Hard nut to crack

Donations. It’s one of the primary themes of the four parshiyos which discuss the construction of the Mishkan that we are currently in the midst of. And there’s a fascinating Midrashic statement regarding donations – or put more precisely, donors – that comes up in the least likely of places. Smack dab in the middle […]

Kiruv Stories: Angry Bus Driver

It was my first ever visit to what I like to call the best kept secret in the world of kiruv: the Shaarei Zion school of Ramla. No, that is not a typo. I am not talking about some weirdos who want to convert the Arab children living in Ramallah to Judaism. Ramla (usually pronounced […]

Kiruv Stories – A Terrorist’s Mussar

His messages in Arabic to the people of Gaza are said to have gone viral, and many Israelis look forward to his frequent, insightful commentary regarding the war. As an ardently observant Jew who serves as the head correspondent for the Arab affairs department of Channel 13 – generally considered a left-leaning media outlet – […]

Song of Ascents

On an excursion up north a number of years ago, an interesting thing happened.  It’s not really all that surprising, though, considering how often hashgacha manifests itself in such an evident manner here in Eretz Yisrael.  Pay close attention to the details of the story that you are about to read. That way, you’ll fully […]

Simple Jew?

If you’re looking for inspiration, I wouldn’t suggest taking a trip to the industrial area of Bet Shemesh. With its plethora of hardware stores, gardening shops, car garages, and much more – all squashed into a few, tiny roads – it’s a wonderful place to go if you’re looking to frazzle your nerves with fast-paced […]

Listening Ear

Toddlers. They’re next to each other. But are they playing together? Depends who you ask. Traditionally, “wisdom” had it that they’re not truly interacting, but engaging in parallel play. Preschool children are not aware of others’ thoughts and feelings. Hence, the side-by-side phenomenon, as opposed to truly engaged play. Swiss psychologist, Jean Piaget, drew such […]

Good Boy…?

Fast-paced is an understatement as a description of contemporary living. Increased production may or may not be an advantage of the racing rhythm of our days, but we can’t ignore the fact that attendant fallout is inevitable. One of the areas in which this finds acute expression, at least what I notice in my own […]

When Down is Up and Up is Down

A heroic space explorer, and he’s being carried away in a stretcher.  That actually happens on occasion.  The possibility of space travel – albeit limited – is taken for granted.  The reality, though, is that the number of hurdles that space-living presents is staggering.  Sleep, for example, is no small undertaking.  In the zero-gravity of […]

Yearning for Mashiach, Don’t invalidate the plain folk

Yearning for Mashiach, and discussing what it really means, is a topic that often shows itself to be as timely as it is timeless. Rightly so. After all, it touches on one of the thirteen primary principles of faith. And this topic seems to have gained particular prominence over the most recent few years, what […]

Where there’s a will there’s a way

Wills.  It’s a touchy subject.  Conjuring up thoughts of all types of sometimes unsavory topics.  Mortality.  Family feuds over inheritances.  Financial repercussions.  Worry about the future.  And that’s just a sampling.  Perhaps for that reason, many people push off the endeavor of writing a will until much later in life.  We just don’t like thinking […]

Clean Slate

CO2. As a species, we humans seem to love filling our world with it. Which may bring into question our collective sanity seeing that it can displace O2 and leave us with nothing viable to breathe. Not to mention global warming regarding which we are endlessly told that CO2 is the chief culprit. The good […]

Higher I

By all accounts, there were a lot of unexpected twists and turns during the Trumpfluenced election season of 2016.  Predictions shattered, political norms dashed (and new words invented…).  And, believe it or not, even a new vista in neuroscience! On June 23rd 2016, the Washinton Post reported on the research of Spencor Gerrol in trying […]

Lost at Sea

Six hours is an awful lot of time to be bobbing around aimlessly and alone in the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, but that’s exactly what happened to an Australian scuba diver on Tuesday, July 5th 2016.  He was with a group of divers at Althea Wreck, about 35 nautical miles from the Bundaberg […]

People Talk

Dolphins have long been considered among the very intelligent animals on earth. Their impressive array of frequency-modulated whistles, burst-pulsed sounds, and clicks remains a source of great interest for scientific investigation. Not to mention their seemingly great affinity for people. Numerous stories abound of dolphins rescuing people. A particularly dramatic episode occurred in August, 2007 […]

Fad or Daf?

Fads are an interesting phenomenon, particularly amongst children.  Take for example the recurring obsession with Rubik’s cubes.  You can go from nary seeing those multi-colored squares to, all of a sudden, seeing practically every boy and girl from ages four to eleven completely mesmerized by the six-sided puzzle. And, of course, any kid who actually […]

Snake Above

A number of years ago on erev Shabbos of parshas ha’chodesh, I was doing some work in my yard together with my son when the latter suddenly exclaimed, “A snake!”  Baruch Hashem, we experienced “he will smite you on the head” and not the other part of that pasuk[1].  But he didn’t go down easily.  […]

Be Happy

Being around happy people can have a positive impact on your own sense of happiness, and being around sullen people can have a negative impact on your own sense of happiness. That is one of the “earth-shattering” results of the vaunted Boston University Framingham Heart Study. Begun in 1948, this study is seventy-five years old […]

Faux Pas

For a criminal in North Carolina, January 5th 2019, was a really bad day. A day that he made a terrible mistake. You see, this criminal had tried abducting a woman on the street, and, when she resisted and started running away, the would-be abductor inadvertently chased her right into a karate dojo. Which was […]

