Tag: The Observant Life

El Séder: Un Resumen

El Séder: Un Resumen

El Séder de Pesaj es, para muchos judíos, la fiesta ritual más importante del año.
Le Seder Un Aperçu

Le seder : un aperçu

Le seder de Pessah est pour de nombreux juifs, le repas rituel le plus important de l’année.
Que Es Jametz

Que es Jametz?

La sustancia prohibida, jametz, se define como la mezcla del grano de cualquiera de las cinco especies de cereales (trigo, cebada, avena, espelta y centeno) ...
Qu’est-ce que hamets?

Qu’est-ce que le hamets?

Le hamets est toute nourriture faite à partir des 5 espèces de céréales (blé, orge, avoine, épeautre, seigle) humidifiées, et cuites après 18 minutes.
Thèmes de la Pessah et du jeûne des premiers-nés

Thèmes de Pessah et du jeûne des premiers-nés

Ces trois concepts : liberté – rédemption - printemps interviennent ensemble dans les différents aspects de l’observance de Pessah.
Temas de Pesaj, Nisán, y el Ayuno de los Primogénitos

Temas de Pesaj, Nisán, y el Ayuno de los Primogénitos

Estos tres conceptos (libertad, redención y primavera) se combinan en diferentes aspectos de la observancia de Pesaj.

The Textual Foundations of Honoring One’s Parents

The Rabbis explain that honoring one’s parents is to be understood essentially as an act of worshiping God.

Jewish Obligations of Parents to Children

When speaking about family, there is a wide variety of opinions and also a variety of obligations of parents, situations and relationships.

Ethical Approaches to Advertising: A Jewish Perspective

The responsibility of sellers to enact ethical advertising of their products is equal to, if not greater than that of the careful consumer.

A Jewish Lens on Investing and Gambling

What special ethical concerns arise as the distinction between company owners and customers is blurred by equity investment?

Talmudic Discussions on Monopolies

Where a monopoly offers a clear benefit to consumers, Jewish tradition does sanction them on a closely regulated basis.
Signing of Business Contract

Honesty in Business

The laws that govern commerce aim to prevent the unscrupulous transfer of property or money from its rightful possessor to another person.

Shopping Intentions as an Ethical Consumer

Customers share in the responsibility for ensuring that transactions are fair, and should be upfront about their intentions as consumers.

Fair Prices: A Jewish Perspective

The Mishnah defines the fair price of an item, such that the seller earn a fair price, while not defrauding the buyer.

Commerce and Competition in Jewish Law

The Talmud sets a limited precedent for free market competition by balancing the rights of merchants with the interests of consumers.
The history of Mitzvot

The History of Tzedakah

The degree to which a person was obligated to contribute to the poor became the mark of membership in a community.

The Importance of Community Giving

Fundamentally, Jewish law offers some clear guidelines responding to the problems of poverty, the best of which is to prevent poverty itself.

Ethical Fundraising: A Jewish Perspective

Are bingo and more serious forms of gambling allowed to raise funds for synagogues and other Jewish institutions?

Three Types of Prohibited Speech According to Jewish Law

It is largely agreed upon that the types of speech encompassed by the biblical prohibition fall into three categories of increasing severity.

When Does Jewish Law Say We Are Permitted to Talk About Others

Lashon hara I’to·elet are those occasions when it is permissible, or even required, to speak about other people.

Biblical Texts Addressing Gossip

Human beings have been given the divine power of speech to enable our participation in the ongoing work of sustaining God’s creation.

Does Prohibited Speech Apply to the Internet?

As online communication becomes more complicated and sophisticated, so too do the laws governing defamatory speech.

The Times of Day for Prayer

A Talmudic Midrash obligates prayer three times a day, instituted in honor of our three patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Prayers and Practices of the Weekday Amidah

The Amidah is considered the central part of daily Jewish prayer, with minor variations in the text based on time of day, year and season.

The Interplay of Routine and Intention: Keva and Kavanah

Our prayers are almost always a mixture of both keva (oft-recited text) and kavanah (deeper layers of meaning).

