A Change of Scenery: Avraham’s Journey

If you don’t change direction, you may end up where you’re heading. Chinese Proverb (attributed to Laozi – probably falsely IMHO) The Question Part: Our sages tell us that when it says in Parshas Bereishis אלא תולדות שמים וארץ בהבראם – it means that the heavens and earth were created “for Avraham”. But you don’t have to resort to Talmudic homily to appreciate this, you…

Hebrew Calendar / Sefira Page w/ The Hebcal API

Happy Passover all! I recently discovered Hebcal, a free Jewish Calendar API. I was stuck at home with some kind of allergy/ asthma thing, so I spent some time today playing w/ it here. For now it only shows the candle lighting times here in Bet Shemesh, so next I’ll set it up to check the users location and set it to that. For now,…

G-d, Man and The Temple – Part One

This post, while relevent to Sukkos, will also introduce some key concepts in Shaare Ora Receive Updates About Shaare Ora Podcast and Related Posts Genesis 1:27 ויברא אלהים את האדם בצלמו בצלם אלהים ברא אתו זכר ונקבה ברא אתם And God created man in His image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Talmud Bavli, Berachot 33a א”ר…

Nitzavim VaYelech: Writing Your Own Song

ועתה כתבו לכם את השירה הזאת ולמדה את בני ישראל שימה בפיהם למען תהיה לי השירה הזאת לעד בבני ישראל Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach thou it the children of Israel; put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for Me against the children of Israel. Deuteronomy 31: 19 The last commandment of the Torah is…

I tried to drown my sorrows, but the bastards learned how to swim (Ki Tetzei)

לא-יבוא ממזר בקהל ה A bastard shall not come into the Congregation of the L-rd –Deuteronomy 23:3 I tried to drown my sorrows, but the bastards learned how to swim, and now I am overwhelmed by this decent and good feeling -Frida Kahlo Let’s discuss the shunned bastard. That mongrel who, through no apparent fault of his own, is forever doomed to carry the burden…

Superstitions and Divinations (Part III)

This is the third part of a series on the topic of תמים תהיה. So far we have noticed an apparent contradiction between the prohibitions of the prohibitions mentioned in Parshas Shoftim and Sanhedrin, and the seeming widespread superstitious behaviour sanctioned in the Talmud. We saw that the מהרש”א differentiated between optimistic superstition and pessimistic superstition, but then we saw two clearly pessimistic cases. Let’s…

Superstitions & Divinations (continued)

This is a continuation of my last post on Parshas Shoftim, to read from the beginning, click here. Primary Sources from the Talmud: Let’s start by talking a small survey of relevant sources in the Talmud and then go on to the later Rabbis (including Maimonides) and their rulings: Sanhedrin 65b We shall start from the תנו רבנן close to the bottom of the page,…

Superstitions & Divinations: Parshas Shoftim

Being Whole-hearted Due to the sometimes long quotes and nuanced subject matter, this can make for somewhat of a longer read. As such, I have supplied synopsis sections conspicuously labled TL;DR, so if you’d rather just rely on my summaries, or find your eyes glazing over – skip to there. As always, all the translations are my own (except for the ones with thou and…

Parshas Re’eh: Mourning and Self Flagellation

בנים אתם לה’ אלהיכם לא תתגדדו ולא תשימו קרחה בין עיניכם למת “You are children of the Lord, your God. You shall neither cut yourselves nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead” Deuteronomy 14:1 The concept of cutting oneself as an act of mourning is very foreign to the sensibilities of us modern-day westerners, but is surprisingly common among many unrelated pagan…