One of the stressors about flying is the need to have an updated passport. A number of years ago, when I decided to travel to Eretz Yisrael, I realized that my passport had expired. It was a cumbersome process to get an appointment at the post office for a rush order. I also needed to have an updated picture of myself to send out with the passport application. I went to a studio where they take passport photo and posed. They were very accommodating and allowed me to take the picture a number of times. I happen to be a relatively photogenic person, and it was incredible that no matter how many times he took the picture, it still was a rather lousy portrait. After two or three times, I agreed to take the best of the bunch and just be done with it.

Early Friday morning this past week, as I was preparing the Gemara I would be teaching in shiur later that day, I recalled a question one of my students had asked me about a certain halachah regarding bris milah. I have a couple of s’farim about bris milah that are together on a shelf, and I reached for one of them. If I receive a sefer as a gift, or if I purchase it at a memorable place or a special occasion, I often will record that on the inside cover of the sefer. When I opened that particular sefer about bris milah, I found that I had written the following in Hebrew: “I purchased the sefer in honor of the birth of our twins on the sixth of Elul, Erev Shabbos Parshas Shoftim 5776, and, through the kindness of Hashem, we entered them into the bris of Avraham Avinu on time (the eighth day), Friday, the 13th of Elul.”

By R' Dani Staum

Although we may not want to admit it, there are certain brachos of Sh’moneh Esrei that seem to resonate with us more deeply than others. The brachos in which we ask Hashem for health, livelihood, and deliverance from pain are probably ones we focus on the most, as those are all things we feel we constantly need.

Every night, I empty the contents of my pockets onto the dresser in my bedroom. That often includes loose change, receipts – many of which contain shorthand notes or reminders – clean and dirty tissues, and whatever other miscellaneous things ended up there during the day.

For the last six months, I have been working on creating a new siddur for our yeshivah, Heichal HaTorah. Well, I’m not actually writing a new siddur; the Sages throughout the ages who compiled our prayers did a masterful job with that, and they don’t need my approbation. But I, and the students and faculty of the yeshivah, are working on a new translation, annotation, and elucidation of the t’filos in our siddur. The goal is to present them in a manner and vernacular that relates to an American yeshivah student in the 21st century. (To be honest, I don’t even know what annotate and elucidate really mean. But those are the adjectives ArtScroll uses, and – until the Heichal siddur is complete – ArtScroll is the gold standard...)

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