58.3 F
New York
Saturday, September 30, 2023
Home Blog

The Case – But It’s Mine!

Raymond was struggling for years to make his steep monthly home mortgage payments, only to recently lose his business and fall drastically behind. The bank ultimately foreclosed on his property and put his home up for sale to the highest bidder. Elliott, an affluent local businessman, heard of the foreclosure and swooped in, purchasing the property from the bank at approximately 50 percent less than full market rate. In the interim, Raymond quickly reorganized and managed to collect money to negotiate a deal with the bank, only to be disheartened when he discovered that his home was already sold. Raymond heard that Elliott purchased his home and approached him with the funds he collected, seeking to retake possession of his property. Elliott turned Raymond’s offer down, since the value of his newly acquired property was far more than what Raymond offered. In Bet Din, Raymond claimed that his offer was more than what Elliott paid the bank, and that it is simply unjust of Elliott to purchase his property right underneath his nose. Elliott responded that had he not made the purchase immediately, the property would have been taken by another buyer.  

Is Raymond entitled to repossess his property from Elliott? How should the Bet Din rule and why? 



Torah Law 

According to the ruling of the Shulhan Aruch, a creditor that forcibly collects property from a debtor who defaults on his payment, is required to return the property to the debtor when he later pays back his debt. Although the underlying reasoning for this law is only based on a moral obligation to act in a kind and just manner and return collected property, it is nevertheless recorded in the Shulhan Aruch as Jewish law.  

Some contemporary halachic authorities apply the above ruling to bank foreclosures of today. According to this view, one who purchases a foreclosed property from a bank, is required to return the property to the homeowner upon reimbursement of the funds spent to purchase the property. Since the homeowner lost his property to the bank on account of an outstanding debt, the ultimate buyer of the home is required to act morally and justly and upon reimbursement, is required to return the home to its original owner.   

Furthermore, according to this view, seemingly, one is to refrain from purchasing a property from a bank foreclosure especially when the owner is seeking to repossess the property. Since the original owner is still linked to the property even after it was collected by the bank, he is entitled to the first right of refusal when seeking to repossess his property.  

Nevertheless, most contemporary halachic authorities differentiate between the ruling of the Shulhan Aruch and modern-day bank foreclosures. 

This latter view explains that since at the time the bank extended the loan to the borrower, he explicitly agreed to impose a collectable lien on his property in the event of default, the borrower effectively waived his right to redeem his property in the future.  The borrower agreed to take a loan from the bank with a clear stipulation that in case of default the bank has the right to sell his property without hesitation. This is opposed to the ruling of the Shulhan Aruch, in which the borrower is extended the right to redeem his property since no such stipulation was made from the onset. In short, only in the instance in which a property is forcibly collected by a creditor does the borrower maintain the right of redemption. In the instance of a bank foreclosure in which the homeowner willingly agreed to pay his debt with his property in case of default, no such consideration is extended. 

A further distinction between modern-day foreclosures and the above ruling of the Shulhan Aruch is an obvious one. The Shulhan Aruch required of the creditor to allow the borrower an opportunity to redeem his property. Since the creditor extended cash to the borrower, he is required to accept a cash payment in redemption of the collected property. If, however, the creditor already sold the property to a third party, no such requirement is imposed on an outside third party. A third party that purchases property extended his cash to buy real estate and is not required to receive cash in return to nullify the sale. 

In short, in a case in which the bank sells the property to a third party, the buyer is not required to allow the original owner to nullify his purchase.  

According to this latter view, not only is the buyer not required to allow the original owner to redeem his property, but he is also entitled to bid against the original owner for its purchase. Since the bank is unwilling to limit the sale to only the original owner, all parties interested in purchasing the property are permitted to bid for its purchase. 



VERDICT: No, It’s Mine 

Our Bet Din ruled in favor of Elliott, the buyer, by rejecting Raymond’s claim that he was entitled to repossess his property. As explained in Torah law, since Raymond originally signed on documentation that enabled the bank to sell his property if he defaults on payment, even by rule of the Shulhan Aruch his claim to later repossess his property is null and void. Furthermore, the ruling of the Shulhan Aruch is applicable only to a lender that collects property as payment for his debt. Since the lender extended money to the borrower, he is required to accept money in redemption of the property collected. In our case at hand, Elliott purchased real estate with the money he paid to the bank, he is thus not required to receive his money in return to nullify his purchase. In short, Elliott is viewed as a third party unaffiliated with the loan and any of the laws that apply to Raymond the borrower.  

Nevertheless, our Bet Din requested of Elliott to consider selling the property to Raymond if he can pay close to the market rate. Unfortunately, Raymond was unable to come up with the extra funds needed and walked away from the property. 

In Loving Memory of Vera Bat Carol, A”H 



Big Deal 

Bobby rented a four-bedroom summer home, with a pool, on the Jersey Shore, at a cost of $55,000. Four families resided at the summer home, with a total of twenty-seven people. The three families other than Bobby’s included his son’s family, his son-in-law’s family, and his nephew’s family. Alan, the landlord, was informed by the neighbor across the street of the number of people residing in his home. Alan sent a friend to converse with Bobby’s son-in-law and he discovered that the three extra families were each contributing $13,750 towards the $55,000 cost of rent. Thereafter, Alan contacted our Bet Din claiming that by contract Bobby was restricted from subletting all or part of his home. Alan is therefore claiming that all money collected from the three tenants is to be forwarded to him in addition to Bobby’s $55,000 contractual obligation. Bobby rejected Alan’s claim and responded that on the Jersey Shore it is customary to bring other family members to share the rented home. Bobby continued that the premium price of $55,000 clearly includes as many residents as possible who could fit in the property. Alan countered that Bobby is abusive and irrational in his one-sided position, since there are inflatable beds all over the living room, dining room, and hallways of his home.  

