I think I’ve changed my brain. A year ago I read books, magazines, newspapers even the cereal pocket. I was lover of fiction, albeit with very little time for reading. A year ago, I, like tens of thousands of Jews around the world, started the Daf Yomi cycle — a seven-and-a-half-year commitment to learn a page of Talmud a day. Or more accurately, a folio, which has two sides.
The book of Leviticus instructs us “Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbour” (19:16) and tradition takes this obligation so seriously that we find this mitzvah extended from being obligated to save life to being duty bound to hire others if necessary in order to help us (Sefer Hachinuch 237).
Several years into becoming shomer Shabbat, Sabbath observant, I found Jewish practice to be profound but frustrating. I had been learning a basic yoga practice and it began unsettling my now-comfortable understanding of the Jewish milieu.
The ninth of Av is the day we mourn the destruction of the two Temples, Solomon’s and Herod’s, as well as the fall, 65 years later, of the city of Betar. The land of Israel was depopulated and the city of Jerusalem ploughed over.
JOFA, the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, is an organisation that was set up in order to encourage Orthodox women to be able to find more expression within the realm of Orthodoxy and traditional Judaism.
It’s a summer evening and the congregation is getting ready for the Kabbalat Shabbat service, the welcoming of the Sabbath, on Friday. Someone taps out a beat on a tabla drum, a guitarist tunes his strings, another person takes a flute from a case.
I once heard a rabbi say in his Shabbat morning sermon : “Without God, Judaism falls down like a pack of cards.” There was a time when such a comment would seem so self-evident that you would wonder why anyone would make it.
We are now in May, the arbitrary date that signals the start of attendance at Shabbat services which count towards the gaining of priority points for admission to local Jewish schools. It continues until the end of October, or until the requisite eight synagogue visits that are deemed to demonstrate commitment to Jewish practice have been made.