Tisha B’Av



The summer is never an easy time for the Jewish people. Two fast days, separated by the “Three Weeks,” are observed as the mourning period for the first and second Temples that once stood gloriously on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The second of the fasts, known as Tisha B’Av, or the Ninth of the Jewish month of Av, begins at sundown tonight, and is the day on which the first and second Temples in Jerusalem were destroyed.

It is no coincidence that both Temples were destroyed on the same day, since according to Jewish tradition, the Ninth of Av was also the day on which the calamitous episode of the Twelve Spies occurred. Moses had sent the twelve spies to scope out the Land of Canaan prior to entering the Promised…

Posted in: Ami Farkas / Israel / Jerusalem

Sukkot – Making it Last


©iStockphoto.com/Tova Teitelbaum

©iStockphoto.com/Tova Teitelbaum

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein:

This week we will celebrate the holiday of Sukkot, also known as the Festival of Tabernacles. However, to fully understand the meaning of this holiday we have to look at where it really begins – at the conclusion of Yom Kippur, five days earlier. Moments after Jews have broken their 25-hour fast, you will hear the sound of hammering all over Israel as people begin building the little huts known as sukkot. Why can’t the building wait until the next day after we have had time to digest our meal?

Let’s examine how Yom Kippur ends. As the Day of Atonement comes to a close, the congregation recites seven times aloud: “The LORD – he is God!” These few words sum up the entire holiday season. The goal…

Posted in: Biblical Reflections / Jewish Holidays / religion

A Sanctified Day in the Holy Land

Ami Farkas:

yom kippur walking

Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, starts this Friday at sundown and ends on Saturday night. The Jewish people are biblically commanded to fast on Yom Kippur as a way to atone for the sins of the past year. Most of the day is spent in the synagogue in prayer and supplication, and it is customary to wear all white, a symbol of our desire to be cleansed of all our sins.

Since moving to Israel I have come to appreciate Yom Kippur and have experienced it in a much deeper way than during my childhood. Growing up in the U.S., I remember leaving the synagogue on Yom Kippur night holding my mother and father’s hands as we walked home feeling elated from the service. I remember my father dressed in all white, and I remember feeling how lucky we were to have enjoyed…

Posted in: Jewish Holidays / religion / Learn

The Righteous Rebbe

Ami Farkas:

800px-Rabbi_Nahman_Tomb_(Uman,_Ukraine)The Jewish sages teach that when the Holy Temple stood in Jerusalem the Divine Presence had a dwelling place here on earth – inside the chamber known as the Holy of Holies. Since the destruction of the Temple and the Jewish people’s forced exit out of Israel and subsequent scattering around the world, the Divine Presence too was exiled and dispersed.

We are taught, furthermore, that since the destruction of the Temple, the place to come into contact with His Presence is at the gravesite of the truly righteous. For this reason, tens of thousands of Jews will leave their homes and their families to venture to Ukraine, where they will spend the Rosh Hashanah holiday at the gravesite of the righteous Rebbe Nachman.

A rebbe is more than a rabbi; he is, in essence, a spiritual master. In Judaism we have many…

Posted in: Ami Farkas / Jewish Holidays / Rosh Hashanah

May These Days Bring Blessing

rabbi-200x200-commentary Dear Friend of Israel,

With all that’s been going on in the world in recent weeks – a brutal civil war in Syria that threatens not just Israel but the stability of the entire Middle East, turmoil and political unrest in Egypt, tenuous peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians – Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), which begins tonight at sundown, seems especially well-timed this year. It’s a time when the Jewish people recognize God’s dominion over the world – and we need this reminder about God’s sovereignty now more than ever.

Though the traditional New Year is a time of frivolity, the Jewish New Year is much more somber. Jewish tradition teaches that, beginning on Rosh Hashanah, God judges the entire world and all its inhabitants, determining their fate for the year to come. Ten days after Rosh Hashanah is Yom Kippur, the Day of…

Posted in: Jewish Holidays / Rabbi Eckstein / religion