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Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher, and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money, and spiritual engagement.

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The Three Musketeers at the Kotel
The Jewish calendar: How Jewish holidays are based

The Jewish calendar: How Jewish holidays are based

Before I explain about the Jewish Calendar, I have a simple little quiz for you to take.

All you have to do is get four questions out of 10 right. This will put you in the mood for learning about the Jewish Calendar.

1) How long did the Hundred Years’ War last?

2) Which country makes Panama hats?

3) From which animal do we get catgut?

4) In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution?

5) What is a camel’s hair brush made of?

6) The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal?

7) What was King George VI’s first name?

8) What color is a purple finch?

9) Where are Chinese gooseberries from?

10) What is the color of the black box in a commercial airplane?

Remember, you need only 4 correct answers to pass. Check your answers below …

ANSWERS TO QUIZ 1) How long did the Hundred Years War last? 116 years 2) Which country makes Panama hats? Ecuador 3) From which animal do we get catgut? Sheep and Horses 4) In which month do Russians celebrate the October Revolution? November 5) What is a camel’s hair brush made of? Squirrel fur 6) The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal? Dogs 7) What was King George VI’s first name? Albert 8) What color is a purple finch? Crimson 9) Where are Chinese gooseberries from? New Zealand 10) What is the color of the black box in a commercial airplane? Orange (of course) What do you mean, you failed?

The High Holidays, Sukkot, Chanukah, Purim, Passover, and Shavuot are always celebrated on their specific dates on the Jewish calendar. (For example, Rosh Hashanah is always celebrated on 1–2 Tishrei, and Passover always begins on 15 Nisan.) So the holidays are never late or early. They just come out differently on the English Calendar.

Other notable occasions that follow the Jewish calendar are birthdays, yahrzeits, bar mitzvahs, and bat mitzvahs.

The Jewish Calendar and how it works was Given to Moses at the Exodus

Exactly two weeks before the Exodus from Egypt, G‑d told Moses and Aaron: “This month [Nisan] shall be for you the head of the months, setting into motion the Jewish calendar and its unique format. In fact, this was the very first commandment G‑d gave to Moses.

It Follows the Lunar Cycle, But Is Still Aligned with the Seasons

Unlike the Gregorian calendar, which follows the solar cycle (of about 365.25 days), the Jewish calendar follows the lunar cycle, which means that the year is comprised of 12 lunar months (of approximately 29.5 days each).

Nevertheless, the Jewish calendar is not solely lunar. Due to the 11-day discrepancy between the solar year (365 days) and the lunar year (29.5 × 12 = 354), lunar calendar dates are not tied to the seasons. If a certain day occurs this year in the spring, in a few years it will regress to the winter, and so on.

On the Jewish calendar, referred to as a lunisolar calendar, the dates are aligned with the seasons. For example, Passover must be celebrated in the spring. In order to prevent a regression, every two or three years a thirteenth month is added (more on that below).

Here is a list of the Jewish months and their important dates:

Jewish Month Approximate Secular Date This Month’s Special Dates

Nisan March–April Passover

Iyar April–May Lag B’Omer

Sivan May–June Shavuot

Tammuz June–July

Menachem Av (also known as Av) July–August Tisha B’Av

Elul August–September

Tishrei September–October The High Holidays (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah

Marcheshvan (also known as Cheshvan) October–November

Kislev November–December Chanukah

Tevet December–January Conclusion of Chanukah

Shevat January–February Tu B’Shevat

Adar February–March Purim

Months Are Either 29 or 30 Days

In the Gregorian calendar, most months are either 30 or 31 days (because 365 ÷ 12 = 30.4). In the Jewish calendar, since the lunar cycle is about 29.5 days, all months are either 29 days (known as “missing” months) or 30 days (known as “complete” months).

Most months have a set number of days (Nisan—30, Iyar—29, Sivan—30, Tammuz—29, and so on). There are two exceptions: Marcheshvan and Kislev can be either 29 or 30 days (see below).

Leap Years Have Thirteen Months

In the Gregorian calendar, every four years an extra day is added, creating a leap year—a year with 366 days instead of 365 Like this year 2020. In the Jewish calendar, however, leap years have an additional month.

The Torah specifies that Passover must be celebrated in the spring, and Sukkot during autumn. This poses a problem, as the lunar year is eleven days short of the solar year, and any given date will potentially regress from one season to the next.

In order for the festivals to retain their positions relative to the seasons, an adjustment must be made to enable the lunar calendar to maintain harmony with the solar cycle. To do so, years are grouped into 19-year cycles. In the 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th, and 19th year of every 19-year cycle, another month (Adar) is added. Such a year is called “shanah m’uberet,” literally “a pregnant year.”

Therefore a Year Can Be Between 353 and 385 Days Long

The months of Marcheshvan and Kislev are variable. On any given year they can both be 29 days; they can both be 30 days, or Marcheshvan can be 29 days while Kislev is 30.

Based on this, any given year can contain either 353, 354, or 355 days (or in a leap year: 383, 384, or 385 days). When both months are 29 days, the year is known as chaseirah (missing); when both are 30, the year is shleimah (complete); and when Marcheshvan is 29 days and Kislev is 30, the year is k’sidrah (regular, meaning these two months follow the alternating pattern of the rest of the months).

The First Month Is Halfway Through the Year

Nisan is the first month on the Jewish calendar. Before the Jews left Egypt, on the first day of the month of Nisan, G‑d told Moses and Aaron: “This month shall be for you the head of the months.” Thus the peculiarity of the Jewish calendar: The year begins on Rosh Hashanah, the first day of the month of Tishrei, but Tishrei is not the first month. Rosh Hashanah is actually referred to in the Torah as “the first day of the seventh month.

New Months Were Originally Determined Based on Lunar Sightings

Originally there was no fixed calendar. Each month, the Sanhedrin—the rabbinical supreme court—would determine whether that month would contain 29 or 30 days, depending on when the following month’s new moon was first sighted.

