The Adams Street Shul

Congregation Agudas Achim Anshei Sfard

The recording below was made on December 22, 2011. 

While guests watch the light of the Chanukah candles, enjoy plates of hot latkes, and quaff l'chaims, Rabbi Yaffe discusses the integration of Greek worldly knowledge with the soul of Judaism at the time of the rededication of the Temple by the Maccabees.  He compares this process to parallels in later ages and in the present.  Drawing upon Shimshon Raphael Hirsch's works on Chanukah, the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and others, Chanukah is revealed as perhaps the most practically important holiday of our calendar.

This 2011 Chanukah party continues with a game of Chanukah Jeopardy. The bulk of this evening-long party has been cut from this video, but every now and then a question triggers some exciting teaching, and these snippets have been retained. 

A question about playing dreidel sparks an explanation of the halachah of gambling, and this is connected to the Talmud's assessment of blame for the Flood, and to to Maimonides's assessment of Hellenic government's sins in Maccabean times. 

Other interesting jeopardy questions concern the source of a difference between weekday and holiday bentching; and a prohibited she-he-chi-ya-nu blessing that leads to a story about the Besht and Native Americans.

Lastly, a question about what to do when your resources don't permit more than one candle on Shabbat Chanukah leads to discoveries about Jewish values and priorities. 

Derash on Lech Lcha -The Road Ahead - Abraham's FaithThere are two times in the Torah when G-d tells Abraham to go to a certain place, but does not inform him of the destination. The first is in this week's portion of Lech Lecha:  "Leave your home and go to a place which I (G-d) will show you."  The second time is in Parshat Va-yaira" when Abraham is going toward the mountain where he was to be tested regarding his willingness the sacrifice Yitzchak (Isaac).  Again, he was instructed to go to a mountain "which I (G-d) will show you."  Why was Abraham not informed?

Weinberg Rabbi Although the Yamim Tovim are a few weeks in the past, it is not too late to try to recall if we redeemed the pledges we made during Yizkor on Shmini Atseret.  

The text of our prayers at that time indicated that we are donating charity “in their memory.”  If this has not been done, this would be an excellent time to send such a donation either to the shul or to a charity of your choice.  It is important not to leave a pledge unfulfilled.
Now that we’ve just gone through a whirlwind of holy days and festivals, the month of Cheshvan — the first day of which will be this Shabbat — does not have a single holiday... not even a fast day! 

If I were to ask you what your favorite Hebrew month is, you would probably name one corresponding to your favorite holiday (Pesach, Chanukah, Succot, etc.).  Hard as this may be for you to believe, Cheshvan is my favorite month. 


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Ohr Someach