by April 16, 2021
2 Views 1 Like
There have been several impacts from the increasingly powerful pocket computer we all carry. Perhaps the most detrimental of them is that it has grabbed our attention when we walk around the world. Many of us have walked and texted to our own detriment. Apart from running into poles and who knows what else, the other problem is that we no longer see our environment or the people around us. It is an unintended self-absorption, it is the ultimate narrowing of our eyes as all we see is the small de...
by January 29, 2021
4 Views 1 Like
Life is a process of highs and lows and these highs and lows can come close together. Many families have had births that occur right after a funeral and vice versa.  The question is will the high enhance the bitterness of the low or, the opposite- can we make the highs be a safeguard to the lows? Or even better, can we turn these temporary lows into long term highs?   A perfect illustration of this process happens right after the Jewish people’s greatest moment. The sea has just split in front...
by January 22, 2021
3 Views
  The value we place on family began early on during the exodus. For the first few encounters between Moshe and Pharoh, Moshe asks for three days in order to have a holiday for G-d. The first time, and for subsequent times, he asks that the people should be able to leave in order to celebrate G-d. It is not entirely clear if he means all the people or the people that are involved in the actual service of G-d, including sacrifices, which at the time was done by men (it was a bloody procedure). ...
by January 15, 2021
2 Views
An article in the Harvard business review tracked an interesting change in our culture over the last 100 years. In the old days, being able to afford leisure time was a status symbol. It meant that a person was wealthy enough not to work and it was viewed favorably. A new trend, however, has changed all that. What is now perceived as high status is when a person says they are busy. It is a sign of success and value that a person is constantly busy. It must be they are always wanted for their tal...
by January 8, 2021
2 Views
The origins of our greatest hero is shrouded in mystery. An anonymous Jewish man meets an anonymous Jewish women from the house of Levi and they have a child who is described by the general adjective as ‘good’. The Talmud wonders what this multi- purpose adjective alludes to and settles on five different possibilities. Interestingly, the first two possibilities are that this was Moshe’s actual name- Tov or the other opinion, Tuvia. But why were these names hidden in the Torah and never spelled o...
by December 25, 2020
2 Views 1 Like
How did Jesus get off the ground according to the Talmudic tradition (there is some debate as to whether this was the Jesus, but the simple reading is that it is)? The Talmud states that the issue was that the Rabbi didn’t communicate properly to Jesus.  When Jesus erred (he accused his Rabbi of having improper thoughts), he was too harsh in his rebuke and didn’t bake into the rebuke a hint of love that if Jesus were to repent, he’d be welcomed back with open arms.  The Talmud is quite critical ...
by December 4, 2020
2 Views 1 Like
If we think getting the land Israel has been difficult, perhaps, as difficult was getting the name Israel.  It took a dusty wrestling match and an acute injury. But the real question is why the name change and why the name Israel?  Granted, Abraham needed to change names from Avram to Avraham because his name came from a place of idolatry.  But Isaac born into holiness didn’t go through any name changes, and ostensibly, Yakov was born into holiness too, so why did he undergo a name change? If ...
by November 20, 2020
3 Views 1 Like
Isaac called over his eldest son Esav and told him, ‘grab your hunting gear, your sword and bow and go to the field and trap me a hunt.’  There are many strange things about this. We have known for quite some time that Esau was a capable hunter- he spent his youth in the field trapping. Why did his father need to remind him to grab his hunting gear and then spell out the weapons?  But even stranger, why ask Esav to hunt at all? Isaac is a wealthy man and has his own flock that could be eaten.  W...
by November 7, 2020
4 Views 2 Likes
There is a strange way we describe our silent prayer- the standing prayer. Aside from the fact that many traditions do just the opposite, Buddhists sit and Muslims kneel, it is a strange moniker for the prayer. Standing happens to be how we do the prayer, but isn’t the content of the prayer a more telling aspect of what it is?   Furthermore, if we contrast that with the beginning with the service we see a major difference. The service begins almost intentionally with sitting when we say the ...
