Say Little, Do Much

Forbearance

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Akiba were called upon to offer prayerful intercession for a community desperately afflicted by drought (Taanit 25B). Rabbi Eliezer, leading the congregation in prayer, intoned 24 blessings beseeching God’s mercy. His protracted pleas went unanswered.

Akiba offered a simple prayer: “Our...
Continue Reading ⇒

Amity

By JOSEPH H. PROUSER

A Talmid Chacham (literally, “student — or disciple — of a Sage”… plural, Talmidei Chachamim) is an exemplar of Jewish learning and scholarship, deeply immersed in sacred literature and the ways of Jewish piety and personal character. A Talmid Chacham embodies the very best of the...
Continue Reading ⇒

Windows

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Jewish Law prescribes that any room in which we pray – at home, in a synagogue, or elsewhere – be equipped with windows (See Berachot 34B; O.H. 90:4). The Rabbis trace this requirement to its Scriptural origins in Daniel 6:11. In his chamber, “Daniel had...
Continue Reading ⇒

Cheesecake

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

We customarily celebrate Shavuot (commemorating the Revelation of the Torah at Sinai) with a dairy meal. Blintzes, cheesecake – for some, lasagna – are holiday favorites. The Chofetz Chayim explained this practice as recalling that our ancestors, upon receiving the Dietary Laws at Sinai, discovered...
Continue Reading ⇒

Smashing

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

The breaking of a glass at a Jewish wedding is one of the most familiar and cherished aspects of that ceremony. The practice is said to recall the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem – placing that somber duty even above our “greatest joy” (see...
Continue Reading ⇒

Bustards

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

The Torah lists numerous birds as “unclean” – forbidden for Israelite consumption. These non-kosher species of fowl include: kite, bustard, jackdaw, eagle, gull, hawk, owl, etc. All forbidden fowl appear to be scavengers or birds of prey.

The Hebrew of Leviticus 11:14 includes among these...
Continue Reading ⇒

Danger!

By RABBI JOSEPH PROUSER

Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha-Olam, Ha-Gomel l’Chayavim Tovot, She-g’malani Kol Tov. This blessing of thanksgiving – Birkat ha-Gomel – is recited when one has escaped mortal peril or when disaster has been averted… upon recovering from illness or surgery, surviving an accident or long journey...
Continue Reading ⇒

Mothers

By JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Parshat Kedoshim, the weekly Torah Portion to be read on the eve of Mothers Day 2019, includes Leviticus 19:3 – “You shall each revere your mother and father.” Ibn Ezra explains the order in which our parents are here mentioned as signifying that the bond between...
Continue Reading ⇒

Trust

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

“In God We Trust,” adopted as the official motto of the United States in 1956, has appeared on all American currency ever since. It was used on U.S. coins – intermittently and unofficially – as early as 1864, when it adorned the two-cent piece.

The...
Continue Reading ⇒

Greatness

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

From early childhood through my teens, I accompanied my father to Shabbat morning services weekly – among the most sacred, cherished, and formative hours of my youth. On one rare occasion, I determined to sleep in, and so...
Continue Reading ⇒