48: Holding Fast in Times of Pain

״הוֹי כִּי גָדוֹל הַיּוֹם הַהוּא מֵאַיִן כָּמֹהוּ וְעֵת צָרָה הִיא לְיַעֲקֹב וּמִמֶּנָּה יִוָּשֵׁעַ.״ --ירמיהו ל:ז

"Alas! for that day is great, such that none is like it; And it is a time of pain for Jacob, and out of it shall he be saved"

“Look down from Heaven and see how we have become a mockery to and cursed by  the nations. We are considered sheep to be dragged to slaughter; to be killed, destroyed, beaten and humiliated. And with all this, Your Name we have never forgotten — do not You forget us.” (Morning prayers, Tachanun). 



33: Purim - Al HaNissim - Amalek

It's time you looked forward to "Al HaNissim" on Purim!

Every person and every life, in being created, has inherent value and meaning — including your own.

Amalek's denial of God as the Source of life and Creator of the world also attacks the core value of human life as a reflection of the image of God. Want proof? See it in a close reading of the words of the "Al HaNissim" we say on Purim in bentching and Shmone Esrei.

Happy Purim!


4 Row Summary Table - Amalek

Temple Outline - Amalek

30: Malbish Arumim Part IV: The Snake and The Shame: The Seeds of Return

Clothing is an expression of a person's sense of self and self-respect. When a person is unclothed, only the externality of the body is visible, and the soul, the spirituality of the person, lacks external expression.

"At the level where a Ba'al Teshuva stands, a perfectly righteous person cannot stand." When we fix what we have broken — when we get back to perfection — we get back to somewhere even greater than where we started. 

#30B P.S. Post Shiur Discussion: When foreign ideas become integrated into our own thinking; internalization of the snake, the Yetzer Hara.

28: Malbish Arumim Part II מלביש ערומים: The Definition of Chessed

The Torah is Chessed (kindness) from beginning to end. In this session, we find that God's lovingkindness in clothing Adam and Chava reveals the deeper essence of what Chessed really is about.

"Everything which, when done selfishly for ourselves, is lowering, becomes divinely great when done for others. … Thus the hardship of life, the need for assistance, has become the basis on which everybody, who so wills, can elevate himself to God-like heights." (Rabbi S.R. Hirsch, Commentary on the Torah, Bereishis 3:21)

#28B P.S. (Post-Shiur) Q&A: Practical Approaches to Chessed in Real Life

22: Why I am Incredibly Grateful to be a Woman - Part I

"Woman... had become the savior from death, the dispenser of life, in her the immortality of mankind took refuge. And, significantly, she is not called Chaya but Chava... referring to giving spiritual life, to animating the mind... for the spiritual and intellectual perpetuation of the higher calling if mankind." (—Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, Bereishis 3:20)

P.S.: Post-Shiur Q&A: Relating to Tragedy and Pain. Also recommended: Prayer for Real People 48 and 49.

21: Why I am Desperately Grateful for Mitzvos


A mitzva allows me to draw close to God despite my imperfections — even because of my imperfections. When I feel this deep in my bones, then a mitzva is not a burden. It's a gift! It's a treasure! God is saying to me, "Come, get closer."

The more my day is filled with mitzvos, the more I can hear God saying, "Come close. I want you. Yes, you. You're my child; I want you close to Me."

17: Chai — Life — Eighteen: The Backbone of Tefillah

Vulnerability and imperfection are inherent to the post-Eden nature of our physical lives. We aspire to perfection in our thoughts, resolving that our actions will become more perfect as a result.

The 18 morning blessings arouse gratitude for the resources with which to work our way [back] to a place of greater perfection. We are blessed with the opportunity to grow up, and build an intimate relationship with Hashem.

This pattern of 18 forms the armature upon which the morning prayers are layered: 18 Birchos HaShachar, 18 verses in Yehi Chavod, 18 mentions of Hashem's Name in Shiras HaYam, in Shema, in Emes VeYatziv, U'Va LeTziyon, and 18 blessings of Shemone Esrei. Layer by layer, we illuminate and integrate the awareness that Hashem's blessing infuses all aspects of the world.

"Whoever willingly allows himself to be guided by the blessings, whoever utters the prescribed 'one hundred blessings' daily and thus seizes upon every enjoyment as an occasion to thank God and to praise Him, and who utilizes every wish as an occasion to turn toward God for its gratification — whoever does so will be filled with an ever-deepening consciousness of the exalted and with an essential fear of God. … these blessings support and carry the sanctuary of our lives." (R' Elie Munk, The World of Prayer, pg. 14)


• Check out Session 08: Introduction to Brachos for more about brachos in general, and Birchos HaShachar in particular.

•  This shiur provides a good basis for focusing on our Avoda of the Yom Kippur service. Click here for further application to our prayers and Teshuva on Yom Kippur.

14: Life, the Universe and Everything. Really.

"The purpose of tefilla is the elevation of the thinking, feeling, and desiring inner being of Man to a state of being worthy of getting near to God and His benevolence." — Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch

Today's session starts off the new year with a fast-paced review of the fundamentals. We talk about the structure of Creation and its pattern as expressed in humanity, the Bais HaMikdash, and prayer; and definitions of the key words bracha, baruch, atta and Hashem.

Put your mind in gear, your ears on fast-forward, and brace yourself for a breakneck tour of the meaning of life, the universe, and everything.

For more detail, and at a more sedate pace, check out the recordings of sessions 1-13, below.