Category Archives: Judaism 101
A Taste of Yeshiva
Day of Jewish Learning
Chabad Lubavitch of Montana cordially invites you to attend the second “ A Taste of Yeshiva – Yom Limmud” a day of Jewish learning @ The Shul of Bozeman.
Ever dreamed of spending a day studying Talmud? Maimonides? Ever yearned to spend a day in Yeshiva immersed in Torah study? Your dream has come true; spend a day at our learning seminar with enlightening lectures and stimulating discussions. It’s a unique opportunity to find the answers to some of the questions bothering you since Hebrew School.
Mrs. Rivkie Block of San Antonio, Texas
Rabbi Menachem Feldman of Greenwich, Connecticut
Rabbi Amram Phelps of Bozeman
Technology Vs. Shabbat – the use of electricity on the day of rest
Talmudic Trends – Explore the life & philosophy of some of the greatest Talmudic Sages and how it shaped their consistent worldview.
Torah and the Castle Doctrine: Montana law allows the use of deadly force to “prevent or terminate the other person’s unlawful entry” to a home. Does the Torah agree?
What’s for dinner Mr. Mashiach? An overview of the menu at Mashiach’s feast
Woman of Valor – An in depth look at the beautiful Aishet Chayil song
Sunday, June 9, 2013. 10:30 AM – 4:00 PM @ The Shul.
Kosher Lunch Included.
Suggested donation – $18
Sponsor – $180
Yeshiva (n) (yeh-shee-vah) is the name given to the great academies of study where the Talmud and Jewish law were formulated. The Yeshiva as an institution has succeeded in creating an atmosphere of serious analytical study that endures to this day. In the long course of Jewish history it has been the Yeshiva more than anything else that has served as both the repository and birthplace of profound Jewish learning.
A Taste of Yeshiva
June 9, 2013 • 10:30 AM – 4:00 PM
Chabad-Lubavitch of Montana
8755 Huffman Lane, Bozeman, MT 59715-9211
RSVP at the link below.
It’s worth the drive.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the timely and insightful sermon which Student Rabbi Miriam Farber gave on Friday evening, April 19, repeated here for the benefit of the few who were there, and of the many who unfortunately were not there.
The local bookstore might be an endangered species, replaced by Amazon and e-books. But, if you find yourself in a Barnes and Noble, or even, imagine, an independent bookstore, somewhere in that shop is a shelf filled with Chicken Soup for the fill-in-the-blank Soul. Chicken Soup for the Teen Soul, Chicken Soup for the Jewish Soul, Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul, Chicken Soup for the Cancer Survivor’s Soul – the list of titles goes on and on. Chicken soup, that delicious Jewish penicillin, able to fix any ailment, physical or emotional, is now available in book form to provide sustenance, inspiration, and healing.
There are so many places to turn to when we need comfort. As Jews, as the People of the Book, chicken soup in book-form makes sense. Our own sources – the Torah, the prayerbook, the libraries full of the Jewish wisdom of the ages – provide comfort and healing. When we said Mi Shebeirach a few moments ago, we drew strength from the Torah itself. Chicken soup in its literal form makes sense to us too. Comfort food, whether it is chicken soup, mashed potatoes, ice cream, or whatever dish works for you, is a physical response to our emotional pain. On Monday afternoon, after a harrowing day of watching the news and avidly scanning social media, waiting for my friends in Boston to check in – I turned off the TV, went into the kitchen, and felt calmer making dinner than I had all day.
Our tradition offers us many options for how to respond at times of tragedy and trauma, whether a personal loss or a shared communal event. We have prayers and mourning rituals, and we seek the wisdom of those throughout our history who have struggled with the same questions and struggles we face now.
Our double Torah portion this week is called Acharei Mot-Kedoshim. Acharei Mot occurs immediately after the death of Aaron’s sons. The opening words of the portion, which give the parasha its name, mean, “After the death.” The other half of our double parasha, Kedoshim, falls at the center of the Torah. It consists of the Holiness Code, two chapters filled with laws guiding us in our human relationships. The Holiness Code lays out how to build a holy society. The word Kedoshim means holy, appearing at the beginning of Leviticus 19: Kedoshim tihyu – You, the people of Israel, shall be holy.
Acharei Mot-Kedoshim. After death…holiness. After moments of trauma and fear, our tradition teaches us, through the juxtaposition of these two portions, that we must respond with acts of holiness and kindness towards our neighbors, towards strangers, to continue to build a holy society, even at the time when that holiness seems least attainable.