On the 30th day of every month, the Sanhedrin began accepting witnesses who claimed they had spotted the new moon the previous evening. If the witnesses would pass the court’s rigorous interrogation, the Sanhedrin would “sanctify” the new month, proclaiming that day the first of the month. The previous month was now retroactively determined to have had only 29 days.

If no witnesses came on the thirtieth day, then the next day, the thirty-first day, was automatically declared the first day of the new month, retroactively rendering the previous month a “complete” month of 30 days.

The Calendar We Use Today Was Established in the 4th Century CE

In the 4th century CE the sage Hillel II foresaw the disbandment of the Sanhedrin, and understood that we would no longer be able to follow a Sanhedrin-based calendar. So he and his rabbinical court established the perpetual calendar which we follow today.

When Hillel established the perpetual calendar, he sanctified every new month until Moshiach will come and re-establish the Sanhedrin.

Outside Israel, Holidays Have an Extra Day

Originally, when there was no fixed calendar, there was no way to determine the exact day of a coming festival in advance. This was because every festival falls on a particular day of a month, and the month would begin only when the new moon of that month was sighted.

Once the Sanhedrin had determined that a new moon had been sighted, messengers were dispatched to Babylonia and other far-flung Jewish settlements to relay this information to them. Since news traveled a lot slower in those days, many communities outside of Israel would not know when the new month had begun in time to celebrate the festival on a proper day. To cover both possibilities, they would celebrate every holiday for two days: the day the holiday would be if the previous month had 29 days, and the day it would be if there were 30 days

The First Day of Each Month Is a Minor Holiday

The first day of each month (and sometimes, the last day of the previous month—see below) is known as Rosh Chodesh (lit., “head of the month”). Special prayers are added to the daily services, and we wish each other “Chodesh Tov,” a good month.

Since the 30th day of the month was always potentially Rosh Chodesh (see above), whenever a month has 30 days, the last day is observed as Rosh Chodesh together with the first of the following month.

However, if a month has only 29 days, then the Rosh Chodesh of the following month will be only one day—the first of the month.

The First Year Was Only Five Days Long

The years of the Jewish calendar are calculated from the creation of the world. Hence, in 2020, it is presently 5780 years since Creation.

However, Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is celebrated on the day Adam was created, which was really the sixth day of creation. Creation itself began five days earlier, on the 25th day of the month of Elul.

When we give the number of 5780, we actually mean that it is presently 5779 years and five days since Creation, as those initial five days are considered Year 1, and Adam’s creation marked the beginning of Year 2.

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Rosh Hashanah

The Jewish New Year

Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year. It is the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, and a day of judgment and coronation of G‑d as king.

Rosh Hashanah is the birthday of the universe, the day G‑d created Adam and Eve, and it’s celebrated as the head of the Jewish year. It begins at sundown on the eve of Tishrei 1 (Sept. 18, 2020) and ends after nightfall on Tishrei 2 (Sept. 20, 2020).

The central observance of Rosh Hashanah is blowing the shofar (ram’s horn) on both mornings of the holiday (except on Shabbat), which is normally done in the synagogue as part of the day’s services but may be done elsewhere for those who cannot attend.

Rosh Hashanah feasts traditionally include round challah bread (studded with raisins) and apples dipped in honey, as well as other foods that symbolize our wishes for a sweet year.

Other Rosh Hashanah observances include candle lighting in the evenings and desisting from creative work.

Together with Yom Kippur (which follows 10 days later), it is part of the Yamim Nora'im (Days of Awe, or High Holidays).

The Hebrew calendar begins with the month of Nisan, but Rosh Hashanah occurs at the start of Tishrei, when God is said to have created the world. For this reason, Rosh Hashanah can be seen as the birthday of the world rather than New Year’s in the secular sense; still, it is on Rosh Hashanah that the number of the civil year increases. The Mishna described three other “new years” in the Jewish calendar in addition to Rosh Hashanah. Nisan 1 was used to resume the cycle of months and measure the duration of kings’ reigns. Elul 1 resembled the start of the modern fiscal year and determined the tithing of animals for charity or sacrifice. Shevat 15 calculated the age of fruit-bearing trees and is now celebrated as the minor holiday of Tu B’Shevat.

According to tradition, God judges all creatures during the 10 Days of Awe between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, deciding whether they will live or die in the coming year. Jewish law teaches that God inscribes the names of the righteous in the “book of life” and condemns the wicked to death on Rosh Hashanah; people who fall between the two categories have until Yom Kippur to perform “teshuvah,” or repentance. As a result, observant Jews consider Rosh Hashanah and the days surrounding it a time for prayer, good deeds, reflecting on past mistakes, and making amends with others.

Celebrating Rosh Hashanah

Unlike modern New Year’s celebrations, which are often raucous parties, Rosh Hashanah is a subdued and contemplative holiday. Because Jewish texts differ on the festival’s length, Rosh Hashanah is observed for a single day by some denominations and for two days by others. Work is prohibited, and religious Jews spend much of the holiday attending synagogue. Because the High Holy Day prayer services include distinct liturgical texts, songs, and customs, rabbis and their congregations read from a special prayer book known as the machzor during both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

The sounding of the shofar—a trumpet made from a ram’s horn—is an essential and emblematic part of both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The ancient instrument’s plaintive cry serves as a call to repentance and a reminder to Jews that God is their king. Tradition requires the shofar blower to play four sets of notes on Rosh Hashanah: tekiah, a long blast; shevarim, three short blasts; teruah, nine staccato blasts; and tekiah gedolah, a very long blast. Because of this ritual’s close association with Rosh Hashanah, the holiday is also known as Yom Teruah—the day of the sounding of the shofar.

After religious services are over, many Jews return home for a festive meal steeped in symbolism and tradition. Some choose to wear new or special clothing and to adorn their tables with fine linens and place settings in recognition of Rosh Hashanah’s significance. The meal typically begins with the ceremonial lighting of two candles and features foods that represent positive wishes for the new year.

