Jewish Journal

Rabbi N. Daniel Korobkin

  • From trouble child to favorite

    September 27, 2011 | 5:59 pm

    What would it take for you to disown your child? I know that for most everyone this is a hypothetical question, but please indulge me: What dastardly behavior would your son or daughter have to stoop to in order for you to “sit shiva”? A generation or two ago, when a child...

  • Give until it hurts

    April 26, 2011 | 4:46 pm

    Two Jewish philanthropists were overheard disagreeing about how to give charity.

    “I only support Jewish causes — the Jewish people need our help more than anyone else in the world,” Cohen said.

    “But what about the tsunami in Japan, the earthquake in Haiti? What about all...

  • Recognizing a Community

    March 1, 2011 | 6:00 pm

    When looking for biblical themes on the importance of community, one needs look no further than those portions at the end of Exodus that deal with the construction of the mishkan (Tabernacle). This special structure represents the collective spiritual power of the Jewish people,...

  • Coping with past mistakes

    December 8, 2010 | 9:30 am

    The history of the cliffhanger probably isn’t much older than the late 19th century. Stories were serialized, first in newspapers and later in motion pictures, and authors wanted to entice the reader or viewer to tune back in for the following installment. A common device was to...

  • It’s not the destination, it’s the journey Sukkot

    September 21, 2010 | 6:39 pm

    The 21st century is a time when man should be at his greatest level of stability and security.

    We have conquered most of the world’s diseases — polio, measles, mumps, leprosy, bubonic plague and most bacterial infections. And yet many diseases in the world still haven’t been...

  • Shining the Light

    July 27, 2010 | 5:52 pm

    Shabbat in 16th-century Safed must have been a mind-blower. Reading the historical documents of this era and the exploits of the Safed mystics transports one to another universe. The rabbis of this mystical city used to usher in the Sabbath out in the field with tremendous fervor and...

  • Curse or Blessing?

    April 27, 2010 | 11:01 pm

    Our Torah portion this week contains a story filled with more tragedy and pathos than any soap opera. A young man, whose mother was an Israelite woman by the name of Shlomit bat Divri but whose father was Egyptian, gets into an argument with another fellow. Scripture does not reveal...

  • New “Yehuda Halevi” bio captures poetry of the 12th century

    April 8, 2010 | 3:37 pm

    “Hopeless romantic” would probably be the last description on your mind were you to conjure the image of a twelfth-century rabbi. But Hillel Halkin’s “Yehuda Halevi” (2010, Schocken Books, 368 pgs.), the latest in Schocken’s “Jewish Encounters” series, provides just...

  • Joseph's Tears

    December 31, 2009 | 1:56 pm

    Joseph had a hard life. His own brothers sold him as a slave. He was libeled by his master, thrown in a horrible prison and forced to live far away from his beloved father and family. Yet he was not broken by his experience and he never shed a tear.

    When did Joseph cry? He cried...

  • The Tragic Figure

    August 18, 2009 | 4:33 pm

    What makes for a good tragedy? What ingredients need to go into a play or story for it to evoke strong emotion from the audience? This topic dates back to the times of the ancient Greeks, who invented the word “tragedy” and who considered it a very important form of...

  • Spare the Rod

    July 2, 2009 | 4:07 am

    Corporal punishment is one of the most controversial subjects in child rearing. We have seen too many examples of child abuse from overzealous and emotionally unstable parents. At the same time, many families see nothing wrong with an occasional potch in tuchis (slap on the derriere)...

  • What It Takes to Be a Jewish Leader

    April 15, 2009 | 1:16 am

    Charlton Heston (alav haShalom) made a great Moses; on screen, he seemed perfect — tall, handsome, gravelly voice, and not even Anne Baxter could seduce him.

    Thankfully, the biblical Moses was not as monochromatic as the theatrical Moses. Despite his near perfection as a human...

  • Ethics Plan Would Raise Sanctity of Business

    March 18, 2009 | 6:02 pm

    An observant Jew was once brought before the judge on counts of tax fraud. Seeing the kippah-wearing Jew before him, the judge innocently asked, “Mr. Schwartz, you are clearly a God-fearing man. How do you explain your immoral behavior?”

    Not missing a beat, Mr. Schwartz pointed...