What Prompts Change in Our Liturgy?

Changes in liturgy are born out of changes in the theological and historical life of a people, both the individual and the community.

Enhancing Prayer With Body Movement

Movement acts as part of prayer, orchestrated in traditional Jewish settings, thus putting us in touch with the ebb and flow of the liturgy.

Jewish Prayer Leaders

An individual, Rabbi, Cantor, or volunteer, skilled in singing and well-versed in Torah learning and liturgy, is appointed to lead prayers.

Creating a Sacred Physical Space

Halakhah demands that we invoke God’s name in prayer only in settings that are worthy of the sacred enterprise of prayer.

Why Prayer Matters

Tefillah is more than the sum of its parts and encompasses far more than the obligation to recite certain specific daily prayers.

The Language of Prayer

Jews are permitted to pray in any language and thus making our liturgy a link to Jews all around the world.

The Value of Using Set Prayers

By the use of set prayers, are we ipso facto guaranteeing that some will be obliged to recite words they do not find true or ...

Connecting with God Through Prayer

We hear from God through our participation in liturgical prayer, and also through the study of religious texts.

What is the Shema?

The Shema is the declaration of God’s uniqueness and unity that the Torah commands us to recite twice daily. 

Overview of the Evening Service

The Evening Service, called Ma’ariv (also called Arvit or spelled Maariv), is slightly longer than the Afternoon Service.

Overview of the Afternoon Service

The Afternoon Service, called Minḥah (or Mincha), is much shorter than the Morning Service and has no unique components. 

Overview of the Morning Service

Every day of the year, the Morning Service follows some variation of the order of the same Sharcharit prayers.

The First Prayers in the Morning Service

The prayers at the very beginning of the morning service help us to start our day with intention and gratitude.

What is a Kippah?

There is a wide range of specific customs related to the issue of covering the head, including what to cover it with.

What is a Tallit?

The tassels of the Tallit, called tzitzit (or tzitzis) in Hebrew, are explicitly intended to serve as a reminder of God’s commandments.

Fasting While Ill

It is considered forbidden to fast on fast days if injurious to one’s health, for the sake of performing positive commandments.

Jewish Viewpoints on Serious Illness

We give thanks to God every day for the gift of life, but recognize that we are mortal and that illness and death will come.

Jewish Customs Showing Care for People who are Ill

Visiting the sick is counted as one of the mitzvot that is rewarded both in this world and also in the World to Come. 

Mourning Practices for the Loss of a Parent

The period of mourning for one’s parents is a full twelve months, and serves a deeply therapeutic function for the mourner.

When Death is Imminent

Judaism does not recognize any gray area between life and death. Whenever possible, a dying person should not be left alone.

Yahrzeit: The Jewish Anniversary of Someone’s Death

Yahrzeit should be a day given over to remembering and honoring an individual for whom one once sat shivah and is learning to live without.

How is Kosher Slaughtering Performed?

To take even animal life, requires that the shochet be wholly attuned to the serious nature of the slaughter and never callous or uncaring.

Soaking and Salting Kosher Meat

After an animal has been butchered, inspected, and forbidden parts removed, the meat still needs to have as much blood removed as possible.

What is Yizkor?

Yizkor consists of a collection of readings and recitations revolving around two central prayers: Yizkor prayers, and the El Malei Rachamim.

Restrictions on Kashering Animals

Even if an animal is killed appropriately, it is still possible for it to be considered non-kosher if that the animal was ill or maimed.

Understanding Kosher Supervision

In general, one should only consume processed foods prepared under the supervision of a rabbi or an accepted kashrut supervision agency.

How Can I Create a Kosher Kitchen

While daunting and labour intensive to transform a non-kosher kitchen into a kosher one each individual step is rather straightforward.

How to Kasher Kitchen Appliances

Offering guidelines on the various requirements to Kasher different kitchen appliances, both large and small.