The stories of acts of kindness in the past several days have almost blocked out the blackness of Monday’s tragedy. First responders, including medical personnel who only expected to treat dehydrated runners, ran towards the explosions, saving countless lives. They took to heart the words we find in our Torah portion this week, “Lo ta’amod al dam rei’echa – do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor.” Marathon runners, physically exhausted from the exertion of running 26 miles, kept on running past the finish line, to give blood at Boston’s hospitals, embodying the value that pikuach nefesh, saving a life, takes precedence over everything else. Over one thousand Boston residents opened up their homes to host marathon runners from all over the world who found themselves without a place to sleep on Monday night. These generous hosts taught us what it might mean to fulfill the commandment, “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him…you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” ’doshim tih’yu ki kadosh ani Adonai Eloheichem. You shall be holy, for I, Adonai your God, am holy. Our human capacity to do holy acts is a result of our creation b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God.
Earlier tonight, in the Gevurot, we praised God as the someich noflim – the Lifter of the fallen and as the rofei cholim – the Healer of the sick. We credit God with these acts of kindness, but perhaps God acts through us, through the human hands that reach out to lift someone off the ground, through the wisdom of human doctors and nurses, through the human arms that embrace the person who just needs an understanding hug, through the human shoulders upon which the bereaved cry.
The Talmud teaches, “Just as God clothes the naked, so should you; just as God visited the sick, so should you, just as God comforted the mourners, so should you; and just as God buried the dead, so should you.”
Rabbi Shai Held adds, “Just as God is present when people are vulnerable and suffering, so should we be.” We are holy when we act in the ways that God acts, when we run to do our small part to build a holy civilization.
What does it mean for us to be present with suffering, to run towards tragedy, rather than in the opposite direction? For us, this week, it doesn’t need to mean getting on the next flight to Boston or West, Texas, or being glued to the unceasing news coverage that has marked this week. Instead, perhaps the way that we become kedoshim, holy, is through remembering that our holy acts are needed all the time, not only at times of national tragedy. Kedoshim offers two chapters full of ideas for bringing God’s holiness into the world every day, starting with honoring one’s parents and celebrating Shabbat.
Rabbi Rachel Barenblat teaches us what this might look like, writing, “God is in the friend who offers to hold a newborn so its exhausted mother can take a shower and get some sleep. God is in those who gather for shiva so the mourner can say kaddish in the presence of a minyan. God is in the friend who makes a pasta salad and brings it to the home of a woman whose husband has slipped a disc and can’t get out of bed. God is in the parent who rocks a sick child in the middle of the night. We find God in our acts of love for one another.”
These everyday acts of kindness bring God into the world, healing, slowly, our brokenness. Kedoshim is the Torah portion at the very center of the Torah. And at the very center of Kedoshim is the most simple, yet most difficult commandment: V’ahavta l’reyacha kamocha – Love your neighbor as yourself. Rabbi Hillel taught that this verse is the ENTIRE Torah – all the rest is commentary. The rest of the Torah teaches us how to love our neighbors, giving us concrete tasks to do, whether at a time of tragedy or on any old Thursday, those tasks of caring for the sick and feeding the caregivers, of being present with people when they are most vulnerable.
Rabbi Yitz Greenberg, in an essay in which he struggles with belief in God after the Holocaust, declares, “Faith is living life in the presence of the Redeemer, even when the world is unredeemed.” Rabbi Greenberg suggests that there might be moments of redemption, even if we have not yet achieved a complete redemption for the entire world. Even at our darkest moments, when we lose our faith in humanity, in God, and in ourselves, we still hold onto the belief that redemption is possible, and even near. We search for those moments of redemption, sparks of light and hope that illuminate the dark night of helplessness and despair.
May we reach beyond our own brokenness and pain to make God’s presence felt in our world, by using our hands to ease the pain of the sick, our words to comfort the suffering, and our ears to listen to the voices of the scared. Y’varcheinu Adonai v’yish’m’reinu – May God bless us and protect us.
EDITOR’S NOTE: I found this very moving. Look out, Max. This is a hard act to follow.
Read more about Rabbi Leonid Feldman at
the liberation from Egyptian slavery.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This was contributed by Elliott Magalnick. Happy Purim!
