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Rabbi's Blog

rabbi 05 smallsf badge lgRabbi Joel Landau  (rabbi@adathisraelsf.org) has been the Rabbi of Adath Israel since May 2013. He was ordained by the Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem and has served previously as a congregational Rabbi in Charleston, South Carolina and Irvine, California. A full biography of Rabbi Landau is available here.


 

Blog #1: Tisha B'Av

Starting at 8:30 pm Saturday night, we begin an almost 25-hour fast as an expression of our grief and sorrow over the destruction of our holy Temples and all the tragic events of Jewish history. Over this period, we are meant to internalize the fact that our pain and suffering is a result of how we mistreat each other and G-d. In addition to fasting, we also refrain from:

  • wearing leather footwear
  • bathing or washing ourselves (hands are washed only until the knuckle)
  • applying ointments/creams
  • engaging in marital relations or any form of intimacy
  • sitting on a normal-height chair until chatzot (1:16 pm Sunday)
  • studying Torah (except for the “sad” parts)
  • sending gifts
  • greeting one another (though you may respond to greetings)
  • engaging in outings, trips, or similar pleasurable activities
  • wearing fine/festive clothing.

If any of these practices pose a problem for you and you don’t want to compromise the spirit of this day, please contact me for advice on how to resolve the issue.

The above focuses on creating an atmosphere by not doing certain things. However, what proactive steps can we take to make this a meaningful experience? Please refer to the list of recommended films and books that I have compiled to help utilize this time period. 

Blog #2: “Why I Like Tisha B’Av,” by Rabbi Emanuel Feldman, originally published on www.ou.org

The concept of liking Tisha B’Av may sound a little strange. However, Rabbi Emanuel Feldman, one of the most consequential congregational rabbis in the history of the American Orthodox Rabbinate, explains why Tisha B’Av is one of his favorite days and why we should maybe like it too.  

Blog #3: “Babies, Bathwater, and Brandeis,” by Avi Shafran, originally published in Ami Magazine

I mentioned above that a significant cause for Jewish pain and suffering is the mistreatment of others (and G-d). Therefore, one of the main areas we need to focus on is how we communicate with others. In the following pithy yet nuanced and insightful article, Rabbi Avi Shafran, the Director of Public Affairs for Agudath Israel of America, looks at a recent language based brouhaha at Brandies University.