Jewish Ways

Not marrying in the Three Weeks

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, June 23, 2013

The upcoming fast of the 17th of Tammuz marks the beginning of three weeks of mourning culminating in the fast of the 9th of Av, in memory of the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem by the Babylonians and Romans.

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Shorter form of the Amidah

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, June 16, 2013

There is a short version of the weekday Amidah, which can be said when one is very pushed for time.

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Oppressing someone with words

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, June 9, 2013

Reminding people of an embarrassing incident or of their chequered past, or even putting them in an awkward position by volunteering them for a favour or job that they do not want to or cannot do are examples of ona’at devarim, verbal oppression. It is rooted in the verse, “Do not oppress one another, but fear your God” (Leviticus 25:17).

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Giving false impressions

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, June 2, 2013

Little deceptions such as inviting people to dinner when you know that they already have a previous engagement or pretending that you remembered someone’s birthday when you really didn’t are often thought to be harmless “white lies”. The Torah, however, forbids them under the category of gneivat da’at, literally “mind theft”.

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Taking three steps back at Amidah

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, May 26, 2013

Before the Amidah, the custom is take three steps back and then three steps forward. The idea is to step into a place of prayer, a different headspace that is more than a few inches distant from where you were, in which you know that you are standing before the Creator.

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Writing 'with God's help' on letters

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, May 19, 2013

From personal letters to business cards to emails, one comes across the Hebrew letters bet-heh or bet- samech-daled in the upper-right corner. They stand for “with God’s help” in Hebrew and Aramaic, respectively b’ezrat Hashem, or biseyata d’Shmaya.

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Writing a sefer Torah

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, May 12, 2013

The last thing that Moses commands the people is to write down the Torah (Deuteronomy 31:9).  This commandment is not only for the élite but for everyone. 

What’s the point of this mitzvah? Is it to spread Torah learning or to reconnect with the Sinai experience?

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Israel's Bible competition

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, May 6, 2013

David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, understood that the thriving existence of the Jewish nation must be rooted on a love of the Bible and its values and goals as a people based on its 24 books. Accordingly, he instituted the International Bible Contest and made it a centrepiece of Israel’s Independence Day celebrations.

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What not to talk about on Shabbat

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, April 27, 2013

It is not enough to leave the computer and other accessories of weekday life untouched on Shabbat.  “It is forbidden . . . even to talk about them; for instance, to discuss with his partner what to sell on the morrow” (Rambam, Hilchot Shabbat 24:1).

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Not mentioning dew in the Amidah

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, April 22, 2013

After Pesach, Jews in Israel switched from mentioning geshem, rain, in the second blessing of the Amidah prayer, speaking of tal, dew, instead. As the rainy season ends, we no longer invoke God’s power to bring rain.  

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