Harry’s Video Blog – Who Was That Masked Man?: Purim
Partners in Torah brings you Harry’s Video Blog and the always entertaining Harry Rothenberg. Think that Yom Kippur is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar? Guess again…..
Harry Rothenberg, as his accent suggests, is originally from Philadelphia and still spends too much time rooting for its sports teams. An attorney, he is best known for his representation of victims of catastrophic injury at the Rothenberg Law Firm, where he works with his parents and 5 of his siblings. But he’s equally passionate about lecturing on Jewish topics, particularly to audiences that did not have the same opportunity that he had to study for 3 years in Israel at Ohr Somayach yeshiva. A 1988 graduate of Columbia College and a 1993 graduate of Harvard Law School, magna cum laude, Harry lives in northern New Jersey with his wife Amy. Their 8 children range in age from their 21 year old eldest son to their 3 year old twin boys, who as their frequent guests can attest, are now in charge at their house.
Partners in Torah | 228 Aycrigg Avenue | Passaic | NJ | 07055
A Taste of Torah
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following was sent to me by Elliott Magalnick, a student of the Melton School sponsored by the Colorado Agency for Jewish Education. I thought it was interesting enough to share with you.
We just celebrated the Gregorian New Year on January 1, but there’s another New Year right around the corner — and it’s one of four Jewish new years. We think mainly about Rosh HaShanah as the Jewish New Year, but there are three others that coordinate with harvest times. This month, January 25-26 marks Tu B’Shevat, the “new year for trees.” According to the Torah, fruits cannot be consumed from trees less than three years old (this is where the Upsherin celebration comes from), so Tu B’Shevat was used as the starting date for determining tree ages. In modern times, many view this holiday as a “Jewish Earth Day” and mark the day with a Tu B’Shevat seder.
Here are some fun facts and websites to check out to learn more about new year’s celebrations and Tu B’Shevat.
- Did you know that up until 1752 England observed March 25 as New Year’s Day?
- If you’re wondering how to mark the day with your children, PJ Library has some stellar suggestions.
- For more information on the practices and beliefs of Tu B’Shevat, check out My Jewish Learning!
Copyright © 2013 Colorado Agency for Jewish Education, All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is:
Colorado Agency for Jewish Education
300 S. Dahlia Street #101
Denver, CO 80246
The Segal Guide to Fasting for Yom Kippur (From a Medical Perspective)
Michael M. Segal MD PhD
Each year on Yom Kippur, Jews wish each other a khatima tova (a good seal in the Book of Life) and tolerable fast. The route to a khatima tova is beyond the scope of this article; the route to an easy fast is simpler to describe. The following are the essentials of human physiology that will help you have a tolerable fast on Yom Kippur:
- DON’T GET THIRSTY:
- DON’T START THE PRE-FAST MEAL ON A FULL STOMACH:
- EAT FOODS THAT ARE DIGESTED SLOWLY:
- DON’T GET A HEADACHE:
- MAKE THE MEAL TASTY ENOUGH SO PEOPLE WILL EAT:
- DON’T DO A COMPLETE FAST IF YOU HAVE CERTAIN MNEDICAL PROBLEMS:
- DON’T EAT IMPROPERLY AFTER NEILA:
Most people think the difficulty about fasting is feeling “hungry”. However, avoiding thirst is much more important for how you feel. Not only do you avoid the discomfort of thirst, but you are also well hydrated and swallow frequently, so your stomach does not feel as empty.
One important way to remain well hydrated is to avoid drinks or foods that cause your body to get rid of water. Such foods and drinks include alcohol, tea, caffeinated coffee and chocolate. Another important rule is to avoid consuming much salt (sodium chloride). Salt causes a person to feel thirsty despite having a “normal” amount of water, because extra water is needed for the extra salt. For this reason you should avoid processed foods containing lots of salt such as pickles, cold cuts, or cheese. Most tomato sauces, salad dressing, canned fish and smoked fish have a lot of added salt. Since Kosher meat has a high salt content, it may be best to choose a main course such as fresh fish, canned no-salt tuna fish or a de-salted meat such as boiled chicken.
By avoiding these types of foods and drinks in the several hours before a fast, you can avoid either losing water or needing extra water. Other actions that cause the body to lose water, such as perspiring in warm clothing, should also be avoided during the fast.
