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Rabbi Zelik Epstein, Of Blessed Memory

Yesterday, the Jewish world lost a spiritual giant (good article worth reading). Rabbi Zelik Epstein, Rosh Yeshiva of Shaar Hatorah in Queens passed away. He was 97.

R’ Zelik was a relic of the past. He studied Torah in Europe with some the greatest Torah scholars of recent American Jewry, including Rabbi Moshe Feinstein and Rabbi Yaakov Kamanetsky.

Perhaps even more significantly, he was above the fray. He did not get involved in politics and instead, studied, taught and advised and preached Torah and its values.

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Have You Been Invited To A Brachos Party Or An Amen Party?

This post has been cross-posted to DovBear – more discussion there.

The newswires have been full reporting the massive scandal in NY / NJ the last few days. There is a strong correlation between the scandal and something prevalent in contemporary Orthodox Jewish society.

You may think you are far from a money-laundering, tax evading, kidney-dealing, FBI snitching, tax-evading, “knucklehead”. You may even be have the cleanest books on Wall Street and third party audits to prove it. Yet, our entire generation is infected with the same virus that the”knucklehead”are carrying.

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Solar Eclipse In Judaism

Last week the world witnessed another wonder of our universe, the Solar Eclipse. This eclipse was visible from Southeast Asia and was the longest eclipse in 18 years and will remain the longest for the next 123 years.

The eclipse has long been associated with mythology and supernatural acts. If you are a fan of the TV show, Heroes, you know what I mean.

In Southeast Asia, many Hindus were gripped by fear. According to Hindu  tradition, the eclipse can cause harm to unborn children. Many ancient cultures attached mythological meaning to solar eclipses. Today, we know that the eclipse is part of the solar pattern that is predictable to the second.

What about Judaism? What do we say about the solar eclipse?

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The Sales Pitch

This post is cross-posted to DovBear – more discussion there.

I read an important column on a good website yesterday.

It wasn’t on NYTimes.com or Yahoo.com or ESPN.com (some of my favorite sites to link from) this article was on Vosizneias.com. VIN is a Orthodox Jewish blog with editorials and news. I recommend checking it out when you have a chance.

The column I read was a great perpective on Baal Teshuvas and their integration into the Frum community. In particular the column focused on various reactions of the BT (I use the term adoringly) when encountered with other (supposedly) Frum Jews who are not living up to their own standards.

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Summer Reading

During the summer months many people find some extra time to catch up on their reading. By reading, I mean books with paper, ink, covers and turning pages. I don’t mean on a backlit display plugged into an electrical outlet.

This summer, I have been too busy to do any real substantive offline reading. I have done a lot of online reading, but my book reading has fallen behind.

One exception has been DovBear on the Parsha, and you can read my review here.

Part of the reason for this is that in my “spare time” I usually end up reading up on Law School materials. I actually enjoy reading cases and Law Review articles, so my reading of other stuff has fallen a bit behind.

There is plenty of summer left and I thought it would be nice to provide some of my all time favorite reads and a quick note about why I like each book.

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Book Review | DovBear on the Parsha

Over Shabbos I had the privilege of reading an excellent book. On Thursday my DovBear on the Parshaarrived at my summer residence and I was hoping to look it over on Shabbos.

At just over 175 pages I thought I would peruse the articles and formulate a general opinion of the book over Shabbos. Instead, I was so tired by the time Shabbos came along I decided to just read the first couple of chapters before heading to bed Friday night.

To my surprise I was unsuccessful in my goal… I started the book after the Friday night meal and I went to sleep at 11:30 PM, after I had read the entire book cover to cover (not just the first couple chapters). DovBear on the Parsha is a true page turner. Read the rest of this entry »

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I Am So Disturbed

UPDATE: Friday morning 6/25/09 I updated the post to more accurately reflect the protagonist’s personality.

I am so disturbed right now.

My wife and I have a summer camp for pre-school children in Monsey NY. That is why we left Los Angeles / Venice for the summer. We don’t own our own camp grounds so during the year we store everything in a shed at my in-laws’ home in Monsey.

Sometime before camp begins we need to get everything from the in-laws to our summer location. Today was moving day. What I heard during the move was disturbing enough to share with you.

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Honor Thy Father & Mother | Connections 6/8/09

Another beautiful evening in Venice CA was highlighted by a wonderful Connections.

Everyone was all smiles and we had a great time socializing and learning.

Our Torah topic was the philosophy and moral implications of honoring one’s parents.

We discussed various theories and we ended with the Torah approach.

I recommend listening to this class as the questions and discussion were very interesting and thought provoking.

Click through to listen.