by October 31, 2020
2 Views 1 Like
The Torah is mum on how Avraham gets his start. Why him? What did he do to merit the greatest mission mankind has ever seen? Once he is picked we admit it is a fine choice. His tent is open, he stands up even for those who appear evil, and he is willing to follow G-d to the frontiers of human morality. But prior to that the Torah stays silent on why Hashem decides to set him on the most consequential journey in human history.   ...
by October 23, 2020
3 Views 2 Likes
What went so wrong that the world needed to start over? The stated reason is because of robbery. As some explain, if even something as logical as property rights were lost, then the world could not be sustained.  Slightly more hidden in the verses is that humans had ‘destroyed’ the world. That hints at more severe problems such as murder, idolatry, and sexual immorality- the three cardinal sins.  However, what was behind that? Why did human beings descend to such chaos?                There is ...
by October 16, 2020
2 Views 1 Like
As we start the Torah over again, it is important to look at old stories with fresh eyes as new discoveries are always lurking. This year, I took an in-depth look at the first quarrel of mankind between two brothers.  Although we find relationships between groups to be complex, those overt differences are not necessary. There is plenty to fight about within the family, which is sadly all too common as well.  The first criminal act between two people occurs between two brothers- Kayin and Hevel. ...
by September 11, 2020
2 Views 2 Likes
In contrast to a physical ailment, where a person actively seeks help, when it comes to mental illness, addiction, and spiritual maladies, it is rare that a person has the self-awareness of the problem. That is why those issues can be so insidious.  Why does this happen? The power of rationalization creates blind spots.  A person has too much ego to view himself in an unfavorable light, and therefore, he can’t admit to his failure.  Knowing this is crucial for being an effective Rabbi. Moses wa...
by August 28, 2020
3 Views 2 Likes
A common critique of Judaism is that the Rabbis added a significant amount of additional rules to what was an already overloaded system.  Kosher is one thing, but you have to take away my chicken parmesan on top of that?! I hear that. It can seem frustrating.  The short answer to that question is that nothing ‘new’ was added; rather, protections were made in order to ensure that the mitzvoth would be observed. Human beings tend to cut corners just about whenever they can.  And just like basic st...
by August 14, 2020
3 Views 4 Likes
We’ve all had great moments when giving charity where we feel good about it.  There is a feeling of accomplishment that we’ve earned enough money to now give to a person not as fortunate as our self. Then, there are times when we give with  resentment where we feel that we’ve been forced into giving and it isn’t fair that I have to give of my sweat to this person.  It could be that both ways of giving are mistaken and fundamentally misunderstand what tzeddekah is all about.  One would expect th...
by August 7, 2020
3 Views 2 Likes
Last I checked, fear is an emotion we like to avoid most of time outside of a short thrill ride or at most two hours of tension during a frightening film. Even then, the fear is only acceptable because I’ve chosen to experience it.  However, fear that is put upon me, such as shaky turbulence on a plane, I can’t wait for it to end so that the tension is released.  Given our pejorative relationship to fear, it becomes difficult to understand why fear becomes the focus of G-d’s relationship with us...
by July 24, 2020
4 Views 2 Likes
We are a week away from the darkest day in Jewish history. Every year we hope it will be the last, but despite our hopes, it appears to be back and stronger than ever this year. Apart from the worldwide pandemic, the Jewish security situation in many parts of the world is as precarious as ever.  We don’t believe the situation is random.  If things are chaotic in the world that means something is chaotic inside of us. What are we missing that we can’t get right year in and year out?  A hint in th...
by July 3, 2020
4 Views 2 Likes
 One of the hints to a person’s real intentions is to deeply listen to their world views and how they prioritize them. Subconscious tendencies will seep out and tell us a lot about where a person is at spiritually.                         This is the lesson of the rogue seer Bilaam.  He had tremendous spiritual gifts, some of them prophet like.  Despite this, there are several hints that his spiritual prowess was rooted in lowliness.  This is hinted at the difference between how Isaac organize...
by June 19, 2020
6 Views 2 Likes
It is hard to see the world in the way we are supposed to- with a lens of optimism and positivity. This is especially true now with all of the tumult in society today.  But the reality is that it is always challenging to see the world correctly. The Torah records the initial visual impairments when the spies sent to Israel to scour the land.  This one episode led to a thirty eight year extension in the desert.  Apparently, Jewish vision always had its issues.              After a taste of giant...