Is Alan entitled to his monetary claim? Does Bobby have to pay anything more for the additional families? Or, is Bobby entitled to bring in three other families into a four bedroom house? How should the Bet Din rule and why? 

The Lighter Side – September 2023

Job Application

A businessman was interviewing applicants for the position of Branch Manager. He devised a simple test to select the most suitable person for the job. He asked each applicant the question, “What is two and two?”

The first applicant was a writer. His answer was “twenty-two.” The second applicant was an engineer. He pulled out a calculator and showed the answer to be “between 3.999 and 4.001.”

The next person was a lawyer. He stated that, “In the case of Herman vs. Jones, two and two was proven to be four.”

The last applicant was an accountant. The businessman asked him, “How much is two and two?”

The accountant got up from his chair, went over to the door, closed it, then came back and sat down. He leaned across the desk and asked in a low voice, “How much do you want it to be?”

He got the job!


Martin T.

Dog Gone It

A man went to visit his friend Chaim Yankel because he heard Chaim Yankel had a very special dog. Sure enough, when the man arrived, he was astonished to find the dog praying beautifully, the entire Yom Kippur service.

The man watched in astonishment for a while then exclaimed, “I can hardly believe my eyes! This must be the smartest dog in the world!”

“Nah, he’s not so smart,” Chaim Yankel replied. “He’s praying the Sefardi Yom Kippur service, but we are Ashkenazi!”

Alan C.

The Big Promotion

The boss called one of his employees into the office. “David,” he said, “you’ve been with the company for a year. You started off in the post room, one week later you were promoted to a sales position, and one month after that you were promoted to district manager of the sales department. Just four short months later, you were promoted to vice-chairman.”

“Now it’s time for me to retire, and I want you to take over the company. What do you say to that?”

“Thanks,” said David.

“Thanks?” the boss replied. “Is that all you can say?”

“I suppose not,” David said. “Thanks, Dad.”

Mark D.

Test Score

Cindy approached her father and said, “Daddy, if got 100 on my test – you would give me ten dollars, right?”

“Of course,” replied the father.

“Fantastic,” shouted Cindy. “Then, please give me five dollars!”


Madeline E.

Hammer Time

One day, Yitzy asked his son Moishe to borrow a hammer from the neighbor across the street.

A few minutes later, Moishe returned empty-handed. “They don’t have one,” he explained to his father.

Yitzy replied, “So, go ask the Cohen’s down the block.”

A few minutes later, Moishe was back again, and his hands were just as empty as before. “They weren’t home,” he reported.

“Okay,” Yitzy replied, “Then try the Elbaum’s around the corner.”

Ten minutes later, Moishe was back again. “They don’t have a hammer either,” he answered – panting and exhausted from all his efforts.

“Okay,” Yitzy said with a shrug, as he finally made peace with the situation. “Then just bring me ours from the toolbox in the closet.”


Ralph S.

The Future Is Now

Sarah was one of those active grandmothers and one day, out bicycling with her eight-year-old granddaughter, Rachel, she got a little wistful. “In ten years,” Sarah said, “you’ll want to be with your friends and you won’t go walking, biking, and swimming with me like you do now.”

“Don’t worry Grandma,” Rachel shrugged. “In ten years, you’ll be too old to do all those things anyway.”

Lori K

Parent-Teacher Conference

When Mrs. Epstein arrived at school for her daughter’s parent-teacher conference, the teacher seemed a bit flustered, especially when she started telling me that my little Lisa didn’t always pay attention in class and was sometimes a little flighty.

“For example, she’ll do the wrong page in the workbook,” the teacher explained, “and I’ve even found her sitting at the wrong desk.”

“I don’t understand,” I replied defensively. “Where could she have gotten that?”

The teacher went on to reassure me that my daughter was still doing fine in school and was sweet and likable. Finally, after a pause, she added, “By the way, Mrs. Epstein, our appointment was for tomorrow.”

Jamie F.

Help Wanted?

A young man walked into a supermarket and approached the owner. “Excuse me sir, do you need a good cashier?” The owner, who was very busy said, “No, thank you.”

The young man then asked, “Could you use a good stockboy?”

The owner, a little disturbed, replied, “Nope – I have all the help I need!”

The young man smiled and said, “That’s great, let me introduce myself. I’m Shimon Rothstein from the SIGNS R US sign company. Since you do not need to hire any help, you obviously need to purchase this…”

And he handed the owner a “NO HELP WANTED” sign.

Jacob B.

It Wouldn’t Be Right

Morris was struggling with his math homework.

After a while, he turned to his father and said: “Dad, can you help me?”

His father replied, “I could. But it wouldn’t be right, would it?”

“Probably not,” said Morris, “but you could at least give it a try.”

Cheryl P.


It’s a big night at the neighborhood’s bingo hall. The manager is frantically running because he has a full house, and the prize money for a full house is around $100,000. To make matters worse, the usual bingo host is sick – he lost his voice.

Sam Goldberg, an elderly patron sees the panic on the manager’s face, and calls him over and says, “Listen Mr. Smith, at the old age home where I live, I call out the bingo numbers. Let me help.”

“Mr. Goldberg you are a lifesaver,” says the manager. “You’ve gotten me out of big trouble. There must be at least a thousand people in here!”

