Getting Tefillin Checked

I visited with Rabbi Levy yesterday to get my tefillin checked.

I learned that if there are questions about the legibility of the holy scrolls, they are given to a child to read to see in their innocence whether the tefillin are kosher or not.

Something felt very good and important about performing this mitzvah.

In the meantime, while mine are being checked, I have a loaner pair of teffilin to use and daven with.

Yet to be seen whether it is time for a new pair or not–like a bar mitzvah all over again. 😉

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Beauty of Tefillin

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “The Beauty of Tefillin.”

Like the colorful coat that Jacob gave Joseph to wear, the mitzvah of tefillin that G-d gave us to wear is also filled with spiritual color and the love of Hashem. This is in no way intended as sacrilegious or as trying to change our holy mitzvot. Rather it is an artistic attempt to see the tefillin in a new way that perhaps excites and bring Jews back to this important mitzvah.


Over time, as I continued to learn and grow as a person and as a Jew, I found much of my way back to Yiddishkeit and to wearing my holy tefillin with love and Joy. To me they are forever colorful and full of spiritual energy that are uplifting to me as I pray with them on for Hashem’s everlasting mercy and blessings for all of us.

(Credit Image: Andy Blumenthal)

Chabad Making A Difference

Sukkot Sukkot 1 Sukkot 2 Sukkot 3

Beautiful job by Rabbi Yudi Steiner of George Washington University hosting the Chabad Sukkot Barbecue in Washington, D.C.


The Rabbi was there welcoming students and Jews from around town to a sweet BBQ luncheon in the sukah. 


And the students were making the blessing with the Rabbi on the lulav and esrog for the holiday.


As always, Chabad is out there making a difference in Jewish lives, helping them do mitzvot, and spreading cheer and unity wherever they are. 


We are so lucky to have wonderful Lubavitch chasidim all around the world helping Jews be better Jews. 😉


(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

Cholent Stew – Not Just A Game

Cholent
So I can’t believe they actually made a “strategy card game” about cholent. 



The only strategy that I know of with cholent is to make it hot, goopy, meaty, and savory. 



Cholent is a beef stew typically eaten for Shabbat lunch. 



Basic ingredients: beans, barely, potatoes, fatty fanken meat, sometimes a kishka is thrown in, onions and other veggies, salt, pepper, and lots of savory spices. 



Usually it cooks in a crock pot overnight. 



The sephardim call this dish Hamin (instead of cholent) and typically put in some hard-boiled eggs as well. 



With cholent, you can essentially throw in the kitchen sink as long as it add to the heartiness and flavor of the dish. 



Eating cholent is such a tradition that it is almost considered a special mitzvah to do it. Ah, would that make it commandment #614? 



When cholent is served at the kiddish (the meal after Shabbat services in synagogue), it is usually the highlight where everybody gathers around with big laddles to dig in and get the nice portions of meat bopping around in the stew or often sunken to the very bottom to be found and surfaced by the lucky lunch patrons. 



In New York, my friends used to have a running joke that there was a secret ingredient the Rebetzin used to make it so good–what it was, all bets were on. 



The biggest problem with cholent are the loads of beans (“the musical food”) and the most unpleasant odor-filled aftereffects–and of this we will not speak again! 



What type of game can you play with cholent? You can probably just toot out the answer when you’re ready. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Saving Iraq’s Jewish Scrolls

What a beautiful job by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

In Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, our Special Forces looking for WMD instead discoverd thousands of ancient Jewish texts.

The texts dating from 1540 to 1970 taken from the Iraqi Jewish Community were sitting defiled in the basement of Saddam Hussein’s Intelligence HQS molding and decomposing under 4 feet of water.

The U.S. military and NARA rescued these texts and have painstakingly restored and preserved them through freezing, categorizing, condition assessment, stabilization, mold remediation, mending pages, washing, binding, and more.

Pictures of the collection of texts from Iraq before and after preservation can be found here.

The collection includes:

– A Hebrew Bible from 1568

– A Babylonian Talmud from 1793

– A Zohar/Kabbalah from 1815

– A Haggadah from 1902

– 48 Torah scroll fragments

– And much more.

On October 11, NARA will unveil an exhibit in Washington, DC featuring 24 of the recovered items and the preservation effort.

Hopefully, the collection of Jewish religious texts will ultimately be returned to the Jewish community from which it came, so that it can be held dear and sacred once again, and used properly in religious worship and never again held hostage or profaned.

Thank you so much to both the Department of Defense and to the National Archives for saving and preserving these ancient, sacred Jewish religious texts.

You did a beautiful mitzvah! 😉