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Be a Thermostat, Not a Thermometer: You Can’t Breathe Free When Stress is Your Master

*This article appeared in Mishpacha Magazine on April 10, 2019 The Jewish People are suffering through the servitude of Egypt. After being oppressed and persecuted for an extended period of time, they finally receive a message of redemption: Moshe relays the promise that Hashem will take them out, rescue them, and take them to the PromisedRead More...

A Message for Pesach

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Your Only Habit Should Be Not Doing Anything By Habit

According to management gurus, routine not only helps efficiency and productivity but also creativity. Many successful creative people swear by the routines they formed: author Stephen King famously sits down to write at the same time every morning. Routine is also a hallmark of many big thinkers: Geniuses like Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein liked to wear the same thing everyRead More...

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Don’t Suffer From Spiritual Dehydration – Water Your Soul

The Mishna in Sukkah (29b) teaches that a stolen lulav and a dried out lulav are disqualified from fulfilling the mitzvah.  The problem with a stolen lulav is evident: how could one possibly fulfill a mitzvah through an inherently corrupt and unethical action?  The invalidity of a dry lulav, however, requires closer analysis. After all,Read More...

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See More, Better and Farther with the Chanukah Candles

Don’t Forget Where You Came From “Don’t forget where you came from.”  It is often said at graduations, it’s the title of a country music song, and many successful people include it on their list of the most important things to remember. And yet, when Yosef HaTzadik ascends to great heights and power in Egypt,Read More...

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Tisha B’Av: Turning Mourning into Action

This article first appeared on aish.com On April 11, 1944, a young Anne Frank wrote in her diary: Who has made us Jews different from all other people? Who has allowed us to suffer so terribly until now? It is God Who has made us as we are, but it will be God, too, whoRead More...

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Suggestions for a More Meaningful Seder This Year

If your Seder looks anything like the typical one, you likely have young kids fighting over giving every single Dvar Torah they prepared in school, adults offering technical and complicated vortelach (Torah thoughts), someone napping on the couch due to drinking the four cups too zealously, and more than one person complaining that they spentRead More...

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If it Takes You More Than a Day to Clean for Pesach, You are Doing Spring Cleaning, Not Pesach Preparations

Now that Purim is behind us, the countdown to Pesach has officially begun, complete with its angst, anxiety, stress, and exhaustion. Sadly, many people associate Pesach with backbreaking work, exorbitant expenses, endless preparation, and bread deprivation. It is not unusual to hear moans, groans, and krechts coming from both men and women when mentioning theRead More...

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Scientists Have Proven That Doing This Improves Health and Brings Greater Happiness, But Our Rabbis Knew it Long Ago…

Milton Friedman, the great Nobel Prize-winning economist and professor at the University of Chicago, had a very simple suggestion for how to identify a person or institution’s priorities.  Many people eloquently describe their beliefs, values, and principles and talk about what is most important to them.  Friedman advised to ignore what they say.  If youRead More...

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Managing Expectations is the Key to a Beautiful Holiday

According to the 2013 Pew study, while only 23% of American Jews said they attend religious services at least monthly, 70% reported that they participate in a Seder on Passover. More than any other holiday, Pesach brings family together. These reunions are often filled with promise and hope of quality time that will yield onlyRead More...

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This Chanuka See What is Right Under Your Nose

A husband and wife are getting ready to go to sleep. The wife is ready to close her eyes and her husband stands staring at himself in the full-length mirror. “What’s the matter with you?” she says. Come to sleep already.” He turns to her and says, “Look at this, I am so depressed. AllRead More...

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Esrog: The Symbol of Jewish Beauty

A woman in her seventies had a heart attack and was taken to the hospital. While on the operating table she had a near death experience. She had the opportunity to ask Hashem, “Is my time up?” Hashem answered directly, “No, you have another 23 years, 2 months and 8 days to live.” Given that,Read More...

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You Have Been Subpoenaed to God’s Courtroom

“Do you solemnly swear or affirm that you will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?” “I do.” Though there wasn’t formal training for this in Rabbinical school, over my career I have appeared in court on behalf of others at least a few dozen times.  OftenRead More...

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Have you Told Your Children Your Family Narrative?

On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress of the newly formed United States of America convened a committee to design what would become our Great seal, our emblem and the symbol of our sovereignty. The committee was comprised of three of the five men who had drafted the Declaration of Independence: Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin andRead More...

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Bitter Herbs, Not Bitter People: Preparing for Pesach

Now that Purim is behind us, the countdown to Pesach has officially begun, complete with its angst, anxiety, stress, and exhaustion. Sadly, many people associate Pesach with backbreaking work, exorbitant expenses, endless preparation, and bread deprivation. It is not unusual to hear moans, groans, and krechts coming from both men and women when mentioning theRead More...

