Friday 30 September 2016

Rabbi Lord Sacks on Anti-Semitism

From RRW

The Mutating Virus - Understanding Antisemitism

Published on Sep 28, 2016 "The hate that begins with Jews never ends with Jews."
On 27th September 2016, Rabbi Sacks delivered a keynote address entitled 'The Mutating Virus: Understanding Antisemitism' in the European Parliament. The speech opened a conference on the future of Jewish communities in Europe hosted by Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament. To read a transcript of the speech, please click here:‎.‎

Tuesday 27 September 2016

Brand new program makes Choshen Mishpat accessible to everyone!

From RRW

Absolutely FREE!
Audio shiurim, English synopsis, case studies, and actual source material provided for each Sif. 

An unprecedented learning experience!

Monday 26 September 2016

JVO Blog: Repenting for What You Thought Was Right

Jewish Values Online ( is a website that asks the Jewish view on a variety of issues, some specifically Jewish and some from the world around us -- and then presents answers from each of the denominations of Judaism. Nishmablog's Blogmaster Rabbi Wolpoe and Nishma's Founding Director, Rabbi Hecht, both serve as Orthodox members of their Panel of Scholars. Nishmablog, over the years, has also featured the responses on JVO by one of our two Nishma Scholars who are on this panel. 

Recently, the Jewish Values Online website has offered a new service -- a blog which presents comments on various topics within Judaism and the Jewish world. See Rabbi Hecht is also a blogger on this blog.

His latest post:

Repenting for What You Thought Was Right
is now available at
Please feel free to comment here or there.

A link is also up on Facebook at

Sunday 25 September 2016

Results of poll on: The Hardest Part of Teshuva

first posted on September 15, 2010

In our last poll, we inquired:

Poll: The Hardest Part of Teshuva

The Rambam describes. in Hilchot Teshuva 1:1, four parts to the vidui process:

1) recognition of the sin;
2) remorse over this transgression;
3) commitment to not sin in the same manner again;
4) a vidui pronouncement to this effect.
Which part of this process do you find to be the most difficult?

Your Responses (total 6)
Choice 1 - 00% (0) Choice 2 - 17% (1)
Choice 3 - 67% (4)
Choice 4 - 17% (1)

Rabbi Hecht
The results, in a certain way, are really not surprising. It can be expected that for most people, the commitment not to sin would be defined as the most difficult part of teshuva -- and for obvious reasons. The other two positive responses, though, may make us think.
A difficulty expressed in regard to remorse should not be dismissed so easily. Many, while practicing a more halachic lifestyle later in life, speak of their misdeeds in the past in an almost fond way. Rambam is informing us that it is not enough for one to simply state that it is time for the partying to be over and now it is time to settle down -- but, oh how fun these partying days were. Teshuva demands remorse and the regret that one ever did this partying.
A difficulty presented in regard to vidui, I actually find most interesting. It would seem to be just a simple statement -- why would that be so hard? Perhaps, the respondent was speaking in terms of mitzvot bein adam l'chaveiro and the difficulty in explaining to another that a sin was committed against this person. That indeed is most difficult -- but that is not really the vidui to which Rambam is referring. Yet, this vidui may still be most difficult for many -- as one often finds it challenging to actually articulate one's sin. A statement concretizes it, and this may be why this respondent found the vidui most difficult.
The key lesson of this poll, though, may be in the fact that no one responded that the recognition of sin was the most difficult part of teshuva. This, perhaps, should be contrasted to the two cases presented from the Tanach as the models of teshuva -- Yehuda and Dovid. Both did not recognize that they sinned and had to be informed, taught, about the reality of their misdeed -- Yehuda by Tamar and Dovid by Natan. Their teshuva was tied to their recognition. This may point to the fact that the most difficult, the hardest part of teshuva may be in the very recognition of sin. How can we do teshuva if we don't even know that teshuva is required? And what may be significant about the fact that no one chose this choice is the very fact that people do not even recognize this challenge and the fact that we may be doing something wrong without even knowing about it. The result is that teshuva must include a continuous look at ourselves and our thought processes and whether we may be accepting of certain perceptions that are really blocking us from seeing the real truth.

Saturday 10 September 2016

Mussar: Unconditional Love - Kabbalah Style

From RRW

The Palm Tree of Deborah: Chapter 2 - Qualities 1-7

"So, too, should man behave, that no cause whatsoever prevent him doing good to others and any sin or the misdeeds of unworthy persons be barred entrance in order to prevent him doing good to all who need it at all times and in every moment. As He provides from the horned buffalo to the brood of vermin despising no creature (for if He were to despise His creatures because of their insignifigance they could not exist even for one moment), showing mercy to them all, so man should be good to all creatures, despising none, that even the most insignifigant assumes importance in his eyes and he be concerned with it. And he should do good to all in need of his goodness. This quality depends on the Crown according to the secret of the head as a whole.