Customs and Symbols of Rosh Hashanah

Apples and honey: One of the most popular Rosh Hashanah customs involves eating apple slices dipped in honey, sometimes after saying a special prayer. Ancient Jews believed apples had healing properties, and the honey signifies the hope that the new year will be sweet. Rosh Hashanah meals usually include an assortment of sweet treats for the same reason.

Round challah: On Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath) and other holidays, Jews eat loaves of the traditional braided bread known as challah. On Rosh Hashanah, the challah is often baked in a round shape to symbolize either the cyclical nature of life or the crown of God. Raisins are sometimes added to the dough for a sweet new year.

Tashlich: On Rosh Hashanah, some Jews practice a custom known as tashlich (“casting off”), in which they throw pieces of bread into a flowing body of water while reciting prayers. As the bread, which symbolizes the sins of the past year, is swept away, those who embrace this tradition are spiritually cleansed and renewed.

“L’sHana Tovah”: Jews greet each other on Rosh Hashanah with the Hebrew phrase “L’sHana Tovah,” which translates to “for a good year.” This is a shortened version of the Rosh Hashanah salutation “L’shanah Tovah tikatev v’taihatem” (“May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year”).

Shofar Over the Internet During Elul?

By Yehuda Shurpin

One of the customs during the month of Elul is to blow the shofar every day. Due to the pandemic, I’m currently unable to attend service. Can I fulfill this custom by listening to the shofar over Zoom?

To help put things into perspective, we need to discuss briefly why we blow the shofar during the month of Elul to begin with. While there is a biblical mitzvah to blow the shofar on Rosh Hashanah, there is no such commandment regarding the month of Elul.

There are two main reasons for the custom of blowing the shofar during Elul:

a) The Midrash tells us that at the beginning of the Month of Elul, exactly forty days before Yom Kippur, Moses went back up onto Mount Sinai to receive the second set of Tablets (the first having been broken after the people sinned with the Golden Calf). When he went up, a shofar was blown throughout the camp to let the people know that Moses was going up the mountain and that they should not make the same mistake that led to the sin of the Golden Calf.

To commemorate this, we blow the shofar throughout the month of Elul, which serves as a reminder to stay away from sin.2

b) Elul is a month dedicated to soul-searching and getting ready for the High Holidays. The prophet Amos tells us, “Will a shofar be sounded in the city and the people not tremble . . . ?”3 Thus, the soul-stirring sounds of the shofar arouse and inspire us to do teshuvah and come closer to G‑d.4

Now, according to some opinions, while the custom was instituted to blow the shofar in the synagogue, there was never a mandate for people to hear it (in contrast to Rosh Hashanah, when there is a mitzvah to hear the shofar).5 Accordingly, the question of blowing over the phone or the Internet is a moot point.

However, due to the association of the shofar blast with arousing one to do teshuvah, many make a point to hear the shofar blast during the month of Elul, even if they couldn’t make it to the synagogue.6 This brings us back to the question of hearing the shofar over the phone, Internet, Zoom, etc.

The Halachic Nature of Livestreaming

As we have discussed elsewhere, with the advent of microphones and telephones, there was initially considerable debate whether mitzvahs that require listening could be fulfilled through such devices. Nowadays, with the benefit of a better understanding of how these technologies work, the consensus is that one cannot fulfill one’s halachic obligations through a telephone or microphone.7

Hearing the shofar during Elul isn’t a halachic obligation, but rather a custom. Nevertheless, the Lubavitcher Rebbe (who, among other things, trained as an electrical engineer and worked for the U.S. Navy during World War II) wrote a number of strong letters addressing the issue of fulfilling obligations over various devices. In one talk he specifically addressed the question of hearing the shofar during the month of Elul through an electronic device:

Regarding hearing the Torah or the Megillah et al., one does not fulfill their obligation by hearing it through a tape or other device . . . even with respect to the custom of hearing the shofar during the month of Elul, which is done merely to arouse the person to do teshuvah, as the verse states, “Will a shofar be sounded in the city and the people not tremble?” one should not hear it through a recording, since it needs to arouse one’s feelings to teshuvah and it needs to be done similar to “words that come from the heart enter the heart,” which does not apply to hearing through these devices.8

In other words, when hearing through an electronic device, one isn’t actually hearing the original, authentic sound, but merely an electronic reproduction of it, which doesn’t fulfill the obligation or custom. Furthermore, from the Rebbe’s words, it would seem that even with regard to “arousing one’s heart,” there is something lacking when it is not a direct sound from one heart to another.

Nevertheless, since during the month of Elul (a) the shofar is only blown on the weekdays and (b) there isn’t any bona fide obligation to hear the shofar, if hearing the shofar over livestream or the phone would get you into the Elul and High Holiday spirit, there isn’t anything technically wrong with hearing it over the phone or Internet.

However, on Rosh Hashanah it is a biblical mitzvah to hear the authentic shofar sound, and it is anyways prohibited to use any of these devices. If you foresee being stuck at home for Rosh Hashanah, it is not too late to either make arrangements with your local synagogue or Chabad center to have someone come and blow the shofar for you, or, alternatively, purchase your own shofar and enroll in our free online course to learn how to blow the shofar yourself.

May we all be inscribed in the Book of Life for a year of health and happiness!



An additional reason given is “in order to confuse the Satan.” For more on that, see Shofar During the Month of Elul: How and Why


Although the Midrash Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer46 mentions this custom only regarding the first of Elul, others (see, for example, Tur, Orach Chaim 581) explain that the custom developed to blow it throughout the month. See also Beit Yosef ad loc., who explains that the difference between the two reasons quoted here is that the first only shows how the shofar blast would prevent the Jews from sinning, the second source explains how it would arouse them to repent.


Amos 3:6.


Tur and Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 581:1.