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Seeing with 20/20 Vision – the Essence of Chanuka

A husband and wife are getting ready to go to sleep. The wife is ready to close her eyes and her husband stands staring at himself in the full-length mirror. “What’s the matter with you?” she says. Come to sleep already.” He turns to her and says, “Look at this, I am so depressed. AllRead More...

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Using Subtlety in our Rosh Hashana Greetings

Among the truly sweet things about the New Year are the heartwarming greetings and salutations being exchanged everywhere. It is heartening to have our mailboxes filled with Rosh Hashana cards, our inboxes filled with Rosh Hashana emails, and our Facebook timelines filled with Rosh Hashana wishes and blessings, even if they are not as personalRead More...

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Interrupting Our Seder to Remember

The word Pesach alone invokes conflicting emotions.  On the one hand, we dread the hard work, labor-intensive cleaning, shopping, cooking, preparing, and of course the exorbitant expense involved.  On the other hand, we hear the word Pesach and we immediately picture our grandparents and parents, our family’s Seder songs and tunes, we nostalgically remember theRead More...

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Why Should You Attend a Shabbos Ha’Gadol Derasha?

Every year, on the first two nights of Pesach, I look out in Shul and have the same thought: This is not what the Rabbis meant when they instructed us to re-live the Exodus.   Halacha dictates that Kiddush at the Seder cannot begin until after nightfall, leaving a significant gap in between the conclusion ofRead More...

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Home Depot or House Depot?

House & Home – what is the difference between the two? We say home sick and not house sick, but we say house sitting not home sitting. We say hometown and not house town, but we say house rich and not home rich. We say home field not house field, yet we say house coatRead More...

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Spiritual Insomnia

The Jewish holidays are often associated, for many of us with family, particularly grandparents. As each holiday comes around, I can still hear my Bobe and Zada, Grandma and Grampa sharing their aphorisms and adages with me as if they were here. Each year at this time they would remind me, as I am sureRead More...

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Pursuit of Other People’s Happiness

The Declaration of Independence grants us freedom and liberty, incredible blessings that we benefit from every single day while living in this great country.  Interestingly, the emphasis is on a liberty that allows for the pursuit of happiness.   Indeed, the capacity to serve our own interests, pursue our own needs and satisfy our own happinessRead More...

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A Bold Suggestion For Your Seder This Year

If your Seder looks anything like the typical one, you likely have young kids fighting over giving every single Dvar Torah they prepared in school, adults offering technical and complicated vortelach (Torah thoughts), someone napping on the couch due to drinking the four cups too zealously, and more than one woman complaining that they spentRead More...

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Preparing for God’s Courtroom

“Do you solemnly swear or affirm that you will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?” “I do.” Though there wasn’t formal training for this in Rabbinical school, over my relatively short career I have appeared in court on behalf of others at least a few dozenRead More...

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The Modesty of Privacy

I once went to get my passport renewed and when they offered me a date for my renewal appointment I looked at my calendar and saw it would be Shavuos.  I told the woman I couldn’t come then because it would be the Jewish holiday of Shavuos.  She asked me to wait a minute andRead More...

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Bitter Herbs, Not Bitter People

The countdown to Pesach has officially begun complete with its angst, anxiety, stress and exhaustion. Tragically, many people associate Pesach with backbreaking work, exorbitant expenses, endless preparation, and bread deprivation. It is not unusual to hear moans, groans and krechts coming from both men and women when mentioning the upcoming holiday. Most describe themselves asRead More...

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We Are a People Only Because of the Book

Imagine the following scene playing out on CSPAN:  On a specific day of the year, the Supreme Court justices together with the member of Congress take copies of the United States Constitution and dance around the floor of the House of Representatives while singing, clapping and lifting the law books high in the air.   WithRead More...

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Confounded and Conflicted

Zman simchaseinu, Sukkos as a time of great joy, took on a whole new meaning this year with the announcement that Gilad Shalit will be released in the next few days.  After 5 years languishing in a Hamas dungeon in an undisclosed location with absolutely no visits or contact from family, the people of IsraelRead More...

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It’s Not Too Late to Get Ready for Rosh Hashana

On Thursday morning, together with close to 900 others Rabbis from across denominations, I participated in a pre-Rosh Hashana conference call with the President. As the operator of the call made introductory remarks, I was reminded of a great insight my colleague and good friend, Rabbi Gibber shared with me following last year’s call ofRead More...