Tombstone Customs in Judaism

Tombstone customs in Judaism stem from the religious obligation to mark a grave. This is traditionally done with tombstones or stone markers.

What Does Jewish Law Say About Autopsies and Organ Donation?

The halakhah does not generally permit autopsies, due to honoring the dead. However, there are two important exceptions to that rule.

Kohanim and Funerals

Kohanim were forbidden to come into contact or share indoor space with the bodies of the dead, apart from their closest of relatives.
Mourners torn clothing

Aninut: What Should Mourners Do Until Burial

The period from the time of death until burial is known as aninut - the customs of the mourners during the initial stages of bereavement. ...

How to Comfort Mourners During Shivah

What do I do when I go to a shivah? Remember that conversation should be about the deceased, not the mourners or the visitors.

Jewish Laws and Rituals for Funerals

What are the Jewish laws and rituals regarding funerals? Generally, a ritual washing, burial, and a funeral, each with their own customs.

What is Sheloshim?

Shloshim are the thirty days that follows the week of shivah and is considered a period of reduced mourning.
Floating candle

What is Shivah?

The word shivah refers to the seven days of mourning that follow the burial of a parent, child, sibling, or spouse.

Why Separating Meat and Dairy is Part of Keeping Kosher

Halakhah specifically encourages us to separate meat and dairy products and prohibits us from eating them together.

Eating in Non-Kosher Homes

There are vexing questions for Kashrut observers to address, when eating in non-Kosher homes of friends and family.

What is Pareve Food?

Some foods, neither meat nor dairy in origin, are known as pareve and government standards may differ from Rabbinical definitions.

Eating in Non-Kosher Restaurants

A hallmark of Conservative Jewish practice has been the understanding that it is possible to eat in non-Kosher restaurants responsibly.

Embracing a Kosher Lifestyle

As kashrut becomes part of our lives, it feels less like a burden and more like something to observe not just at home, but in ...

Which animals are kosher?

The Torah says which animals are kosher and may be eaten (after an appropriate process) and which animals are not.

Why Keep Kosher?

Given the importance of kashrut in Jewish life, it is unfortunate that so much about it is so widely misunderstood.

Why Kosher Food Shouldn’t Have Visible Blood

The Torah requires specific methods of slaughter, inspection, and preparation before acceptable animals may be eaten.
Fixing Common Errors in a Kosher Kitchen

Fixing Common Errors in a Kosher Kitchen

Mistakes will happen in a kosher kitchen. While some are easily corrected, others require a bit more effort. Here's what you do.

How to Kasher Kitchen Dishes and Storage

Different dishes require different methods for kashering, depending how they are used and the materials that make up the dishes.

Feeding Pets in a Kosher Home

It is not forbidden for Jewish individuals to feed their pets non-kosher food, but to keep pet food away from kosher utensils and dishes.

Alcohol and Kosher Supervision

What alcohol requires a hechsher or kosher supervision? It largely depends on the process by which they are made and the ingredients used.

Are Food Additives Kosher?

The Conservative and Orthodox movements differ with regard to the kashrut of certain chemical food additives.
Special Shabbats leading up to Purim and Passover

What are the Special Sabbaths Before Purim and Passover?

A series of special Shabbatot with special Torah readings precede Purim and Passover.
Megillah scroll celebrating Purim in Synagogue

Celebrating Purim in Synagogue

Tradition dictates that Purim be observed on the fourteenth day of Adar, and begins with the recitation of the regular evening service.
Festivities and food on Purim

Festivities, Food, and Mitzvot on Purim

Purim is celebrated with days of feasting and merrymaking, and occasion for sending gifts to one another and gifts for the poor.
What is Purim and When is it Celebrated?

What is Purim and When is it Celebrated?

