"We are closer to G-d when we are asking the questions, than when we think we have the answers" Heschel

Sunday, May 30, 2010


FNQ – 5 q's of the week

In honor of the incredible achievement of the Phillies own Roy Haladay who pitched a perfect game yesterday, I wanted to pose some questions on the concept of perfection, as it pertains to our lives.

 In baseball, perfection is easy to define (perfect game = a pitcher who pitches a game without giving up a hit or a walk and there are no errors in the game). In baseball, perfection is also incredibly difficult to achieve (only 20 in the history of baseball!!!).

 In life though, perfection is very difficult to define and perhaps impossible to achieve. As Jews, we have one source to look to for the nature of perfection, that source is G-d. We know that He is perfect and we know a little about Him. In a certain way, the commandment to be like G-d is a command to be perfect, or at least to attempt to become perfect. Here are a few questions to ponder on the topic of perfection.

Come back later in the week for my imperfect thoughts on the topic of perfection. 

Friday, May 28, 2010

Mazel Tov to the Bodner and Pearlman families on the birth of a baby boy

FNQ - announcement

We would like to wish a big mazel tov to Rachel, Eli and Shaya Bodner (sister in law, brother in law and nephew of mine) on the birth of a new son.  Aviva and I are sad that we won't be there for the festivities, though we certainly expect to participate virtually in some fashion or another (I hear America is very high tech so I am sure you can figure something out dad).  The baby looks very cute and it appears that the red genes will live on.  Kein Yirbu.

You should be zocheh legadel oto l'torah l'chupa u'lemaasim tovim.

Manager's Note:  Due to the large number of smachot in my family (Baruch Hashem) I will have to request a small donation if you would like me to announce your simcha.  Cash or credit accepted :)

Binyamin - always looking for a good question 

Good Shabbos


FNQ - parsha thought

This shabbos I will be in Modiim where I will G-d willing be serving as a rabbininc intern over the next year.  I am speaking friday night between kabalat Shabbat and Maariv.  This is the thought I plan to share (in Hebrew). 

When Shavuot exits the stage the Jewish people clear their collective calender from holidays for quite some time. No other part in the year has such a long stretch of time with no joyous days. Not only are there no joyous days but the only moadim (unique days in our calender) over the next 4 months are the two fasts of the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av. Shavuot leaves us and all that lies us ahead is destruction and mourning. Not only is our calender empty after Shavuot but the portions we read in the Torah also are far from uplifting. This stretch of parshiyot are the amongst the most depressing string of stories in all of Tanach. Things go from bad to worse as we begin this week with the complainers, followed by the sad tale of the spies, the rebellion of Korach, the death of Miriam and the disgrace of the Moabite women. But I believe that in a short paragraph in this week's parsha is contained a life line and a powerful message than can guide us through these and all difficult days.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The revelation at Sinai

FNQ - thought of the week 

I will share my thoughts on the questions this week in a little bit of a different format than usual because I think the answer to each is so important. I don't claim to be much of an expert on these issues but I will try and share what I know. Each of these questions warrants a book but I am well aware that no one opened this link planning on reading a book.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The revelation at Sinai

FNQ – 5 q's for the week

Now that we have all re-experienced the giving and receiving of the Torah I would like pose some questions on the nature of this sublime and out of this world event. Belief in what is described in the Torah about the Sinai experience is a non-negotiable deal breaker. Belief in anything less than the revelation of G-d to the Jewish people and direct transmission of something (exactly what is a machloket) places one firmly outside of a Jewish belief system. Sinai is the backbone of our entire tradition and those who have unfortunately attempted to change our age old practices have always begun their redecorating by dismantling the keystone that is the Sinai experience. Perhaps one way to respond to those who deny the revelation at Sinai is to, in addition to affirming our absolute belief, gain a better understanding of what happened there and why it was so meaningful. May these questions and thoughts (later in the week) be a step in that direction.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Mazal Tov on the Pidyon Ha'ben of Matanya Yisrael Miller - The boy is ours!!!

