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One of the karbanot, offerings, brought in the Temple was the Korban Todah – the Thanksgiving Offering. If a person was in a dangerous situation and managed to survive, he would travel to the Temple in Jerusalem and bring such an offering. Nowadays, when one survives a situation in which his life was in danger, he or she recites a special blessing called Birchat HaGomel in place of the Thanksgiving Offering.
We have all heard of the tragedy this past week in Brooklyn, in which a fire broke out in the middle of the night, leaving seven children from the Sassoon family dead and their mother and the eighth child in critical condition. It is beyond belief and the pain is tremendous. Losing one child is a colossal tragedy in and of itself; losing seven in one shot? Unimaginable. Continue reading Parshat Tzav – In the Wake of the Brooklyn Tragedy: Hugging our Children
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The Greeks enacted a number of decrees in order to prevent the Jews from practicing Judaism and to encourage them to accept their hedonistic perspective. According to the Midrash, one unusual edict required all Jews to inscribe on the horn of an ox the words, “I renounce my relationship with the God of Israel.” The Midrash explains that this law in particular “darkened the eyes of the Jewish people”.
The Greeks outlawed keeping Shabbos. They forbade Brit Milah. They wouldn’t allow the Jews to study the Torah. Yet this requirement to write that they have no connection to the God of Israel is what finally “got to” the Jews. Why did they find this particular edict to be so unbearably harsh, so much more than the others? Surely the other decrees were far more severe and really struck at the core of Judaism more than this one. Continue reading Chanukah – A Focus on Education