Jewish Ways

Limmud pirkei avot

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, June 23, 2011

Pirkei Avot, Ethics of the Fathers, is a tractate of the Mishnah that comprises advice from the sages on ethical, political, and spiritual matters. Hillel's dictum encapsulating the conflict between self-interest and helping others, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me?

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Shelo listor beit haknesset

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, June 16, 2011

Jews do not destroy synagogues.

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Shiur chomesh b'tzedakah

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, June 10, 2011

Giving tzedakah, charity, is arguably the most important positive mitzvah. How much should one give? The classical sources say that 10 per cent is average; giving 20 per cent is the best way to do the mitzvah. (Rambam: Laws of Gifts to the Poor, 7:5). Modern writers translate this into a one-off gift of a fifth of one's assets and then a fifth of one's annual income.

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Ugat gevinah

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, June 2, 2011

Every Jewish holiday, of course, needs to have its distinctive food. Matzah on Pesach, hamantaschen on Purim and cheesecake on Shavuot. The reasons for cheesecake, however, are more obscure than those of festive foods. I found seven different reasons for the custom of eating milk foods on Shavuot, suggesting that no one knows for sure what the reason is.

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Birkat hanatan mikvodo

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, May 26, 2011

There are blessings in Judaism for seeing a king or queen. The one for seeing a non-Jewish monarch runs: "Blessed are you… who gives from his glory to flesh and blood" .The one for a Jewish king is worded slightly differently. It is not currently relevant, and probably won't be until the Messiah comes.

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Hatavat chalom

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, May 19, 2011

Hatavat chalom is an ancient Jewish dream practice that is still used. If you have a bad dream, or one that worries you for some other reason, then the Talmud recommends hatavat chalom. First you bring together three friends; the Rama, Rabbi Moshe Isserles, specifies that they should be people who like you.

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Tzfirah

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, May 12, 2011

On Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel and a week later on the memorial day for fallen soldiers, a siren sounds for two minutes and the country stops. Cars pull over and their drivers stand silently by the side of the road, pedestrians stop in mid-stride, and everywhere people interrupt what they are doing to stand and remember the victims of the Shoah and the fallen soldiers.

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Gebrochts

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, April 21, 2011

Not eating gebrochts is a chumrah, a stringency, observed by some Ashkenazi Jews, particularly Chasidim, during Pesach. Non-gebrochts eaters do not eat matzah balls, matzah brei, matzah pizza, matzah croutons, or matzah anything that has come into contact with water.

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Bedikat chametz

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, April 14, 2011

The culmination of days of frenzied pre-Pesach cleaning is bedikat chametz. After days or weeks of sweeping, searching and scouring, designed to remove anything that looks or tastes like bread or other leavened food from our homes, bedikat chametz is the final check.

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Brit Milah

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, April 7, 2011

Brit milah is one of the central mitzvot of Judaism, taking place when the baby is eight days old, if he is healthy, or as soon as possible thereafter if not. A brit is delayed whenever there is the slightest risk to the baby's health (Jaundice is the commonest reason for postponement).

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