So, Sam sits in the bingo caller’s chair, releases the balls, and wishes the audience good luck. The first ball comes out, and Sam calls out the number “eynze,” the next number, he calls out “feer,” and ” tsfonsic” then “finef.”

At that point the bingo hall manager rushes up to the stage and screams at Mr. Goldberg, “What are you doing?! You’re calling all the numbers out in Yiddish! Nobody can understand you!”

To which Mr. Goldberg replies, “You don’t want that a Jew should win?”

Victor G.

Positive Parenting – Teaching Children to Care About Others

Tammy Sassoon 


You can teach your children this lesson in a day or over the course of a few days. Either way, it’s a concept that should be modeled and discussed throughout their childhoods. 


Start by saying to your children, “I want you to think of someone you know that everyone feels comfortable, happy, and safe around. I’m not a mind reader and you are probably all thinking of different people, but what I DO know about the people that you’re thinking about is that that person knows one really important thing in their head……..” (It’s the phrase, “Everybody is equally important.”) Keep your children in suspense. 


Then play a game of hangman against your children and on the paper write the blanks for the phrase: “Everybody is equally important.” 



Once the entire phrase gets filled in reiterate that, “Yes, the reason this person is so beloved by everyone is because he or she knows that everybody is equally important. He or she walks into a school building or a grocery store and treats everybody as important. We can do the same.” 


Tell your children, “There are two paths in life. One path is called the ‘Only Me’ path, and the other path is called the ‘Me Plus Others’ path.” 


Draw a picture of a fork in a road. Write “Only Me” as the destination on one path and “Me Plus Others” as the destination on the other path. 


Then say, “When a person travels the ‘Only Me’ path, all they are thinking about is me, me, me – what’s good for me, how could I do things for me?”  

“And when a person is traveling the ‘Me Plus Others’ path, they are thinking, ‘How could I take care of myself AND others?’” 


Then use the following questions to guide discussions. 


Q: Which path do you think is easier?  

Answer: The “Only Me” path is easier because a person sits back and does nothing to come out of him or herself to think about others.  


Q: Which path do you think is more enjoyable and fulfilling and why?  

Answer: The “Me Plus Others” path is more enjoyable even though it’s hard work because hard work is good for us.  


Tell your children that when babies are a few months old and they are learning how to turn from their stomachs to their backs they push on the floor and work very hard with their muscles. You as the mother did not come to rescue them even though they were working very hard. 


Q: Why does a mother who loves her child very much not come to rescue this baby from hard work?  

Answer: Because it’s good for the child. Once they can turn over, they can begin to crawl, then walk, and this opens up the whole world around them.  


Say, “Many people run away from hard work because they don’t realize how good it is for them, but in our family we are very smart so we choose the strong healthy path, not the easy path. Now let’s examine what happens on each of these two paths.” 



Include Sidebar: Only Me” vs. “Me Plus Others” 


Only Me
I say whatever I want (Explain how this could hurt others – give an example.) 

I try to get everything for myself 

I make myself bigger 

My own fun is #1 

Result: People are not comfortable around me 


Me Plus Others 

I work hard not to say hurtful things (because I know we are both important) 

I try to make sure everyone gets 

I treat everyone as important. 

Everyone’s feelings are #1 

Result: More REAL friends 

A Tribute to Joseph M. Sutton, A”H by His Grandchildren


The dictionary would tell you, that time is the indefinite continued progress of existence, events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole. 

Grandpa Joe knew the true value and essence of time. 

He perfected it. 

He shared his treasure of the past, so we can learn for the future.  

He gave of his love with his presence, so we can give it, too. 

He gifted his time, and how we wish he could have been gifted more. 

His love – no one could do it better. 

Early morning, late at night – the clock didn’t matter. Grandpa was there – for each and every one of us. Time stood still when you were with Grandpa. His depth of knowledge, humor, and wit superseded the need or want to be anywhere else. 



He had a gift of communication.  

We waited on his every word; we prized each smile. 

We would treasure his thumbs up and would laugh hysterically from his humor. 

Grandpa communicated in many ways beyond words. He communicated by showing interest in others. 

Grandpa was the patriarch. The ultimate energy in the room. 

The warmth of his hugs, even when he would say he’s freezing, his smile even when things were tough. His timeless love always shining on through. 

He also gave others their time. 

Time to speak, time to share their story, time to grieve, and time to share their memories. 

Everyone has time, but Grandpa gave of his time unconditionally and what looked like would be forever. 

Because forever and love aren’t bound by time. 

They are timeless. 

Time is the single greatest influence on our lives. 

There is no substitute. 



Then there is eternity “infinite or unending time,” which is the Torah. 

Grandpa was brilliant. He lived by his words. He lived for his family, he lived by the Torah. 

With time, there is the power of consistency. 

Consistency takes work. It requires tenacity and perseverance. 


Below is the speech Grandpa Joe gave over at the arayat of his mother, Sarah Antebi Sutton, a”h.   

Three weeks ago, we read Parshat Eikev. 

This was about the Shema. 

The Shema speaks about Hashem’s way, and how we should follow His way. 

We should also teach our children Hashem’s way and teach our children’s children Hashem’s way. 

This is how we honor Hashem. 

She taught us her outlook on life. 

All mothers have a mission in life – that’s bringing up their children. 

This was our mother’s mission, too.  

She did it in Hashem’s way – being charitable, doing acts of hesed, being humble, visiting the sick, and helping the poor people.  

My mother taught us and all her children and grandchildren that way. 

Her testimony to that is in through her family’s work. 

