The First Jewish Lawyer

The study of law appears to attract a disproportionate number of Jews, perhaps because expounding arguments, pro and con, is one of the great pleasures of Talmudic discourse. In fact, one…

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Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the Father of Modern Hebrew

The official language of Israel is Hebrew, but until the end of the 19th century almost no one spoke Hebrew colloquially. Lashon Hakodesh, the holy tongue, was used only for prayer and…

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Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the Father of Modern Hebrew

The official language of Israel is Hebrew, but until the end of the 19th century, almost no one spoke Hebrew colloquially. Lashon Hakodesh, the holy tongue, was used only for prayer and…

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Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the Father of Modern Hebrew

The official language of Israel is Hebrew, but until the end of the 19th century almost no one spoke Hebrew colloquially. Lashon Hakodesh, the holy tongue, was used only for prayer…

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David Ben Gurion, An Introduction

David Ben-Gurion is best known as the first Prime Minister of Israel. But, his role in the creation of the State was far greater than can be reflected in any single title. Born in 1886,…

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Abraham ben Abraham

Legend has it that Valentine Pototski, the son of a Polish nobleman, met an old Jew at a tavern and promised to convert to Judaism if the Jew convincingly argued the superiority of…

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The Ben Ish Chai

When Rabbi Yosef Chaim was 25 years old, his father, Chacham Eliyahu Chaim, leader of the Jewish community in Baghdad, passed away. Although young, Rabbi Yosef Chaim had already achieved…

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Pidyon Ha’ben – Redeeming the Firstborn

“You must redeem the firstborn of a person…when he is one month old, for the value of five silver shekels” (Numbers 18:15-16). God sanctified the firstborn male Israelites when He…

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Pidyon Ha’ben – Redeeming the Firstborn

“You must redeem the firstborn of a person ... when he is one month old, for the value of five silver shekels” (Numbers 18:15-16). God sanctified the firstborn male Israelites when He…

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Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel

The death of Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel, which occurred in 70 CE, on 20 Sivan, is part of the well-known and tragic episode of the deaths of the Ten Martyrs, that is included in the liturgy…

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Pidyon Ha’ben – Redeeming the Firstborn

“You must redeem the firstborn of a person ... when he is one month old, for the value of five silver shekels” (Numbers 18:15-16). God sanctified the firstborn male Israelites when He…

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Rabban Yochanan Ben Zakkai and the City of Yavne

Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai lived during the tumultuous times when the Jewish residents of Judea rebelled against Rome, and the Romans besieged and then destroyed Jerusalem. At the time,…

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The Holy Ari: Rabbi Isaac ben Solomon Luria

When Rabbi Isaac ben Solomon Luria arrived in Safed, in 1569, the town had already become a center of Jewish learning, with a particular emphasis on the kabbalah (Jewish mysticism). By…

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Shem ben Noah

When the great flood that inundated the world began, eight people entered the ark: Noah and his wife, Na’ama, and their three sons and three daughters-in-law. Because Noah and Na’ama had…

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Sources Commentators

Abarbanel (1437-1508, Spanish statesman, philosopher and commentator) Achad Ha’Am (Asher Zvi Hirsh Ginsberg, 1856-1927) AJOP (Association for Jewish Outreach Programs) Akeidat Yitzchak…

The Second President

Yitzchak Ben-Zvi, the second President of the State of Israel, was born on November 24, 1884 in Poltava, Ukraine.  After participating in the Jewish self-defense units organized…

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The Second President

Yitzchak Ben-Zvi, the second President of the State of Israel, was born on November 24, 1884 in Poltava, Ukraine. After participating in the Jewish self-defense units organized during the…

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Vayishlach 5775-2014

“She Called His Name ‘Ben Oni’” by Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald In this week’s parasha, parashat Vayishlach, Jacob, after many years of separation, finally reunites with his long-estranged…

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Shelach 5773-2013

"Tzitzit: The Unpretentious Mitzvah" by Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald At the conclusion of this week’s parasha, parashat Shelach, we learn of the mitzvah of Tzitzit, the fringes that are…

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Bo 5768-2008

"Is This What You Call Borrowing?" by Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald In parashat Bo we learn that after the ninth plague, the plague of darkness, Pharaoh has reached his wit's end, and agrees…

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Heartfelt Repentance

It is easy to speak of teshuva (repentance), but, actually, the process of repenting is quite challenging. Much can be learned about repentance from the story of Eleazer…

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Bo 5764-2004

"The More Things Change..." by Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald In this coming week's parasha, parashat Bo, the enslavement of the Jewish people comes to a dramatic conclusion with the tenth…

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Vayishlach 5768-2007

"The Birth of Benjamin, The Death of Rachel" by Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald In this week's parasha, parashat Vayishlach, we read of an occasion that should have been a most joyous event in…

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Opening England

Menashe ben Israel (Manoel Dias Soeiro, 1604 -1657), whose family fled Portugal after the Lisbon auto-de-fe of 1603, was raised in Amsterdam where he received a full Jewish education and…

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Grape Clusters and Rabbi Jossie

Rabbi Jossie (Joseph) ben Joezer was a Talmudic sage whose life marked the transition of one era to the next. According to the Talmud, when Rabbi Jossie and his colleague…

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Kee Teitzei 5769-2009

"Ben Sorer U'Moreh--The Rebellious Son" by Rabbi Ephraim Z. Buchwald In this week's parasha, parashat Kee Teitzei, we read of the unusual case of the "Ben Sorer U'moreh," the disobedient…

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One from David, One from Joseph

The belief in an ultimate redeemer, referred to as Moshiach (Messiah), is a central tenet of Jewish faith. But, almost all of the details about the coming of Moshiach and the Messianic…

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Bereshith 5767-2006

"Pardes--the Four Levels of Understanding Torah" by Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald The Talmud in Chagiga 14b, tells the story of four great scholars, Ben Azai, Ben Zoma, Acher, and Rabbi Akiva,…

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The Tosafot Commentaries

One of the most fascinating aspects of Jewish study are the layer upon layer of enlightening and edifying commentaries that can be found when studying texts of the Torah or the Talmud. Of…

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Acher: The Sage Turned Apostate

Our Rabbis taught (Chagigah 14b): Four men entered the ‘orchard’ (pardes, a metaphor for Heaven), namely, Ben Azzai, Ben Zoma, Acher, and Rabbi Akiva. The Talmud informs us of their fate.…

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