Features - Around the Year in Our Times - By Rabbi Berel Wein
Rosh HaShana / Around the Jewish
Year - Why do Jews wish each other a "sweet" year at Rosh Hashanah? What
is it about sweetness that should characterize the Jewish New Year? Rabbi Wein,
with his inimitable mix of depth and wit, explores the mystical concept
explained by Reb Zadok that "time has personality" and the "personality" of Rosh
Hashanah is sweetness.
Ten Days of Repentance / Around the
Jewish Year - The ten days beginning with Rosh Hashanah and culminating
on Yom Kippur comprise the most awesome period in the Jewish calendar. These
days, in which we dedicate ourselves to repenting and returning to G-d, are
essential for our development as human beings. The history of teshuva, Rabbi
Wein asserts, is the history of humanity. Through an analysis of both Torah
sources and present-day stories, Rabbi Wein demonstrates how teshuva not only
builds us as individuals, but as a Jewish nation.
Yom Kippur / Around the Jewish
Year - In keeping with the introspective spirit of the Day of Atonement,
Rabbi Wein delves into question that has perplexed the greatest of Jewish minds:
why do we suffer through difficult times? Citing Torah sages and with stories of
Jews who triumphed through the darkness of the Holocaust and Soviet Russia,
Rabbi Wein sheds light on this difficult question and delivers an inspiring
message about the power of teshuva.
Succos / Around the Jewish Year -
The holiday of Succos, following immediately after the solemnity and
piety of the High Holy Days, is a holiday of happiness and contentment. Its
unique mitzvos of dwelling in a succah and blessing the Four Species bring these
feelings home to us. With a thorough analysis of the Laws surrounding the
different mitzvos of Succos, Rabbi Wein shows us how we can maximize our joy on
this glorious holiday.
Chanukah / Around the Jewish Year -
As a Jewish people, our task is to recognize G-d and thank Him for the
miracles He performs for us. The holiday of Chanukah exemplifies this perhaps
more than any other. But what happens if we lose the sense of wonder at G-d and
His miracles? How can we properly acknowledge G-d if we have begun to take Him
for granted? With an in-depth halachic discussion, peppered with humorous
personal stories, Rabbi Wein makes sure to keep our Chanukah meaningful and
heightens our sense of the spiritual value of gratitude.
Purim / Around the Jewish Year -
The joyous day of Purim is the only Jewish holiday that will continue to
be celebrated even after the Jews will taste the glory of the Messianic Age.
Purim therefore teaches us lessons which deal not only with the past, but with
the present and the future. Rabbi Wein retells the Purim story as we know it,
but with new and meaningful nuances that will resonate for all times.
Passover / Around the Jewish Year -
There is a dimension to Pesach which makes it unique on the Jewish
calendar. For no other holiday have Jews adopted as many stringencies and new
customs, adding their own flavor to the Yom Tov. Rabbi Wein explores the history
and origins of the customs of kitinyos, matzah ashirah, and gebrokts, and
explains why each of them reigns supreme amongst the Jewish people
Days of Omer / Around the Jewish
Year - Jews commemorate the forty-nine day period between Pesach and
Shavous by counting each and every day. This important mitzvah teaches us how to
make time count. With stories of tzaddikim who used their time wisely, Rabbi
Wein illuminates ways we can implement this all-important skill into our own
lives. Delving yet deeper, Rabbi Wein examines the meanings of the mystical
concepts of the Sefiros, making these esoteric concepts accessible and showing
how the period of mourning leads us to the ultimate goal of Shavous, a yom tov
of happiness and unity.
Shavuos / Around the Jewish Year -
The Torah makes the Jewish people unique and eternal. Thousands of great
civilizations throughout world history have disappeared from the face of the
earth, but we Jews remain, kept alive by the Torah we received from G-d. With
stories from the Talmud and the Book of Ruth, Rabbi Wein illustrates how love of
the Torah brings the ultimate reward of eternity.
The Three Weeks / Around the
Jewish Year - The Three Weeks of Mourning, which commemorate the
destruction of the First and Second Holy Temples and the ensuing exile, have
significance for every Jewish individual. With all the tragedy in our bloody
history, our mourning should be endless, but the Talmudic Rabbis in their
wisdom, limited our mourning to these Three Weeks. Yet inevitably, as time
passes, people become numbed to their own history. With both historical and
halachic analysis, Rabbi Wein awakens us to the true meaning of the Three