See, for example, Reponsum Tzitz Eliezer 12:48.


See Nitei Gavriel, Rosh Hashanah 4:9, fn. 14 (in 2001 [and later] editions).


See, for example, Minchat Shlomo 1:9; Daat Torah 689; Yechaveh Daat 2:68 and 3:54; Minchat Yitzchak 1:37 and 3:38; Mishneh Halachot 4:85; Kinyan Torah 1:75; Be’er Moshe 3:166-168; Piskei Teshuvot 689:3.


Torat Menachem, 5744, vol. 3, Parshat Balak, p. 2124.

By Yehuda Shurpin

A noted scholar and researcher, Rabbi Yehuda Shurpin serves as content editor at, and writes the popular weekly Ask Rabbi Y column. Rabbi Shurpin is the rabbi of the Chabad Shul in St. Louis Park, Minn., where he resides with his wife, Ester, and their children.

New Study Shows COVID-19 Lockdowns 10 Times More Deadly Than Virus Itself

T. Belman. So the new CDC numbers say that only 6% of the deaths listed Covid 19 as the only cause. That is the equivalent to 0.33% the US population . Such morbidity doesn’t remotely justify either a lockdown or a vaccine. What it does suggest is that government policies should focus on people who have life threatening conditions, most of whom aren’t working anyway.

By Debra Heine, AM GREATNESS

COVID-19 lockdowns have shortened the lifespans of Americans much more than the virus itself, an eye-opening new study has found.

According to the study, commissioned by Revolver News, Coronavirus lockdowns are ten times more deadly to American citizens than the actual COVID-19 virus, and have devastated long term financial and social stability.

Drawing on existing economic studies on the health effects of unemployment, the Revolver study sought to quantify the net damage of the lockdowns in terms of a metric known as “life-years” and compared that number to how many lives will have been saved by the lockdowns.

… we found that an estimated 18.7 million life-years will be lost in the United States due to the COVID-19 lockdowns. Comparative data analysis between nations shows that the lockdowns in the United States likely had a minimal effect in saving life-years. Using two different comparison groups, we estimate that the COVID-19 lockdowns in the U.S. saved between a quarter to three quarters of a million life-years.

The news outlet opined that the results of the study confirm that “the COVID-19 lockdown measures that Americans have had to endure for the greater part of 2020 represent one of the most dramatic, consequential, and damaging policy measures undertaken in this nation’s history.”

The results are nothing short of staggering, and suggest that the lockdowns will end up costing Americans over 10 times as many years of life as they will save from the virus itself.

The lockdowns were widely accepted early on as a temporary precaution to slow the spread of the virus and save lives, but as time has worn on, many people have noticed a double standard in terms of enforcement, with different rules for different groups based on political affiliation. As new data emerges showing the virus to be less lethal than initially thought, Americans who have suffered dire economic consequences are feeling increasingly rebellious.

The media have consistently spread bad news about the virus, resulting in fear and panic among the populous, but as The New York Times recently admitted, the daily case counts heralded by the MSM have been wildly inaccurate.

The coronavirus death count has also been hugely inflated.

Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that only a minuscule number of Americans have died of the coronavirus alone.

An analysis of deaths between 2/1 and 8/22 2020 found that only six percent of COVID-19 deaths in the United States occurred in people without any comorbidities.

President Trump participates in Abraham Accords agreement between UAE, Bahrain and Israel

Watch the historic Abraham Accords signing ceremony between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain.

President Donald Trump presented Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a golden key prior to the signing ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House on Tuesday afternoon in Washington, D.C.

“We call it the key to the White House and it’s the key to our country and our hearts,” Trump said, as Netanyahu held the key and displayed it to the press.

What are Jews who Embrace the Black Lives Matter Movement Endorsing?

By Jonathan S. Tobin

To read the statement signed by more than 600 Jewish groups last week, in which they identified their denominations, synagogues and organizations with the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s clear that they believe they are on the right side of history. The letter, which was published as a full-page ad in The New York Times on Aug. 28, is forthright in its claim that “the Black Lives Matter movement is the current day Civil Rights movement in this country, and it is our best chance at equity and justice. By supporting this movement, we can build a country that fulfills the promise of freedom, unity, and safety for all of us, no exceptions.”


For many Americans, BLM is more of an anodyne statement of opposition to racism than a political agenda or a list of specific grievances and demands. As such, it was understandable that polls showed that most people supported this movement in the weeks following the death of George Floyd on May 25. But if, as the polls have indicated, that support is starting to drop precipitously, it is because months of riots, looting and acts of intimidation often mislabeled “peaceful protests” by some in the media have alerted a growing number of Americans to the troubling aspects of this movement. Still, these factors don’t appear to have made an impression on the 600 groups that pledged their support for Black Lives Matter, including the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist branches of Judaism, the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Council on Public Affairs, as well as a host of individual synagogues and a collection of liberal, leftist and anti-Zionist groups.

On the day that letter was published, the Movement for Black Lives, which is the chief organizing group for the BLM idea, published a summary of their new policy platform. It is being billed as a sequel to the controversial platform published by the same group in 2016 that included a section that falsely denounced Israel as an “apartheid state,” a lie that it integral to the intersectional ideology at the core of the BLM mindset.

While the full text of the BLM platform is yet to be published, the summary didn’t mention Israel—to the relief of some Jewish supporters.

Would it have mattered even if it had?

Some Jews have fallen for the delusion that they need to join BLM in order to help moderate its radicals. Others have convinced themselves that this is their opportunity to be considered worthy successors to those Jews who worked to end “Jim Crow” laws and marched with Dr. Martin Luther King. They think focusing on the attacks on Israel or even the growing number of incidents of anti-Semitism in the African-American community is to miss the point. They believe that Jews are obligated to go along with BLM because they accept the notion that the United States is irredeemably racist in nature and that there is an epidemic of murders of African-Americans by the police.