Purim is about the struggle of identity against assimilation, the value of tolerance, and to live proudly as Jews in an ocean of non-Jews.
Customs for Hanukkah

Customs for Hanukkah

Beyond lighting the menorah, Hanukkah customs include special foods, the dreidel and gift-giving, especially when spending time with family.
The Arba•ah Minim

Lulav and Etrog: The Four Species

Besides dwelling in a sukkah, the other significant mitzvah of Sukkot is the taking up of the arba·ah minim, literally “the four species.”
Sukkot at Home

Sukkot at Home

While celebrating Sukkot at home, rituals include lighting candles, sitting in the sukkah, and customs related to the sukkah.
Sukkot in the Synagogue

Sukkot in the Synagogue

On the mornings of Sukkot, Shacharit and Musaf follow the standard festival format. The lulav and etrog should be shaken.
Intermediate Days of Sukkot

Intermediate Days of Sukkot

The intermediate days of Sukkot, the weekdays, combine some features of festival days and normal weekdays to create wholly unique day.
Hoshana Rabbah

Hoshana Rabbah

Although the fifth intermediate day of Sukkot is known as Hoshana Rabbah, it is technically just the last day of ḥol ha-mo·eid.
Sh'mini Atzeret

What is Sh’mini Atzeret?

The final two days of Sukkot are a totally separate holiday called Sh'mini Atzeret. Liturgy includes Yizkor and the prayer for rain.
Simḥat Torah

What is Simhat Torah?

Simḥat Torah means “the joy of Torah” and is the name for the day on which the annual cycle of Torah readings begins and ends. ...
Sh'mini Atzeret Candle Lighting

Sh’mini Atzeret Candle Lighting

The laws for lighting candles on Sh’mini Atzeret are similar to those for Shabbat. These laws also apply to Simḥat Torah.
Rituals of Sukkot

Rituals of Sukkot

Sukkot, one of the shalosh r’galim, the three pilgrimage festivals is celebrated five days after Yom Kippur.
The Sukkah

The Sukkah

The sukkah for Sukkot has some very basic requirements, but beyond these rules its construction is left to one’s imagination and creativity.
Sukkot Candle Lighting

Sukkot Candle Lighting

The laws for lighting candles on Sukkot are almost identical to the laws for Shabbat candle lighting, with the exception of covering eyes.


Ne’ilah is an additional service, recited only at the conclusion of Yom Kippur. It signifies the sealing of the Book of Life.
Minḥah on Yom Kippur

Minḥah on Yom Kippur

Minhah, the Afternoon Service, begins with the Torah service, including selections from Leviticus and the haftarah on the Book of Jonah.
Yom Kippur Musaf Service

Yom Kippur Musaf Service

The Yom Kippur Musaf Service includes two services: the Avodah service and the Martyrology service. Musaf follows Yizkor and Torah reading.
Yom Kippur Candle Lighting

Yom Kippur Candle Lighting

Following the Yom Kippur meal, candles are lit in a similar fashion to those lit on Rosh Hashanah. A Yizkor candle is also lit.
Yom Kippur Evening Service

Yom Kippur Evening Service

Maariv, the evening service, following Kol Nidrei on Erev Yom Kippur, is similar in many ways to daily Maariv but has notable differences.
Yom Kippur Morning Services

Yom Kippur Morning Services

The Yom Kippur morning service is similar to Rosh Hashanah, with the exception of the Amidah and the selections for the Torah service.
Erev Yom Kippur and the Customs Preceding It

Erev Yom Kippur and the Customs Preceding It

Preparations on Erev Yom Kippur are intrinsic to the awe-inspiring observance of the day: a special meal, candle lighting, and charity.
Kol Nidrei and Being Imperfect Together

Kol Nidrei and Being Imperfect Together

Yom Kippur begins with the dramatic Kol Nidrei service, intended to annul vows made between yourself and God.
Yom Kippur Yizkor Service

Yom Kippur Yizkor Service

The Memorial Service, Yizkor, is recited on Yom Kippur, one of four times throughout the year, to remember loved ones and Jewish martyrs.
Tashlikh: A Quick Overview

Tashlikh: A Quick Overview

One of the beautiful customs associated with Rosh Hashanah is Tashlikh, a brief service that takes place by a body of water.