Author: Avi Shafran

too loud

Hear Me Out

You probably know that when a person loses some hearing, it can never be recovered. But did you know that 10 million Americans suffer noise-induced hearing loss? Or that exposure...

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The Evidence in the Barrel

Back in a previous lifetime, when I was a mesivta rebbe, I once heard a menahel exhort our talmidim to not get carried away on Purim. As an illustration, he...

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Golden Silence

The mother was understandably concerned. Her first-grader was a sociable, talkative little girl, and so her teacher’s phone call was certainly disturbing. This is a true story and took place...

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Handling Success With Care

Back in 1941 (no, I don’t remember it personally, but it’s documented), there was an American Jewish establishment group called the “Joint Boycott Council.” It objected vehemently to Agudath Israel...

A Troubling America for Jews…

American Jews might be excused for finding the circus more formally known as the current presidential campaign unthreatening, even amusing. Unthreatening, because the leading Republican candidate has a Jewish daughter;...

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Voting Advice

Few things outrage people as greatly as the suggestion that their vote doesn’t really make a difference. “Your vote counts!” is, after all, the essence of Civics 101. And yet...

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Is it permissible to drink water on Shabbos? Yes, the question is facetious. But not pointless. Because the parshiyos of this time of year, which deal with the construction of...

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Bernie’s Kibbutz and Mine

The disclosure of which kibbutz Senator Bernie Sanders spent time at in1963 was red meat for the voracious purveyors of what, regrettably, passes for political commentary these days. Mr. Sanders...

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The American Jewish Buffet

“Secular Orthodox.” That’s how Avinoam Bar-Yosef, president of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute, recently characterized many Israelis. What he meant was that, while an Israeli may not be observant...

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The Professor Stumbles

You just can’t, as they say, make this stuff up. A performer recently made news by implying that 1) Holocaust denier David Irving deserves reconsideration, and 2) that the earth...

A member of "Women of the Wall" group (2nd R) wears a prayer shawl and Tefillin, leather straps and boxes containing sacred parchments, that Orthodox law says only men should don, during a monthly prayer session at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City May 10, 2013. An Israeli police spokesman said on Friday that five ultra-Orthodox Jewish men were detained during a protest against the group. Last month the Jerusalem District Court said that the women should not be arrested for wearing prayer shawls at the site. REUTERS/Amir Cohen (JERUSALEM - Tags: RELIGION) - RTXZH7M

Western Walls

Many are celebrating the official setting aside and expansion of a part of the Kotel Maaravi for non-traditional public prayer. I’m not among them. My thoughts on the matter are...

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Iranian Elephant

“Whatsa matter, you don’t like the other one?” That was what an old-time comedian claimed his mother-in-law said when she saw him wearing one of the two neckties she gave...

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Illogical Leadership

“Because you were convincing me,” was the woman’s straightforward reply. Her questioner was my rebbe, Rav Yaakov Weinberg, zt”l, then the Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivas Ner Yisrael in Baltimore. He...

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A Crying Shame

Readers of a certain age will likely recognize the name Edmund Muskie. He was a candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for President back in 1972. There were several reasons...

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From the Mouths of Mexicans

I’ll call him Pedro; maybe it’s even his name. He seems to be a custodian of some sort for a shul – though I have no idea where it might...

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Howling Hounds and Golden Calves

Whether or not they happen to own dogs, some politicians have an affinity for dog whistles, at least the political type. That term plays on the fact that dogs can...