Going back to when we were small children, my mother worked day and night shifts in Times Square. And even on Saturday night when Shabbat was over they would pick her up. 

She sacrificed her time so that we could have extra comfort. 

Mom’s courage and bravery were very evident.  

She was a fighter, that never left any stone unturned until she got her job done. 

On one Rosh Hashanah, I remember quite clearly that I didn’t have money for a new pair of shoes. She said, “Don’t worry Joey, there are people out there without any feet.” 

So, let’s all think about where our mothers and grandmothers are. Please spend time with them and bring your children. 

Kiss them and hug them with your children and let your children learn who they really are. 

It’s not an errand, it’s something that you should want to do. 

If I had to somehow do it all again, what would I think I would have to change? 

I would spend more time with my mother.  

The way that her mother taught her children and the way we pass it on to our children. And they will pass it to their grandchildren, which is Hashem’s way. This is the Shema that we learn in Parshat Eikev. 



This was the mesorah Grandpa truly lived by. 

This was ingrained in him, and he ingrained it in us. 

Words of consistency, words that stand the test of time. 

Grandpa lived by the lesson of the Shema, which he learned from his mother. 

That we should always treasure the time we have with our grandparents. 

Perpetuate their lessons to our children. 

The lessons of love, communication, time, and the eternal importance of the Torah. 

Emotional Wellness – Stop Fighting the Elements

Nowadays, so many things we want can be accessed instantly. We order a package from Amazon and, using our Prime Now account, have it delivered within a few hours. When corresponding with a friend, rather than writing the letter by hand, putting it into an envelope, addressing and stamping said envelope, trekking to the mailbox to mail it, and then waiting for a reply, we type the letter, press “send,” and generally receive a reply within minutes. Even checks are nearly obsolete, replaced by much speedier methods of sending money, such as PayPal, QuickPay, and Zelle. And now that just about everyone owns a phone with a built-in camera or at least a digital camera, when was the last time you heard of someone taking a picture with a camera, waiting until all 24 or 36 pictures of the film have been taken, bringing the film to a photo store, and then waiting another week until the photographs were developed? 


This has extended to mitzvot, as well. We can purchase simanim - from checked pomegranate seeds to tzimmes to cooked fish heads - for Rosh Hashanah, prefab sukkotand vacuum-packed hadassim for Sukkot, prefilled oil cups for Hanukah, and ready-made mishloah manot for Purim. For Pesach, not only can we buy charoset and prechecked chazeret, we can even purchase salt water for karpas. 


The Downside to Easy Living 

Yet there is a downside to all this. 


In a world of instant gratification, the ability to “tolerate” appears to be a lost art. This includes tolerating our negative emotions, tolerating discomfort – mental or physical – or even tolerating one another.  We expect to find solutions easily, and with minimal effort. The advertising industry is intent on convincing us that answers to every imaginable problem are readily available. 


We have been sold on promises of “bliss,” and believe that a stress-free existence is attainable. Even so, our stress levels are higher than ever. We are told negative emotions are “bad,” and that we should not allow ourselves to feel sad, frustrated, or disappointed, even if our experiences are sad, frustrating, or disappointing.   


The Antidote 


The therapeutic concept of “acceptance” may provide some enlightenment to foster a new paradigm with which we can be comfortable. Yes, comfortable with our discomfort.  When we feel stress and anxiety, our natural instinct is to push those feelings away, to fight them. However, the more we fight, the more we feed our anxiety, even intensifying it. Essentially, engaging in the battle to fight our anxiety causes us to be more anxious. Our expectation of living the ubiquitously marketed “stress-free existence” is not only unrealistic and unattainable, but the idea that we can live a utopian life, free of stress, causes us to feel additional stress, merely for the fact that we are stressed in the first place.   


Think about the last time you went outside in a heavy snowstorm. You struggled against the wind and snow, squinting to avoid snowflakes from falling into your eyes, expending mental and physical energy to take the next step. 

Now, let’s say that for a few moments you stopped fighting the elements and just let the snowflakes fall wherever they landed, even in your ears, your eyes, and your mouth. No, it didn’t stop snowing, but you experienced a sense of calm as you allowed reality to set in, even accepting it. 


The circumstances did not change. But your reaction did.  


Reflect upon an ongoing challenge in your life, a circumstance over which you have no control. Instead of merely accepting it as a Gd-given nisayon, a Gd-given test, use this challenge as a springboard for growth and as an opportunity to become closer to Hashem. 


We cannot change our circumstances, but we can change our reactions. 



A Week in the Clouds: The Special Joy of Sukkot

In the special holiday prayers recited during Sukkot, we refer to this festival as “zeman simhatenu – our occasion of joy.”  The theme of Sukkot is, unmistakably, simha – joy.  In fact, during the times of the Bet Hamikdash, a festive celebration called the Simhat Bet Hasho’ebah was held every night in the Temple courtyard, when the greatest rabbis would sing, dance, and even juggle.  The Mishnah (Sukkah 51a) teaches that one who has never witnessed this celebration “never saw joy in his life.”  Sukkot marks the time of our greatest joy, a joy whose intensity has no parallel. 


If so, then we need to ask ourselves, what are we so happy about?  What is the reason for the special joy of Sukkot?  What are we celebrating? 


Gd’s Miraculous Clouds 


The Torah (Vayikra 23:43) tells us to reside in sukkot throughout the seven days of this holiday “in order that your [future] generations will know that I had the Children of Israel dwell in sukkot when I brought them out of Egypt.”  In other words, we reside in sukkot to commemorate our ancestors’ sojourn through the wilderness after leaving Egypt, a period during which they lived in “sukkot.” 


