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Say Little, Do Much Archives - Page 4 of 25 - Crescent City Jewish News Crescent City Jewish News

Friday, September 30th 2022   |

Say Little, Do Much

Ibn Ezra

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Today, on his 858th yahrzeit, we remember Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra (1089-1164). Ibn Ezra distinguished himself in Biblical philology and was a pioneering scholar of Hebrew grammar. He authored important commentaries on the Torah and most other books of the Hebrew Bible. He wrote poetry both romantic and religious. Among the latter are two still very popular Sabbath table hymns (zemirot): Ki Eshmerah Shabbat and...

Barbarians

By RABBI JOSEPH H.PROUSER

The term “barbarian” originated as a pejorative (and onomatopoetic) term applied by ancient Greeks to anyone who did not speak their language – initially Medes and Persians in particular. The Greeks (who took profound pride in the beauty of their national idiom) heard foreign tongues as an unintelligible and unattractive “bar-bar-bar….” (We might say, “Blah-blah-blah”)!

The Sages seemed to concede that Greek was an extraordinarily beautiful...

Yom Tov

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

Rabbi Yom-Tov Lipman Heller (1579-1654) headed both the Rabbinic Court and the Yeshivah in Cracow. Before arriving in Poland, he was imprisoned and sentenced to death in Prague. His sentence was commuted, though he spent years paying an exorbitant fine. To celebrate his escape, he instituted a special, private “Purim” – to be observed annually by all his descendants. Among my own congregants have been...

Sinai

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

We are enjoined by the Torah to remember “the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb” (Deuteronomy 4:9-10ff). It was at Sinai (Horeb) that the People Israel had our most direct experience of God’s Presence. At Sinai the Divine will was revealed. At Sinai the Jewish People reaffirmed our covenantal bond with God and determined, for all time, to express our national...

Lions

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

The Shulchan Aruch, Rabbi Yosef Karo’s sixteenth century codification of Jewish Law still guiding our practice today, opens by proclaiming, “We should arise each morning with the strength of a lion in order to serve our Creator” (OH 1:1).

The lion is “king of the jungle.” The Rabbis teach, “All Israel are the children of kings” (Shabbat 67A). We serve God by maintaining a regal...

Wounds

By RABBI JOSEPH H. PROUSER

First-born livestock, the Torah commands (Exodus 13), is to sacrificed at the Temple Altar, with remnants eaten by a Kohen. A first-born animal with a blemish or disfigurement is disqualified from sacrifice, and is given to the Kohen as an outright gift, to be used for whatever non-sacral purposes he may wish (plowing, breeding, as a beast of burden, etc.).

If, however, an unscrupulous...

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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