Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple

Oz Torah: The Arizal – Ask the Rabbi

THE ARIZAL. Q. Some Jews say they follow the customs of the Arizal. Who was this? A. Arizal is the name popularly given to Rabbi Isaac ben Shlomo Luria, 1534-1572. Because his ancestry was German, Ashkenazi is often added to his name. Hence “Ari” is the initials of “Ashkenazi Rabbi …

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Oz Torah: The 7 Chanukahs.

LIGHTS INSIDE & OUT. The Lubavitcher Rebbe said that the Chanukah lights fulfil a double purpose. They are a source of light within the house, and they also symbolise the duty of bringing light to the world outside. This is suggested by midrashic sources which speak of the Jewish people …

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Oz Torah: A Chanukah Alphabet.

A CHANUKAH ALPHABET. AL HANISSIM – thanksgiving prayer for the Chanukah miracle; inserted in the Amidah and Grace After Meals. ANTIOCHUS – Syrian Greek ruler called Epiphanes (“glorious”) by his admirers and Epimanes (“madman“) by his detractors. BET HILLEL & BET SHAMMAI – rival schools of thought: Bet Shammai ruled …

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Oz Torah: Copyright – Ask the Rabbi.

JEWS & GENTILES. Q. What do Jewish teachings say about the way in which Jews should interact with non-Jews? A. The Talmudic attitude to gentiles was ambivalent. It is obvious from the Mishnah tractate Avodah Zarah that there was considerable contact with non-Jews, but at the same time Jews were …

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Oz Torah: Insights on Succot.

THE TRUE JOY OF SUCCOT. Succot is called in Hebrew “z’man simchatenu”, “Our Time of Joy”. The Torah is the source of this description. Twice it uses the verb “samach”, to rejoice, in relation to Succot. It says “vesamachta b’chaggecha”, “You shall rejoice in your festival” (Deut. 16:14), and “vehayita …

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Oz Torah: Torah reading – Ki Tavo

TURNING DOWN THE INVITATION. A large part of the sidra is the “Tochechah”, the curses that come upon those who disobey God’s will. In many synagogues nobody wants to be called up for this portion, though they scramble for other sections of the Torah reading. Those who decline to be …

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Oz Torah: Killing idolaters – Ask the Rabbi.

KILLING IDOLATERS Q. Is it true that the Talmud says something about killing idolaters? A. In a number of versions there is a statement that reads in Hebrew “tov sheba’akum harog”, usually translated “Kill the best of the idolaters”. Instead of “idolaters” other versions say “mitzrim” (Egyptians), “k’na’anim” (Canaanites), and …

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Oz Torah: Bread & war – Ask the Rabbi.

BREAD & WAR. Q. How can the Hebrew for bread (“lechem”) be connected to the word for war (“milchamah”)? A. Wars are often fought over economic issues. Not just conventional wars, but political tussles and elections. It is also said that securing one’s bread, the staff of life, is the …

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