Say Little, Do Much

Hope

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

“Dry Bones,” the graphic commentary of political cartoonist Yaakov Kirschen, has appeared in the Jerusalem Post since 1973. “Dry Bones” lightheartedly explores Jewish identity, religious and communal life, Israeli and global politics, and the Jewish historical experience.

The comic strip takes its name from the...
Continue Reading ⇒

Conversion

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Rabbi Israel Meir Kagan, known as the Chofetz Chayim (the title of his first book), is one of the seminal rabbis of the twentieth century… perhaps the most renowned of all rabbinic ethicists. His final book, Sefer Ha-Mitzvot Ha-Katzar, details every Commandment practicable in modernity....
Continue Reading ⇒

Moderation

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

To King Solomon is attributed the dual counsel, “Don’t overdo goodness… Don’t overdo wickedness” (Ecclesiastes 7:16-17, JPS translation). The virtue of moderation is here written into the moral vision of the wisest of men!

The Talmud relates the story of Honi “The Circle Drawer.” Honi...
Continue Reading ⇒

Wait

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

A critical element of keeping Kosher is the separation of meat and dairy products. Based on the verse “You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk” (Exodus 23:19, 34:26; Deuteronomy 14:21), we do not cook meat with milk, eat meat cooked with milk,...
Continue Reading ⇒

Stumbling

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

“You shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind” (Leviticus 19:14). The Torah’s dual prohibition beckons us to empathy for the vulnerable. We must not take advantage of those with physical, emotional, or developmental challenges or personal limitations. We must...
Continue Reading ⇒

Song

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Music – including song, chant, and cantillation – plays a central and cherished role in Jewish spirituality… both in congregational and communal worship, as well as in more intimate settings, such as the Sabbath table, with its Zemirot: hymns celebrating the significance and wisdom of...
Continue Reading ⇒

Dancing

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Hillel and Shammai debate how one is to dance before a bridal couple, when it is customary to extol the virtues of the bride (Ketubot 17A-B). Shammai maintains we should truthfully “describe the bride just as she is.” Hillel insists we declare: “The bride is...
Continue Reading ⇒

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...
Continue Reading ⇒

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...
Continue Reading ⇒

“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...
Continue Reading ⇒