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EIQEV 5782

08/19/2022 02:43:33 PM


I wrote about this incident 2 years ago.

As it is a personal story that is very meaningful to me, I am taking the liberty of repeating it this year:

Many years ago, I had the privilege of taking my family on a year’s sabbatical in Jerusalem.

We left Montreal on a Wednesday evening, via El Al, when it was still...Read more...


08/12/2022 12:44:59 PM


This week is Shabbat nahamu, the shabbat o f comfort.

This past Friday was Tu be'av, described by the mishnah as one of the happiest days of the year.

Last week, we began reading the book of Deuteronomy, the 5th Book of the Pentateuch.

In Hebrew, the book is called “Devarim”: “Words”. The word davar, or...Read more...


08/05/2022 01:48:49 PM


Congratulazioni agli italiani per aver vinto la Coppa del Mondo.

Well, I’m not really a soccer fan. But I was intrigued: how many of these players for Italy have Jewish blood?

You see, I was reminded that when I was in high school, I was given the book The Jews of Ancient Rome, by Prof. Harry Leon.   He described how there had been,...Read more...


07/29/2022 12:59:01 PM


When I was growing up in Boston, one of the most popular Israeli songs began with the words tse’na tse’na tse’na ha-banot u-re’na, hayyalim ba-moshava meaning “come girls and see, there are soldiers (i.e. Tsahal) in our settlement.”

[The words were probably inspired by the last verse in Song of Songs, chapter 3, “come out, O daughters of Zion (that is , Jerusalem),...Read more...


07/22/2022 11:15:31 AM


In the period of the 3 weeks, which began last Sunday, we read special haftarot. This week, the first of the 3 special haftarot, is from the beginning of the Book of Jeremiah. HaShem appoints Jeremiah to be a prophet, telling him that he is predestined for this task.

Yet, Jeremiah hesitates. He feels he is not worthy of the task. According to a midrash, in the back of Jeremiah’s mind, he recalled the problems previous prophets had...Read more...


07/15/2022 01:41:33 PM


I have said over this personal story several times in Chevra Shaas, but to the best of my recollection, I have never written it down. And I do believe that it deserves to be printed.

You see, many years ago, Balaq was my Bar Mitsvah parasha. We belonged to a large synagogue in Boston. Bar mitsvah boys were not allowed to read the Torah, as that was the exclusive job of the...Read more...


07/08/2022 11:25:48 AM


This week’s haftarah, taken from the Book of Shoftim (Judges) is one of the most perplexing chapters in the Bible. Let me explain:

The people of Ammon were a tough, mean bunch.  They resided on the eastern side of the Jordan River, their name reflected in the modern city of Amman, Jordan. In the time of the prophet Samuel, they demanded that, to avoid being conquered, the...Read more...


06/30/2022 05:03:57 PM


This week, we read of the great rebellion, led by Korach against the leadership of Moshe.

Over the years, as I have come to know many congregational rabbis, I have seen that members of shuls will often grumble about their rabbinic leadership (Fortunately, not here!!)

For the past two weeks, I have mentioned a thought by Rabbi Dr. Lamm, who,...Read more...


06/23/2022 04:21:37 PM


Wow! From what I said in shul last week, I think I have a better understanding of a couple of Rashi’s comments in this week’s parasha.

Dictionary definition of “groupthink:” a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome.



06/17/2022 11:45:10 AM


First of all, in the name of Chevra Shaas, mazal tov to Edmond Elbaz for his many years of dedication and leadership at the Synagogue.

My first full time job was at the State University of NY, where I was Asst. Prof. of Hebrew. I distinctly remember the following story:

After the first semester, a young lady from one of my classes came into my...Read more...


06/10/2022 03:00:00 PM


Shavuot is the holiday associated with Torah. I hope that we all have given thought to increasing our study of Torah: whether through books; through following such sites as YUTorah, the OU sites, and/or various Chabad sites; or through the various programs provided by our synagogue.