3 Views 2 Likes
It was all going so well. The Jewish people were in formation with proud flags, ready to be sent on their mission. Everyone knew their role and the Levites, our navy seals, were initiated to their role. What happened from that high to a series of calamities that led to the elimination of the entire generation that left Egypt and a 38 year delay before arriving at Israel? On the surface, it seems sudden and unclear why the Israelites turned sour. Beneath the surface there is a subtle hint that no...
Top Bloggers
7 Entries 1 follower
Rabbi Shlomo Landau began working for Torah Links (the outreach arm of the Lakewood Yeshivah) in the summer of 2000, and he was instrumental in founding Torah Links of Middlesex County located in East Brunswick, NJ. Torah Links of Middlesex County began with a few home-based study groups and has blossomed into a full service kiruv organization serving 400+ Jewish families in the area. From Sunday school to Hebrew High, from numerous daily classes to High Holiday programs, the organization works flat-out to create inspiring programs. The results speak for themselves. Thousands of Jews from all walks of life have been positively impacted by the uplifting and inspiring Judaism provided by Torah Links. In addition, countless individuals and families have found their way back to complete Torah observance, and Torah Links is proud to have graduates of its youth programs in top yeshivos and kollelim. Through Rabbi Landau’s tireless efforts, Torah Links is about to commence construction of the Torah Links of Middlesex County Community Learning Center; a 15,000 sq. foot beautiful state-of-the-art full service Kiruv center. Additionally, since the fall of 2002 Rabbi Landau has been a high school rebbi in various Modern Orthodox yeshivot. He is currently a beloved faculty member of the Ray Kushner Yeshiva High School (located in Livingston, NJ). For over a decade, Rabbi Landau has succeeded in inspiring hundreds of young men to investigate and appreciate Jewish living and learning. Rabbi Landau has built long lasting relationships with very many of his students – relationships that have lasted past graduation and continue to flourish today, when he is often called on to act as ‘mesader kiddushin’ at their weddings.
Most Viewer Blogs
6 Views
"I thought I would do this [ponzi scheme] for just a short time and then extricate myself and my clients from it" —Bernie Madoff, during his sentencing hearing in court. We can imagine the temptation, the first time Madoff's investments turned sour, to use the money from new investors to pay the old. What harm could there be in borrowing in hard times and paying back when things improved? ...
by June 19, 2020
6 Views
It is hard to see the world in the way we are supposed to- with a lens of optimism and positivity. This is especially true now with all of the tumult in society today.  But the reality is that it is always challenging to see the world correctly. The Torah records the initial visual impairments when the spies sent to Israel to scour the land.  This one episode led to a thirty eight year extension in the desert.  Apparently, Jewish vision always had its issues.              After a taste of giant...
5 Views
Jewish mysticism is often perceived as ethereal abstract and beyond the ken of all but a select few. It is often considered to have little relevance to the day-to-day life of an ordinary Jew. Indeed, the laws and commandments found in the Torah and Talmud which form the framework of Jewish living can be understood and followed without any knowledge of the mystical literature. Chasidic philosophy teaches, however, that there is an essential, fundamental interrelationship between all levels of Jew...
by May 8, 2020
5 Views
Jews are credited with a plethora of creativity in the fields of arts, science, economics- basically any field under the sun. Unfortunately, we are not always credited with our most creative and productive work, sanctifying G-d’s name. What does it means to give sanctity to G-d’s name and why is it our most creative work?               To begin, we need a working definition of sanctity.  One way of defining sanctity is the ability to do an act purely for its own sake. In other words, our world ...