The Gemara (Sukkot 11b) brings two opinions in explaining this verse.  The simpler and more intuitive understanding is that each time Beneh Yisrael encamped, they erected makeshift huts – like our sukkot – in which they lived during their stay at that site, and these are the “sukkot” which we commemorate on this Yom Tov.  The second opinion, however, explains that the Torah refers not to actual huts, but rather to the ananeh hakavod – “clouds of glory.”  Throughout our ancestors’ sojourn in the wilderness, they were encircled by a miraculous series of clouds which offered them comfort and protection.  It kept them cool during the day, and warm at night; it made the ground beneath them smooth and pleasant to tread upon; it shielded them from enemies; and it even laundered their clothing and polished their shoes.  According to the second view in the Gemara, the sukkot in which we reside commemorate these supernatural clouds which Gd provided Beneh Yisrael in the desert. 


Interestingly enough, the Shulhan Aruch (Orah Haim 525) follows this second opinion, explaining that we reside in a sukkah during Sukkot to commemorate the ananeh hakavod.  The Bayit Hadash (Rav Yoel Sirkis, Poland, 1561-1640) explains that the Shulhan Aruch incorporated this into his presentation of the laws of Sukkot because we must have this in mind in order to properly fulfill the mitzvah.  Since the Torah specifically told us the reason for residing in the sukkah – so that we remember the “sukkot” in the desert – we are required to be mindful of this commemorative function of the sukkah, as this is part of the obligation.  When we enter the sukkah to eat, we must reflect that we are commemorating the miraculous “clouds of glory” which encircled our ancestors in the wilderness. 


This understanding of the mitzvah of sukkah gives rise to an obvious question.  Why is this the only one of the miracles performed for our ancestors in the desert that the Torah commands us to commemorate?  For forty years, Gd fed them manna, bread which fell from the heavens each morning, providing nourishment without producing bodily waste.  Moshe struck a rock which then gave forth water, and this well actually traveled with the people for forty years so they had a reliable source of water in the arid desert.  Were these miracles any less significant than the ananeh hakavod?  Why do we have a special Yom Tov to celebrate the clouds, but no holidays celebrating the manna or the well? 


Rebuilding a Broken Relationship 


The answer to this question, which changes our entire perspective on the holiday of Sukkot, was given by the Gaon of Vilna (1720-1797).  Ingeniously, the Gaon shows how the origins of Sukkot can be traced back to the sin of the golden calf and its aftermath. 


Just forty days after beholding Gd’s revelation at Mount Sinai, Beneh Yisrael betrayed the Almighty by fashioning and then worshipping a graven image.  Seeing that Moshe had not returned from the mountaintop at the time they thought he would, the people panicked, and took the drastic measure of worshipping an idol.  Gd initially decided to annihilate the nation for this grievous act of betrayal, but Moshe begged Him to forgive them, and He obliged.  However, the Gaon explains, although Gd agreed to allow the people to survive, He was not, at that point, prepared to fully restore the relationship.  He continued sustaining them in the otherwise uninhabitable wilderness, providing them with manna and water, but He removed the ananeh hakavod.  Bread and water are bare necessities, whereas the clouds of glory were a special gift, a symbol of Gd’s special love for the people.  When a husband wants to give a wife a present as an expression of his love for her, he does not buy her a loaf of bread or carton of milk; he buys a piece of jewelry or some special accessory that she doesn’t need.  Similarly, the ananeh hakavod were a luxury item, providing the people with an additional level of comfort which they did not need for their basic survival.  Therefore, even after Gd forgave the people for their betrayal, He took away this gift.  He forgave them, but He did not love them as He had before they worshipped the golden calf. 


In order to fully repair the broken relationship, Beneh Yisrael were commanded to build the Mishkan.  After having given large amounts of gold jewelry for a golden calf, Gd instructed them to donate larger amounts of gold and other items for the purpose of constructing a sacred site where the Shechinah (Divine Presence) would reside.  By showing their great love and devotion to Gd by generously donating materials and going through the trouble of building the Mishkan and all its furnishings, they would fully restore their bond with the Almighty. 


Our sages teach that Moshe presented this information, and the detailed commands for building the Mishkan, on the 11th of Tishri, the day after Yom Kippur, nearly three months after the sin of the calf.  The Vilna Gaon shows from the text of the Humash (Shemot 36:3) that Beneh Yisrael donated materials over the next two days – the 12th and 13th of Tishri.  On the following day, the 14th, the artisans began the work to build the Mishkan, and then, on the 15th, the clouds of glory returned, signaling the full restoration of the people’s relationship with Hashem, that Hashem now loved them just as He had before their sin.  


This, the Vilna Gaon explains, is what we celebrate on Sukkot, which begins on the 15th of Tishri.  We celebrate not the ananeh hakavod themselves – but rather their return after the sin of the golden calf.  We celebrate the fact that although we had made a terrible mistake, we were nevertheless able to repair our wrongdoing and fully restore our bond with Hashem. 


Our Annual Rectification 


We undergo a similar process every year during this season. 


