Thursday, May 31, 2007

Forty Years Later...

Itzik, Tzion & Tziki were among the first soldiers who arrived at the Western Wall during its liberation on June 7th, 1967 (Iyar 28). In their historic photo, one can see their awe and admiration of the hallowed stones of the Wall. This was the first time Jews were able to return to the Wall after 19 years of Jordanian occupation. On the fortieth anniversary, they visited again, along with the aged photographer of the original photo, David Robinger (sp?). Together they recounted the great miracles that occured and the raw emotions of that momentous experience.

That historic occasion triggered a new era of rebirth of Jewish life, with thousands of Jews from all over the world coming to the Kotel, putting on Tefillin, etc.

Before the advent of the great Messianic Era, the Prophets predict that "a great Shofar will be sounded," and all their will be a reawakening of Jews lost in the exiles. The Rebbe, who incidentally predicted the great miracles of the Six Day War weeks prior to its onset in June of 67, declared that the sounding of the "Great Shofar" began on this day. Prior to the war, the Rebbe had initiated a worldwide Tefillin campaign, and later added numerous other Mitzva campaigns.

To find out how you can get involved with these mitzva campaigns and be part of the ongoing miracle of Jewish revival, please contact me at The time of the Redemption is now... let's be part of it!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Popular Misconception: "Ten Commandments"

Someone recently joked that in today's day and age of moral relativism, the name ought to be changed to "the Ten Suggestions."

Obviously, we'd laugh at such a suggestion. Take 'em or leave 'em, but for crying out loud, don't rename them! Everyone knows that there are Ten Commandments, right?


For the sake of accuracy, let's debunk this myth once and for all.
There's no such thing as the "Ten Commandments."

Here's why:

1) There are 613 Commandments given at Sinai, not just ten.

2) The "Ten Commandments" is a poor translation of "Aseret Hadibrot." This term should properly be translated as the "Ten Statements." (Otherwise, it would have been called "Aseret Hamitzvot")

3) If you read the so-called "Ten Commandments," you will actually find 14 or 15 commandments mentioned therein.

A much better name for these famous ten statements is the Decalogue.

So what's all the hype about the Decalogue? Simple. These were the only part of the Torah that ALL the Jewish people heard at once and directly from G-d. (The rest was transmitted to us via Moses over the period of forty years).

That's why they're called the Ten Statements or Sayings ("Dibrot" comes from "Dibbur," speech), indicating that we heard them as they were verbalized by G-d.

Our Sages taught that by articulating these statements, the Almighty was in fact giving us the entire Torah, since the Dibrot are all-embracing and incorporate all 613 commandments in a general way.
Indeed, the Decalogue contains exactly 620 letters, corresponding to all 613 mitzvot and seven Rabbinical ordinances, or conversely the seven Noahidic mitzvot for all mankind.

Stay tuned for further misconceptions...

Friday, May 25, 2007

Breaking News!

Hello all.

What’s new?

Can’t think of anything new?

Come to think of it, what do we consider new, anyway?

Doesn’t it seem as though the word "new" has become somewhat of a cliché?

Let's consider this oft-used word and its modern applications. Let's see. Massachusetts might be called "New England," but fact is that's the oldest part of the country. In fact, just last month I took a class to Newport, RI. Now THAT was old. So I guess "new" is a relative term.

What ever is called new will ultimately be old. Every new fashion will be old and outdated at some point. Of course, everyone enjoys reading the morning newspaper hot off the press with a cup of coffee. But alas, “news" is not really new at all. In fact, it's old by very definition -- it reported an event that happened. And the proof is that twelve hours after it arrives, it’s garbage. Oops, I mean, it’s recycling. Either way, it’s OLD.

So what else is new? (yawn)

New York? New Jersey? How about New Coke?

Someone once explained to me that a new car is new till you drive it off the lot. At that point, it becomes used (read “old”). Same with a new born baby. First she’s a newborn. Then suddenly, she’s one day old.

Can anything be considered “new” forever? Could something be new and stay new?

Sadly, but the whole idea doesn’t really exist in our world.

Said King Solomon the Wise: “Ein kol chadash tachat hashemesh” – “There’s nothing new under the sun.” What ever is born eventually dies. That’s just the way things go in an ephemeral world.

However, the Sages have another take on Solomon’s statement. There may not be anything new “tachat hashemesh,” under the sun. But OVER the sun, beyond the heavens, there’s something new. What comes from beyond the sun?

The Torah.

The Torah was new the day it was given, 3319 years ago, and it is new today, fresh and ever-relevant. Every year on Shavuot, even every day, we are given the Torah anew.

Every morning we recite the blessing: “Blessed are you G-d, who GIVES us the Torah” – not GAVE (past tense), but “who gives us the Torah” in the here and now.

There’s nothing new in this world, says Solomon, except for the Torah. Everything that comes to be is old a moment later. The Torah, however, is given to us anew every moment. It is relevant in every circumstance and every time, just as the day it was given at Sinai.

The Torah is the life-blood of the Jewish people. That is why we are the oldest people on earth and yet the most modern, the most deeply rooted in antiquity and at the forefront of progress, at the cutting edge of new discoveries.

Because of our connection to a timeless Torah, we are a timeless people.

See you in Shul on Shavuot as we celebrate our timelessness.

We will be starting on time, though :-)
(So what else is new?)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

New Blog at the perfect time!

Welcome to our new blog!

Our new blog and new-and-improved website couldn't have been launched at a more appropriate time.

You see, Shavuot, the holiday we are celebrating on May 23-24, is the ultimate time of renewal. Each year on Shavuot, we receive the Torah anew!

The first Shavuot took place on Shabbat, fifty days after the Exodus from Egypt, on the sixth day of the month of Sivan, 2448 years after the creation of the world (May 9, 1312 BCE), 3319 years ago. That day, at the break of dawn, G-d spoke the Ten Declarations.* (See next post entitled "Popular Misconceptions") Similarly, each year G-d gives us the Torah anew on Shavuot. We celebrate each year by going to Shul (this year, on Wed. May 23) and listening to the reading of the Ten Declarations & the giving of the Torah, thereby reliving the events of that momentous time. In addition, the night before, we remain awake late into the night studying the Torah, awaiting it's giving the next morning as we would a most cherished treasure.

So you see, Shavuot is a time of new beginnings.

In fact, new-ness is such an important theme of Shavuot that the Torah commands us to bring a "New Grain-Offering" to G-d on that day. On Shavuot, the first wheat offering of the year's new harvest was brought as an offering in the Holy Temple. It was also the time that people began to bring the first fruits as well.

Each Biblical holiday has agricultural/seasonal significance as well as historical significance. In fact, these two significances complement each other. The arrival of new wheat -- food for the body -- corresponds to the new gift of the Torah -- nourishment for the soul.

Hope this gives you some food for thought!

So nu? Please join us in shul on Wednesday as we relive the Sinai experience anew.
And thanks again for reading our new blog.

Rabbi Green