The problem with this formulation is that it is simply wrong. Despite a troubled past, America is not a racist nation today, let alone a society dominated by institutionalized hate. The statistical evidence also contradicts the widely accepted claims about a police war on blacks.

It’s also worth exploring what is in the summary of the new BLM platform. Rather than an easily supported agenda around which all Americans of good will could rally, it is a laundry list of far-left radical and Marxist proposals antithetical to the idea that BLM deserves mainstream support.

Supporters will say their demands are irrelevant, and what matters is a statement supporting the struggle against racism.

But the letter from the 600 groups is more than a restatement of idealistic notions about tikkun olam or amorphous and highly dubious claims about alleged police brutality. It goes out of its way to mischaracterize skepticism about BLM and the vicious cancel culture it has helped to spawn as morally equivalent to attacks on King from segregationists and racists.

It doesn’t merely ignore the fact that so many “peaceful protests” turned into violent riots and the way BLM activists have sought to intimidate anyone who will not bow to their agenda. It also seeks to link opposition to the movement to anti-Semitism. That isn’t just wrong. It’s outrageous since intersectional radicals who form the shock troops of the BLM movement, including cheerleaders for the Nation of Islam and its leader, Louis Farrakhan, as well as race-baiter Al Sharpton, are themselves guilty of anti-Semitism.

We can only shake our heads at the chutzpah of anti-Zionist groups like IfNotNow and Jewish Voice for Peace, which have consistently been guilty of anti-Semitism, condemning it in others. But you have to wonder how groups that are avowedly Zionist—like JCPA, the ADL, and the mainstream religious movements and synagogues—can justify legitimizing these groups by signing the BLM manifesto along with them.

The only explanation for this travesty is that many Jews believe that the way to maintain their standing as liberals guilty of “white privilege” is to back BLM. The statement’s talk of “politicians and political movements in this country who build power by deliberately manufacturing fear to divide us against each other,” or “manufacturing division” and fomenting anti-Semitism is a dog whistle to leftist foes of President Donald Trump. Whatever your opinion of Trump, this attempt to demand that we ignore the radicalism of the BLM movement, and the violent and anti-Semitic forces it is unleashing, is as dishonest as it is disturbing.

The pro-Black Lives Matter letter isn’t so much a defense of a movement as a not-so-subtle attempt to cancel, shame and silence anyone with the temerity to point out the danger in the cause the signatories have embraced. As such, it’s clear that Jewish supporters of the BLM movement aren’t trying to help unite us against hate. Instead, they are choosing a side in a culture war that is cruelly dividing a wounded country struggling to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. In doing so, it is they who are choosing to be on the wrong side of history, not their opponents.

Dems Claim Pompeo Politicized The U.S.-Israeli Relationship That They've Forsaken

Why the Democrats are fuming over Pompeo’s RNC speech from Jerusalem. By Joseph Klein

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered an address to the Republican National Convention from Jerusalem on August 25th that enraged the Democrats. Against the backdrop of Jerusalem’s Old City skyline, Pompeo lauded President Trump’s foreign policy accomplishments, including his bold actions in support of Israel. The president “moved the U.S. embassy to this very city of God, Jerusalem, the rightful capital of the Jewish homeland, and just two weeks ago, the president brokered a historic peace deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates,” Pompeo said.

Democrats accused Pompeo of politicizing the U.S.-Israeli relationship, claiming that he tarnished what has always been a strong bipartisan tradition of support for the Jewish State. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for example, accused Pompeo of allegedly “discoloring our bipartisanship in terms of our support for Israel, which has always been bipartisan, and we always want it to be." Joe Biden’s Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield charged that Pompeo’s “inherently partisan address from Jerusalem” was “the latest instance of this administration seeking to use Israel as a political wedge issue, when the historic bipartisan support in Washington for Israel and her security should never be subordinated to politicization for personal gain.”

Today’s leftwing Democratic Party, not Pompeo or President Trump, is responsible for abandoning the long bipartisan tradition of support for Israel. That tradition dates back to Democrat President Harry Truman’s recognition, on behalf of the United States, of the provisional Jewish government as the de facto authority of the State of Israel shortly after the new Jewish State was declared on May 14, 1948 (de jure recognition was extended on January 31, 1949).

Presidents, as well as large congressional majorities of both parties, continued America’s strong commitment to the Jewish State for decades. Pelosi herself voted in 1995 for the bipartisan Jerusalem Embassy Act, calling for Jerusalem to remain an “undivided city” and allocating funds for the U.S. to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

President after President promised to carry out this legislative mandate. But none did until President Trump came along. This simple fact has the Democratic Party leadership today in a lather. Pelosi, in her own words, found it “appalling” that Pompeo gave credit in his Jerusalem speech to the president for finally moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, which should have taken place decades ago. The truth hurts.

When President Trump first announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, Pelosi said that it was too soon to do so. Pelosi worried that the actions “may needlessly spark mass protests.” Too soon? The Israelis had been waiting 70 years since their independence, following some two thousand years of exile, to reclaim their holy city of Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the Jewish homeland.

President Trump has continued to hew closely to the historic tradition of bipartisan support for Israel. Pompeo’s reaffirmation of President Trump’s actions to continue supporting Israel without equivocation was too much for the Democrats to take. They just couldn’t stand seeing Pompeo standing on a hotel rooftop with Jerusalem’s Old City in the background, reminding the American people that President Trump still has Israel’s back. Pompeo didn’t have to say the obvious – that the leftwing Democratic Party is in the process of betraying this bipartisan tradition and Joe Biden is too weak to control his own party’s direction.

At the Democratic National Convention held the week before Pompeo spoke, Linda Sarsour, the rabid anti-Semitic, pro Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activist, was invited to speak at the virtual DNC’s Muslim Delegate Assembly. “The Democratic Party is not perfect, but it is absolutely our party at this moment,” Sarsour said. Sarsour has endorsed the Biden-Harris ticket. Leftwing, which has also endorsed Joe Biden’s candidacy, called Sarsour a “leader in the fight for justice.”