Like our ancestors, we spend the month of Elul, and the first part of Tishri, begging for forgiveness.  We acknowledge our misdeeds, repent, and seek to repair our strained relationship with Gd.  Then, on Yom Kippur, He mercifully forgives us.  However, this forgiveness is not the end of the story.  Forgiveness alone does not fully restore the bonds of love between us and the Almighty.  In order to achieve a complete rectification, we, like our ancestors in the desert, spend the days following Yom Kippur building a “Mishkan.”  We devote a great deal of time and energy into the construction of the sukkah; there is a flurry of activity and lots of excitement as the Jewish world focuses its attention on building a special structure in which we will reside together with the Almighty for seven days.  And so when the 15th of Tishri arrives, Gd’s presence rests among us.  After our process of repentance followed by several days of intense work, we have achieved the full rectification of our wrongdoing, and the full restoration of Gd’s love for His cherished nation.  Just as the ananeh hakavod returned to our ancestors on the 15th of Tishri, announcing the complete restoration of Gd’s love, we, too, enter the sukkah on this day, where we are welcomed by Gd, who has come to reside among us once again. 


This explains why the special Simhat Bet Hasho’evah celebration was held during Sukkot.  There were times over the course of the year when we directed our joy, passion and enthusiasm toward forbidden delights, toward vain pleasures, toward meaningless endeavors.  Now, having concluded the process of teshuvah, we direct our excitement toward the service of Hashem.   We show that our true source of joy is our relationship with Him, the privilege we have to serve Him and earn His love and His grace.   


The Torah relates (Shemot 32:19) that Moshe shattered the stone tablets upon seeing the people dancing as they worshipped the calf (“vayar et ha’egel umeholot”).  What angered him was not the worship of the calf per se, but rather the people’s fervor and excitement as they betrayed Gd.  We, too, have been guilty of “dancing” around “golden calves,” of looking to vanity for joy and fulfillment, of substituting the service of Gd with meaningless activities and the unbridled pursuit of material delights.  Sukkot is the time to rectify this mistake by investing feeling and emotion into our relationship with Hashem.  This is “zeman simhatenu” – the time when we show that our greatest source of joy and satisfaction is our connection with our Creator. 


We spend the week of Sukkot “in the clouds,” experiencing the ananeh hakavod, reflecting on Gd’s special love for us, on the fact that despite our faults and mistakes, we are still cherished.  And we reciprocate this love by celebrating our bond with Hashem, and showing that we consider this bond the most precious gift in the world. 

Incorporating Jewish Wisdom as Kids Head Back to School

S. Estroff

The back-to-school season is, for all intents and purposes, a period of pure parental mayhem. From tracking down the coolest backpack on the block to searching out the latest trends in school, our to-do lists seem virtually endless.  

Still, for many modern-day parents, the stress of preparing our kids for their return to academia pales in comparison to the pressure we endure once they actually get there. After all, in our achievement-obsessed society, it often feels that our parental efficacy is directly correlated with our children’s standardized test scores. It’s no wonder that the sheer thought of homework, report cards, and parent-teacher conferences has our stomach turning somersaults. 

And if all this academic pressure is tough on us as parents, it’s wreaking absolute havoc on our kids. Research reveals all kinds of worrisome trends showing up en masse in 21st-century schoolchildren – from anxiety and depression to psychosomatic illness to drug and alcohol consumption. So intense is the pressure to perform in school, in fact, that a cover story of Newsweek titled “Fourth Grade Slump” reported a rampant and unprecedented academic malaise – characterized by declining interest in reading and gradual disengagement from school – that’s striking American kids. 

One of the most marvelous aspects of the Jewish tradition is its ability to guide, protect, and strengthen us at times when we need it most. As if our forefathers could see eons into the future – knowing their descendants would one day be faced with back-to-school stress of Biblical proportions – they’ve sent sage advice our way. The following golden nuggets of ancient Jewish wisdom will go a long way toward keeping your family sane, happy, and healthy this back-to-school season – and for many school years to come. 

Study for Its Own Sake 

The Mishna states that Torah should be studied lishmah, for its own sake. In other words, we shouldn’t be learning Torah with ulterior motives, such getting on Gd’s A-list or wowing others with our Biblical mastery. Rather, we should release ourselves to the beauty and majesty of the text, enjoying it in its own right.  

By the same token, we should not present the act of learning to our children as a means to an end (i.e. you study science so you can ace the exam so you can get into a really good college one day). Instead, we must help them recognize and embrace the inherent magic, excitement, and privilege of discovering the world around them. 

There’s a beautiful Jewish custom of drizzling honey on the Hebrew letters the first time a child learns the Aleph-Bet. The purpose of the honey is not to disguise the work that inevitably lies ahead, but to serve as a reminder to savor its sweetness. Similarly, by following up the nightly homework drill with a family nature hike together – or setting aside an hour one evening to cuddle up on the couch with a bowl of popcorn for some family DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) time – we can recapture the inherent yumminess of learning without undermining the importance of schoolwork. 

And on the Seventh Day Gd Rested 

Let’s face it. Try as we might to reduce our kids’ academic stress, we can’t do away with it completely. School is, after all, hard work by design. While studying is enlightening and empowering, it can also be demanding and rigorous. And that’s exactly the way it should be. Judaism places great value on work, and diligence, and of course, on study. 

But our religion also believes in downtime. “Six days shall you labor and do all your work” reads the Book of Shemot, “and the seventh day is the Sabbath to the L-rd your Gd [on which] you shall not do any work.”  

Our kids desperately need a time to recharge and refuel. And in Shabbat, they have it.  

Our kids spend their school weeks in constant motion, schlepping from classes to baseball practice to musical lessons to Gemara tutors. They desperately need a time to recharge and refuel. And in Shabbat, they have it. But Shabbat is far more than just a weekly chill session for our kids. In the Sabbath rituals our children find the consistency and predictability they need to thrive despite a frenetically paced life. They find the spirituality and hope that will keep them emotionally healthy in an unpredictable 21st-century world. 

