Thursday, August 11th 2022   |

Say Little, Do Much

Third

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

In the traditional Torah Service, the third Aliyah – “Shelishi” – is the most prized of honors.  In his childhood, my father would pool funds with four older brothers to secure the Yom Kippur Shelishi Aliyah for their father… in a congregation where Torah honors were assigned via auction! 

Shelishi carries such esteem because it is the first Aliyah assigned based exclusively on merit (honor...

Enemies

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Moshe Dayan was born on this date, May 20, 1915, to Ukrainian immigrants to the land of Israel, in what was then part of the Ottoman Empire.  Dayan joined the Haganah at age 14, and later served the State of Israel as Chief of the General Staff, then variously as Minister of Agriculture, Defense, and Foreign Affairs.  He became an international symbol of the State...

Vigilance

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

We count each day from Passover to Shavuot.  “Counting the Omer” links these two festivals into one continuous celebration, demonstrating that either is insufficient without its counterpart.  The freedom we celebrate on Pesach would devolve into chaos, anarchy, and moral relativism without the Law, the Covenant, the national mission and vision we celebrate on Shavuot.  Similarly, we would have little ability to act on that...

Divorce

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

In addition to my congregational duties, I serve as a Mesader Gittin: a scribe and rabbinic adjudicator of divorce according to Jewish Law.  My earliest teacher of Jewish divorce law was Rabbi Edward Gershfield, z”l. He recounted a televised discussion he had with clergy of Christian denominations that consider divorce prohibited.  He had explained that in Jewish tradition, “Divorce is not a sin; it’s a...

Amora

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

The great Sages during the formative period of the Talmud (circa 200-500 CE) are referred to as “Amoraim” (singular: Amora).  Among these giants of Rabbinic history are such storied scholars as Shmuel, Resh Lakish, Rav Sheshet, Abaye, Rava, Ravina, Rav Ashi, and others! They shaped the religious life and attitudes of committed Jews to this day.

Yet the designation “Amora” means merely “one who says”...

Festivals

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

The closing days of Passover, like all the Pilgrimage Festivals, are inaugurated with recitation of Kiddush: a blessing over wine, accompanied by a liturgical declaration of the sanctity of the holiday. 

The Festival Evening Kiddush (to be recited Friday night) includes the phrase l’sasson u-l’simchah: asserting that the Festivals are intended “for gladness and joy.”  Rabbi Avigdor Nebenzahl, the late Rabbi of the Old City...

Hey!

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

The retelling of the Exodus, as presented in the traditional Passover Haggadah, begins with the passage “Ha Lachma Anya…This is the bread of affliction, which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. Let all who are hungry come and eat.”

Rabbi Chaim Palaggi (1788-1868), the much revered and scholarly Chief Rabbi of Izmir, Turkey, customarily read the first word of this passage not as...

Whites

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

The “kittel” – the white robe used, as a burial shroud, during High Holy Day worship, and by bridegrooms on their wedding day – is also worn by some Seder leaders. 

Rabbi Solomon Ephraim Luntschitz (1550-1621, Prague), known as the Kli Yakar, offers an insight unique to the use of this simple linen garment at the Seder. He points out that the descent of the...

Vidui

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Jewish Tradition provides a lengthy final confession, “Vidui,” to be recited when one’s death is imminent.  No rabbinic officiant is required to administer this rite: it is a personal, prayerful encounter between the individual mortal and God.  There is, however, an adaptation of the prayer which may be offered on behalf of the individual in extremis by a family member, friend, or spiritual leader should...

Fonts

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

“Rashi Script” – the distinctive font in which the commentaries of Rashi (1040-1105) and other exegetes and Rabbinic authorities are typically printed – is a misnomer.  Rashi never wrote in “Rashi Script.”  The font was developed by typographers as early as the fifteenth century, based on a then familiar semi-cursive Sefardi script. 

Rashi Script is not dramatically different from the fonts commonly used for Bibles...