Holidays and Months

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The yearly cycle of the Jewish holidays manifest deep insight into the meaning and purpose of the Jewish people and each individual’s soul journey in this world. The interplay of the holidays and the turning of the seasons, yield profound truths on multi levels, especially the inner psychological cycle of human consciousness, which is intrinsically connected to the changes of time and the seasons. Being in tune with the various meanings of each holiday gives us the opportunity to align ourselves with a sense of Divine time manifest in the natural world.



According to many commentators, God only commanded the construction of the Tabernacle after the sin of the Golden Calf, as the quintessential sign that God had forgiven Israel for its grievous sin. Other commentators disagree and claim that the Tabernacle would have been constructed whether or not the people had sinned. In either case the […]

A Meditation For Elul

One of the most basic and foundational of all Jewish meditations that is appropriate for any time is taught by Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh in his book, Living in Divine Space. Yet there is a special relevance to this meditation during the month of Elul, as we will now discuss. Maimonides in the beginning of his […]

Rosh Hashana

Giving Birth to a New Year

On Rosh HaShanah in the year 1746, the Ba’al Shem Tov had an ascension of soul to the higher heavenly spheres where he found himself in the presence of the soul of the Messiah. In responding to his asking him “When will the master come,” the Messiah answered him with a verse from Proverbs (5:16): […]

The Significance of Rosh Hashana Also Being a New Moon

There are many levels of understanding the significance of Rosh Hashana also being Rosh Chodesh, a new moon. Every Rosh Chodesh inaugurates an entirely new energy and a new opportunity to begin again. The ability to renew and rejuvenate is one of the secrets of the Jewish calendar being based on the lunar cycle. The […]

The Significance of the Different Notes of the Shofar

There are three basic sounds of the shofar – tekiya, shevarim and teruah. In the Torah Rosh Hashana is actually called “Yom Teruah,” a day of sounding the shofar. The Sages in the Talmud all agreed that the teruah connotes crying, but disagreed whether it was like a melancholy moaning or a more uncontrolled staccato […]

Special Foods for Rosh Hashana

It seems almost every Jewish holiday has its special foods and Rosh Hashana is no exception. In fact, it actually has more special foods than any other holiday due to the custom of eating a series of foods at the first meal of Rosh Hashana and reciting various expressions of blessings desired for the new […]


In addition to the Thirteen Attributes of Compassion revealed in the Torah, the prophet Micah (7:18-20) also revealed a parallel set of Thirteen Attributes: “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? He does not stay angry forever because He delights to show mercy. […]

The Shofar and Confusing the Satan

Throughout the month of Elul we blow a short series of shofar blasts in preparation for Rosh Hashanah. Yet we are taught that on the day before Rosh Hashanah we do not blow the shofar. The traditional reason given is to establish a separation between the blowing of the shofar in the month of Elul […]

Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur and the Four Letter Name of God

As part of the religious decorations in many synagogues around the world there is found the following verse from Psalms ( 16:8 ): “I put God before me at all times.” In Kabbalah this verse is interpreted to mean that the essential four letter name of God appears in the form and process of every […]

Going to the Mikveh Before Yom Kippur

Although immersion in a mikveh, a ritual bath before Yom Kippur is not mentioned specifically in the Torah, it is an ancient custom instituted by the prophets and continued universally to this day. It is mentioned in the Shulchan Orech, the basic code of law for all Jews. It is customary for not only men […]

The Neilah Prayer on Yom Kippur

Neilah is the fifth and final prayer of Yom Kippur. On an ordinary day we pray three times – evening, morning and afternoon. On Shabbat, holidays, and Rosh Chodesh we have an additional fourth prayer, musaf. Only on Yom Kippur is there a fifth prayer. Neilah means “locking” and therefore indicates the close of the […]


Shaking Lulav and the Unified Field Theory

During the holiday of Succot we “shake” four species, as prescribed in the Torah and explained by the Sages – one palm, two willows, three myrtle and one citron. There are untold meanings – from the simple to the mystical – regarding the types of species, their number, various correspondences to other sets of four […]

The Holy of Holies and the Sukkah

One of Yom Kippur’s climactic moments occurs when the High Priest enters the Holy of Holies with incense and a fire pan. While in the Holy of Holies, the High Priest created a cloud of smoke that filled the enclosed space. While obviously the smoke eventually dissipated, Chassidut delving ever deeper asks what really happened […]

