Friday, July 19, 2019

Shavuous Challah

Ashkenaz custom, a challah with the design of a ladder in it. For Shavuous.











Thursday, July 18, 2019

Except for Acher

You likely have heard of Acher, the tanna who went off the derech and the Gemara that tells the story of how he heard a bas kol that said, "Return all my children, except Acher." His real name was  Elisha ben Avuya but he came to be called Acher, "meaning something" else or "outside".

So I heard a clever thought from the Shela that Acher should have invoked the rule of guests who must obey all orders of the baal habayis except for an order to leave the house. He should have said, "Hashem you cannot kick me out of your house."

And I was thinking how the word acher makes the Gemara relevant to all of us. We cannot do teshuvah if we are mentally outside the fold or even worse outside by way of halacha. I know people who are no longer frum who want to return but try to do it with a weak sentiment all the while staying outside. You can't really do teshuvah, meaningful teshuvah, if your only connection to Judaism is guilt or fear of punishment. It's like giving answers to a torturer. You'll tell them anything. But your heart isn't it. Your mind certainly isn't in it.

No, you have to find a place within Judaism and repent from there. That can take work. That can take thought and research.

I don't know if it matters which place, which path, but it has to be a real one, even if one you concoct. You have to be at home, feel at home, ie have a home to want to return to it. Perhaps, for some Torah Im Derech Eretz is the way, a way of being within Judaism, no longer an acher.

So Hashem, the baal habayis, cannot kick us out of His house. However, the house has to be a home for us so we are not acher. TIDE is the way for many.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

He summons you in love

"As His creating word calls forth the sun, and summons the light of the world, so has God's love appointed Israel as the bearer of the light of spirit and life, and as the bearer of Torah. O that you would be mindful of such a high task! O that you would allow heart and spirit to be infused by the spirit of the Torah and allow your life, in word and deed, to be but a copy of the contents of this Torah! You would thus surrender yourself to God in love just as He summons you in love." Horeb 628 R' Samson Raphael Hirsch