Educate a Child According to His Way 

In modern day America, cramming kids into societally constructed Harvard-bound boxes has become a parental sport. But the reality is that not every child is hardwired to go to Harvard. The wise King Solomon recognizes this truth in the Book of Proverbs when he teaches us that we must “educate a child according to his way.” Notice, he doesn’t say anything about our way, or the school system’s way, or the college entrance board’s way. He says simply the child’s way. 

On one level, these words entail a basic acceptance of our child’s academic realities – coming to terms with the fact that our son may have certain learning challenges that require a unique educational approach, or that our daughter is simply going to be – despite tutoring sessions galore – a perfectly average math student. 

Recognize and nurture your children’s unique sets of gifts and talents.  

But the commandment of educating a child according to his way also requires us to go a step further by recognizing and nurturing our children’s unique sets of gifts and talents – whether or not they’re considered “gifts” and “talents” by modern societal standards. In his Book of Jewish Values, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin shares his take on King Solomon’s timeless teaching:  

As a parent you are obligated to be conscious of your child’s special intellectual and artistic abilities and interests. Yet I’ve met parents who have definite views about precisely what sort of person their child should be, and who do not take into account the child’s personal interests. Such an attitude denies a child’s very individuality.  

One of my favorite tools for illuminating children’s unique gifts is Howard Gardner’s highly acclaimed theory of multiple intelligences (1983, 1999) in which he delineates at least eight distinct types of intelligences of value to society that exist in human beings, eight different realms in which to uncover the sparks of genius in our children. 

Kids who are masters of puzzles and Lego, for example, exhibit what Gardner calls spatial intelligence, while children who love reading and telling stories possess linguistic intelligence. Bug-loving kiddies tend to exhibit naturalistic intelligence, while children who get a kick out of strategy games often have logical-mathematical intelligence. Children with natural leadership skills have interpersonal intelligence, while introspective, spiritual children have intrapersonal intelligence. Kids with bodily-kinesthetic intelligence are agile and physically coordinated, while those with musical intelligence have a knack for singing and playing instruments. 

And if you’re especially fortunate along your parenting journey, you’ll get to know a child with menschlich intelligence – a spark of Gd-given sweetness and compassion that far transcends the 99th percentile on the New York State Regents exam. 

So, even if you conclude that your child is not a budding Albert Einstein, relax. You’re in good company. At the end of the day, most of our kids are, well, regular old kids – good at some things, not so good at others. And counting on us to love and support them in all their wonderfully regular-kid glory.

Mabrouk – September 2023

Births – Baby Boy 

Albert & Marjorie Ayash 

Morris & Sally Allaham 

Mr. & Mrs. Joe Husney 

David & Pearl Sabbagh 

Mr. & Mrs. Faraj Sadaka 

Isaac & Julianna Nasar 

Sami & Lauri Mouadeb 

Eli & Julie Rietti 

Mr. & Mrs. Yosef Cohen 

Jessie & Sarine Antebi 

David & Gabrielle Cohen 

Births – Baby Girl 

Kobi & Olana Cohen 

Mr. & Mrs. Shemuel Menahem 

Bar Mitzvahs 

Shaul, son of Rabbi & Mrs. Norman Cohen 

Alexander, son of Charlie and Lauren Dadoun 



Joe Zami to Sara Nasser 

Meyer Sakkal to Rebecca Cohen 

Ralph Kraiem to Frieda Sutton 

Bobby Dweck to Nancy Toussie 

Abraham Hazan to Lori Safdieh 

Andrew Cohen to Corine Elbaz 


Sam Cohen to Rebecca Daner 

Vico Mizrahi to Clemie Esses 

Maurice Esses to Virginia Dweck 

Ian Hucul to Abby Hessney 

Jason Balassiano to Marly Shamah  

Netanel Ovadiah to Rena Arking 

Yehuda Schweky to Devorah Semah 

Medical Halacha – Fasting on Yom Kippur

Rabbi Yehuda Finchas

Ralph suffers from kidney complications and his wife Sandra is currently pregnant with a high-risk pregnancy. They were each horrified to hear from their respective physicians they must each drink two litres of water every single day, including on Yom Kippur. They have never broken their fast before and asked me if they should fast or at least use IV for hydration instead of actually drinking. 

When Your Medical Advisor Prohibits Fasting 

The Shulhan Aruch (O.C. 818:1) is clear: If a qualified medical practitioner establishes that fasting could potentially endanger a person’s life, he or she must not fast, as it is forbidden to place one’s life in danger. Fasting when medically advised to not do so is considered a grave sin, as the Torah instructs us to “live by them” (Vayikra 18:5) meaning that mitzva observance must not be the cause of a person’s death, including the mitzva to fast on Yom Kippur.  

If a person endangers his life by fasting it is considered an act of self-harm and falls under the prohibition of possible suicide. Hacham Ovadia (Yechaveh Daat 1:61) writes: “If there is concern of possible danger to his life by fasting, one must listen to the doctor and eat on Yom Kippur, because pikuach nefesh overrides the mitzva of fasting on Yom Kippur. If the sick person is stringent and fasts nonetheless, has he not acted in a pious manner; on the contrary, he will be punished for this.” 

