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Mendel Kaplan

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Verses to Stop the Satan Before Sounding the Shofar
Seeking to gratify G-d, King David pleads that his freewill offerings be reciprocated with Torah teachings. To appreciate Rashi's take, we frame his words with the classic commentaries, yet still come up short. Reaching across Scripture for kindred “give-...
Although surprising to some, we not only believe Satan exists – we even do things to confuse him! This is perhaps truest in the days leading up to, and on our Jewish New Year. With copious Torah-true sources establishing his existence, we go on to careful...
The Talmud on inadequate walls of a sukkah
In our previous lesson we learned about opposing schools of thought regarding the application of the halachik maxim “Gud Asik” (the theoretical extension of an incomplete partition into a fully walled area) thereby creating an “enclosure” that satisfies S...
Verses to Stop the Satan Before Sounding the Shofar
King David rejoiced in “G-d's word,” the meaning of which incorporates three possibilities: guarantee, wisdom or covenant. A range of commentary is employed to better understand what these ideals represent, and why this particular verse was selected to he...
The origin of Rosh Hashanah greeting cards and wishes
Although sharing good wishes with family and friends in the lead up to Rosh Hashanah – in word and writing – seems so natural to this season; it isn't actually legislated in primary Halachik codes—although a 14th century book of customs, instructs to also...
The Talmud on fixing a sukkah of inadequate walls
As evidenced in previous classes, to remedy excessive heights of a Sukkah one may marshal creative legal solutions. The Talmud now records one such particularly creative attempt to harness a Halachik maxim known as “Gud Asik” e.g. the theoretical extensio...
LeDovid Hashem Ori: “G-d is My Light”
Psalm 27’s prophetic poetic prose encapsulate the soul’s yearning; seeming to organically reflect Elul energy and this spiritually saturated season. Yet, while the practice of adding it to daily prayers appears to be ancient, cherished and timeworn, the e...
Discover history, rhyme and reason of the pre-High Holiday month-long Shofar sounding. Although the ululating of the Ram’s horn has become synonymous with soul-stirring Elul energy and end-of-year spiritual stock-taking, it’s really iconic of Rosh Hashana...
Attempting to challenge a teaching about minor-resurrection in early messianic-times, the Talmud evokes Ezekiel's vision of the dry bones that rattled and came to life; casting them as an earlier prototype of futuristic phenomenon. Deftly parrying, our Sa...
Returning to the original narrative; the Talmud continues to identify biblical sources for the traditional Jewish belief in “The Resurrection.” Incisive analysis of a scriptural juxtaposition of the insatiable nature of graves and wombs serve to reveal an...
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