Twenty years after Samuel Pepys stopped writing his famous diary of life in London, Gluckel of Hamelin (1646-1724), the widow of a Jewish gem and metal dealer in Hamburg, took up her pen. Her diary, written in Yiddish, was intended to be a chronicle of her life and a guide to proper living for her children. When it was formally published in 1892, based on heirloom copies, it was quickly recognized as a document of great value for its insights into Jewish-German life of that era. The fact that it was a literary work written by a woman is another extraordinary fact, considering its time.
Historians have noted the seemingly underwhelming response of the American Jewish community to the Holocaust as it unfolded in Europe. Among the few who were prominent activists was Rabbi Eliezer Silver (1882-1968).
The Book of Micah contains prophecy directed at both Samaria (Israel) and Jerusalem (Judah) by the prophet Micah, who lived in Judah during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
“Rabbi Meir used to say: A man should not urge his friend to dine with him when he knows that his friend will not do so. And he should not offer him many gifts when he knows that his friend will not accept them” (Chullin 94a).
The laws of guarding Shabbat guarantee that the Jewish people will maintain the Shabbat as a day sacred and distinct from the six work days of the week. The prohibited acts are known as m’lachot, which is best translated as acts of “creative labor,…
While Jewish Treats has previously discussed the requirements for kosher tefillin (Click here for a full description of tefillin, including the difference between the box worn on the head and the box worn on the arm), it should be noted that the ways in which the tefillin are worn have profoundly symbolic. The actual method for “laying tefillin,” as it is called, is intricate and should be reviewed with a rabbi or one experienced in putting on tefillin.
Although the Torah implies that Abraham and his descendants are removed from the fate of the stars (based on Genesis 15:5, Nedarim 32a) – meaning that their personal destinies are not determined through astrology – Judaism does acknowledge the basic astrological map of the sky, but not its efficacy. (For Rabbi Buchwald’s insights into this topic, click here.) The Talmud even includes a list of the Zodiacal signs that correspond to the twelve months of the Hebrew year. Like its corresponding zodiac sign Aquarius, the Hebrew month of Shevat is represented by the water-bearer.
Most people own at least one pair of jeans, if not several. The original, and most widely known, brand of jeans are the Levi 501 Blues, named after the company founded by Levi Strauss.
Upon the recent death of North Korea’s Kim Jong-Il, the press rehashed what is known about the repressive regime, certainly causing many to wonder how any leader could cause such harm to his own people without even a pang of conscience. Reading about modern tyrants, those who cause some or all of their nation’s people to suffer, provides a unique perspective on the actions of Pharaoh of Exodus.
The collected, and posthumously published, works of renowned rabbis often provide deep insights into the rabbis personal philosophies. An excellent example of one such work is Michtav May’Eliyahu,* (A Letter from Eliyahu), one of the most popular “Mussar” volumes today, expounding on Jewish thought and ethical conduct.