173 posts categorized "Jewish holidays"

One Nation, One Heart

Rashi says that when the Jewish People received the Torah on Mount Sinai, they were like one person with one heart. The relations between man and fellow man are not only the key to receiving Torah, but the key to our national security. Enjoy this lesson, which both covers current events and prepares us for Shavuoth, and have a lovely Shabbat and Yom Tov!


The "Challakeh" ceremony: Significance of a boy's 3rd birthday and first haircut

The "Challakeh" ceremony is when a Jewish child receives his first haircut at the age of three.

The age of 3 marks a turning point in a toddler's life. Shedding the long locks of babyhood helps little boys look forward to their new "big boy" responsibilities. Gone are the days of bottle, diaper and nestling in Mommy's arms. A 3-year-old boy is ready to receive "payis", his side curls, a "kipa" (skullcap), and "tztitzis", the ritual fringes that every male Jew is commanded to wear. With his new haircut, kipa, payis, and tzitzis, the little fellow of 3 is ready to move up to the world of friends, school and formal Torah education. He will learn blessings, prayers and the Hebrew alphabet. Yes - we begin teaching our little boys to read at the age of 3.

Cutting his hair makes a strong emotional impression on the child. He knows he is entering a new stage of maturity, a fact that helps him live up to his new role and responsibilities.

Numerous families celebrate the "challakeh" at the grave of Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochai, in Miron, Israel, and cut the child's hair near the cave where he lived and later died. Others prefer to take the child to a yeshiva or to their own rabbi - preferably a scholar and a pious man, because the "upsherin", or actual 1st haircut, should be done in a holy place and by a righteous person. Oftentimes, before the child gets his final haircut, first the scissors go from hand to hand while family, friends and rabbis take turns snipping. The first cut is at the spot where tefillin will be placed.

In Israel, this custom is closely associated with Lag B'Omer, which this year is today, May 3. It's an incredibly joyous scene as hundreds of 3-year-old boys receive their first haircut at the grave of Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochai. Because this custom is tied into Kabbalistic thought concerning the spirituality of hair, many put off the ceremony until Lag B'Omer. Following their haircuts, the children each get a plastic Aleph-Bet card, with honey smeared on each letter. Parents then encourage their little ones to lick the honey while saying each letter, so that Torah should be "sweet on their tongues."

Nachman Challakeh Lag B'Omer

Above image: A Brody grandson in Meron on Lag B'Omer a few years ago, moments before his first haircut. A hearty mazal-tov to all of us who will be making "Challakehs" for our 3-year olds today - may we have all the sweetness and joy in the world, and see our children and grandchildren growing in health of body and spirit, amen.


Happy 7th of Pesach

7th day Passover
Tonight, the eve of the 7th day of Pesach, was the night that the Red Sea split, allowing the Children of Israel to escape from Pharaoh and his pursuing armies. The Midrash tells us that all the waters of the world split at the same time.

The 7th day of Pesach is also the day that Moses sang his famous "Shirat Hayam", the Song of the Sea, after Hashem miraculously led Israel across the Red Sea.

This year, the 7th Day of Passover leads directly into Shabbat, so we wish you a lovely and peaceful Shabbat as well. G-d bless and warmest regards from all of us here at the Beams and Breslev Israel.


A Pesach Miracle

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Awwwww, yeah....

Don't be hatin'. 

Are you jealous? A teensy bit?? 

T.G.I.S. 

Thank. G-d. I'm. Sephardi. 

Yeah, u be jealousssss. U know it.

Check out this corn pasta baked ziti thingy. It's a real live Pesach miracle. 

And for those Ashkenazim who think this is chametz, (leavened products forbidden on Pesach) go read up on what Rav Ovadia Yosef ztz"l wrote about it. Dat's right. 

So! How were your Seders? Mine was great, until David gave my kids these little one shekel squirt bottles that looked like cans of soda. The kids decided to actually fill them with soda and squirt each other with Coke until they got drenched and had to change their shirts formerly known as white. I was soooo mad, but I was too drunk to do anything about it. So I watched them run around like wild animals as I tried not to fall off of my chair because I was passing out from drunken tiredness.

