by September 3, 2021
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Rosh Hashanah: Awakening the subconscious:               Rosh Hashanah is defined in the Torah narrowly as the day of the shofar blast. All other holidays have much more written about them and there are more mitzvot. On Yom Kippur we have five different ways of minimizing our involvement in the physical world to prepare for the day, most known is no eating or drinking. On Sukkot we have both the lulav and sukkah. On Passover, we have matzah and marror. On Rosh Hashanah, all we have is our shofa...
by August 27, 2021
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We generally don’t associate Rosh Hashanah with a time to give. The only connotation we have with Rosh Hashanah is as this austere day of justice where we go through judgement. The service starts with an ominous chant of the ‘the King’, not exactly comforting. Yet, if we look at the prophets, there is a different picture that is painted. In Nechemia it says, “And he said to them, go eat fatty food and have sweet drinks, and send gifts to those who have nothing prepared”. Sending gifts? That is w...
by September 18, 2020
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Every day in Elul we blow the shofar and each time the sound is somewhat jarring.  Especially now that we gather for daily minyans outside, this is especially so.  Despite being outdoors, with the sound of cars and buses whizzing by, the shofar sound sticks out with its alarming notes even more now that it is contextualized with the normal sounds of the world.  What is unique about this mitzvah? Every mitzvah is associated with an organ. One might think that Rosh Hashanah, as the name indicates...
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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.
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"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
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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...
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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
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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 ...
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by December 4, 2020
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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 January 29, 2021
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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...
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              As we approach the ninth of Av once again to mourn the destruction of the two temples, we are left wondering what exactly are we missing?  And more to the point, we are not a religion that simply dwells on the past and laments. There must be something that we can do right now.  But how can we rebuild the temple? It seems that it is out of her hands. Aside from the political upheaval that it would cause, even we believe that to rebuild the temple is the job of a messianic figure. Gi...
by July 16, 2021
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              As we approach the ninth of Av once again to mourn the destruction of the two temples, we are left wondering what exactly are we missing?  And more to the point, we are not a religion that simply dwells on the past and laments. There must be something that we can do right now.  But how can we rebuild the temple? It seems that it is out of her hands. Aside from the political upheaval that it would cause, even we believe that to rebuild the temple is the job of a messianic figure. Gi...