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Lag B’Omer: Putting the Bar in Bar Mitzvah ~ Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein

On Lag B’Omer, Jews all over the world celebrate Rashbi’s hillula. Rashbi, of course, is an acronym for the Tannaic sage, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. Or, is it Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai? Why do we sometimes use the word ben to mean “son,” and sometimes use the word bar? What is the difference between these two words? Moreover, why is a Jewish boy … Continue reading Lag B’Omer: Putting the Bar in Bar Mitzvah ~ Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein

Emor: An Appropriate Epithet ~ Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein

The common word for a tombstone in spoken Hebrew is a matzeivah (literally, “monument”), and, indeed, when Yaakov buried his wife Rachel, the Torah reports that he erected a matzeivah at her grave (Gen. 35:20). Elsewhere (Yechezkel 39:15 and II Kings 23:17), the Bible refers to graves that are marked with a tziyun (“marker”). A third word for gravestone appears in … Continue reading Emor: An Appropriate Epithet ~ Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein

Acharei/Kedoshim: The Realm of the Undertaker ~ Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein

In this essay we will explore the different words for gehinnom (commonly translated as “hell” or “purgatory”). The Talmud (Eruvin 19a) cites Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi’s statement that there are seven Biblical terms which refer to gehinnom: sheol, avadon, be’er shachat, bor shaon, tit hayaven, tzal-mavet, and eretz hatachtit. In the following paragraphs we will explore the literal and esoteric meanings of these seven … Continue reading Acharei/Kedoshim: The Realm of the Undertaker ~ Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein

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