Jewish Ways

Men wearing wedding rings

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, May 14, 2015

Should Jewish men wear wedding rings? There is currently some controversy about this. Opponents say that since it is not part of the traditional Jewish wedding ceremony for the man to receive a ring, wearing one after the wedding is gratuitously adopting a non-Jewish custom.


Using a yad for the Torah

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, May 7, 2015

You may remember that when you read publicly from the Torah for your bar/batmitzvah, one follows the words on the scroll using a long, silver, ornate, pointing hand called a yad. So far as I can tell, the source for this custom is the Talmud ( Megillah 32a), which forbids touching the bare Torah with our hands.


The Hebrew Calendar

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, April 30, 2015

If you ask the average Jew what year it is, she would probably say, "2015" rather than "5775". Most Jews think of time in terms of the Gregorian rather than Jewish calendar. Is this a problem? It might seem so. The first commandment Israel received as a nation was to sanctify the new month (Exodus 12:2), to mark time according to the lunar cycle.


Hallel on Yom ha'atzmaut

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, April 23, 2015

What is the religious meaning of the foundation of Israel in 1948? Was God's hand at work in the victory of the small Jewish yishuv, vastly outnumbered by Arab numbers? Can such spiritual meaning be affirmed even though the founders were mostly secular and even as Israel remains imperfect?


Mourning during the counting of the Omer

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, April 17, 2015

The Torah commands us to count seven weeks from the day of the Omer offering on the second day of Pesach to Shavuot. It should be a period of joy and anticipation as we move from the Exodus from Egypt to receiving the Torah.


Moshiach Seudah

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, April 8, 2015

Pesach begins with a special meal, the Seder. In the past 250 years or so, the custom has grown to conclude it with another special meal on the final afternoon of Pesach, known as Moshiach Seudah, or the Messiah's meal.

The Moshiach Seudah was instituted by the Ba'al Shem Tov (1698-1760) the founder of Chasidism, and is today practised mostly by Chasid, especially from Chabad (Lubavitch).


Not working on Pesach eve

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, April 2, 2015

We usually think of the day of run-up to the Seder as packed with jobs: cooking, preparing the house for guests, setting the table, etc.

However, the Mishnah Berurah (468:1), citing the Jerusalem Talmud, rules that one should not do work after midday on the day leading up the Seder. If something is absolutely necessary for the festival, it is allowed.


Having guests at Seder

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, March 26, 2015

"This is the bread of affliction ... let all who are hungry come and eat." So begins the retelling of the Exodus on the Seder night. When we are weighed down with worries and problems, we are less available to care for others, to notice who may be hungry.


Bouncing in the Kedushah

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, March 19, 2015

The Kedushah, part of the chazan's repetition of the Amidah, is built around biblical verses in which angels are heard praising God's holiness.


Koshering pans for Pesach

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, March 12, 2015

Dishes and pans used for chametz are not used on Pesach. For some people, that means buying duplicates of everything for the week of Pesach. However, there is a cheaper way: koshering kitchen utensils for Pesach.

The rabbis rule that the koshering method must parallel the way the chametz got there in the first place.