How Now Brown Cow?

Rabbi Avrohom Sebrow Tardar Sauce (2012-2019), better known by her nickname “Grumpy Cat,” was a cat and celebrity known for her grumpy facial expression. Her owner, Tabatha Bundesen, said that her permanently grumpy-looking face was due to an underbite and feline dwarfism. Grumpy Cat was featured on the front page of The Wall Street Journal […]

Hiddur Miss

Rabbi Avrohom Sebrow Daf Yomi learners just finished Masechta Nedarim and started Masechta Nazir. Those who learn Amud Yomi may feel bad that they didn’t cover as much ground and are not finishing yet another masechta. They learn three and a half blatt a week and will only finish Shas every 15 years. Oraysah followers […]

Biblical or Rabbinic: That is the Question

Rabbi Avrohom Sebrow The Torah affords a father the special right to annul his daughter’s vows while she is a naarah. According to the Ran, this permit is limited to vows that cause the daughter some suffering or otherwise affect the relationship between father and daughter. This leads the Gemara to discuss what amount of […]

Of Arrows and Annulments

Rabbi Avrohom Sebrow The Gemara relates two short and cryptic anecdotes. (Nedarim 76b) The first is that Chiya the son of Rav would shoot arrows and examine them. The second anecdote is that Rabba the son of Rav Huna would sit and stand. The Gemara does not offer any more details on these stories. Why […]

A Powerful Tefillah

Rabbi Avrohom Sebrow The Gemara in Nedarim expounds the earliest recorded example of hataras nedarim. Hashem told Moshe Rabbeinu that it was safe for him to return to Egypt “because the men who seek your life have died.” The Gemara explains that these men were none other than Dasan and Aviram. However, the Gemara records […]

What Makes a Valid Pesach?

Rabbi Avrohom Sebrow The Torah permits a person to annul his vows with the assistance of a chacham or beis din. One method of annulling a vow is by finding a “pesach,” literally an opening. The sage asks the person who uttered the vow, “Did you make your vow while being cognizant of such and […]

Is Dried Fruit the Top Banana?

Rabbi Avrohom Sebrow There was a villager – we’ll call him Reuven – with a taste for fine liquor and a nice collection of schnapps barrels. Reuven knew how to enjoy his liquor responsibly. His brother, Shimon, on the other hand, didn’t know when to stop. Shimon loved visiting his brother and helping himself to […]

Cultivating Gratitude

Rabbi Avrohom Sebrow There are some questions surrounding the details of the marriage of Rebbe Akiva to Rachel, the daughter of Kalba Savua. According to the Ben Yehoyada (Nedarim 50a), the following is what transpired. Rebbe Akiva initially performed kiddushin, the first stage of marriage, with Rachel. This was done in a quiet ceremony so […]

Focusing on the Positive

Rabbi Avrohom Sebrow The daughter of the emperor once said to Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananya, “You are the epitome of magnificent Torah, but it is stored in an ugly vessel!” Apparently, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananya was an unattractive man. The emperor’s daughter was puzzled as to why Hashem would deposit his Torah in an ugly […]

The Power of Bikur Cholim

Rabbi Avrohom Sebrow In Parshas Korach, Moshe Rabbeinu announced that the events that were about to unfold would establish clearly whether or not Korach was right in his challenge. “Through this shall you know that Hashem has sent me to perform all these acts, for it was not from my heart. If these die like […]