 2011 – 4:05 pm | One Comment
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…”
September 12, 2011 – 9:44 am
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
September 12, 2011 – 3:05 am
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.

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