When the Biden campaign was asked about Sarsour’s presence at the DNC, Andrew Bates, the director of rapid response for the Biden campaign, first tried to distance the campaign from Sarsour. He said that Sarsour “has no role in the Biden campaign whatsoever.” But that clumsy attempt at distancing did not last long. Senior Biden aides apologized for Bates’ comment. Ashley Allison, the Biden campaign’s national coalitions director, said she was “sorry” for what had been said critically about Sarsour. Tony Blinken, Biden’s top foreign-policy adviser, also apologized for the prior comments purporting to distance Sarsour from the campaign. Symone Sanders, another Biden adviser, said that Andrew Bates’ original statement was an "egregious misstep."

The Biden campaign has not rejected Sarsour’s endorsement of the Biden-Harris team. Biden might still mouth words in support of Israel, but he is too weak to stop his more progressive supporters who are taking over the Democratic Party from undermining any real prospect of such support in the future.

Leftist Democrats in Pelosi’s caucus are drawing her party closer and closer towards a pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel stance. Pelosi has failed to corral the progressive anti-Semites in her party like Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib – members of the so-called Squad. To the contrary, Pelosi endorsed their re-election. Omar was challenged in her primary by a candidate who criticized Omar's anti-Israel views, including her support of the BDS movement. Instead of taking a moral stance against Omar’s repugnant views, Pelosi donated thousands of dollars to Omar’s re-election campaign from her political action committee and her own campaign committee. “Ilhan is a valued and important Member of our Caucus,” Pelosi said.

The anti-Israel progressives are expanding their ranks in the House Democrats’ caucus at the expense of staunch supporters of Israel. The most notable example is Jamaal Bowman, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, who defeated Representative Eliot Engel, a longtime advocate for preserving America’s traditional alliance with Israel. The powerful chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee will no longer be around to keep the Israel-bashers at bay.

While Bowman tried to conceal where he stood on Israel during his primary campaign in a district with an eleven percent Jewish population, Bowman wrote the following last June comparing alleged police violence against blacks in America to what he claims the Palestinians are facing in their daily lives: “Just as the police force is a violent intimidating force in so many black communities, I can connect to what it feels like for Palestinians to feel the presence of the military in their daily lives in the West Bank.”

In addition to complaining that Pompeo’s Jerusalem speech shown at the Republican National Convention politicized the U.S.-Israeli relationship, Democrats accused Pompeo of violating the Hatch Act. The Hatch Act is a federal statute that prohibits federal employees from engaging in most political activity inside federal buildings or while on duty. The Democrats also charged that Pompeo broke State Department norms of non-partisanship. All of these criticisms, to use one of Joe Biden’s favorite phrases, are a “bunch of malarkey.”

The Democrats did not have any problem with five members of former President Barack Obama's cabinet speaking at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Evidently, they think that the Hatch Act applies only selectively to Republican administrations.

Pompeo spoke in his personal capacity, not as Secretary of State. The video of his short remarks was shot from the rooftop of a hotel, not a government facility, and was produced without the use of any taxpayer funded resources. Pompeo expressed his personal appreciation for President Trump’s strengthening of national security against foreign enemies in his capacity as a father and husband concerned about the safety of his family. There was nothing in Pompeo’s speech that even remotely critiqued Joe Biden’s four-decade plus record in foreign policy or Biden’s foreign policy agenda for the future, which would have provided plenty of fodder. In fact, Pompeo never uttered the words Biden or Democratic Party in his speech.

Democrats think that Pompeo, because he is the Secretary of State, must forfeit his First Amendment right of free speech 24x7. The Democrats charge that Pompeo shattered the longstanding precedent that it is improper for a sitting Secretary of State to deliver a political speech to a partisan audience. Pompeo’s critics should look back at a far more partisan speech delivered by President Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of State William H. Seward during the 1864 presidential campaign.

Seward spoke to a large crowd of Lincoln supporters assembled in a park on an early September day in 1864 – about two months before the 1864 presidential election. While Pompeo’s speech was a bit over 600 words long, Seward’s speech was ten times longer. Seward minced no words in urging voters to vote for Lincoln and in going after the opposition Democratic Party by name – all while still serving as the nation’s Secretary of State. Mike Pompeo neither urged voters to vote for President Trump nor criticized the opposition Democratic Party in his recorded Jerusalem speech.

The Democrats’ whining about alleged violations of the Hatch Act and of State Department norms is just a smokescreen for what really is sticking in the Democrats’ craw. President Trump’s Israeli policy represents a continuity of what once was a proud bipartisan tradition. The Democrats are the ones who have turned the traditional bipartisan support for Israel on its head. They are being driven away from supporting Israel against the Palestinian terrorists by their progressive leftist base.

The progressive organization Data for Progress reported that a poll it commissioned last year showed that “a net majority of Democratic voters support reducing military aid to Israel.” They would treat Israel no differently than the world’s worst human rights abusers. “Republican voters, on the other hand, answered the question about military aid to human rights abusers and the question about military aid to Israel very differently,” the report’s findings revealed. Only 19% of self-identified Republicans supported reducing military aid to Israel specifically for alleged human rights reasons, while 56% of these voters supported reducing U.S. military aid to real human rights abusers in general.

The Data for Progress report concluded that “Democratic politicians who raise the possibility of imposing material consequences on the state of Israel for its mistreatment of Palestinians are doing so with the support of their party’s voters.” Republican voters are not willing to lump the only democracy in the Middle East together with human rights-abusing autocrats in the rest of the world.

The Democratic Party today is no longer the party of Harry Truman - a reliable friend of Israel. The party is morphing into a welcoming home for the Palestinian cause. Democratic leaders resent President Trump and Mike Pompeo for telling the truth about who still stands firmly in Israel’s corner.

Corona: Special halachot for Rosh Hashanah this year-Rav Elyada Goldvicht

From Rav Elyada Goldvicht of the SCP program/ OU.