The pre-fast meal often begins at 5 PM, so a large lunch could prevent you from eating enough immediately before the fast. It is best to have a small lunch, or no lunch at all. A large breakfast early in the day based on cereals, breads and fruits can provide the energy you need during the day, yet these high-fiber foods will be far downstream by the time of the pre-fast meal and will not keep you from eating enough food at the pre-fast meal. A large breakfast is also helpful because it stretches the stomach. After eating breakfast, it is best to consume beverages during the day. This will not fill you up, since liquids are absorbed quickly, and this will ensure that you have absorbed enough fluids during the day to start the pre-fast meal being well hydrated. Be sure to avoid beverages with alcohol or caffeine. You should also drink at least two glasses of fluids with the pre-fast meal, because many foods need extra water to be digested properly.
Include some foods high in oils and fats in the pre-fast meal, since such foods delay emptying of the stomach and effectively prolong your meal. However, beware of fatty meats or salted potato chips that could load you up with too much salt. Salads and other high fiber foods that are so important in one’s normal diet should be de-emphasized for the pre-fast meal, since they travel quickly through the digestive system. Fruit, despite its high fiber content, is worthwhile, since it carries a lot of water in a “time-release” form. Avocados or salt-free potato chips, despite containing a lot of potassium, are good choices, because the body largely handles potassium by taking it up into cells.
Withdrawing from caffeine produces a headache in people who drink several cups of coffee a day. If you consume this much caffeine in coffee or other foods or drinks you should prepare yourself for the caffeine-free period by reducing or eliminating caffeine from your diet in the days before Yom Kippur. Don’t try to get through the fast by drinking coffee right before Kol Nidre, since this will cause you to lose a lot of water.
The pre-fast meal doesn’t have TO be bland. Spices such as lemon or herbs are fine for fasting, but salt and monosodium glutamate should be reduced as much as possible.
People with medical conditions such as diabetes should consult their doctors and rabbis before fasting. Certain medications need to be taken during Yom Kippur, and it is important to swallow them with enough water to avoid pills getting stuck on the way to the stomach and damaging the esophagus. Fasting by women who are pregnant or breast feeding can also be dangerous. If a young person who has not fasted much before has unusual difficulty fasting, you should discuss this with your doctor since this happens in some serious metabolic problems in which fasting can be very dangerous.
Even people who have prepared well for fasting will be hungry after Neila. Be sure not to eat food too quickly at the post-fast meal. Begin the break-fast meal with several glasses of milk or juice: these put sugar into the bloodstream and occupy space in the stomach, discouraging you from eating too rapidly. Also be careful about eating high salt foods such as lox, since you will still be a little dehydrated and will need to drink a lot of fluids to avoid waking up extremely thirsty in the early morning hours. Expect to drink as much fluid in the post-fast evening as you drink in a regular day.
These preparations for the fast of Yom Kippur will be different from your normal routine, but they can serve as a concrete reminder of the approaching Day of Atonement.
Copyright © 1989 – 2012 Michael M. Segal, MD, PhD. This document may be reproduced freely on a non-profit basis, including electronically, through 2011 as long as the source at http://www.segal.org/kippur/ is indicated and this copyright notice is included.
Question: What is the only Jewish celebration that involves lighting campfires (bonfires) and shooting bows and arrows? Answer: Lag B’Omer! The holiday, a “break” in the solemnity involved in the counting of the Omer, is celebrated with bonfires, torches, song, shooting bows and arrows and feasting.
Fires may commemorate the revelation of the Zohar and bows and arrows may signify the rainbow (the sign given by Hashem to signify G-d’s promise to never again destroy the Earth with flood).
On a holiday marked by campfires and shooting arrows, we thought that it would be appropriate to also associate a more recent occassion with our Lag B’Omer celebration weekend. At services this coming Friday night (7:30 p.m. at the Bethel, 1009 18th Ave SW), we will mark the occasion of Scout Shabbat. Any Scout or Scouter attending in uniform will be able to wear the Scout Shabbat patch on their uniform. Patches will be available at services.
The 12th point of the Scout Law confirms that a Scout is Reverent. Part of the way that Scouts show their Reverence is to annually attend a Scout Sunday or Scout Shabbat observance.
The Scout Shabbat program is organized by the National Jewish Committee on Scouting. Aitz Chaim congregant Diane Sherick is our local Montana chapter chair of the National Jewish Committee on Scouting. More information can be found at jewishscouting.org.