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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 Why Wine Plays a Central Role in Judaism  .: Viewed: 1925 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: 2179 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: 1276 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
 What is Kabala?  .: Viewed: 2086 times :.
The Ramban in his introduction to his Torah commentary says that every field of knowledge – whether it be science, agriculture, medicine of palmistry – can be learned from the Torah. The Torah given to Moshe at Mount Sinai consists of the Written Law (the Five Books of Moses) and the four levels of the Oral Law (some of which was recorded in the Talmud): Peshat – the...
Published: May 24, 2011
 Are the Dead Aware of the Living?  .: Viewed: 3002 times :.
In memory of my student Baruch Naim ז " ל When we visit a cemetery or remember a loved one on a Yahrzeit, we may find ourselves wondering whether the deceased are aware of us. Do they know what we are thinking about, what we are feeling? Do they empathize with our travails? Do they see our actions? Our Talmudic sages are divided over the question: What do the dead...
Published: May 24, 2011
 Our Task as Jews: Unity, not Uniformity  .: Viewed: 1921 times :.
At the Sinai Revelation, "the people all responded with a single voice, "We will keep every word that the L-rd has spoken'" (Exodus 24:3). Was this one-time phenomenon, in which every Jew was identical to every other in his conduct and thought, an ideal situation? Alternatively, might it not be that beyond every Jew's obligation to fulfill the 613 mitzvot and to believe in the tenets of...
Published: May 24, 2011
 Israel's Eternal Survival  .: Viewed: 1859 times :.
Since Abraham was being thrown into the fiery furnace, the attempts to exterminate the Jewish People have never ceased. In every generation, they rose up against us to destroy us. Their plot was never carried out, however, because G-d saved us from their hands. Yet it was not just external enemies who rose up against Israel. Our survival is threatened by self destructive Jews, as well, as it...
Published: December 22, 2004
 Yom KippurÂ’s Mysterious Scapegoat: SatanÂ’s Bribe?  .: Viewed: 2082 times :.
What is the meaning and purpose of the strange ceremony of the scapegoat which involves pushing a goat off a cliff on Yom Kippur?  Ramban explains according to the Kabbalah that it is a symbolic pay-off or bribe to the Satan to prevent him from prosecuting Israel on Yom Kippur. That’s why the ceremony of the scapegoat is done through a lottery which is determined and controlled by G-d....
Published: May 24, 2011
 Yom Kippur: An Out of Body Experience  .: Viewed: 1935 times :.
Yom Kippur is the most solemn day of the Jewish year and it is also the strangest day, because it seems to negate all that makes us human. For this one day we step out of ourselves and become something else, something other wordly. We are no longer part of this world as we know it. Denying our bodies food, drink, sex and any possible physical pleasure, we act as if the normal impulses that...
Published: May 24, 2011
 Human Cloning & Halacha  .: Viewed: 1496 times :.
Human cloning is making headlines around the world, as something of a new phenomenon. But actually there was a human clone 5762 years ago. As we read in Genesis 2:21-22, “G-d cast a deep sleep on man and while he slept, G-d took one of his ribs and closed up the wound with flesh. And G-d cloned the rib that he had taken from man into a woman.”  While the cloning of Adam to create...
Published: May 24, 2011
 HaChodesh: The Mitzva to Re-JEW-venate  .: Viewed: 1955 times :.
Why was Rosh Chodesh the first mitzva given to Israel as a nation while still in Egypt? Why is Parshat HaChodesh so important that it precedes the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai? The Zohar, in explaining the importance of the new moon and our celebration of its renewal each month, states: "The Jewish nation is com- pared to the moon. Just as the moon wanes and seems to disappear into...
Published: May 24, 2011
 Astrology & Judaism  .: Viewed: 2984 times :.
In Judaism, different attitudes have been expressed towards astrology. Most Talmudic sages believed in the decisive role played by celestial bodies in determining human affairs. It was possible, they thought, for astrologers to predict the future by consulting the stars but also for them to err in understanding the contents of their forecasts. According to the Talmud, everyone has a particular...
Published: May 24, 2011
 The Burning Bush: Symbol of Jewish Suffering and Survival  .: Viewed: 2073 times :.
Why did G-d first reveal himself to Moshe in a burning thorn bush? The Midrash saw this as evoking a broad range of symbolic themes and prophetic visions for the future destiny of the Jewish People. Rabbeinu Bachya regards the burning bush as a revelation that our nation, despite its hardships, is eternal. "The burning bush conjures up the image of a lowly nation in iron chains, constantly...
Published: May 24, 2011
 Did G-d pray when He gave us the Torah?  .: Viewed: 1953 times :.
At the giving of the Torah we find that G-d utters a prayer that we should always fear Him and observe His Mitzvot, for our own good (D'varim 5:26). The Talmud in B'rachot 7a, brings another verse to prove that G-d prays: "I will bring them to My holy mountain, and make them rejoice in the house of My prayer, [for My house is a house of prayer for all nations]" (Yeshayahu 56:7). The pasuk...
Published: May 24, 2011
 Nazir: A Holy Sinner?  .: Viewed: 2250 times :.
The Torah's attitude towards the nazir seems contradictory. On one hand, the Torah calls him "holy", as it says: "He is holy to Hashem" (Bamidbar 6:8). On the other hand, the nazir has to bring a sin-offering at the conclusion of the period of nezirut. Furthermore, it is written of a nazir who became defiled [with a dead body]: "He [the kohen] shall provide him atonement for having SINNED...
Published: May 24, 2011
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