  • Inauguration Anticipation

    January 14, 2009 | 1:21 pm

    We are at the eve of our new president’s inauguration, a time of new beginnings. How appropriate it is to begin a new book of the Torah, the book of Exodus,
    with its story of freedom and emancipation from the shackles of the past.

    As rabbis are wont to do, I find the ancient...

  • Lentil soup

    November 26, 2008 | 4:31 pm

    One of my favorite memories of Shabbat meals at my parents' home is the lentil soup. Hot, dark-red soup with marrow bones at the bottom of the bowl was a sumptuous treat on those cold and wintry Friday nights.

    Since then, I've discovered that lentils are not only delicious, they're...

  • How to comfort and be comforted

    August 14, 2008 | 12:46 am

    Consoling people after they've suffered a loss, especially when it's the death of a loved one, is never easy. No matter what we say, we can never bring back the beloved to this world. How often do we sit by the mourner's side in awkward silence, feeling completely impotent in our...
  • Ingredients for a successful marriage

    May 29, 2008 | 2:30 pm

    What are the ingredients for a successful marriage? A great medieval sage once suggested the following four:

    1. Commit to permanence: We are in this forever, no matter what adversities enter into our marriage, and no matter how bored we may get with each other over time. So long as...
  • Patriot Jew

    March 13, 2008 | 6:00 pm

    Two distinct kinds of Diaspora Jews have emerged over the millennia: the two "P" Jews. One is Persecuted Jew, the Jew who has lived through governments and regimes that have been most unkind to their endemic Jewish populations. Sadly, this has been the majority of our Diaspora...
  • Big talkers

    January 17, 2008 | 7:00 pm

    Who talks more, men or women?

    If you think the answer is obvious, perhaps it's because you've been conditioned by a society that stereotypes.

    We've all heard the joke the best man cracks to his buddy the groom on his wedding day: "Remember, when you have a discussion with your wife...

  • Picking up the pieces

    October 11, 2007 | 8:00 pm

    "The Sabbath Day: One should not forget it;
    Its memory is like a savory fragrance.
    The dove found respite on it [the Sabbath],
    And on it the weary of spirit shall rest."
    -- Translated from "Yom Shabbaton," Shabbat Zemirot liturgy, composed by R' Judah HaLevi (d. 1140)
    The dove...
  • Enemy in Our Midst

    July 12, 2007 | 8:00 pm

    "But if you do not completely drive out the inhabitants, those who remain will be pins in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will harass you in your own land" (Numbers 33:55).

    God awarded the land of Israel to His chosen people, but He didn't just give it to us on a silver...

  • It’s all downhill from here

    April 19, 2007 | 8:00 pm

    I just love newborn babies, especially at around 3 months old. As I brush my face along theirs, I love their baby smell, their soft, smooth skin and their facial expressions. The fact is it's a joy caring for babies. They don't talk back, they don't miss curfews, and they don't...
  • Heroes and Villains

    January 18, 2007 | 7:00 pm

    Brian Wilson penned the Beach Boys song "Heroes and Villains" during a turbulent, paranoia-filled time in his life, according to his biographers. Wilson had people whom he trusted in the business, and others whom he felt were out to get him.

    We all instinctively identify and label...

  • Finding Mr. and Ms. Right

    November 16, 2006 | 7:00 pm

    Of all the regular columns in The Jewish Journal, I enjoy the Singles column the most. You know, the one typically written by a 30-something still out there, searching for Mr. or Ms. Right.

    I married young and don't really know too much about the singles scene. But invariably this...

  • Greeting the Stranger

    September 7, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    One of the most daunting and intimidating experiences in life is walking into a new synagogue for the first time. You enter the sanctuary, and it feels like 1,000 eyes are focused only on you. You're not sure what prayer book they're using, what page they're on, and where you can...

  • Whose View?

    June 22, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    A man was on a business trip, driving from one city to the next. Struck by the tranquility and open space of a small town en route to his destination, he pulled up to a farmer at a nearby cornfield and asked, "What are the people like in this area?"

    "What are people like where you...

