Monday, January 30

Lincoln on the Avot

We saw a quote in the new Lincoln biography which made us think of ongoing discussion of treatment of the Avot:

Years later, Whitney [a Lincoln legal colleague from 1850s] recalled a lengthy discussion about George Washington. The question for debate was whether the first president was perfect, or whether, being human, was fallible. According to Whitney, Lincoln thought there was merit in retaining the notion of a Washington without blemish that they had all been taught as children. "It makes human nature better to believe that one human being was perfect," Lincoln argued, "that human perfection is possible."
--Doris Kearns Goodwin, Team of Rivals, pp. 151-52.

Friday, January 27

But Seriously Folks...

New York's funniest rabbi looks at the serious side of teaching.
Click here...

Thursday, January 26

When Father Knows Less

Kids ask questions: that's a well-known fact. We parents do our best to give the right answers, until the questions become so relentless and complex that we give up and our children conclude that we are either (a) good people trying to do our best who just don't happen to know everything, or (b) complete morons.

When father (and mother) knows less...

Wednesday, January 25


Howie Jachter's "Halakhah Files" has been running an excellent series on the prohibition to smoke. Click here...

Monday, January 23


What makes great children's literature, what are kids' books supposed to do, and why Green Eggs and Ham (treif though it may be) might be #1.

"Alliteration, the linguistic subversiveness, the stretching of the dictionary like bubble gum, these are Seussian traits that give our children an early taste for language, for flair, for the advantages of sounding smart--and even, I daresay, for the advantages of being smart."

Click here...

Sunday, January 22

Where Have All The Rabbis Gone?

Marvin Schick on musical chairs (and pulpits and principals' offices).

Saturday, January 21

Shabbat Shalom

Shavua Tov.
Click here for the origins of Shabbat Shalom.

Thursday, January 19

Anti-Semitism Upside?

"There is one good thing about anti-Semitism: It lets you know who the bad guys are.The minute someone starts rattling on about the "evil Jews", you know your train just pulled into Slimeball Station. Virulent anti-Semitism is such a good indicator of the presence of evil that I'm tempted to believe that when God made the Jews his chosen people, this is what he chose them for: to be a sort of Villainy Early Detection System for everyone else."

Read on...

Wednesday, January 18

The Homework Front

Whatever side you’re on in the homework wars (more vs. less), a case can be made that study habits formed in grade school establish patterns for negotiating life as an adult. The kid whose mom builds his diorama may expect a rent-check stipend later; the girl who spends Friday night finishing her science project will likely resist the temptations of happy hour with her co-workers.
When the NYC public library announced, last month, the launch of an allpoints Web site,, for K-12 students, proponents hailed it as a critical blow to the old “dog ate my homework” excuse.
Click here for more (and here for

Tuesday, January 17

Moadei Nechama

New book:

Moadei Nechama: Studies in the Holidays of Tishrei from the Teachings of Nechama Leibowitz (Hebrew), click here.

Monday, January 16

Rav Torah has a large PDF download of transcription notes with many divrei Torah and parsha shiurim from Rabbi Soloveitchik, recently discovered.
Click here (222 pages).

ATID Fellows 5766

Click here...

Sunday, January 15


What does a knowledge of geography add to understanding Tanakh? A lot more than you might think (especially if you didn't learn any in grade school yourself).

See this article for some concrete classroom examples (including one from yesterday's parsha).

Thursday, January 12

Raiders of the Lost Zayit

This article reports on efforts to clone biblical dates--some speculate that it may help us figure out the size of various shiurim (zayit, beitzah, etc.).
Download as a PDF a fascinating essay on fruit archeologists--recovering renaissance pears.

Wednesday, January 11

Cat People vs. Dog People

This cartoon is a perush on R. Eleazer's comment in Horiyot (bottom of 13a--click here or here) about the difference between cats and dogs.
See the analysis of that aggada by our friend R. Yitzie Blau (in the second to last paragraph of this essay -- although read the whole thing to understand how it relates to teaching).

Winter Jewish Action

The new issue of Jewish Action is online here. Of note:

Monday, January 9

Prof. Yehuda Feliks zt"l

Flora, fauna, ahavat Torah, ve-yirat shamayim.
Prof. Yehuda Feliks zt"l, who passed away last month, fondly remembered here.

Friday, January 6


Hirhurim hazed? What goes on in yeshiva high school locker rooms?
Click here...

Thursday, January 5

Too Smart?

Our friend M.O. Woman looks at predictions that the expected female-male ratio among college graduates is expected to reach 60-40 over the next few years, and questions what this means for love, marriage, family, career...
Click here.

Ban All Schools

The new Edge Question is out: What's your most dangerous idea?
Among the answers: Ban all schools. But heck, they guy who thinks that is the C.L.O. (=Chief Learning Officer) of Trump University.

Wednesday, January 4

Shotgun HaNiskal

For a new twist on why we kill the goring ox (see Shmot 21:28), click here.

(Thanks, UC!)