Rachel’s Influence

At the end of the patriarch Jacob’s life, Joseph brings his sons to his father for a blessing. This scene, recorded in Genesis 48, includes a seemingly odd statement by Jacob: "And as for…

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The Fast of the 17th of Tammuz

Everyone knows about Yom Kippur. There are, however, several other fast days in the Jewish calendar that are not nearly as well known, like the 17th of Tammuz. As mentioned in the…

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No Strings Attached

Deuteronomy 16:18 states: "...You shall not take a bribe, for bribery blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts just words." Although this statement of Jewish law is written in…

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Day of Distinction

On the first day of Sivan in the year 2448 (Jewish calendar), only seven weeks after leaving Egypt, the Israelites reached the Wilderness of Sinai. On the desert plain around the…

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It’s Okay To Be Afraid

“Courage is a special kind of knowledge: the knowledge of how to fear what ought to be feared and how not to fear what ought not to be feared.”  -David Ben-Gurion Within the genre of…

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Seven Days to the Sea

The Passover celebration lasts seven days (eight days, outside of Israel. For more information as to why, please click here). The first day (and second, outside of Israel) is a Yom…

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The Most Important Meal

Across the country, school breakfast programs are offered in order to ensure that students will be properly nourished and capable of putting forth their best efforts during their day of…

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Fast of the Firstborns

There has always been a lot of pressure on firstborn children, as they were often expected to care for the family property or business in order to ensure stability within the community.…

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Connecting the Words

In honor of “Dictionary Day,” Jewish Treats looks at a renowned Jewish dictionary that has served scholars and students since the turn of the 20th century. A Dictionary of Targumim,…

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Who Knows One?

How does one transmit basic theology in a fun manner to tired seder guests? The answer is--with song. Many see this as one of the purposes of the Nirtzah, the final section of the…

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The Passover Story in Brief

On Passover, we commemorate the exodus from Egyptian slavery. The following is a brief summary: Jacob's family came to Egypt to escape a famine in Canaan. Joseph, Jacob's son and the…

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Redeeming the Captive

If you’re a fan of swashbuckling historical romance novels, then you’ll know that, for much of history, there was a pretty good chance that people from all walks of life might be taken…

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Pure Olive Oil

While a large number of Jews today light Chanukah candles, the more traditional custom is to light the Chanukah menorah with olive oil. This is done in order to most accurately recreate…

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The Oldest Book of Diplomacy

In the beginning of Parashat Vayishlach, Jacob is informed that his estranged brother, Esau, is approaching with an army of 400 men under his command. Prior to this meeting, the last time…

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Giving Gifts

"One who is diligent in lighting Chanukah candles will have children who are scholars" (Talmud Shabbat 23b).The desire for scholarly children was actually one of the motivations…

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Earthshattering Moments in One of Israel’s Holiest Cities

Tzfat (Safed), the Israeli city in the rolling hills of the Galilee, is known as one of the four holy cities of Israel, along with Tiberias, Hebron and, of course, Jerusalem. It was the…

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The Perfect Species

At this time of the year, Jews around the globe head out in search of the perfect lulav and etrog (Lulav refers to the grouping of lulav,…

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Symbolic Foods

Since Rosh Hashana is the Day of Judgment, it is customary to eat simanim,* foods with symbolic meanings that invoke God's blessing. We also recite a short prayer before eating them.…

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It’s Okay To Be Afraid

“Courage is a special kind of knowledge: the knowledge of how to fear what ought to be feared and how not to fear what ought not to be feared.”  -David Ben-Gurion Within the genre…

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Give A Little A Lot

Making the decision about to whom and how much tzedakah (charity) one should distribute can be extremely difficult. The pressure of this decision is made even greater by both a constant…

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The Most Important Meal

Across the country, school breakfast programs are offered in order to ensure that students will be properly nourished and capable of putting forth their best efforts during their day of…

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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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Seeking Gold

 This week’s confluence of the Olympic Games and Valentine’s Day means many more people than usual will probably have gold on their minds. While gold is not the most expensive…

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Judah, Son of Jacob

When Judah, the fourth son of Leah and Jacob, was born, Leah said, “This time let me gratefully praise God” (based on the Hebrew infinitive, l’hodot, “to praise”). Judah first…

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The Perfect Species

At this time of the year, Jews around the globe head out in search of the perfect lulav and etrog (Lulav refers to the grouping of lulav,…

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Scapegoat

The Jewish people have often been cast as the proverbial "scapegoat." When millions died during the Black Plague, the Jews were accused of poisoning the wells. Blood libels accusing Jews…

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Seek Out The Positive

An ethical dilemma: A close friend confides in you that he/she recently purchased an expensive, one-of-a-kind, non-returnable item. When he/she shows it to you, you are immediately aware…

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On Top of Mount…

Without question, Mount Sinai is the best known mountain in the Bible. In the days before highways, street signs or GPS, geographic landmarks played an important role in people’s lives.…

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Finally Buried

On the 4th of Adar 1307, the Maharam of Rothenburg was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Worms–fourteen years after his death. The rabbi’s remains were released from the fortress of…

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The Fast of the 17th of Tammuz

Everyone knows about Yom Kippur. There are, however, several other fast days in the Jewish calendar that are not nearly as well known. Tomorrow, on June 25, the Fast of the 17th of Tammuz…

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