My U-Haul Sukkot

Gordon Family U-Haul Sukkah 1976.One of my earliest childhood memories was Sukkot of 1976, when I was 3.5 years old. I remember sitting in the family Sukkah, looking up through the branches that formed the roof, at the clouds as they whisked across the sky. We lived in a 17-story condominium and there was no obvious place to build a Sukkah. My father (of blessed memory), an Orthodox rabbi, asked permission to build a Sukkah in his designated parking space. When his request was turned down by the condominium board, my mother came up with the idea of building our Sukkah on the back of a U-Haul trailer. Continue reading

Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret (Feast of Booths & Eighth Day of Assembly)

Sukkot, Feast of Booths, Chag Ha-Sukkot, Tabernacles, Sukkah, Booth, 4 species, Lev 23:40, Rabbinical tradition, waved, festival, Torah, celebrate, seven days, 15th, 21st, Seventh Hebrew month, holiday, Feast of Tabernacles, work is forbidden, first day, Pilgrimage Festivals, Jewish male, Jerusalem, laws, Talmud, Levitcus 23:40, fruit of a splendorous tree, splendorous fruit tree, date branches, branch of a thick tree, willows of the creek, Tanakh, Biblical, Nehemiah, Yehovah, Moses, Children of Israel, Seventh month, olive branches, oil tree branches, myrtle branches, House of God, Water Gate, Ephraim Gate, Karaites, Rabbis, Etrog, citron, olive tree, olive oil, Israelite, Arvei Nahal, Wadis, Israel, Babylon, Shemini Atzeret, 8th day, Rabbinic, simhat Torah, Celebration of the Torah, Rabbanites, God's lawOn Chag Ha-Sukkot, Feast of Booths (Tabernacles) we are commanded to build a Sukkah (Booth) using as building materials the "4 species" listed in Lev 23:40. Rabbinical tradition teaches that a bundle of these building materials must be ritually waved in the air during the festival. Continue reading

The Yom Kippur Jazz Singer

Scene from the movie The Jazz Singer (1972).One Yom Kippur I watched a great movie, the original 1927 film The Jazz Singer. This was the first "talkie," containing several scenes with sound, although most of it was still silent. The second “talking” scene in the movie - actually, the second non-silent scene in movie history - features a Jewish cantor singing Kol Nidre, a famous Yom Kippur prayer in Aramaic. This alone makes the movie worth watching. Just imagine an American audience in 1927. The first time they see a "talking" movie. And it’s a Rabbi singing a Jewish prayer in Aramaic! Continue reading

The Truth About Shavuot

Joshua 5:11 in the 1611 King James VersionShavuot is a biblical festival known in English as the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost. Shavuot is a pilgrimage-feast, in Hebrew chag. As a chag, Shavuot is one of the three annual biblical festivals on which every male Israelite is commanded to make a pilgrimage to the Temple. Shavuot is also referred to in the Torah as Chag Ha-Katzir, the Feast of Harvest (Exodus 23:16) and Yom Ha-Bikurim, the Day of Firstfruits (Numbers 28:26). Continue reading

Passover Special – Torah Pearls #55

Israel Leaving EgyptIn this Original Torah Pearl – Passover Special, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson delve into the story of the exodus, beginning with Ex 12:21. They start off by sharing the time they personally experienced "darkness so dark, it could be felt". Nehemia points out a few examples in the exodus story where we are given background information by way of a flashback and he explain how the Passover sacrifice was brought, who could eat of it and how it should be commemorated today. Keith gets all excited when they come to the part where Yehovah introduces His calendar and Nehemia suggests we be tolerant of our neighbor who may be celebrating the holidays on a different date than ourselves. Nehemia also gives a very quick overview of the three different types of leaven and the extent of the prohibition of leaven on Chag HaMatzot (Passover). All this and more in this Original Torah Pearl – Passover Special. Continue reading

When was the Passover Sacrifice Brought

When was the Passover Sacrifice Brought?The Torah commands us: "In the First Month on the fourteenth day of the month, between the two evenings [Hebrew: "Bein Ha'arabayim"], is the Passover [Sacrifice] to Yehovah." In biblical Hebrew, the word "evening" (Ayin-Resh-Bet) indicates both the "early part of the night", as well as the actual "onset of evening". Continue reading

Hebrew Voices #29 – From Slavery to Freedom (Rebroadcast)

Nehemia Gordon and Rabbi Dr. Avraham J. Twerski talking about going from slavery to freedom on Hebrew Voices.In this episode of Hebrew Voices, From Slavery to Freedom, Nehemia Gordon speaks to Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twerski. Nehemia draws on Rabbi Twerski's vast experience as a world-renowned Rabbi and psychiatrist to explain why it is important to get out of our comfort zone in order to achieve true spirituality. The author of over 70 books and a canonical Jewish prayer sung in every synagogue, Rabbi Twerski's stature in the Jewish world parallels that of Billy Graham in the Christian world. Rabbi Twerski opens the episode singing a Psalm, shares how he once saved a man by getting a special dispensation from the Pope, and describes a practical plan to break the chains of spiritual slavery in order to attain true freedom and maximize our full potential and purpose in life. Continue reading