Given the unique nature of this year’s Rosh Hashana davening, with many people davening in smaller minyanim or even ביחדות, we have compiled a step-by-step chronological overview of the halachos that pertain to RH (and specifically to RH during COVID). May Hashem bless this upcoming year with health, happiness and success for כלל ישראל and the entire world! Shana Tova!

  1. Erev-RH and Both Nights of RH

התרת נדרים

There is a custom based on the גמרא נדרים (כג:) to perform התרת נדרים – nullification of vows, on Erev-RH in order to enter the new year without violating the prohibition of transgressing vows i. Any three men above Bar-Mitzvah are qualified to form a Beis-Din and nullify נדרים of others even if they are relatives with one another and to the one who is nullifying his vows.ii If you do not understand the Hebrew it is best to recite it in a language that you understand.iii One can perform התרת נדרים over Zoom as long as the three members of the Beis-Din are sitting together and they see the person reciting the התרה (i.e. his camera is on).iv With regard to women, some say that if she is married her husband should be her messenger for התרת נדרים and add the words “and this is also for my wife”,v while others say that it is best for women to rely on the התרת נדרים of כל נדרי on


The Rama writes that there is a custom for men to go to the Mikvah on ErevRH.vii Due to Corona and potential overcrowding in the Mikvah, if there is no safe place to go to the Mikvah one can take a shower instead.viii The shower should be long enough for 16 liters to be poured on one’s head.ix

הדלקת נרות

Married women (as well as single men/women at home)x light candles for Shabbos and RH.xi (If the wife is in isolation her husband can light for her in her regular spot. Alternatively, she can light in her room if she is eating there). The ברכה recited on the 1st night is “להדליק נר של שבת ויו”ט”. Some women also have the custom to recite “שהחיינו” when lighting the candles while others do not and rely on the “שהחיינו” during kiddush. One can follow their family custom.xii Ashkenazim first light the candle and then recite the ברכה, while Sephardim first recite the ברכה and then light the candles.xiii Being that the first day of RH is on Shabbos one must light before שקיעה. On the second night of RH, candles are also lit but only after צאת הכוכבים and only from a preexisting lit candle. Ideally, these candles should be prepared before YT. Before lighting the candles on the 2nd night, the woman should say “ברוך המבדיל בין קודש לקודש”.xiv Additionally, when lighting the candles, the woman should have in mind that the candles will be used as the הבדלה candle.xv The ברכה recited on the 2nd night is “להדליק נר של יו”ט” and both Ashkenazim and Sephardim recite the ברכה before lighting the candles.xvi As on the first night, some women have the custom to recite a “שהחיינו”, but ideally, they should only recite the ברכה if they will be eating a new fruit that night or if they are wearing a new dress that night. When reciting the “שהחיינו” they should have in mind that the ברכה should incorporate RH and the new fruit or the new dress.xvii (If they have a new fruit, they should wait for kiddush before eating the fruit). After lighting the candles, one is not allowed to blow out the match.xviii

קבלת שבת במה מדליקין כגוונא

There are various customs with regard to reciting קבלת שבת and “לכה דודי” on Shabbos that falls out on יו”ט. Most who daven נוסח אשכנז omit it and only say “מזמור שיר ליום השבת”, while those who daven נוסח ספרד say “מזמור לדוד” and parts of xix“לכה דודי”. The recital of “במה מדליקין” is omitted,xx and there is a מחלוקת whether to recite “כגוונא” on RH that falls out on Shabbos.xxi On the second night of RH “ותודיענו” is recited during the night Amidaxxii and if you forgot to recite it you do not repeat the Amidah.xxiii

ברכה מעין שבע

The congregation recites “ויכולו” out loud and standing after the Amidah.xxiv If you are davening in a newly formulated “pop-up minyan” (i.e., not in shul) that does not meet regularly the ברכה of “מגן אבות” is omitted.xxv If the minyan meets regularly (even if it is not in a shul and even if they only meet once a week on Shabbos) “מגן אבות” is recited.xxvi When reciting “מגן אבות” in shul or in a permanent minyan, “המלך הקודש” is said instead of “הא-ל הקדוש”xxvii. If the חזן forgets to say “המלך הקדוש” he should only go back if he has not yet finished the ברכה, but if he has finished the ברכה he should not go back.xxviii


When greeting a friend on RH night and up until חצות on the 1st day of RH one should say “לשנה טובה תכתב ותחתם” and to a woman one says “לשנה טובה תכתבי ותחתמי”. After that time, one should only say “חג שמח” or “good Yom Tov”.xxix Some have the custom to say “לשנה טובה תכתב ותחתם” on the second night as


The ברכה of “שהחיינו” is recited on both nights of RH. On the second night of RH, one should wear a new garment or place new fruits on the table before kiddush. When reciting the “שהחיינו” one should have in mind that it goes on both RH and the new fruit.xxxi This year, when the 2nd night is also MotzaeiShabbos, הבדלה is recited during kiddushxxxii (see your מחזור). When reciting the “בורא מאורי האש” it is best to place a match together with the YT candlesxxxiii and after looking at your fingernails place the match down without extinguishing itxxxiv (allowing it to extinguish by itself). Some prefer not to add a match and recite the “בורא מאורי האש” on the YT candlesxxxv (ideally you should have in mind when lighting them that they will be used for הבדלה, as mentioned above), but one should not recite the ברכה on a יארצייט candle.xxxvi If you forgot to recite הבדלה during kiddush you should stop the meal, fill up a glass of wine, recite the “בורא מאורי האש” and “המבדיל בין קודש לקודש”. If you were planning to drink wine during the meal you do not need to repeat the “בורא פרי הגפן” at the beginning of הבדלה, but if you were not planning on drinking wine during the meal you should recite a “בורא פרי הגפן” when beginning to recite הבדלה.xxxvii


