I am writing this on a long, lazy Tish’ah B’Av afternoon. The sky is a brilliant blue, and a gentle breeze is beckoning me outside to get on my bike. No, not today. I must conserve my energy. At my synagogue, we have undertaken a dramatic journey using prayer, compelling speakers, and the chanting of Kinos, the anguished, eyewitness poetry of Jewish suffering through the ages. We sit on the floor wearing wrinkled clothing and simple, non-leather shoes. We acknowledge each other with a stare, recognizing this day is not about camaraderie; it’s about alienation and exile, death and mourning, dashed hopes and bitter tears. Tish’ah B’Av was once a universally observed commemoration of disasters befalling the Jewish People. Nowadays, the fast is undertaken by perhaps ten percent of the tribe. That in itself is reason to mourn.

 Shavuos is a mysterious holiday. This commemoration of receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai isn’t given a specific date for its celebration; instead, we are told in the Book of Exodus to schedule it seven weeks from the second night of Passover. The tradition is to enjoy four sumptuous meals over the two days of the holiday and ensure that at least a few of them feature dairy foods. Evidently, at Mount Sinai, we received the laws of kashrus but didn’t have time to master proper slaughtering practices, so eating dairy was safer. Another reason for cheesecake at this time of year: The gematria of the word chalav (milk) is forty, paralleling the number of days Moshe spent on the mountain.

Rav Chaim Kanievsky Attends Inaugural Asifa and Writes Seminal Letter

By Chaim Gold

Anyone who has merited to enter the hallowed home of the Sar HaTorah, Maran HaGaon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, shlita, can attest to the overwhelming feeling of awe and kedusha permeating the air. Just being in the presence of the Sar HaTorah is a deeply life-altering experience.

By Sam Glaser 

When New Year’s rolls around, I review the things I promised I would change from the previous year. Sadly, the platitudes of my resolutions could be better described as my New Year’s Delusions. My grandiose ideas about integrating growth and discipline into my life remain just that: ideas. Judaism gives us incredible tools to get lofty concepts into day-to-day practice. This crucial journey toward personal mastery is called Tikun Midos, the healing of our character traits. We’re lucky that countless sages have given us powerful techniques to set goals and actually reach them.

I am who I am thanks to Shabbat. Due to this biblically mandated institution, I have peace of mind, a flourishing community, a great relationship with my family, and a career where I traverse the country singing its praises. All this benefit for just taking a day off! The Torah emphasizes Shabbat more than any other ritual because it provides the most profound physical, financial, and emotional evidence that one is serious about a relationship with G-d. I discovered prioritizing Shabbat is the benchmark, the golden ticket, the minimum deposit required to open a high-yield spiritual bank account. In my new neighborhood, Shabbat was joyous, intellectually invigorating, and united all age groups.

In last week’s parshah, we learned, “When you build a new home you are to make a fence for your roof; and do not place blood liability in your house for someone who should fall may fall from it.” Rashi explains: “He deserves to fall, but still let his death not come through you, as benefit is brought about through the meritorious and injury through the guilty.”

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