The Bridge of Life

In a previous section we discussed the intrinsic connection between all the holidays of the month of Tishrei. The thread that ties Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Succot together is the number 100. In this section, we will discuss how even another number, 68 also serves as a bridge between all these holidays. The word chaim, […]


The Dream of Chanukah

We are taught that Rosh HaShanah begins the ten days of awe and repentance, a period during which the whole world is judged. At the final Neila prayer of Yom Kippur the judgment is sealed. Nonetheless, our oral/mystical tradition teaches that the final judgment really occurs on Hoshanah Rabbah, the last day of Succot. The […]

The Relevance of Chanukah Today

Without a doubt Chanukah is one of the most popular holidays among the Jewish people. Even for those whose level of religious observance is almost nonexistent, Chanukah has become a potent national, cultural, and symbolic holiday. Along with Seder night, Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, lighting Chanukah lights has taken its place as an almost […]

Eight Chanukah Meditations

Infinite Light and Finite Light A basic question is asked about the menorah, the seven branched candelabrum in the Tabernacle in the desert and later in the Temple in Jerusalem, as well as the eight lights of Chanukah: does the light symbolize the finite or infinite? The answer is both. Above all else, the Tabernacle […]

Zot Chanukah

Zot Chanukah   Zot Chanukah, which literally means “this is Chanukah,” is the traditional name given to the last and concluding day of the holiday. On this day, we light eight lights and thus complete the thirty-six candles lit during the eight days of Chanukah (1 + 2 +3… +8 = 36). It is on […]

Fast of the 10th of Tevet

Fast of the 10th of Tevet

One of the four fast days of the year connected to the destruction of the Temple is the 10th of Tevet. A second reason for the fast is due to the fact that on this day seventy Sages, who were forced to translate the Torah into Greek, finished their work. Ironically this fast day comes […]

Tu B’Shvat

Spiritual Insights

Tu B’Shvat is first mentioned in the Mishnah where it is listed as one of the four New Years in the Jewish calendar (Rosh HaShanah 1:1). Specifically, it relates to the mitzvah of tithing produce. According to the Torah, before the fruits of our labors can be enjoyed, certain gifts have to be given and […]

I Will Awake the Dawn

In a famous verse in Psalms, King David states: “I will sing and give praise. Wake up my glory, awake the harp and the lyre; I will awake the dawn” (Psalms 57:9). The obvious question is – doesn’t David have it backward – doesn’t the dawn awaken us and not us awaken the dawn? The […]

The Archetypal Nature of Trees

In as much as Tu B’Shvat is the New Year of Trees it behooves us to contemplate a full array of ideas relating to trees based on Torah sources. The following ideas reveal a symbolic perspective uniting a number of associative images of trees. When discussing the commandment mentioned above not to cut down fruit […]


The Month of Adar

In the Kabbalistic book Sefer Yetzirah, each month has associated with it, among other things, a letter and a “sense.” The letter of Adar is kuf and the “sense” of the month is laughter, manifest in the holiday of Purim, the most joyous of all the holidays, as it says in the Talmud: “When Adar […]

Purim Torah

In the Torah on Chanukah we discussed how Chassidic thought envisioned the judgment on Rosh HaShanah taking effect. First we saw how the “closing of the gates” at the Neila prayer on Yom Kippur was delayed by all opinions until the last day of Succot, Hoshanah Rabbah, and how Chassidut “stretched” the delivery of the […]


The New Moon of Nisan

The new moon of Nisan, is a very important day for many reasons. It was on this day that Israel received their first mitzvah as a people in preparation for leaving Egypt – the instructions regarding Nisan being the first of the months of the year, as well as the entire system of the Jewish […]

I Am To My Beloved and My Beloved Is To Me

It is customary to read during the three pilgrimage holidays – Pesach, Shavuot and Succot – three different books from the Writings that relate to the themes of those holidays. During Pesach we read the Song of Songs, on Shavuot the Book of Ruth and on Succot we read Ecclesiastes. The Song of Songs, an […]

The Fifteen Steps of the Hagadah

The Hagadah of Pesach and all the rituals and mitzvot of the night are ordered according to fifteen steps. These fifteen stages in which the Seder unfolds are also referred to as “signs.” Our Sages tell us that signs and symbols have great significance (Kritot 6a). For example, we begin the year on Rosh HaShanah […]