There is a custom based on the גמרא כריתות (ו.) to eat specific fruits and vegetables on RH as a good omen and prayer for the upcoming year.xxxviii The סימנים are eaten after washing one’s hands, reciting המוציא, and eating bread.xxxix The ברכת העץ should be recited on a date (since it is from the שבעת המינים and closest to the word “ארץ” in the verse) and if one does not have a date then it should be recited on a pomegranate.xl If one does not have either, the ברכת העץ should be recited on the apple. One should say the “יהי רצון” that pertain to each fruit/vegetable with Hashem’s name (i.e., “יהי רצון מלפניך אדנ-י א-לוהינו וא-לוהי אבותינו וכו”).xli After reciting the ברכת העץ and the ברכת האדמה on the first fruit/vegetable that you are eating, you should only recite the “יהי רצון” after tasting and swallowing the fruit/vegetable in order that there is no הפסק between the ברכה and the eating.xlii When reciting the ברכת העץ/אדמה you should have in mind that it cover all the other fruits and vegetables of the סימנים.xliii Most have the custom to have סימנים on the second night of RH as well.xliv

  1. RH Day


This year, the 1st day of RH falls out on Shabbos when we do not blow שופר and one is forbidden from moving it at all.xlv

The Torah teaches us “יום תרועה יהיה לכם” and the גמרא ראש השנה (לג:) derives that the “תרועה” needs to heard 3 times, with a תקיעה before and after it each time. Thus, מדאורייתא you only need to hear 9 shofar blasts. However, the Gemara is uncertain as to the exact sound that the word “תרועה” is referring to. It is either referring to what we call a תרועה today, what we call a שברים today, or what we call a שברים תרועה today. Therefore, in order to make sure that we are fulfilling our biblical requirement we blow a שברים (with a תקיעה before and after it) three times, a תרועה (with a תקיעה before and after it) three times and a שברים תרועה (with a תקיעה before and after it) three times.xlvi All of these blasts together total 30 sounds (including the sounds of the תקיעות before and after each “תרועה”). 30 blasts are blown before the Mussaf Amidah and are called תקיעות דמיושב. Another 30 are blown during the Amidah and are called תקיעות דמעומד (some locations blow 30 blasts only during חזרת הש”ץ while some blow an additional 30 during the silent Amidah as well). There is a custom to blow another 40 (for those who did not blow 30 during the silent Amidah) in order to blow a total of 100 blasts on RH.xlvii Congregations that are worried about excess exposure in shul during the pandemic (or if the next minyan is about to begin in the same location) do not need to blow the final 40 blasts. These congregations should recite the “למנצח לבני קרח” (that is said before the Shofar blowing) once.xlviii (If possible, try to hear the additional blasts at some point during RH day.)

The congregation and the Shofar blower should remain standing during the recital of the ברכה and during the actual Shofar blasts.xlix The בעל תוקע recites two blessings before blowing the Shofar: “לשמוע קול שופר” and “שהחיינו”. The בעל תוקע should have in mind to be מוציא the congregation, and they should have in mind to be יוצא.l The gabbay should announce that you are not allowed to speak until the end of the תקיעות.li If you are walking or sitting at home and hear the Shofar blasts from a shul nearby you fulfill your obligation if you had in mind to be יוצא because the בעל תוקע has in mind to be מוציא all that hear.lii Ideally, the outdoor minyanim should be spread out in a manner where one minyan will not hear the shofar blasts from another minyan. If you do hear a shofar blast from another minyan while your בעל תוקע is blowing you need to have in mind not be יוצא with the תקיעות from the other minyan or you will not be יוצא.liii

If you are blowing the shofar for another and you already fulfilled your obligation, the person being יוצא should recite the ברכות if he/she can.liv Sephardi women do not recite the ברכה.lv You can blow for someone who is in isolation and in a different room as long as you are blowing close to the room.lvi If you are blowing the shofar ביחידות you should make sure not to blow in the first three hours of the day.lvii Ideally, one who is davening ביחידות should blow the shofar before davening Musaf lviii and Musaf should not be davened within the first 3 hours (of שעות זמניות) from sunrise,lix but no later than 7 hourslx (בדיעבד, Musaf can be davened after the 7th hour). One who is davening ביחידות should time his Amidah to begin at the same time as his congregation.lxi

מנחה וסעודה שלישית

On the 1st day of RH this year Sephardim recite “צדקתך צדק” during Mincha and Ashkenazim do not.lxii One is obligated to eat סעודה שלישית on the first day of RH this year (just like on every Shabbos). The סעודה שלישית should ideally be eaten after davening Mincha and before the time of מנחה קטנה lxiii (but may not be eaten before the time of Mincha Gedolahlxiv). If one did not have time to eat before מנחה קטנה he/she should still eat סעודה שלשית but only a little bit of bread in order to leave an appetite for the Yom Tov meal at night.lxv Sephardim have the custom to deliberately eat סעודה שלישית after the time of מנחה קטנה even when Shabbos is erev-YT, but are careful not to eat a lot.lxvi


After Mincha, there is a custom of תשליך, where one goes to the river and recites verses pertaining to תשובה from ספר מיכה (ז:יט).lxvii There are various reasons for this custom, including the fact that the מדרש teaches that the שטן tried drowning אברהם in a river on the way to the עקידה and we want to remind ourselves of אברהם אבינו’s determination and devotionlxviii (and learn from it). When the 1st day of RH falls out on Shabbos some have the custom to recite תשליך on the second day,lxix while some still say it on the first day (as long as there is an עירוב).lxx If there is no river nearby, you cannot leave your house due to isolation, or you prefer to avoid large gatherings, you can recite it on water in a welllxxi or even on a cup of water.lxxii

See you tomorrow bli neder

We need Mosiach now

Rosh Hashana is Saturday and Sunday

Love Yehuda Lave

Yehuda Lave, Spirtiual Advisor and Counselor

Jerusalem, Jerusalem

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