The Ashkenazim recite every year, before the reading of the Torah on the first day of Shavuot, the...Read more...


06/03/2022 11:46:00 AM


The famous story of Moshe and the burning bush took place (according to Shemot, chapter 3,) at the “mountain of God, at Horev.”  According to tradition, Horev was another name for Mt. Sinai.

At first, Moshe did not want to accept God’s offer to be the one to take the people out of Egypt.

So, HaShem gives Moshe a sign:  “when you...


05/27/2022 02:02:16 PM


This Sunday, 29 May (American Memorial Day) is the 28th of iyyar.  The number 28 in Hebrew stands for “strength.” This day has become known as Yom Yerushalayim, commemorating that miraculous time, back in ‘67, when the strength of the Israeli army, with the help of HaShem, defeated the three neighbouring armies that had been determined to wipe out the country, God forbid. Many synagogues say Hallel on...Read more...

Some Thoughts on Current Events

05/20/2022 11:53:10 AM


I’m not a news junkie, but I often listen to the news when eating, or washing dishes, or driving. This past Sunday, I heard 4 times about an indigenous man who attaches electrodes to his plant, and connects to a computer. Thereby, he is able to translate the impulses into sound, which comes out through a speaker as music.  The man explained that in his tradition, there is life in everything.

I said to myself, wow!  There...

EMOR 582

05/13/2022 01:01:57 PM


If you follow my weekly column, today's essay might seem familiar, as it is based on a midrash that I brought down last year. Besides the fact that it is one of my favourite midrashim, it seems most contemporary, in light of the carnage being orchestrated in Ukraine by the ruler of Russia.

By way of introduction: last week's parasha was replete with inspiring practical mitzvot....Read more...


05/06/2022 11:27:04 AM


I. Thoughts on Independence.

How do we relate to the establishment of the modern State of Israel?

Many years ago, the year after I had graduated from high school in Boston, I studied in Erets Yisrael. My Talmud teacher that year, Rabbi Zeev Gotthold, suggested that I purchase the Hebrew volume Ha-Mo`adim be-halakha by Rabbi Shlomo Y. Zevin, one...Read more...


04/29/2022 01:55:49 PM


First of all, in the name of Chevra Shaas, we send our condolences to Ron Mashaal on the loss of his father; and to Rev. Hazzan Benlolo, on the loss of his sister.  May their memories be for a blessing. min ha-shamayim tenuhamu!


This past Thursday, 27 Nisan according to the Jewish calendar, was Yom Ha-Shoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day....Read more...


04/21/2022 03:15:09 PM


Every day of pesah we recite hallel, which consists of psalms chapters 113_118.

We are all familiar with the line "meqimi me'afar dal, me'ashpot yarim 'evyon," which describes that HaShem (a) raises the poor person from the dust; and (b) raises the poor person from the garbage heap.

You might ask, why does the poet repeat the idea of part (a)...Read more...


04/14/2022 03:39:43 PM


Several years ago, I had a knee operation shortly after Pesach. To keep me occupied during my recuperation period, my friend (and gabbai!) Michael Rubin gave me a book about the Seder, entitled The Night that Unites. I said about it ‘ilu natan lanu sha`ar, velo natan dappim, dayyenu, i.e., if that book had only a title page, and didn’t have any content, dayyenu. How much more so that it had both title page and content!



04/08/2022 05:24:59 PM


One of the reasons why this Shabbat is called hagadol is that it is connected to the word hagada. That is, many have the custom of reading parts of the hagada on this Shabbat: So, here is a thought on the hagada:


We all remember the story, related shortly after the mah nishtanah, as told of the Rabbis who were sitting in Bnai Brak, and...Read more...


04/01/2022 11:04:19 AM


This week we read from 3 Torah scrolls: the regular parasha Tazria, the portion for the new Month of Nisan, and “parashat ha-hodesh” from Shemot, chapter 12.

