Say Little, Do Much

Gossip

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Among the first textbooks I used in studying Hebrew was one titled “B’Yad Ha-Lashon.” The text was replete with vocabulary lists, exercises, and model conversations… and was accompanied by a set of LP records – making of our home turntables diminutive language labs.

The text...
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Beautiful!

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER.

A Succah is kosher – it fulfills the requirements of Jewish Law – even if its walls are unadorned… even if it is devoid of decorations, fruits, gourds, garlands and flowers. Yet the widespread custom is to festoon the succah with just such embellishments.

We...
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“We”

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Like much of Jewish prayer, the confession of sins recited on Yom Kippur is conspicuous for its use of first person plural: Ashamnu, Bagadnu, Gazalnu – “We have sinned, We have trespassed, We have robbed….” Al Cheit She-Chatanu – “For the sin which We have...
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Shofar

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Shanah Tovah! Wishing you much blessing in 5780!

The sounding of the Shofar – the ram’s horn – is a much anticipated highlight of Rosh Hashanah worship. Explanations of this observance abound:

The Shofar was heard at Mount Sinai, where Israel became a nation and...
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Labor

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

The fourth of the Ten Commandments not only prescribes the religious duty of rest on the Sabbath, it mandates work on the other six days of the week as an independent, sacred obligation: “Six days shall you labor…” (Exodus 20:9; see also Genesis Rabbah 16:8)....
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Tears

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Perhaps the most dramatic and emotionally evocative aspect of Jewish mourning and funerary traditions is the practice of “Keriyah.” We tear our clothing (some use a black ribbon attached to the clothing) as a sign of our grief.

Children mourning a parent make the tear...
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Commentary

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

The first time I examined a volume of Talmud, I was twelve years old. The late Rabbi Harold Bell, then Director of Connecticut Region USY, was spending Shabbat with my home congregation in Northampton, Massachusetts. He opened a Talmudic tome and showed a group of...
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Elul

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Elul, the month preceding Rosh Hashanah, is a period of personal reconciliation and spiritual preparation for the High Holy Days, the process of repentance, and the inauguration of a productive new year. The name of this Hebrew month — spelled alef-lamed-vav-lamed — is said to...
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Honey

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

There are numerous symbolic foods associated with Rosh Hashanah. The most popular of these is honey… into which we typically dip either apples or challah (or eager fingers!). The meaning seems clear. We aspire to a year of sweetness… of good things and good news,...
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Lifesavers

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

It is a fundamental principle of Jewish Law that, should any of its specific requirements or Commandments conflict with the interests of preserving human life and health, they are suspended in favor of lifesaving action. A critically ill or injured person must be driven to...
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