12/6/18

My Jewish Standard Dear Rabbi Zahavy Column for December 2018: Terrorism Tirades and Stifled Spirituality

Terrorism Tirades and Stifled Spirituality
My Jewish Standard Dear Rabbi Zahavy Column 
December 2018

Dear Rabbi Zahavy,

I sit next to a person in synagogue who frequently engages me in conversation and tells me how evil Islam is. He seems preoccupied with this subject. He says Islam is a terrorist religion and he fears that all Muslims are potential terrorists. He says that sure, some members of that religion pretend to be friendly. But he claims if you turn your back on a Muslim, they will slit your throat.


I know we need to be vigilant to protect ourselves against our enemies. But I feel this person has gone off the deep end and makes me more uncomfortable each time he goes on another tirade. What should I do about this?


Tired of Terror Tirades in Teaneck


Dear Tired,

My first impulse is to smile and tell you to change your seat in synagogue. But I know that where we sit often is not easily shifted. If you move to another place, you will perhaps cause a cascading domino effect of seating shifts. And who wants to upset the equilibrium of worship?

12/2/18

The Talmud Explains Hanukkah

There is no Mishnah or Talmud tractate for the festival of lights. Why is that?

It is an incredible question. Not going to speculate. All we have in rabbinic literature is this...

The Talmud (Bavli Shabbat 21b) explains what is Hanukkah:

What is Hanukkah? For our Rabbis taught: On the twenty-fifth of Kislev commence the days of Hanukkah, which are eight on which a lamentation for the dead and fasting are forbidden.

For when the Greeks entered the Temple, they defiled all the oils therein, and when the Hasmonean dynasty prevailed against and defeated them, they made search and found only one cruse of oil which lay with the seal of the High Priest, but which contained sufficient for one day's lighting only; yet a miracle was wrought therein and they lit the lamp therewith for eight days. 

The following year these days were appointed a Festival with the recital of Hallel and thanksgiving.

What else is there to say?