In “No Faith, No Jewish Future” (Nov. 6), Dennis Prager has it backward. The assiduous practice of mitzvot results in recognition of their foundation, not visa versa. Halachic adherence remains the key to growth in Orthodox Judaism. A 3-year-old child learns what we do, i.e., wear tzitzit, when he puts them on and recites a bracha.
Late on a recent Wednesday afternoon, Judith Golden and Suzanne Rosenthal perched at their desks in a small room in the depths of American Jewish University (AJU).
Yoga means “union” or “union with the divine.” It doesn’t mean “contortionism,” “hippie commune” or “Lululemon.”
I was partnered with a woman who, before she even really met me, thanked me for just showing up as a volunteer. She was homeless in San Francisco and felt that she had nowhere to turn before she found Project Homeless Connect. As I walked her to the housing information stand, she displayed thorough delight that somebody was beside her to hear all that she had to say. It seemed as if very few people, or none, had bothered to listen to her full story.
Realizing tikkun olam as a central pillar of Jewish practice, synagogues throughout the country require children to perform service projects before becoming b'nai mitzvah, sensitizing them to their growing responsibilities toward others as they approach adulthood. In many cases, these projects have been the inspiration for ongoing philanthropic endeavors.
In his new book, "A Vision of Holiness: The Future of American Judaism" (URJ Press, 2005), Rabbi Richard N. Levy explains The Pittsburgh Principles
Each night before retiring, the great Chasidic master Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav would make a list. At the end of a long day, he would write down all the wrongs he had committed -- against other people, against God, against himself. Nachman would read the list over and over again, with increasing levels of agitation and remorse, until he welled up with sorrow.
In this week's Torah portion, the Israelites are encouraged -- commanded really -- to write something down.
Aryeh Green and Yosef Abramowitz were sipping tea in a Bedouin tent last year in Sde Boker, a kibbutz in Israel's Negev desert, when they had an idea. Participants at a conference of Kol Dor, an organization that seeks to revitalize Jewish activism and unity across the globe, the two were discussing how the group could promote Jewish identity and peoplehood.
El Al, Israel's national airline, is the only airline that keeps kosher, observes Shabbat and even gives out doughnuts on Chanukah, but recently it has been doing other mitzvot as well.
In Ki Tetze, we are given many mitzvot to do -- 613, actually. What's a mitzvah? A commandment to do a good deed, or to follow directions to perform a certain ritual. As a Jew, it is important to do both. We become role models for the world in our acts of charity, and we remember who we are and where we came from through our ritual.
"Be not like servants who serve their master for the sake of receiving a reward; instead be like servants who serve their master not for the sake of receiving a reward. And let the awe of Heaven be upon you." -- Pirkei Avot (Ethics of Our Fathers)
Shawn Green sits quietly in the Dodgers dugout waiting for pregame batting practice to begin. His unassuming nature seems at odds with his 6-foot-4 figure; his quiet presence inconsistent with his celebrity.
There is a lot of teaching going on in Parshat Emor.
Does your mother ever tell you to do something like clean up your room or put your socks in the laundry?
Call it a shopping trip. Lou and Trudy Kestenbaum came to Israel last month on a Jewish National Fund (JNF) mission to spend money, as well as to follow up on how the money they've already spent in the Jewish state is doing.
In October 1999, I went through the personal tragedy of a divorce. I felt personally lost, very much alone. A lady in my congregational community, Lilly Kahn-Rose, approached me one Shabbat soon after, offering to help me in some way. I responded: "Please invite me and my children for some Shabbat meals, and please help me get some Shabbat meal invitations from others in the community. I can buy cold cuts, side dishes, and challah, can recite kiddush and lead z'mirot melodies, but it is going to be so lonely and feel so minimalist in our apartment. Please help me get me some Shabbat invitations."
Honesty, morality and ethical behavior -- these are the calling cards of Leviticus, and they are the centerpieces of Jewish behavior and identity. Amongst the mitzvot enumerated in Leviticus 19 (known by some scholars as the "Holiness Code") are respect for parents, charity for the poor, prohibitions against stealing and lying, a reminder to pay an employee's wages on time, the moral obligation not to take advantage of the deaf or blind, honesty and fairness in justice, prohibitions against holding grudges or exacting revenge, and the famous mitzvah to "love your neighbor as yourself."
I have been taking on new mitzvot throughout the past years. I have begun wearing tzitzit regularly and have been working at becoming stricter concerning Shabbat.
Rabbi Safra roasted the meat. Raba salted the fish.
According to the Talmud, this is what these two great sages did every Friday afternoon, in preparation for Shabbat. The Talmud regards this information as noteworthy because, although both sages certainly had others in their households who could have done this work, they insisted on doing it themselves. "It is greater to do the mitzvah with one's own hands than to delegate it to others" was the motto by which Rabbi Safra and Raba lived. And they apparently applied this motto without discrimination. It pertained to messy or smelly mitzvot just as it did to mitzvot that did not get one's hands and clothing dirty. A mitzvah is a mitzvah.
Mitzvot, acts of loving kindness or just plain charity:Whatever you call them, Jews are commanded to do more than simplypray for good things -- they have to do good themselves in order tohelp repair what is wrong in the world.