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THE FIFTEEN-FOOT LADDER


There is a store in Lakewood, New Jersey where I buy hats and shoes. This place has my extremities covered. (I guess the soul is my responsibility!) I want to tell you why I like this store. Mr. Aaron Yosef Schreiber puts his soul into this business. I like to patronize stores where someone cares. I dislike chain stores, where you can stand on line at the checkout for an hour and no one is interested. They get a salary with or without you. 

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THE LAST EXILE


“Ki seitzei … When you go out to war against your enemies ….” (Dvarim 21:10) 

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THE CONCEPT OF MONARCHY


Recently, my wife and I were privileged to travel to Russia for a brief but fascinating trip under the leadership of Rabbi Aryeh Katzin, a principal force behind Russian kiruv in the U. S. Rabbi Katzin heads RAJE (Russian-American Jewish Experience) and founded Sinai Academy. He grew up under Communism in Russia, learned Torah in Yerushalayim, and was recruited some thirty years ago by leading American rabbis, principal among them Rabbi Elya Svei zt”l

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THE ANATOMY OF LOSHON HARA


This Shabbos and Sunday are Rosh Chodesh Elul! One month until Rosh Hashanah!   

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A PINHOLE


We are now in the Season of Teshuva (repentance). Next Shabbos is Rosh Chodesh Elul, but – after all – the entire summer is a time of teshuva. Is this not what The Three Weeks are all about? 

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SHEMONEH ESREH AS A PATH TO TESHUVA


“Va-eschanan…. [and Moshe Rabbeinu] implored Hashem at that time.” (Deuteronomy 3:23) 

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THERE MAY YET BE HOPE!


“Eulogize the pious and proper ones who sank in the treacherous waters. At the memory of this, my soul is grieved.” (Kinnah 22, Tisha B’Av) 

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“YOUR THOUGHTS ARE NOT MY THOUGHTS”


“These are the commandments and the ordinances that Hashem commanded through Moses to the Children of Israel in the plains of Moav at the Jordan River by Jericho.” (Numbers 36:13) 

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COVENANT OF PEACE


As the Three Weeks begin, we hear news that the government of Great Britain intends to implement rulings that would force all schools in England to adhere to a curriculum which is antithetical to Truth as revealed by the Torah. 

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TORAH TAVLIN


Why do people hurt themselves? 

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FIRE


Every day in davening we say: “V’ha’ofanim v’chayos hakodesh … Then the Ofanim and the holy Chayos… raise themselves toward the Seraphim facing them. They offer praise and proclaim: Blessed is the glory of Hashem from His Place.” What are Ofanim, Chayos and Seraphim? They are heavenly beings, but how are we to relate to them?  

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KETORES


What can we learn from the frightening events described in this week’s Torah Portion, Korach

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WE WILL BE LIKE DREAMERS


The American Dream. 

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TRAVELING WITH THE ARON


There is a unique passage in this week’s Torah portion. 

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THE LEMON TREE


In Israel we have a small garden behind our home. It has a border of soil, maybe two feet wide. Not much space, but there are beautiful flowers. My wife, bli eyen hara, understands plants, and this place looks like Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden) to me. Besides the flowers, there are a few trees. One is a lemon tree. 

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THE HIDDEN WORLD


“The heavens declare the glory of G-d, and the expanse of the sky tells of His handiwork. Day following day brings expressions of praise, and night following night bespeaks wisdom. There is no speech and there are no words; their sound is unheard.” (Psalm 19) 

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THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WALL


I love the season of Sefiras Ha Omer, the forty-nine days between Passover and Shavuos during which we count the Omer. They are elevated above ordinary days. They themselves feel like a Yom Tov! In fact, the Ramban, in his commentary to Leviticus 23:36, explains that Shavuos is related to Passover as Shemini Atzeres is related to Sukkos. Sefiras Ha Omer is the “Chol Hamoed” linking Passover to Shavuos

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SURROUNDED BY TORAH


“Does a non-Jew really understand the pleasures of this world? Did he ever wake up a few hours before sunrise, drink a hot coffee, and then, with a clear mind, study Torah without interruption for two hours, followed by immersion in a hot mikveh as preparation for an inspired, fiery davening? Does he have any idea of the true pleasures of this world?” 

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IT IS TIME


I write these words after Shabbos, as the Yom Tov of Pesach is leaving us. 

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THE SMALLEST NATION


This week’s Torah Portion describes the inauguration of the Mishkan, the Tabernacle. 

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OVERTURNING HOMES AND HEARTS


A grandson of Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman zt”l said, “When I served [my grandfather] food, he would … ask if I wanted to eat…. I often told him that I am a baal taavah and the food he ate would not be sufficient for me…. He would sigh and comment, ‘Eating is for me like fasting for you.’” (Quoted in Yated Ne’eman, 29 Adar) 

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MASTERS OF TIME


Before we became observant, life was like a carousel. We rode round and round. When the music stopped, we got off … at the same place we had started. 

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LEARNING FROM THE “VOV”


This momentous Shabbos ushers in the Month of Miracles. 

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ONE HUGE STEAK


A prominent rosh yeshiva once remarked to me, “I never ate a steak in my life.” 

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IF YOU ARE QUIET, YOU WILL HEAR


When my wife and I were college students, we joined the “Peace Movement,” protesting the Vietnam War. This was before we became aware of our Jewishness; we were looking for something to fill up the spiritual vacuum, but there was no peace in the Peace Movement.  

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SEVEN WORDS


Just seven words. It was not a Gemora, not a Rashi. It was a few words from a commentary explaining a Tosfos. I was sitting in Yerushalayim early Shabbos morning and trying to understand those seven words. 

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WHAT WE HAVE LOST


“Al naharos Bavel … by the Rivers of Babylon, there we sat and also we wept when we remembered Tzion…. If I forget you, then let my right hand forget its skill; let my tongue adhere to my palate, if I fail to remember you, if I fail to elevate Yerushalayim above the foremost of my joys….” (Psalm 137) 

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ONE THING I ASKED OF HASHEM!


Our grandson, Shmuel ha Levi Jungreis, was kind enough to buy us a copy of the Artscroll volume “Rav Pam on the Haftaras,” in which the late Rosh Yeshiva offers his beautiful insights on the relationship of the haftaras to the respective Torah Portion and the contents of the haftaras themselves. 

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RATIONAL BEHAVIOR


During one of those recent, frigid days, my wife noticed a lady wheeling a stroller with one hand, and, with the other, holding onto a young boy. The boy was crying loudly and bitterly. My wife saw that his coat was hanging off one arm, completely open; he was obviously freezing. Her heart went out to him, and she said to the lady, “Maybe you’d like to close his jacket.” The lady looked directly at my wife and said, “No.” 

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HOW CAN WE SING WHEN WE ARE IN MOURNING?


Rabbi Raziel Shevach was murdered several weeks ago near his home in the Shomron (north of Yerushalayim). I never met him, but I understand he was a beloved person who extended himself greatly for his fellow Jews. That makes it hurt even more. It hurts when the haters are strong and those who bless the world are suffering. This is extremely painful. 

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