The Seventh Day of Pesach

On the seventh day of Pesach we celebrate the crossing of the Reed Sea. On this day the Jewish people left the borders of Egypt and watched as the pursuing army was drowned in the sea. According to one Midrash the sea did not split until Nachshon Ben Aminadov entered the sea determined to cross […]

Sefirot HaOmer

Awakening From Above – Awakening From Below

When trying to understand the significance of Sefirat Haomer, the counting of the omer – the forty-nine day period from Pesach to Shavuot – we can ask the following question: Why do we count up from one to forty-nine and not the more common way of counting down to an anticipated event, that is from […]

Yom Hazikaron – Israel Memorial Day

When the State of Israel was established it was decided to observe Yom Hazikaron, a Memorial Day, for those who died in the War of Independence. Those who died in subsequent wars defending Israel and in terrorist attacks are included on this day as well. The day chosen was the day before Israel Independence Day, […]

Yom HaAtzmaut – Israel Independence Day

Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel Independence Day commemorates the day on which the State of Israel was declared in 1948. When one contemplates Jewish history we can draw an historic parallel to our own times with the situation of the Jews at the time of the story of Chanukah. In 1939 the gates of legal immigration to […]

Pesach Sheni

When Israel celebrated the first Pesach in the wilderness after leaving Egypt a number of men approached Moses with a complaint: At the time of bringing the Pascal lamb offering they were in a state of impurity and thus were prevented from bringing the offering. They were asking for a remedy for their situation as […]

Lag B’Omer

Lag B’Omer, the 33rd day of the omer, commemorates two events. The first is the interruption or end of the plague between Pesach and Shavuot that killed the students of Rabbi Akiva during the time of the Roman occupation of Israel. After the death of 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, the […]

Yom Yerushalayim

The first Torah portion of the Book of Numbers, Bamidbar, is usually read the week before Shavuot. Therefore, it also falls in close proximity to Jerusalem Day, which occurs a week earlier. Jerusalem Day commemorates the day during the 1967 Six Day War when Jewish rule returned to the unified holy city for the first […]


To walk the streets of Jerusalem is a timeless past-time. Walking in an eternal palace. Hills reaching like fingers to grasp, clouds reaching down to touch, people living lives to see. Jerusalem is the vortex of the world; chosen and with a purpose. It is not built and destroyed, built and destroyed, in an endless […]

Open My Eyes That I May See Wonders in Your Torah

According to the wisdom of arranging the letters of Hebrew words in various ways, in order to extract multiple layers of meaning, the letters of the word Lag (as in Lag B’Omer) when reversed, spell gal. The root word gal has many meanings, one of which is “to open” or “reveal.” This meaning is expressed […]


Mt. Sinai and the Big Bang

On the morning of the day the Torah was given at Mt. Sinai, along with thunder and lightening and a heavy cloud on the mountain, there was the sound of a shofar that grew increasingly loud. Later it states that the people saw the sounds of the thunder and the shofar (Exodus 20:15). Rashi comments […]


It is related regarding the auspicious days leading up to the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai: “On the [first day of the] third month from when the children of Israel left Egypt, on this day they came to the desert of Sinai” (Exodus 19:1). Rashi comments that since it would have been more […]

The Three Weeks

The Month of Tamuz

During the month of Tamuz we begin the period called the three weeks, the time period between the fast of the 17th of Tamuz and the fast of Tisha B’Av, the ninth of Av. On the 17th of Tamuz , Moshe broke the first tablets upon seeing the golden calf, while the walls of Jerusalem […]

The Three Weeks

The days between the 17th of Tamuz and Tisha B’Av are called the “Three Weeks.” These days represent the collective tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people over the ages, especially the destruction of both Temples which occurred during this time period. As with all other holidays or auspicious occasions, it behooves us to look […]

Tisha B'Av

Birth Pangs

The Slonimer Rebbe explains that we usually speak of four cardinal exiles throughout Jewish history – Babylonia, Persia, Greece and Rome. Why, he and others ask, is the exile of Egypt, usually referred to as the archetype of all exiles, not counted among these? He answers by bringing a Midrash that interprets the second verse […]

How Could It Have Come to Pass

Since the Jewish calendar is based on both the lunar and solar cycles, seven leap years containing an extra month must fall within every nineteen year period. This means that the weekly Torah portions do not always occur on exactly the same calendar date each year. Sometimes a particular portion may be close to a […]