According to the Shulhan Aruch (817:1), healthy pregnant women are generally able to fast on Yom Kippur and should do so, making sure to eat and drink sufficiently before the fast. The vast majority of poskim agree there is no blanket rule that exempts pregnant women from fasting; each case should be evaluated individually (Nishmat Avraham 617:1). If a doctor believes that a particular pregnant woman cannot fast due to a medical condition, or has a high- risk pregnancy, or is bleeding, or is experiencing contractions, she must not fast (Ohr Lezion 4:14:1). At the same time, she should find out how much liquid she needs to drink to remain safe and healthy and, if drinking will not suffice, how much she needs to eat.  

Drinking Shiurim – Small Amounts 

Similarly, if a doctor determines that fasting may cause a woman to miscarry, or she has experienced two or more miscarriages while fasting, she should drink shiurim (Hazon Ovadia, Yamim Norayim, p. 295). 

Drinking shiurim means drinking less than the measure of liquid for which a person is liable to receive the punishment of karet for consuming on Yom Kippur – a “melo lugmav”- a cheek-full (not a mouthful). While it is still prohibited, drinking this smaller amount does not carry the same severity of punishment. Therefore, when necessary and appropriate, there are instances where the poskim suggest drinking less than a shiur at a time instead of drinking normally. 

This quantity will vary from person to person. For an average person it is approximately 1.3 oz.; some plastic lechayimcups hold precisely this shiur. Alternatively, one can use a baby bottle (or the like) to measure the correct volume.  

To be considered as eating “less than a shiur” one needs to pause for a short period between consuming each volume of liquid. There is a difference of opinion as to the length of the interval necessary between drinking each shiur. Some say that it should be nine minutes; others say six, four, or two minutes. Others hold that “kedey shetiyat revi’it” – the time it takes to drink a revi’it, which is not more than four or five seconds – is enough of an interval (see, Yabia Omer, OC, 2:31). When advised to drink shiurim, a person should drink less than 1.3 oz. at a time, at an interval of at least five seconds is sufficient according to Hacham Ovadia, or up to nine minutes, only if this will not compromise their health. 

To answer Ralph’s and Sandra’s question, when permitted to drink on Yom Kippur, there is also no obligation to opt for artificial nutrition or hydration instead (Hazon Ovadia, p. 298, see, however, notes in Ohr Lezion 4:15:5).  

Some are fearful of eating or drinking on Yom Kippur due to the severity of the fast. However, they should be assured that the same Gd who commanded the healthy to fast, also commanded the seriously ill to eat. In fact, it is a mitzva for them to eat and no atonement is necessary.  

Rabbi Yehuda Finchas is a worldwide expert, lecturer, and writer on Medical Halacha, and is the head of the Torat Habayit Medical Halacha Institute. His latest book is entitled “Brain Death in Halacha and the Tower of Babel Syndrome.” To contact Rabbi Finchas or to receive a booklet on the Laws of Yom Kippur, email rabbi@torathabayit.com. 

PROPEL Summer Events

Vivian Darwish 


This past summer, PROPEL had the privilege of hosting some incredibly impactful events.  

The Marriage Box 

PROPEL kicked off the summer with an up-close- conversation with Corie Adjmi, author of The Marriage Box. With women of all ages attending the event, interesting discussions ensued about Corie’s journey to become an author and aspects of her book. Special thanks to Adele and Eli Yedid for generously hosting the event. 

Boutique Show 

PROPEL’s next event this summer was the annual boutique show, PROPEL MARKETPLACE, a 32-vendor supported marketplace of community women entrepreneurs selling jewelry, athletic wear, household products, clothing for children and adults, beauty products, and so much more, at the DSN Beach.  

The Victoria Aronow PROPEL List is a free, digitized marketplace of women who sell food or other products, or provide services or have a profession, including the vendors at the Marketplace. Please sign up and create a profile in order to be included in the digital directory. Get Listed! www.thepropellist.org/register/. 

Let’s Talk Design 

The next event brought us back to DSN Beach for the LET’S TALK DESIGN event under the PROPEL Entrepreneurs Division, generously supported by Sharyn and Ezra S. Ashkenazi. A special thank you to Danielle Dabah for opening the program and discussing her career journey as an interior designer, and to our panelists – Jack Ovadia of Ovadia Design Group, Sarit Ovadia of The Finishing Touch, Jeanie Schrem of Kravet Textile Design, and Renee Mizrahi of RM Architecture Design – who each shared their professional journeys. The panel discussion was beautifully moderated by PROPEL’s Board president, Dr. Gayle Krost, and Board member Heleyne Mishan Tamir, to a standing-room-only group of participants. It was an inspiring evening!  

Talk About It Tuesday  

Next on the summer calendar was TALK ABOUT IT TUESDAY for parents, educators, and mental health practitioners under PROPEL’s Paulette Bailey/UJA Mentorship Program. The lessons explored here were invaluable as Dr. Jeff Lichtman, PROPEL’s collaborative partner at Touro University (Touro University Director of Graduate Jewish Special Education), and Minna Hanon Samra, school psychologist at Yeshivah of Flatbush, shared their views on the well-adjusted child, and the school/home partnership. Dr. Lichtman emphasized the importance of teaching children that they can become whatever they want to be, and instilling in them the idea that – a child can grow and make a difference in this world. Special thanks to Ami and Ralph Sasson for generously hosting the event. 

Community Support 

PROPEL greatly appreciates the support of the community members! It is donations from generous community members that help PROPEL fulfill its mission of providing women in our community the opportunity to improve their lives and the lives of their families through education, which leads to greater financial stability. In the words of the Rambam, teaching a person a trade is the highest level of charity. It is these donations that continue to give, as community women continue to earn for many years to come.  



646-494-0822 | info@thepropelnetwork.org | Instagram @PropelNetwork | www.thepropelnetwork.org