Jewish Ways

Succah-hopping

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, October 1, 2015

Succah-hopping is an activity where kids go around visiting a bunch of different succot in their community. It usually takes place on the first day of Yomtov or on Shabbat Chol Hamo'ed. At each stop there are candies, games, divrei Torah etc.

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Not sleeping in a succah

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, September 24, 2015

A simple survey will suffice to show that most Jews outside Israel do not sleep in the succah during Succot, even if they have one. (In Israel many people do.)

This has been a puzzle for the poskim (halachic decision-makers) for centuries. According to the authoritative sources, the mitzvah to sleep in the succah is even stronger than that of eating there.

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Building a succah

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, September 17, 2015

There is a mitzvah to sit in the succah during the holiday. Is there a mitzvah to also build one? Well, if you don't build it, how can you sit in it, you may ask.

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Not sleeping on Rosh Hashanah

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, September 10, 2015

Whereas taking a snooze on Shabbat afternoon is a mitzvah, there is a strong custom not to sleep during the day on Rosh Hashanah.

As the rabbis say, when the books of life and death lie open, who can sleep?

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Reading the ketubah

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, September 4, 2015

Between the giving of the ring, and singing the Seven Blessings, there is a rather less accessible item of the wedding ceremony, reading the ketubah. The Ketubah is traditionally read in Aramaic, which is incomprehensible these days except to a talmudically learned crowd, but may equally be read in Hebrew or English translations.

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Thirteen Attributes

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, August 26, 2015

Beginning with the midnight/early morning selichot prayers, recitation of the Thirteen Attributes of divine mercy will be an integral part of our prayers in the coming weeks.

The well-known words of the Thirteen Attributes, Adonai, Adonai, El Rachum V'chanun, are spoken by God in Exodus 34 as He forgives Israel for the sin of the golden calf.

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Censoring Aleinu

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, August 20, 2015

We close all services with Aleinu, a prayer thanking God for making us different from idol-worshipping nations and hoping for a time when everyone recognises God.

In Aleinu, we say, "For they bow to vanity and emptiness and pray to a god who cannot give success". In the 14th century a baptised Jew spread the slander that this verse was a reference to Jesus.

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Reciting psalm 27 in Ellul

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, August 12, 2015

Most communities say Psalm 27 twice a day, morning and evening, from the beginning of the month of Ellul through Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, ending on Shemini Atzeret at the end of Succot.

The custom is recent.

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Dedicating a new home

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, August 6, 2015

There is a Jewish way to mark moving into a new home, called a chanucat habayit celebration. Moving house is a big undertaking and accomplishing it deserves celebration.

Chanucat habayit, literally dedicating the house, is about thanking God for reaching the milestone of a new home and setting the standard for what kind of home you would like to have.

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Veggie cheeseburgers

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, July 30, 2015

Can you eat a veggie burger with melted cheese? Probably yes, though there's reason to think maybe not. What could be wrong with it? After all there is no prohibition on eating milk with textured-soy protein. The possible problem comes from the halachic concept of marit ayin, literally "how it looks".

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