Say Little, Do Much

Transitions

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

It is customary for the Seder leader to dress in a kittel — the white robe associated with High Holy Day worship and traditionally worn by bridegrooms under the Chuppah. The Kittel also serves as one component of traditional burial shrouds. Each of these occasions...
Continue Reading ⇒

Science

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

The claim that there is an inherent conflict or tension between science and religion is, for Jews, a slanderous misrepresentation. Some of our greatest rabbinic leaders were both people of profound faith and accomplished scientists.

Maimonides taught that it is our mission to serve God...
Continue Reading ⇒

Charoset

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Recipes for Charoset – a time-honored Seder symbol with a prominent place on the Seder plate – vary, but generally include, minimally, apples, wine, cinnamon, and nuts. Some add sugar, dates, bananas, pomegranate, and other distinctive ingredients.

Each year, I personally prepare Charoset by the...
Continue Reading ⇒

Arts

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

The use of the visual arts – painting, sculpture, etc. – especially for devotional purposes, has been limited in Jewish tradition. In part this is in deference to the second of the Ten Commandments (the prohibition against “graven images” – see Exodus 20:3-4)… and reflects...
Continue Reading ⇒

Hebrew

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

The rebirth of Hebrew as a living, spoken language is one of the great miracles of modern Jewish history. Israeli politician Yair Lapid said, “Hebrew is the language I use to thank the Creator and, also, to swear on the road.” The “Holy Tongue” does,...
Continue Reading ⇒

Aging

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Mi-pnei seivah takum – “Rise before the aged!” This Biblical Commandment (Leviticus 19:32) is conspicuously posted on Israeli busses. Woe to the passenger of relative youth who neglects to surrender his seat to an elderly rider! Reverence for age is a deeply ingrained Jewish value,...
Continue Reading ⇒

Amalek

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Amalek, the archetypical enemy of the People Israel (and ancestor of Haman), launched a ruthless attack against the Israelites during the wilderness period, targeting the weakest and most vulnerable. The Torah requires unrelenting war against Amalek, demanding we destroy all traces, all descendants of this...
Continue Reading ⇒

Kaddish

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

When Abraham’s servant was dispatched to find a bride for Isaac, he offered a prayer for the success of his mission. “Before he could even finish speaking,” Rebecca (the future Matriarch of Israel) appeared: the servant’s prayers were answered (Genesis 24:15).

Our prayers are not...
Continue Reading ⇒

Mudslinging

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Mudslinging – attempting to advance one’s own political standing through the denigration and derogation of one’s opponent – finds its origins in the Hebrew Bible. King David was the victim of mudslinging – both metaphorical and literal! While the king and his attendants “went by...
Continue Reading ⇒

Nauseating

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

The Book of Jonah records the prophet’s flight from God and his three days in the “belly of the whale” (literally, “great fish”). Jonah is subsequently “vomited” by the whale onto dry land (2:11), where he grudgingly completes his divine mission. Jonah’s experience conveys two...
Continue Reading ⇒