  • Get a Life, George

    March 9, 2006 | 7:00 pm

    I've watched few "Seinfeld" episodes, but one stands out in my mind. During a double date, George inadvertently offends Jerry's date, Jody. After George learns from Jerry that Jody doesn't like him, George falls all over himself for a second chance to make a good impression.


  • Fear of Isaac

    December 8, 2005 | 7:00 pm

    Stories abound of natural tensions between sons-in-law and their fathers-in-law. One is about the man speaking with his future son-in-law, who was studying to be a rabbi.

    "Tell me," he prodded, "how do you intend to support my daughter?"

    "The Almighty will provide," answered the...

  • Life at a Standstill

    September 29, 2005 | 8:00 pm

    The recent tragic hurricanes in the South have been difficult to watch. One of the more difficult chapters of this saga was when the mayor of New Orleans, in his zeal to rebuild the city as quickly as possible, called upon the residents to return to certain sections of the city. But...

  • Behind the Kvetch

    May 26, 2005 | 8:00 pm

    A guy gets a Labrador and he can't wait to show him off to his neighbor. So when the neighbor comes over, the guy calls the dog into the house, bragging about how smart the little guy is. The dog quickly comes running and stands looking up at his master, tail wagging furiously, mouth...

  • You Are What You Wear

    February 17, 2005 | 7:00 pm


    Have you ever read in an advertisement inviting you to buy an overpriced suit or necktie that "It's true, clothes do make the man"?

    Do clothes make the man or woman? On the one hand, we'd like to think that people aren't affected by something as superficial as clothing. But on the...

  • Herring and Haftarah

    February 10, 2005 | 7:00 pm


    Single malt Scotch. Schmaltz herring. Cholent. Kugel. Marble sheet cake. What do all these delicacies have in common?

    Yes, they all contribute to heart disease, but there's something more: They are all served at the Kiddush Club. A Kiddush Club is an exclusive group of shulgoers...

  • Fear or Fury?

    September 30, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    It's hard to believe that a whole year has passed. Almost one year ago to the day, Dr. David Appelbaum and his daughter, Nava, were murdered when a suicide bomber exploded himself at Cafe Hillel in Jerusalem. Dr. Appelbaum, 50, was the head of emergency medicine at Shaarei Tzedek...

  • Fear or Fury?

    September 2, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    It's hard to believe that a whole year has passed. Almost one year ago to the day, Dr. David Appelbaum and his daughter, Nava, were murdered when a suicide bomber exploded himself at Cafe Hillel in Jerusalem. Dr. Appelbaum, 50, was the head of emergency medicine at Shaarei Tzedek...

  • Not by Bread Alone

    August 5, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    One of my most memorable Torah lessons from elementary school was the one about the manna. This was the magical food that the Jews ate while traveling through the desert. It was some kind of amorphous bread that fell from heaven daily, and the Torah describes it as being like honey...

  • Lost in Translation

    May 13, 2004 | 8:00 pm

    Imagine a foreigner hearing some American idioms for the first time, and the ensuing confusion. For example, when an English speaker wants to say that your point is irrelevant, he says, "What does that have to do with the price of tea in China?"

    Most of us don't even know where that...

  • In the Eyes of the Beholder

    December 18, 2003 | 7:00 pm

    Part of my traditional upbringing as a yeshiva bocher was the belief that anything that took my attention away from a page of Talmud was bitul Torah -- a waste of time. And while that may have been a good lesson for an easily distracted teenager, I have since discovered as an adult...

  • Roots of the Divine

    October 23, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    For all of you ecologists out there (and I believe every good Jew should be one), you know there's been a lot in the news lately about this new "Healthy Forests Initiative," which was introduced by our government to help thin overcrowded forests. The debate continues among different...

  • The Big Question

    July 31, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    We're now in the midst of a period called Bein HaMetzarim, a three-week period of national mourning for tragedies throughout Jewish history.

    The most powerful of these tragedies was the destruction of the two temples in Jerusalem; these three weeks culminate with Tisha B'Av, the day...

  • Dear Rabbi Wolpe

    November 21, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    Dear Rabbi Wolpe,

    I admit it.

    As an Orthodox rabbi, I'm genuinely embarrassed at the moment.

    Judging by the recent goings-on in the Jewish book publishing world, where certain Orthodox authors have been taken to task for their controversial writings and books have either been...