FNQ - Announcement

It was with great joy and excitement that I reclaimed my son from Rabbi Aharon Katz yesterday.   The ceremony went rather smoothly as the decision whether or not to buy him back was fairly simple (he is just too cute not to keep him).  We celebrated the fulfillment of this mitzvah with our family, friends and Rabbeim from the Gruss kollel.  Now that he is fully ours we can begin implementing our parenting plan which we culled through hours of research in countless parenting books.  May it be G-d's will that we merit raising him in the path of Torah and Mitzvot!!!   Enjoy the pictures and links to the speeches.  (I hope to put video up soon)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mazel Tov to Yoni Miller (my brother) and Ariel Abrams on their engagement

FNQ – announcement

We would like to wish the חתן (Yoni Miller) and כלה (Ariel Abrams) a big mazel tov.  They should be zochim to build a bayit neeman b'yisrael. The engagement was Friday at Kever Shmuel Ha'navi and last night (motzei shabbos) there was a beautiful l'chaim at my parent's home in Yerushalayim. The following are links to the beautiful words that were shared at the l'chaim.

עוד ישמע בערי יהודה ובחוצות ירושלים קול ששון וקול שמחה קול חתן וקול כלה

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Jerusalem or Cesarea

FNQ – thought for the week

Yom Yerushalayim passed before I found the time to share a thought about the holy city but better late than never so here goes.

We live in confusing times. The Talmud says (Megilah 6a) that if someone tells you that Jerusalem and Cesarea are destroyed or that both are built up don't believe him. Only if he tells you that one is destroyed and one is built up can you believe him. Jerusalem and Casarea here are not merely referring to the cities themselves but rather to the cultures and values which these two cities represent. Jerusalem represents Jewish values and the service of G-d whereas Cesarea is symbolic of Roman and by extension all of Western culture. The gemara is saying that there is no room for both of these world views only one can be on top and the other by definition must lay in ruin. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Rut, Geirut and Kabalat ha'Torah: (Megilat Ruth Chapter 1) - לעילוי נשמת אלקע בת שמואל

FNQ – New Shiur – Series: Controversial Stories in Tanach

I gave this shiur last night in memory of my grandmother Elsie Miller a'h whose yartzei is today (כז אייר). She, like Ruth, was a princess of a women whose memory is honored by her many descendants living and teaching Torah in Eretz Yisrael. Her neshama should have an aliya.

This shiur deals with some of the controversial issues in Megilat Ruth. Some of the questions I discussed include:

Monday, May 10, 2010


FNQ – 5 q's for the week

Jerusalem. Its very name touches the souls of billions. Its stones echo the cries of a nation yearning to see it rebuilt and returned to its former glory. It is the city where kings are crowned and prophets are made. It is the place where the divine presence rests and the place where the Jewish people gather. It is our heart and soul, our eyes and ears, and it is the gateway to heaven. To live in an age where a Jewish flag flies over Jerusalem is to live and witness that which others could only dream of. With Yom Yerushalayim (the day we celebrate the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967) approaching I wanted to ask 5 questions about our holy city. Come back on Wednesday (Yom Yerushalayim) for my thoughts.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The power of being a parent

FNQ - thought of the week

Why is it that it my entire purpose in this world seems to have dramatically changed now that there is a human being who is my child?

I would like to attempt to share a thought on the above question. Concerning the other 4 questions which are more practical parenting issues come back in 50 years and maybe I will have something intelligent to say about them.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Chananya Mishael and Azarya - Jumping into the fire (Daniel Chapter 3)

FNQ New Shiur – Series: Controversial stories in the Bible

I originally made this shiur for Yom Ha'zikaron in order to mark the day on which we remember and honor those who made and continue to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect the State of Israel and the Jewish people.  The story of  Chananya, Mishael, and Azarya teaches us about the willingness to give up life in order to sanctify G-d's name.  I could think of no more fitting story to speak of on Yom Ha'zikaron. 

Some of the interesting issues I dealt with in this shiur include:

Sunday, May 2, 2010


FNQ – 5 q's for the week

For now, my life has returned to its regularly scheduled programming which means that it is time to once again attempt to pose thought provoking questions. However, the view from here is very different and the questions and thoughts must follow suit. For my first group of questions a.c. (after child) I would like to ask 5 questions on the most challenging pursuit man and woman have ever led – parenting. I have never experienced anything as exhilarating and humbling as that which I have felt in my first two weeks of being a father. The questions abound but for now five is a good start. Perhaps those reading this with more experience than I could help me with some answers. Either way I will try and give my own.