Say Little, Do Much

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,...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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Questions?

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz describes the Talmud as “perhaps the only sacred book in all of world culture that not only permits, but even encourages the student to question it.” As soon as they are able, we ask our youngest children to ask the Four Questions...
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Synagogue

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

The synagogue has many Hebrew names, indicating its multiple functions. It is a Beit Tefillah (House of Prayer). The synagogue is a Beit Midrash (House of Study). The Sages decried as a deadly sin referring to the synagogue as a Beit Am (House of the...
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Hate

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Preservation of life and health is such a primary Jewish value that virtually all Commandments and religious obligations are thereby rendered secondary. The dangerously ill must eat on Yom Kippur. Emergency transportation and medical care must be provided on the Sabbath. The truly pious eagerly...
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Choreography

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Upon concluding the “Amidah” (the central prayer of each daily service, recited standing), we customarily take three steps back, and bow right and left – thus humbly taking our leave (as it were) of the Divine Presence we have been addressing. So critical is this...
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Blessings

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

When Jewish parents bless their daughters on the eve of Sabbath and Holidays, or at life’s significant milestones, we invoke the Matriarchs: “God make you like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah.” But in compliance with an explicit Biblical directive (Genesis 48:20) based on the precedent...
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