Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher, Dean of Students and Senior Lecturer at Diaspora Yeshiva, is not only a popular speaker and teacher, but also a dynamic thinker and writer. A student of Harav Yaakov Kamenetsky and Harav Gedalia Schorr, Rabbi Sprecher was granted smicha (rabbinical ordination) by Torah Vodaath Yeshiva. Prior to his current position, Rabbi Sprecher was a professor of Judaic studies at Touro College in New York. In addition to his duties at Diaspora Yeshiva, Rabbi Sprecher writes a regular column on various Judaic topics in the Jewish Press, and lectures regularly at the OU Israel Center in Jerusalem.
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 Tu B'Shvat: Why the Torah Compares a Human Being to a Tree  .: Viewed: 1654 times :.
The source for Tu B'Shvat is the opening Mishnah of the Talmudic Tractate Rosh Hashana: "The Academy of Hillel taught that the 15th of Shvat is the New Year for the Trees."  What does that mean, "New Year for the Trees?"  Tu B'Shvat is technically the day when trees stop absorbing water from the ground and instead draw nourishment from their sap. In Halacha, this means that fruit which has...
Published: January 31, 2007
 The Song of the Sea's Euphoria turns Bitter  .: Viewed: 1463 times :.
After Shirat Hayam, the Song of the Sea praising G-d (Exod. 15:1-18) has been sung, the nation – and the reader – are in a state of euphoria; thus, neither the nation nor the reader is prepared for the series of failures that Israel encounters in the second half of Parashat Beshalach: "And Moses led Israel onward from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and...
Published: May 24, 2011
 Chanuka: Ongoing Miracle of Israel's Eternity  .: Viewed: 1677 times :.
By lighting the Chanuka Menorah, each and every Jewish home becomes a virtual Bet Hamikdash. We are transformed into virtual Kohanim for the eight days of Chanuka. Thus, the miracle of Chanuka continues forever. Chanuka is the symbol of the Divine spark in the human soul, as Shlomo Hamelech says in Mishlei, נר ה ' נשמת אדם ," the...
Published: May 24, 2011
 Reflections on Yom Haatzmauit  .: Viewed: 1409 times :.
A major difference between a slave people and a free people is that a free people has not only the ability but also the duty to defend itself. This is a theme that runs throughout the Torah and indeed the entire Bible. In the story of the Exodus, the struggle to free the Israelites is conducted entirely by G-D through miracles that are presented by His spokesmen, Moses and Aaron. The people...
Published: May 24, 2011
 Avraham's Legacy: Escorting Guests?  .: Viewed: 1925 times :.
"Avraham walked with them to escort them" (Genesis 18:16) The Rambam writes ( Hilchos Aveil 14:1), "There is a mitzvah enacted by the Sages to visit the sick, to comfort the bereaved, to conduct a funeral for the dead, to marry off a bride and to escort guests as they are leaving." The Rambam gives us a short list of five mitzvos that we are required to do for other people. If you would...
Published: May 24, 2011
 The Mystery of the Red Heifer  .: Viewed: 1419 times :.
The laws concerning the Red Heifer have always been regarded as the most mysterious of the Torah's Mitzvot. Although this Mitzva has always been considered to be above human reason, attempts have nevertheless been made to interpret it. The Midrash states that the reason why a heifer is chosen is that it should atone for Israel's sin in worshipping the golden calf. Let the mother cow clean...
Published: May 24, 2011
 Why Yizkor on Yom Tov?  .: Viewed: 1409 times :.
On each of the last days of the Shalosh Regalim, it is traditional that the Yizkor service be recited. Even those who, for one reason or another, have not been in regular attendance at the Synagogue, gravitate to it at this time. There is a feeling of responsibility and respect for our departed parents which impels us to participate in this service. It seems strange and paradoxical that...
Published: May 24, 2011
 Esther's Purim Role VS. the High Priest on Yom Kippur  .: Viewed: 1926 times :.
Purim comes from the word "Pur", meaning lottery in Persian. This name comes from Megillat Esther: "...therefore, they called these days Purim, because of the lottery." The method in which Purim was given this name is different from the methods used in giving names to the other holidays. The names of all other holidays incorporate, in some respect, the miracle which took place on that holiday....
Published: February 28, 2007
 Esther's Debate with the Rabbis  .: Viewed: 3354 times :.
When Esther sent the sages her request, "Write my story for future generations" (Megilla 6a), they responded, "You are arousing jealousy between us and the nations". Seemingly, their response is puzzling. Since when do we censor Scripture because of what the nations will say ? The Rambam in Igeret Teiman asks a similar question: "What nation is so great that they have such righteous rules...
Published: May 24, 2011
 Sacrifices of the Temple Altar: Symbol of the Soul  .: Viewed: 1514 times :.
The Book of Vayikra is taken up with sacrificial laws and rituals. For many people, it is easier to relate to narrative portions of the Torah or commandments that apply in our day than to those dealing with Temple sacrifices. The last sacrifices were offered in 68 C .E., before the Second Temple was destroyed. Many people would find it hard to conceive how the sacrificial system could actually...
Published: May 24, 2011
 Shir Hashirim: Passionately in Love with the One Above!  .: Viewed: 1705 times :.
We have a custom to chant Shir Hashirim (The Song of Songs) on the Shabbat during Pesach. Many reasons have been offered to explain why. One is that Pesach takes place in the month of spring (Chodesh Haaviv), and Shir Hashirim is a song about spring and renewal. “Behold the winter has passed; the rains are over and gone; the blossoms have appeared in the land, and the time of pruning has...
Published: May 24, 2011
 Life after Life  .: Viewed: 3179 times :.
"And when Jacob made an end of charging his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and expired, and was gathered unto his people" (Genesis 49:33). Death in the Bible is described as "the way of all the earth." (Joshua 23:14; I Kings 2:2). If a person knows when he is about to die he can set his affairs in order, bid farewell to his dear ones, and make peace with God. In the Jewish...
Published: May 24, 2011
 Why Wine Plays a Central Role in Judaism  .: Viewed: 1694 times :.
Why is wine so essential to Judaism? To find the answer we must look into the Talmud. The Talmud discusses the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, wondering what type of fruit it was (B. Berachot 40a; B. Sanhedrin 70 a-b). Three opinions are presented. According to one opinion, the forbidden fruit was wheat. This suggestion is innovative since wheat stalks are not normally considered...
Published: May 24, 2011
 Can Evolution and the Torah's Account of Creation Coexist?  .: Viewed: 1940 times :.
There are remarkable similarities between the account of the creation as given in Breishit and the theory of evolution. First, light was created, then the firmament, followed by sea, land and vegetation. The creation of the heavenly bodies was followed by fish and birds, and then by land animals. Only finally, as the culmination of G-d's work, was man created. Indeed, the Torah's description...
Published: May 24, 2011
 Does the Coming of Mashiach Depend on Our Teshuva?  .: Viewed: 1037 times :.
The coming of the Messiah and the subsequent redemption of Israel is a basic belief of Judaism. G-d will bring the redemption in his own time. If all Israel were to return to G-d through Teshuva, the Messiah would appear and the final redemption would be ushered in immediately. Otherwise, the redemption will not occur until the final time decreed by G-d. This is the meaning of the verse, "I,...
Published: May 24, 2011
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