Category: Chagim

Kol Nidrei Drasha: The Gates of Repentance (Hebrew & English)

דרשה לכל נדרי – שערי תשובה שלום וכתיבה וחתימה טובה לכולכם, המשנה בסוף מסכת יומא מתארת ​​את יום כיפור כמקווה, והלילה אנחנו מתחילים את הטבילה הארוכה שלנו לעשרים וחמש שעות של יום כיפור. כציבור וכיחידים תוך התפילות שנתפלל, החרטה שנתחרט והחמשה עינויים שנתקיים, אנו מקווים לטהר את עצמנו ולהשיג חתימה חיובית לשנה החדשה. עם זאת,…

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Insights to the Rosh Hashana Tefilot

Below is a collection of insights for the Kriat HaTorah and Musaf prayers on Rosh Hashanah which I delivered at Machon Ma’ayan on Rosh Hashanah 5777. While the insights originate from a variety of sources, the core theme of the ideas shared on the First Day of Rosh Hashanah was ‘Self-Change’, while those which I…

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40 quotes for 40 days

Over the years I have collected hundreds of inspirational quotes from a variety of Jewish and general sources. Here are 40 of those quotes which I hope you find both helpful and inspirational as we begin our 40 day spiritual journey from the 1st of Ellul to Yom Kippur: ASPIRATION: “If a person doesn’t constantly…

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Is Ellul about renewal or repentance?

This Motzei Shabbat is the first of Ellul, and from Sunday morning onwards until Yom Kippur, with the exception of Shabbatot and Erev Rosh Hashanah, a Shofar will be blown in Jewish schools and shuls each morning across the world and sefardim will start reciting selichot. For many people, the sound of the Shofar at…

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Tu B’shvat

Tonight, Jews throughout the world are celebrating Tu Bishvat, often referred to as the ‘birthday for trees’. The source for Tu Bishvat is the Mishna Rosh Hashanah 1:1 in which we are told of 4 New Years: 1) The New Year for kings and for bringing gifts to the Temple during festivals (1st Nissan), 2) the…

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Why don’t we confess on Rosh Hashanah?

“Mirror, signal, manouvre”. These three words, which are the mantra of all driving instructors, succinctly express the idea that before travelling forward in a vehicle you need to look back and indicate that you are about to move. In a similar vein, I have always understood Rosh Hashanah as the start of a new spiritual…

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Redefining Simcha (Adar)

Life can be stressful. While there are moments in life when things go well, there are also situations that we encounter when things do not go to plan; as Shlomo Hamelech famously wrote עֵת לִבְכּוֹת וְעֵת לִשְׂחוֹק עֵת סְפוֹד וְעֵת רְקוֹד – [there is] a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time…

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The shofar teaches us about the meaning of life

Embedded in the legal discussions regarding the methods of prayer and the shape of the shofar is a fascinating theological debate regarding our priorities in life. Simply put, should we focus on the physical aspects of our lives and the impact we can have on this world, or should we focus on the spiritual aspects…

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Hugging is better than kissing (Shavuot)

There are a number of reasons given as to why Megillat Rut is read on Shavuot.  For example, the Yalkut Shimoni explains that we read Megillat Ruth on Shavuot to teach us that the only way that Torah can become a meaningful part of our lives is through suffering as experienced by Ruth. Others such…

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Fragrant Jewish Living (Shavuot)

Chag Sameach! Thanks to Rabbi Davis and thanks to you all for your warm welcome. As we know, Shavuot is a festival of customs. For example, we have a custom of staying up late to study, and a custom of eating dairy food. Today I would like to discuss one of the many Shavuot customs…

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Humility as a prerequisite for receiving the Torah (Shavuot)

Shalom, Chag Sameach, and thank you so much for your generous welcome! Today, as we celebrate Shavuot, I would like to discuss a value that is so inextricably linked to the festival of Shavuot that – at least according to the Rabbis of the Midrash – it is the reason why Mount Sinai was chosen…

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Standing and learning together (Shavuot)

Today we celebrate Shavuot and commemorate the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. This was and remains a momentous event in our history and in the history of the civilized world, and it is referred to by our Rabbis as מעמד הר סיני. But, if we take a moment, we will come to realise…

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Cherishing the moments of Seder night

Tonight we will be sitting round a Seder table and reading through the Haggadah with family and/or friends. However, while it is certainly praiseworthy to read the Haggadah and to eat the Matzah and Marror, I believe that the objective of Seder night goes far beyond reading the Haggadah and eating symbolic foods. Instead, it…

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The fast of Tevet

8TH, 9TH & 10TH OF TEVET This week is the fast of the Tenth of Tevet. However, while we only fast on the 10th of Tevet, this fast was established to commemorate three tragedies. Firstly, it was on the 10th of Tevet when Nebuchadnezar, king of Babylon, began his successful siege of Jerusalem which ultimately led to…

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Sukkot, Hospitality and the third Beit HaMikdash

The word ‘Sukkot’ appears three times in the Torah (see Vayikra 23:42-43). Yet, while on the first two occasions the hebrew word ‘Sukkot’ is ‘chaser’ (meaning that the word appears to be missing a ‘vav’), on the third occasion it is ‘maleh’ (meaning that it includes a ‘vav’). Though various explanations have been offered for…

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Tu B’Av

This week we celebrate Tu B’Av (literally, the 15th day of the hebrew month of Av). According to the Mishna (Ta’anit 4:8), both Tu B’Av and Yom Kippur were days of great celebration because on both these days, the young men and women of Jerusalem would go out to the vineyards and matches were made…

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Tisha B’Av and the Individual

This Motzei Shabbat/Sunday is Tisha B’Av, the saddest day of the Jewish year. On Tisha B’Av we mourn the destruction of both Temples along with many other tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people, and one of the ways we express our mourning is through the recitation of kinot (elegies). While many of the kinot…

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Erev Rosh Hashanah at Yad Avshalom

Rosh Hashanah has a dual identity. It is a day of hope and celebration on which we look towards the future (which is why we don’t confess on Rosh Hashanah), and it is also a day on which each of us are described as passing by God like sheep to be judged (as expressed by…

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The comforts and discomforts of Sukkot

This week we will be celebrating the festival of Sukkot, and though Sukkot in Israel is truly magnificent, the reason we dwell in our sukkot is not to provide us with physical pleasure (see Tur, Orach Chaim 625). Instead, its purpose is to show our faith in G-d. In fact, it would seem that part…

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The growth of Tu B’shvat

Tonight is Tu B’Shvat, and many Jews around the world will hold a Tu B’Shvat seder or eat some extra fruit. But what is the history of Tu B’Shvat and why have Tu B’Shvat seder’s become so popular? As I shall explain, and like trees themselves, Tu B’shvat has developed over time, and it is…

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The day the music died (3 weeks)

It is the custom of many Jews to refrain from listening to instrumental music during the Three Weeks, and many people – myself included – often struggle to cope with this eerily silent period of the year. But what we often forget is how the destruction of the Temple was, in a very real way,…

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