Beyond BT

Spiritual Growth for Jews

A Succos Reawakening

A few years ago, on Chol HaMoed Succos, our family headed to New Jersey for a few days of outdoor fun. It’s the time of year when our family spends the most extended time together. One of the expected highlights was a ferry ride between Delaware and New Jersey where we hoped to spot dolphins […]

I’m Happy … Feeling like a Room without a Glass Roof

Is Judaism a meritocracy or an aristocracy? Why do we dwell in our Sukkos on Shabbos but do not fulfill the mitzvah of Lulav on Shabbos? Why is a stolen Lulav invalid for performing the mitzvah when one does fulfill the mitzvah of Sukkah in anothers Sukkah? [The nation of] Israel was crowned with three crown: […]

Succah: A Temporary Structure

One of the interesting laws about a succah is that it isn’t allowed to be too high. How high is too high? The Mishnah tells us: 20 Amos, which is about 35 feet tall. The Talmud explains that a succah has to be a temporary structure. It is meant to represent the travels of the […]

The 60 Second Guide to Succos

Three Principles of Judaism Judaism believes in the importance of both action and belief. The Jewish principles of belief can be divided into three categories 1) G-d is the source and ultimate authority over all existence, 2) G-d revealed his plan for the perfection of the world through the prophetic experience, 3) G-d exercises providence […]

Kinah – Woe for all the heads without Tefillin – We have what to cry about!

1 Woe to us on this bitter day! We have what to cry about! Woe for all the heads without Tefillin After 3700 years from Avraham Avinu After having survived Holocausts and Inquisitions… Jewish boys and girls blunder In the darkness that plagues our generation And go lost by the millions With visions of isms […]

Na’aseh V’nishma – Making Torah Observance the Core or One’s Life

Rabbi Noson Weisz is one of the best at making spiritual concepts from the Ramban, the Maharal and Rabbi Dessler accessible. In this essay, Rabbi Weisz explains: Perhaps the best known passage in Jewish literature concerning the covenant at Sinai is the following passage of Talmud: Rabbi Simai expounded, “When Israel uttered na’aseh before nishma, […]

The One Minute Guide to Shavuos

The foundation of Judaism is that there is a G-d, who is completely spiritual. G-d created both a physical and spiritual world. The centerpiece of creation is man who is composed of a physical body and a spiritual soul. Our collective purpose is to transform the world into a unified G-d connected spiritual world. To […]

Mourning’s End – Understanding Sefira and Lag B’Omer

The Torah’s Honor The untimely demise of a Torah giant impacts every Jew, leaving a deep feeling of loss. If two Torah leaders died on one day (G-d forbid), the tragedy would be immense. We cannot even fathom how we would feel if the number was ten, fifty, or a hundred. In this light, we […]

It’s Never as Bad, or as Evil, as It Seems

How does Jewish sin differ from sin in general? Why do we read Parshas Parah only at this time of the year? I have recorded a homiletic interpretation … of R. Moshe Hadarshan … And have them take for you: … just as they took off their own golden earrings for the calf, so shall they […]

Rabbi Label Lam on Personal Growth Lessons from Tu B’Shevat

On Wednesday night, Tu B’Shevat begins. Rabbi Label Lam gave a wonderful Drasha a few years back where he looked at the Mishna in Pirkei Avos which states “Rabbi Yaakov said, one who is walking along the road and is studying [Torah], and then interrupts his studies and says, ‘How beautiful is this tree! How […]

How I Learned to Stop Complaining and Love Yom Tov

Making Yom Tov requires a Jewish woman to be a frugal shopper, an adequate cook, an event planner, an astute student of Jewish law, and a gracious hostess. She needs to be all this while still being a wife, a mother, or often a career woman too. In short, making Yom Tov is an endeavor […]

A Gourmands Approach to Sukkos

An installment in the series From the Waters of the Shiloah: Plumbing the Depths of the Izhbitzer School -For series introduction CLICK By Rabbi Dovid Schwartz-Mara D’Asra Cong Sfard of Midwood A Sukkah built taller than twenty Ahmos is posul-unfit to perform the mitzvah in. What is the source of this law? Rabbah answered: The Posuk […]

Keep the Change

As the Neilah service on Yom Kippur reaches its crescendo, the congregation cries out in unison: “Hashem Hu HaElokim” (Hashem is G-d) seven times. We can probably still hear this cry echoing in our minds. At that precious moment, we have reached the peak of the spiritual heights we have been climbing since the beginning […]

Tu B’Av – Completing the Circle

By Yossi from NJ Tractate Ta’anis ends with a fascinating and somewhat enigmatic Mishna: Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel said, Israel had no days as festive as The Fifteenth of Av and Yom Kippur; for on those days, the maidens of Jerusalem would go out dressed in borrowed white clothing – borrowed, in order not to […]

From the Waters of the Shiloah – Plumbing the Depths of the Izhbitzer School

Many veteran Chozrim B’Tshuva grapple with the problem of “plateauing”. The epiphanies and ecstasies of our journeys beginnings become ever-fading memories nearly lost in the mists of time. We yearn for those tempestuous days when every Torah thought was revolutionary and every insight was likely to generate a paradigm shift wherein one conceptual world view […]

The Ramchal on the Yomim Tovim

[5] The Highest Wisdom also decreed to give Israel additional sanctity by granting them holy days other than Shabbos, when the Jew receives various levels of holiness. None of these holy days, however, have as much Influence and sanctity as Shabbos. The degree to which a person must abstain from worldly occupations on these days […]

Lag Ba’omer, Rebbe Akivah, and Kabbalah

By Rabbi Tzadok Cable As we cross over the midway point of Sefiras Ha’omer we approach the milestone of Lag Ba’omer – the 33rd day of the Omer. What significance lies within this special day and what connection does it have to the days of Sefiras Ha’omer? When we look into this question the first […]

Fifty Ways to Meet Your Lover (Sefirat HaOmer)

Mystical writings make this time period analogous to a woman preparing for union with her lover. She purifies herself for seven days. Seven is also the number of types of impurity that must be eliminated, and in our case linked to seven weeks, the time period between Passover and the Biblical holiday of Shavuot, forty-nine […]

The 60 Second Guide to Succos

Three Principles of Judaism Judaism believes in the importance of both action and belief. The Jewish principles of belief can be divided into three categories 1) G-d is the source and ultimate authority over all existence, 2) G-d revealed his plan for the perfection of the world through the prophetic experience, 3) G-d exercises providence […]

For My Husband, Ode to Our Last Sukkah

We didn’t realize it would be, The last sukkah of you and me. Those boards, they stretched – it wasn’t wide, Still all our children fit inside. And grandchildren, as they came too, And all the guests, thanks most to you. The decorations that you saved, All through the years, everyone raved. How our grandchildren […]

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