Thursday 8 September 2016

Politicizing Anti-Semitism on the campaign trail

From RRW

Editorial Comment:
Aside from all the specific issues
The issue of double standards and hypocrisy underlie them all 

If Donald Trump were a Democrat
And said to welcome all Syrians including terrorists
And to welcome all Mexicans including rapists and criminals
The Dems would love him and his bombast
They hate him now mostly because he plays for the "wrong team" and not for who he is as a person.

For most of Donald's adult life he has been a Democrat
And Hilary supported Goldwater in 1964.

Essentially, this is not about people or issues, it's about labels.
 The following column is not a political endorsement -- it merely provides observations and commentary based on the records of the candidates and their parties regarding Israel and anti-Semitism.  Readers may draw their own conclusions.

Arutz Sheva

Politicizing Anti-Semitism on the campaign trail

Matthew M. Hausman.

As the 2016 presidential season heats up, Jewish Democrats are elevating partisan politics over concern for Israel and distorting their party’s and Hillary Clinton’s record on the Jewish State.  They dismiss Donald Trump as unqualified, and in order to dissuade Jews from voting Republican have accused him of arousing populist anti-Semitism. 

Trump’s bombast and lack of experience may well be legitimate concerns, but Democrats who accuse him of anti-Semitism conveniently ignore the hatred for Jews and Israel that has become common on the left and in their own party.  Those who defend BDS activism as political speech and indulge false accusations of Israeli apartheid should look in the mirror before wielding the fear of anti-Semitism as a political weapon. 

Progressive Jews are oblivious to anti-Semitism when it comes from the left, and sometimes they are complicit.  During the Democratic National Convention they tolerated the presence of BDS supporters – including Cornell West and James Zogby – on the platform committee, ignored chants of “the intifada lives” by hostile crowds who burned Israeli flags just outside the convention center, and overlooked anti-Israel comments by Palestinian flag-wavers. 


Monday 5 September 2016

Goal: 525 Chaveirim Learning 1 Perek Mishnah Daily

From RRW
Dear PerekMishna subscribers עמו"ש
Thanks to you and your obvious Ahavas Limud HaTorah, we were זוכה in the last 3 weeks, with limited summer publicity, to attract almost 100 eager participants who were prepared to begin the daily Mishnayos program on this coming Shabbos Parshas Re'eh.
 As we head into Elul, word of this project and its value to Klal Yisroel that you had the foresight to appreciate right away, will B'Ezras HaShem spread across the Olam HaTorah and allow us in the next few weeks to reach the goal of (at least) 525 participants in order to begin on Rosh HaShanah. As we wait with both anxiety and anticipation for that day to arrive, please serve as ambassadors of encouragement wherever you can,  and make known among your Chaverim, your Rav, your community, that you have undertaken to participate in this mitzvah in the coming year.
 May this project and its participants be זוכה to הצלחה גדולה in all ways, and may we all be provided with a כתיבה וחתימה טובה in the coming year.
תודה רבה לכל המשתתפים והמפרסמים, ובעזהשי"ת נתחיל הלימוד ביחד בראש השנה הבעל"ט
Vaad L'Iluy Nishmas Yisroel

Saturday 3 September 2016

Mussar: Associate with the Righteous

Originally published Saturday, 25 August 2012

From the Derech Emet Yahoo Group:

Rambam, Hilchot Deot, chapter 6, paragraph 1:

It is natural for the character traits and deeds of a man
to be drawn after those of his friends and associates,
and to act according to the customs of his countrymen.

Therefore, a Jew must attach himself to righteous people
and always live near wise people, so he can learn from
their deeds.

He must [also] distance himself from wicked people
who walk in darkness, so he will not learn from their
[wicked] deeds.


During Elul, it is common for many to study Rambam Hilchot Teshuva. It also makes sense during Elul to study Rambam Hilchot Dei'ot, too!

Shanah Tovah,
Best Wishes for 5773!

Thursday 1 September 2016

On Red Threads and Key Challahs

From RRW
"According to theories of anxiety relief and control, people turn to magical beliefs when there exists a sense of uncertainty and potential danger and few logical or scientific responses to such danger. Magic is used to restore a sense of control over circumstance. In support of this theory, research indicates that superstitious behavior is invoked more often in high stress situations, especially by people with a greater desire for control."‎

Magical thinking - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia