Friday, January 21st 2022   |

Say Little, Do Much

Reach!

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

An entire tractate of the Mishnah – Yadayim (“Hands”) – is devoted to the manner in which our hands contract ritual impurity… and how that impurity can be remedied through ritual washing. Netilat Yadayim, the ceremonial handwashing we still practice before reciting Ha-Motzi over bread, is a vestige of that ancient system of ritual purity. Two verses of Psalms are customarily recited during Netilat Yadayim,...

Nachshon

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Nachshon was the princely leader of the Tribe of Judah during the Wilderness Period. The Torah records that (as the brother of Elisheva) Nachshon was Aaron’s brother-in-law. He was also the direct ancestor of King David (and therefore of all subsequent Israelite kings). From this it follows that the Messiah will also be among Nachshon’s descendants.

Nachshon is perhaps best remembered, however, for a role...

2022

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Discussing the meaning of the term “Baruch” – “blessed” – the 16th century Rabbi Judah Loew of Prague (aka “Maharal”) points out that the word’s Hebrew root letters (bet-resh-kaf) all have numerical values related to the number two (Tiferet Yisrael 34). That is, the numerical value of bet is 2; resh is 200; kaf is 20.

Maharal understood that “two” is the minimum threshold to...

Hangovers

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Israeli archaeologists recently discovered a gold ring, set with an amethyst stone, while conducting a dig in Yavne… south of Tel Aviv. The ring may date to as early as the third century CE – the time of Rabbi Yehudah Ha-Nasi and Resh Lakish. Based on ancient lore regarding amethyst, it is believed the somewhat ostentatious ring was used as a charm to prevent hangovers!

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Mensch

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

“I’m not throwing 3000 people out of work two weeks before Christmas.” This is how Aaron Feuerstein explained why he kept paying his factory workers their wages after the Lawrence, Massachusetts textile mill he owned burned to the ground in December 1995. In many media interviews occasioned by his compassionate magnanimity, he said he was motivated by Jewish tradition.

The Torah, he said, forbids oppression...

Grant

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Today is the anniversary of the most blatant act of official antisemitism in American history. On December 17, 1862, Ulysses S. Grant issued General Order #11, expelling all Jews from Tennessee, Kentucky, and Mississippi. Jews remaining in the territory were subject to arrest 24 hours after the order was given. The stated reason for the expulsion was that some number of Jews (among others) were...

SAD

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a form of depression associated with the decreasing hours of daylight during the winter months. Vigilantly keeping one’s home or workplace brightly illumined is a bulwark against SAD… and light therapy is used to treat the condition when diagnosed. We find a hint at the efficacy of light therapy in the popular Chanukah song, “Banu Choshech L’Garesh” – “We have...

Ooh-Là-Là!

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

“Mondegreen” signifies a phrase in a poem or song, which is misheard by the listener and replaced with another expression that may significantly alter the meaning of the original. The term is taken from the Scottish ballad, “The Bonnie Earl O’Moray.” The verse “They have slain the Earl o’ Moray/And layd him on the green” was mistaken for “They have slain the Earl o’ Moray...

Character

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Basketball coaching legend John Wooden said, “The true test of one’s character is what you do when no one is watching.” This sentiment has a long history and deep roots in Jewish morality.

The Torah treats a thief who breaks in to a home under cover of night more harshly than a brigand who robs in broad daylight (Exodus 22:1-2), because the former fears not...

Dementia

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Physician-author Dr. David Perlmutter, though viewed by many as controversial, elicited little dissent when he wrote: “Dementia is our most-feared illness, more than heart disease or cancer.”

Dementia involves the gradual impairment of cognitive ability, memory loss, and personality changes. Those struggling with chronic dementia may not recognize loved ones, nor recall major life events: marriages, births, deaths. They may lose orientation in time, thinking...