Spiritual Warrior: Rav Levi Yitzchok Bender zy”a

By Yaakov Klein | July 2, 2021

Take a good look at this picture. Looks like any alter Yid, right? Would you believe me if I told you that this elderly Jew: * Survived two World Wars * Never missed a single Tikkun Chatzos for 70 straight years * Rescued two orphaned siblings from a government orphanage – despite terrible financial woes…

Lag Ba’Omer: Reclaiming the “Ashreinu!”

By Yaakov Klein | April 27, 2021

We are all familiar with Rebbe Akiva’s teaching set to the famous Lag Ba’Omer melody, “Mah mikvah metaheir es hatemei’im…” – “Just as a mikvah purifies the impure, so does HaKadosh Baruch Hu purify am Yisrael.” I have long been bothered by the following question. If Rebbe Akiva intended to reveal that Hashem purifies in…

A Song of Strength and Hope: The Message of “Journey”

By Yaakov Klein | March 31, 2021

Shalom uveracha friends! I hope everyone is having the most amazing chag! The composition above, “Journey”, is a song I wrote in 10th grade as a young teen trying his very best to weather the treacherous storms of adolescence – the winding “derech” from youth to adulthood discussed at length in the opening chapter of…

“Seder”

By Yaakov Klein | March 18, 2021

There are few nights approached with as many expectations as the first night of Pesach. We prepare, we dream, we learn, we plan, we buy engaging haggados (and fine wine) for the adults and props and candies for the kids. Surely, everyone will be perfectly behaved. Surely, everything will proceed exactly in accordance with our…

The Inner Light of Pesach #3: Elevating the Limits of Time

By Yaakov Klein | March 18, 2021

ONE OF THE hallmarks of Pesach is the acute focus on zmanim, halachic times. There is much discussion in the Gemara and poskim regarding the proper times for removal of chametz, the proper time after which one may no longer eat chametz on erev Pesach, how much matzah in how much time one must eat…

The Inner Light of Pesach #2: The Secret Meaning of Bedikah and Bittul

By Yaakov Klein | March 16, 2021

IN THE BEGINNING of night on the fourteenth of Nissan, we check the places in our property where chametz may have been brought by the light of a candle (or, if one is unable, a flashlight – see Halichos Shlomo vol 1, 5:11 and Piskei Teshuvos 431:2).  Tosafos and other Rishonim explain that while a…

The Inner Light of Pesach #1: The Final Eradication of Amalek

By Yaakov Klein | March 9, 2021

There is a machlokes in the Gemara (Pesachim 6a) regarding when one should begin to study the halachos of Pesach. The Rabbanan hold that one should begin to learn hilchos Pesach thirty days before the chag, whereas Rabban Shimon Ben Gamliel holds one should begin only 2 weeks in advance. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 429:1)…

Dig Deeper!

By Yaakov Klein | February 14, 2021

Shalom friends! I hope you had the most beautiful Shabbos Rosh Chodesh Adar! I know we are already gearing up for parshas Terumah, but I want to share a thought I had over Shabbos on the opening pesukim in parshas Mishpatim. (The tzaddikim teach that the first three days of the week draw their energy…

green lush forest on mountain ridge

“My Abba!”

By Yaakov Klein | December 30, 2020

I was sitting at the dining room table this morning with my wife and our Shmuel. I was in tallis and tefillin, davening, and Shmuel was coloring. It was silent, serene, a rare and welcome break from the frequent chaos of quarantine. Suddenly, Shmuel looks and says, “Abba?” I look up and smile, nodding my…

The Inner Light of Chanukah #1: Universal Individuality

By Yaakov Klein | December 8, 2020

In the beginning of hilchos Chanukah, we find two halachos whose contrary implications point to a deeply fundamental idea in Jewish thought. The Shulchan Aruch (671:1) states that one who does not have enough money to afford the materials required to fulfill the mitzvah of hadlakas ner Chanuka in even its most basic form (a…