Beginning in 1948, the State of Israel marked Independence Day on the Fifth of Iyar with military processions in various cities. The State was demonstrating its sovereignty over the entire country. After the Six Day War these celebrations began to change.
What motivated Righteous Gentiles to risk their lives to save Jews from the Nazis? What drives people today to risk their own lives to save others?
Israelis celebrate Passover in one of two ways: either by closely sticking to laws of Pesach related to hametz and the Seder, or by hiking in nature and joining family for a relaxed festive meal. This year experience the family Seder meal as a celebration of a new beginning, and find personal meaning in the story of Exodus from Egypt.
Bringing the Seder to life- there is one custom which is very common today among Jews from Islamic lands, which uses drama in order to arouse the interest of children and bring the Exodus to life.
The holiday that falls on the first two days of the Hebrew month of Tishrei has many names. Most famously, it is known as Rosh HaShana, the beginning of the year. Yet it is also called Yom Zikaron Tru’ah – the day of remembering the blast of the shofar, Yom Harat Olam – the day of the world’s beginning, and Yom HaDin, the day of judgment.
Every year camp counselors confront a dilemma: what content is appropriate for Tisha B’Av when this fast day occurs during the camp season. Should the campers be expected to fast? The counselors? In many cases, commemorating Tisha B’Av is reduced to cancelling swimming or programming an activity related to the rabbinic midrash of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza on the destruction of the Temple. What indeed is Tisha B’Av’s place in contemporary society?
At the outset, I would like to stress the importance of the laws of Tisha B’av. On the one hand, I believe that it is very important to fast on Tisha B’av and to remember the Destruction in our day, even after the rebirth of the State of Israel and the reunification of Jerusalem. On the hand, there are many stringencies connected to “the three weeks” between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av, which were added in the Middle Ages by Aveilei Tziyon [= Mourners of Zion] and Ashkenazic rabbis, which have no Talmudic basis and which, in my opinion, there is no reason to observe.
In addition to providing the origin of this specific custom, I will give the sources for the custom of sprinkling or spilling drops of wine while reciting the Ten Plagues, the reasons that have been given for the custom, and the various permutations of the custom.
Within ancient Hebrew manuscripts, scattered among libraries throughout the world, one can find some surprising treasures, like previously unknown and unpublished pieces of writing. The unusual midrash we will examine here is one of these. It appears in a manuscript that is part of the Firkovich collection, which resides in the Russian National Library in St. Petersburg.