Light Show

Light shows can be mesmerizing. There are big ones, like fireworks shows; but even the little ones, like fireflies, have a way of casting a captivating spell on their observers. Little more than twenty-four hours passed from the moment that Adam was created, when Hashem infused him with the intelligence to create a man-made light […]

WATCH: Stories Shiur 28 – Bow Your Head & Sweat the Small Stuff

This is about the riveting story of the wicked King Achav coveting the vineyard of his neighbor, Navos HaYizre’eli, how the even more wicked Queen Izevel dealt with her husband’s depression, and how this all connects to the famous story about Rabi Akiva surviving a ship wreck. Listen and learn important lessons for life as […]

WATCH: Defining the Role of the Rabbi

Defining the Role of the Rabbi is a class that was given to Ohr Somayach’s semicha and leadership training program in Yerushalayim. It presents a fascinating analysis of three differing approaches of three of the premier Torah leaders in pre-war Europe.

A Vote and a Prayer

Where would you go if you needed a place to calm down? A park? A museum? Perhaps you are of the fortunates for whom a Beis Medrash is the greatest source of rejuvenation. But would anyone consider a cemetery a great place to wind down? Well, a pious man who lived more than 1,500 years […]

When in Rome Part II

As ironic as flying to Austria via Rome and Munich right after Tisha b’Av was (see When in Rome Part I), the experience took on a whole new angle for my friend on the way back. With a layover of just over an hour, it was supposed to be a seamless connection to the second […]

Scorpion Tale – Says Who?!

Ninety-five square meters (= roughly 1,022 square feet) may not sound like much to the American ear, but here in Eretz Yisrael large families somehow manage to make it work.  So the fact that my Yerushalmi neighbors are raising upwards of ten children (and often host married children and grandchildren) in their tiny apartment doesn’t […]

When in Rome Part I

A number of years ago, a friend shared with me that he had a very difficult Tisha b’Av. “It was a very hard time for me,” he said. “I spent the past two days watching endless hours of Holocaust videos.” And what exactly prompted that? Well, he had booked a getaway a number of months […]

Familiarly New

Do you like Giant Pandas? If you do then this headline is for you: “For the First Time in History, an Albino Giant Panda Has Been Caught on Camera”. Ok, it’s from 2019, but if you really like pandas, who cares, right? Anyway, that headline was a kind of feeble attempt at “sensationalizing”; but, still, […]

World’s Ugliest Dog

Someone really ought to give a good scolding to PETA (for the uninitiated, that stands for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an extremely liberal organization/movement that has practically made a religion out of “animals’ rights”). After all, isn’t it terribly demeaning to “man’s best friend” to have a World’s Ugliest Dog Contest? That’s […]

Clear Glass – A Thought Provoking Observation for Parshas Behaaloscha

Clear Glass Imagine all of the windows in your home being solar panels instead of clear glass. While saving you much on your electricity bill, it would also make your house awfully dark and dreary, wouldn’t it? That is, until researchers came up with the idea of making transparent solar cells. “Traditional solar applications have […]

The Pillowcase – A Story for Parshas Behar

“When your brother falls on hard times…hold him up…” (25:35) “I looked at my watch. It was starting to get to the point where you begin to wonder, ‘Are we going to make it back for Shabbos?’ Things were moving very slowly in the oncology ward that Friday. And that was after we rerouted to […]

Incredibly Moving Story for Emor: The Jewish Thief

“I shall be sanctified in the midst of Bnei Yisrael (22:32)”  In the chassidic court of Strelisk, under the leadership of Rav Uri Klughauft (d. 1826) who was known as “the Seraph” (fiery angel), davening was often accompanied by intermittent clapping which was meant to help one have greater kavanah and devotion. When the Seraph […]

101 Engaging Questions

101 Engaging Torah Questions to spur dynamic Torah conversation in any setting Engaging Torah questions. That’s what we need, right? Have you ever wanted to strike up a Torah conversation but just found yourself stymied? Talmud Torah k’neged kulam. We all know that learning Torah is the fulcrum of Jewish life. It is that upon […]

Midnight Flood

True story. Last night I was suddenly woken up at around 1am (I actually managed to get to sleep before 12am!) by the sound of my sixteen-year-old daughter begging my wife to come help her with an emergency. I (re)gained consciousness just as my wife, apparently still half asleep, was trying to convince our daughter […]

WATCH: Does the Angel of Death Make Mistakes? Part 1

Does the Angel of Death Make Mistakes? Part 1 Watch this video, Does the Angel of Death Make Mistakes? Part 1, to hear an incredibly wild-sounding story from the Gemara and an attempt to get a sense of the deep, underlying meaning. Hear lots of other stories and fascinating halachos and concepts, as well, throughout […]

Bad Stories?

“Let me tell you a story. Now that I have your attention—and I hope and believe I do—consider with me why an invitation to listen to a story—most any sort of story—is easily the most powerful way of engaging human beings.” That is how Marshall Duke, Professor of Psychology at Emory University, once introduced his […]


Fascinating. Incredibly, incredibly fascinating. That really is the only way that this story about Rabi Yehoshua ben Levi in Maseches Kesubos 77b can be described. It’s for sure got to be one of the most memorable maasim in Shas (following right on the foot-heels of a description of a form of brain surgery!). Rabi Yochanan […]

Are you an eved Hashem?

Are you an eved Hashem? It’s a question that commands our concern throughout the year, and, perhaps, with much greater urgency during the Yamim Noraim season. With teshuva being the mandate of the day, one may sometimes find himself wondering where he really stands. Possibly, many people – maybe even most – would not feel […]