50 posts categorized "Jewish Customs and Practice"

12 Words and 12 Seconds

12 secondsA Jew starts his morning by saying "Modeh Ani", thanking Hashem for returning his soul and giving him a new day. We say this as soon as we open our eyes, before we even get out of bed. I always tell people to say it word for word with tremendous joy, intent and feelings of gratitude, no faster than one word per second.

Physicians and fitness trainers will tell you that the best way to overcome morning dizziness and low blood pressure is to sit up on the edge of the bed immediately upon waking, legs down, for at least 12 seconds. By no small coincidence, there are exactly 12 words in Modeh Ani....

Today! Say "Parshat HaMan" to Insure a Good Income

Parshat Ha'man

Don't forget to say "Parshat HaMan" today: Segula (spiritual invoking ploy) for a good income - on the Tuesday of the Parshat Beshalach week, our sages tell us that it's an opportune time to recite "Parshat HaMan", the story of the manna, the Heaven-sent bread that sustained the Children of Israel for forty years in the desert. One should read it in Hebrew if possible, twice mikra and once targum. For your convenience, here is a clearly presented Parshat HaMan which you are more than welcome to download. If you read English only, then I've translated it for you, here: Download Parshat HaMan - English. May Hashem send a wonderful income to everyone, amen! 

A Gift for the Rebbe

I have a custom that I received from an old tzaddik: he told me that when you take your 3-year old to cheder (Orthodox Jewish elementary school for boys) on the first day, give the cheder rebbe (boys' elementary school teacher) a monetary gift (like a $50 bill) and ask him to pay special attention to your son. The old tzaddik told me that the gift to the cheder rebbe invokes Divine assistance for your son's Torah learning and it makes the rebbe happy as well, for cheder rebbes never earn the money they really deserve. So, whenever I am honored with the mitzvah of being sandek at a brit, I take responsibility for the child's initial success in Torah and I give the father of the baby an envelope with money inside and tell him to pass it on to the child's rebbe when the child goes to cheder for the first time at age 3.

With the above in mind, several years ago, I had the privilege of being sandek at the brit of David Mark's son in Maale Chever south of Hevron. David wrote me this spine-chilling email earlier this month:Yaakov Litman hyd

...our son who you were sandek for, has grown up and is now in first grade.  It was his rebbe that was killed a few weeks ago along with his son.  It was hard for us as parents to go through that with him, but I saw that children really handle these things better than we do. His rebbe was an amazing person and it was to him in the beginning of the year that we gave the gift you had given us as his sandek that you told me to give to his future cheder rabbi.  Rav Yaakov Litman was a tremendous Tzaddik. I wrote a eulogy for him here.

Rabbi Yaakov Litman Hy"d (photo, above right), a beautiful human and a most wonderful cheder rebbe (elementary school teacher) was brutally murdered by Arab terrorists 6 weeks ago. 

Chanuka Hallel with Rav Shalom Arush

Weekday Chanuka prayers at the Chut Shel Chessed Yeshiva in Jerusalem are 3 hours long; Hallel itself takes an entire hour and a half. It's a joyous prayer with musical accompaniment and dancing, where we thank and praise Hashem profusely. Here's what Hallel looks like (this past Thursday morning) with Chut Shel Chessed's Rosh Yeshiva and my beloved rabbi and teacher Rav Shalom Arush shlit'a. Happy Chanuka!

The Kohanim - A Tremendous Responsibility

Since our Holy Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, and until it is rebuilt (speedily and in our days, amen!), most of the mitzvoth connected to the Temple do not apply. Yet, the Kohanim, the priestly tribe, retains its special holiness, privileges and responsibilities. For example, Kohanim are first to be honored during the Torah service and a Kohen is required perform the redemption-of-the-firstborn ritual, pidyon ha'ben. In Land-of-Israel custom, the Kohanim recite the priestly blessing, Birkat Kohanim, every morning during the Shacharit service, and on Shabbat both during Shacharit and Mussaf. This is a tremendous responsibility, as Avi Dwek - a Kohen himself - wrote me, "In these troubled times, both in Israel and abroad, all Kohanim should have in mind during the Birkat Kohanim by the words veyishmerekha and shalom that Hashem should watch and protect and bring peace to all of  our people - this has been my intent in times of trouble like these when I stand on the rostrum and bless the congregation". Avi is right - this blessing can literally save lives.

Here is the Birkat Kohanim with transliteration and translation: 

May Hashem bless you and guard you –

יְבָרֶכְך ה', וְיִשְׁמְרֶךָ
(Yevhārēkh-khā Adōnoi veyishmerēkhā ...)

May Hashem's countenance illuminate you and be gracious unto you –

יָאֵר ה' פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וִיחֻנֶּךָּ
("Yāʾēr Adōnoi pānāv ēlekhā viḥunnékkā ...)

May the LORD lift up His face unto you and give you peace –

יִשָּׂא ה' פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ, וְיָשֵׂם לְךָ שָׁלוֹם
("Yissā Adōnoi pānāv ēlekhā viyāsēm lekhā shālōm.")

In case you've never witnessed the Birkat Kohanim, here is a very moving vid of the biggest Birkat Kohanim in the world, which took place this past Chol Hamoed Succoth at the Western Wall remant of our Holy Temple in Jerusalem, filmed by our wonderful friends at Arutz Sheva TV. Enjoy it, and may you reap every blessing!

Mi Adir, Shloimie Daskal

This post is in honor of Sara Techiya Litman, whose father and brother were killed in a terrorist attack last week, and her fiancé  Ariel Beigel, who are getting married tonight at Binyanei Hauma in Jerusalem. The Beams, Emuna Outreach and Breslev Israel wish them every blessing in the world!

With all the turmoil around us, let's not forget that there's much to rejoice in, such as our young people getting married. In Jewish tradition, as the bridegroom enters the wedding canopy or chuppa, we sing a moving melody entitled, Mi Adir, or "He who is mighty". Here is my special friend Shloimie Daskal singing Mi Adir with the inspiring "You Raise Me Up" melody by Josh Groban. Enjoy, and sing along. For your convenience, you'll find the lyrics in transliteration and translation below the vid:


Mi adir al hakol,
mi baruch al hakol,
mi gadol al hakol,
mi dagul al hakol,
hu yivarech es hechasan
hu yivarech es hakallah
hu yivarech es hechasan v'es hakallah


He who is mighty above all beings,
He who is blessed above all beings,
He who is great above all beings,
He who is distingui​shed above all beings,
May he bless the bridegroo​m
May he bless the bride
May he bless the bridegroo​m and the bride.