That's the worst kind of tiredness. You can't really fight it, you know? 

I eventually confiscated the squirt bottles and stared at these little innocent-looking devils for a while until I noticed something that made me start laughing like a hysterical drunk. Like a hyena that drank 4 glasses of wine. I'm actually still laughing.

It turns out the names on the squirt bottles almost resemble the real soda names, but the company that made them obviously didn't want to pay licensing fees. Clearly they were made in China. Check it:

Spcite

Ftanta

Caca-Cola

I can't deal. I'm hysterical all over again. 

On another note, I'm suffering from major Pesach bloat. 

It's so frustrating, because on one hand, I don't want to eat matzah. But on the other hand I look forward to eating matzah brie, another serious no-no for Ashkenazim. I just looooove matzah brie! For those of you who don't know what it is, it's like an egg fritata with crumbled up matzah in it. And then I top it with sugar. 

SUGAR?? DID SHE JUST SAY SUGAR????

Mmmm, hmmm. 

Okay, so you want to hear about a real Pesach miracle? 

This is a story that David told me on Seder night, which he had heard from some rabbi that he can't remember who because he heard this story several years ago. Why did he wait all this time to tell me the story? The world may never know. (You remember that Tootsie Pop commercial? I loved it! Mr. Owl was so cute.)

Here goes: Once upon a time a woman passed away, leaving behind her husband and two children. The daughter, who was in her late teens, became more observant from the trauma of losing her mother, and the father went the opposite way. As the daughter's observance grew, she began keeping Shabbat and kosher and all that good stuff. The father told her he wanted nothing to do with it.

Eventually, Pesach came around and the father didn't want to have a Seder in his house. So the daughter convinced him to come with her to a family member's house. She somehow convinced him to drive them there and then leave the car so they could walk back to their house. 

As you can imagine, after drinking and eating beyond a normal stomach's capacity, plus the fact that it was already the middle of the night, the father complained all the way home. 

Suddenly, they passed by a house where the Seder was still going on. The daughter could see into the house through the big windows. What she saw brought tears to her eyes. A large family was sitting around a giant table loaded with food and delicacies, and everyone was singing and clearly happy to be enjoying this special night together.

"Hashem," she said to herself, her heart breaking. "This is all that I want." How she longed to be a part of such a beautiful scene. 

A few months later, she met a great guy from a religious family, and they married. 

Pesach comes along, and obviously she doesn't want to bring her new husband to her family's house, so he said they would go to his aunt's house for the Seder. 

That night, she walked in and quickly felt at home surrounded by his loving family, who welcomed her with so much joy and warmth. She enjoyed a long, leisurely Seder with her new husband and his family. 

At one point during the night, she looked around the dining room and felt some strange familiarity about it. She noticed the long dining room table, the singing, the togetherness.... Suddenly, her stomach dropped and she almost stopped breathing. 

She stood up and walked over to the window and looked outside...

In complete amazement, she realized that she was standing in the same exact house she had seen from the street last year, the very house she longed to be enjoying the Seder with. 

OOOOO.MMMMM.GGGGG.!!!!

Fo' serious????

Is this not one of the best stories ever??!!

It just shows how much Hashem is listening to our prayers. Never stop asking Him for what you want! And if you get it, don't forget Who gave it to you!!

Wishing you a wonderful Chol Hamoed and happy 7th Day of Pesach!

Oh, by the way, I think tonight is actually the anniversary of my first date with David! I've got to double check on that, then remind him as if I had known it the whole time. Then I'll lay on the guilt like nobody's business. 

I remember our first date so clearly (which is funny because I can't remember what happened five minutes ago.) Our mutual friends had pressured me to go out with him, so to shut them up I agreed. We went out to a non-kosher sushi restaurant, but in honor of Pesach I ordered the kani-su roll. You know, the roll that's wrapped in cucumber instead of rice. 

The irony... hilarious! Who would've thought that I would be enjoying rice on Pesach as a Torah-observant Jew living in Israel 15 years (YIKES!) later?? 

Happy Pesach, y'all!!

~Racheli