The reading from the 2nd and 3rd Torahs is a wakeup call to all of us: Pesach is fast approaching. In the selection we read from the 3rd sefer (Shemot/Exodus chapter 12), Moshe is telling the people to prepare themselves...Read more...

TSAV 5782

03/18/2022 02:15:25 PM


The Mesha stele dates from the 9th century BCE. Written in the ancient Moabite language, it describes the exploits of the Moabite king Mesha. I always remember, when we were studying it during my student days as a grad student at Brandeis, one of my fellow students blurted out, "the Moabites were Nazis," for the way they treated the Israelites.

Around the same time, the...


03/11/2022 01:25:29 PM


Since we are approaching Purim, and since we need something light to offset the terrible news we keep hearing on the media, let’s do something different.  Here is my favourite all time joke.  I like it because, besides being “clean,” it deals with language skills.

I first heard this story many years ago, when I was living in NY, on the now defunct WEVD, the Jewish...Read more...


03/04/2022 12:32:42 PM


So… Putin has a net worth of billions of dollars, but he has done a masterful job of hiding his assets. [among many reports, an article this week in CNN Business News states the Russian leader's wealth to hover around $200 billion in assets, which would make him among the wealthiest people on the planet!

“One theory of Putin's wealth suggests that he has strong armed Russia's...Read more...


02/25/2022 12:00:57 PM


This past week, there has been quite a bit of news to reflect (and worry?) upon: did the PM respond too harshly with the Emergency Act, or is he guilty of having responded too slowly; what will happen in Ukraine; is the impending removal of masking in schools a good idea, or will it lead to increased infections?

All of that, and be careful of walking outside on the ice!

Nevertheless, I was bothered by an article I happened to read today, written by a former president of the National Council of Young Israel. It seems that in January, there was a program at the Boca Raton Synagogue. This is an orthodox shul, led by an extremely hard working and talented rabbi. The synagogue has become one of the largest in North America.Read more...


02/18/2022 09:23:51 AM


Avi Abelow grew up in New York, and went on aliya many years ago. He is a writer and commentator on current events in Israel and the Jewish world. His video presentations called “Israel Unwired,” representing what we would call a “right wing” point of view, are sent to my email.

I do not know him personally, yet I have great admiration for someone like him who went on...Read more...


02/11/2022 12:50:38 PM


The Ba`al HaTurim points out that this is the only parasha in the Torah, beginning with parashat Shemot, which told of the birth of Moses, through the end of Sefer BaMidbar, where the name of Moses does not appear.

Now, the Ba`al HaTurim lived in the 13th and 14th centuries. None of the great classical commentaries that preceded him, such as Rashi, Rashbam, Nahmanides, or ibn...Read more...


02/04/2022 01:00:15 PM


Our parashah talks of donations of materials that people were asked to bring to the tabernacle. [Actually, in modern Hebrew, a donation to a charity is called terumah.] For example, from the gold that will be brought, the menorah will be constructed.  It must be from pure gold.

Rabbi Yitzchak Zilberstein is recognized as a leading halachik authority in Israel. Many intriguing...Read more...


01/28/2022 10:50:47 AM


At the end of last week, my Aunt Betty Shapiro, sister of my late mother, passed away in Boston, at the age of 105 and 1/2. Since I have the “podium” here, I would like to devote this column to her memory.

[I had hoped to be able to travel to Boston for the funeral this past Monday, and, indeed, it had always been assumed that when the time, came, I would conduct it....Read more...

YITRO 5782

01/21/2022 09:35:03 AM


Rabbi Menahem White

This parasha includes the 10 commandments, one of which is honouring parents.  Since this Shabbat, 20 Shevat, is the yahrzeit of my mother a”h, Chana bat Tsvi Hirsch ve-Chaya, I dedicate these remarks to her memory. She would sign her name in English as Anne Shapiro White, Shapiro being her maiden name. The Shapiro side of the family had a tradition that we were descended from the Spanish exiles of...Read more...

Tue, March 21 2023 28 Adar 5783