Rabbi Binny Freedman
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I can still see his eyes and his twinkling smile as I walked him to the bus, with his rucksack over his back and a pair of ‘kafkafim’ (shower shoes) tied on and dangling from a piece of string. more
Prince Charming doesn’t always find Cinderella, and stories do not always have ‘happy’ endings, as most of us learn the hard way. I remember once, after a harried chase, catching a masked Arab who had been heaving rocks and cinderblocks at an IDF position in Hebron. more
Very few stories in the Torah are more tragic than the story of Joseph and his brothers. It begins, seemingly, with an innocent gift, a demonstration of a father’s love for his beloved child. But when Yaakov bestows the magnificent striped coat on his son Joseph, the ten brothers aren’t so filled with love. Favoritism, jealousy, behaviors far from ideal are brewing, resulting in a moment of tragedy 4,000 years ago that the Jewish people are still struggling to undo. more
Once, in the midst of a class, I noticed a student’s eyes begin to water. We were having a discussion about identity, and how we tap in to who we really are. In tears, he explained how he had arrived at Isralight in Jerusalem. He had been a concert violinist with enormous potential, until in a tragic freak accident; he got his hand caught in a car door. After all the hospital care and operations, his hand was left partially paralyzed, and his career in music was over. And he realized, with panic, that he had no idea who he was any more. Whenever anyone would ask ‘what do you do?’ his response had always been: “I’m a violinist.” But that was no longer true. So who was he? more
Editor’s note: With a double parsha this week and the calendar edging closer towards Rosh Hashana, we present a second Torah column. Rabbi Etengoff is dedicating the following dvar Torah in memory of his sister-in-law, Ruchama Rivka Sondra, and the refuah shlaimah of Yosef Shmuel ben Miriam. more
Sometimes, things seem so obvious you start to wonder why you are the only one who seems to get it. Last week, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich got it, and it was nice to realize we are not alone. more
Rav Saadiah Gaon was one of the greatest of the Babylonian gaonim. His approach to Torah study was direct and to the point: Analyze the verse on its own terms based upon the actual language presented therein. In other words, instead of approaching the verse with pre-conceived ideas that will most likely determine its interpretative outcome, examine it in its most pristine form. more
If you would have collected a group of world-renowned military strategists on Oct. 6 1973, and asked them, at 4p.m. Israel time, for a prognosis on the status of the events unfolding on the Golan heights that afternoon, they would have probably told you Israel should be preparing the airport and shipping ports for a massive evacuation. more
When I was studying in yeshiva, I asked one of the rabbis if there was a specific reason why the Torah occasionally refers to Yaakov by his name and other times as Yisrael. The rabbi was of the … more
This week on the Jewish calendar, we commemorated the breaching of the Old City walls of Jerusalem by the Roman Tenth Legion on the 17th day of Tammuz in the year 70 C.E., heralding the beginning of the end of the Jewish Second Commonwealth, and the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash. As we gaze upon the ruins of those walls, we will fast, and some of us will even cry, remembering how 2000 years ago, the peaceful streets were filled with the triumphant cheers of Roman legionnaires bent on our destruction. more
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