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Men (Learning) at Work

This blog post is about men learning at work. By learning, I mean studying Torah.

I taught a class today at Teichman Enterprises.

It was a really great experience and I was inspired and I want to share my feelings with you.

If you are looking for the Australian musical artists known as Men at Work who sing that great song called “Down Under” (the one the “Piamentas” ripped off and sing to the words “Asher Bara”) click here for Men at Work.

If you don’t know what I am talking about watch these two videos…

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Messilas Yesharim 6/6/09

We began Chapter 5 of Messilas Yesharim.

Ramchal begins to define for us the word “Zrizus”.

The basic idea we learned this week was the parallel from Zehirus to Zrizus.

Zehirus helps us avoid morally harmful activity. Zrizus helps us take action to do morally good activity.

We also discussed Sotah and some of the ideas that were mentioned in my Monday Lunch N Learn.

Click through to listen. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bar Mitzva DIscussion

What do you think about the Bar Mitzva celebration?

Too much pressure on a young man?

Too much money spent on a party?

What about the girls?

Head over to DovBear where I guest posted.

The post is all about Bar Mitzvas.

It’s always a party over there. The link is at the bottom of this post. Read the rest of this entry »

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Great Shavuos Turnout Renders Previous Post Moot

Last week I blogged about my bond of kinship with a pastor in Ocean City Maryland.

We both are clergy working on beaches with fickle crowds. Sometimes we are packed and sometimes we are not…

The post generated a bit of a response from some of our Community Members as well as some other blog readers. We had one commenter wonder if anyone reads this blog. (Yes, a lot of people do read this blog.)

We had another commenter offer to walk from Youngstown PA. (It takes 33 days by foot according to Google, click if you need directions.)

So, how did our Shavuos go?

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Mesillas Yesharim 05/24/09

You may recall that last week we did not get any further in the Messilas Yesharim text.

Oh yes, we had a great discussion about getting serious about life. We devoted much of our discussion to clothes.

Clothes has been a hot topic at the Pacific Jewish Center lately.

Yesterday, we supposed to talk about the number 50 in Judaism and why Shavuos is the only Jewish holiday with no set date. Instead, we talked more about clothes. Unbelievable.

This week we got back on track.

We completed Chapter 5 in Messilas Yesharim and learned about the 3rd and final detriment to “Watchfulness”. Do you want to know what it is?

Click through to listen.

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Mesillas Yesharim 05/24/09

After a wonderful Rosh Chodesh morning services we began our weekly foray into the depths of Ramchal’s Mesillas Yesharim.

Last week we began to learn about the detriment of scoffing or sarcasm to out spiritual growth. The general principle is that one who is incapable of seriousness about life will not be able grow spiritually. This week I had planned on completing Chapter 5 in its entirety.

However, we got no further in the text of Mesillas Yesharim this week.

Instead we had a truly invigorating discussion ab0ut “seriousness”. It is tough for us to relate to this section Mesilas Yesharim. We are allowed to make jokes, frivoility is not ALWAYS bad, so how can we bring this section down to earth and make is relevant?

One example that I cited for a moment as we began class was the way observant Jews typically dress. Have you ever wondered why observant Jews dress conservatively for the most part or wear “black and white”?

Much of what we talk about was related to this post, as well as these two posts and this post as well.

Click to listen to our discussion. It was very interesting and enlightening. Read the rest of this entry »

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Structure and Philosophy of Torah 3 | Connections 5/4/09

The third and final class in a very exciting series concluded our preparations for Shavuos.

Catch up by listening to Part 1 and Part 2.

Today we sought to resolve the burning question we began our series with. Why is Talmud study the focus of Torah scholarship? Why do Yeshiva students spend the bulk of their time studying Talmud? Why is Talmud our connection to the Oral Law transmission?

Those questions plus much more are covered in this week’s class.

The participants truly challenged me and asked some really great questions today. As always your attendance and contributions are much appreciated.

Click the link to listen to the class. Read the rest of this entry »

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This Is My Blog

You have arrived at a place in cyberspace featuring the thoughts, ramblings, musings and Torah of Eliyahu Fink.

If you like what you have found come join us at the The Shul on the Beach. You know the Shul on the Venice boardwalk - you've seen it, right?

Scroll down to the bottom of this sidebar to see some of my pictures of the Pacific Jewish Center just before sundown on a Friday Evening.

Well, we are there every Friday Night and Saturday Morning for services.

Come check us out! You will feel something special in the air. I guarantee it.

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If you have any questions for the Rabbi please click here to privately and confidentially send me your question.

Please include, gender, religion, level of observance and age in your question.

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- Eliyahu Fink

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