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This Jewish Life - With Rabbi Yaakov Wolbe

This Jewish Life - With Rabbi Yaakov Wolbe

This Jewish Life is Rabbi Yaakov Wolbe?s flagship podcast. Since its founding in January of 2013, This Jewish Life has featured a delightful potpourri of podcast episodes on a myriad of Jewish subjects. In its current incarnation, the podcast focuses on exploring the deeper elements of Jewish life and philosophy. In each episode our objective is to go a bit deeper into subjects that we may be familiar with, to plumb the depths and uncover the essence of the beauty and sublimity of Jewish life and customs, and Torah wisdom. Please email any questions, comments, or feedback to [email protected]

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The Eight Wonders of Repentance

Our Sages enumerates a list of seven things that preceded the world. Included in this list is repentance. Why was it necessary to create repentance before the creation of the world? In this podcast we speculate an answer: repentance is a supernatural miracle that thoroughly violates the rules of this world, and therefore once the [?]
2022-09-29
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The Meaning and Mystery of the Rosh Hashana Foods and Fruits

On the night of Rosh Hashana in Jewish homes the world over, a strange set of customs are observed. We take an apple, dip it into honey, and declare that we should have a sweet new year. We take a pomegranate, disgorge it?s seeds, consume them and pray that we be filled with merits like [?]
2022-09-23
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The Judgment of Rosh Hashana

In addition to the many other themes and motifs of the day, Rosh Hashana is called the Day of Judgment. The Mishnah tells us that on Rosh Hashana every human has an individual audience with the Almighty in the same way that a shepherd counts each sheep individually. The judgment is comprehensive: all of a [?]
2022-09-20
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Rabbi Nosson Dubin on the Recent Kosher Restaurant Scandal

Tastewise, kosher chicken and non-kosher chicken are indistinguishable. When it comes to the price tag, these two fowls are drastically different. The discrepancy in price creates an incentive for unscrupulous restaurateurs. If you can buy chicken at the non-kosher price, and sell it at the kosher price, you can juice your profits by a large [?]
2022-09-15
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The Spiritual Edifice

The Jewish holiday calendar is not evenly distributed. Mush of our Festivals are clumped together in one month, followed by a long winter with few special days, none of them of Biblical origin. Our Sages explain that the clustering of the High Holidays and the Festival of Sukkot is no coincidence. These days constitute one, [?]
2022-09-06
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The Power and Opportunity of Elul

These 40 days from the beginning of the month of Elul, the final month in the Jewish calendar, and Yom Kippur are the most powerful days of the year. These 40 days coincide with the 40 days that Moshe was in Heaven for the third 40 day stint when he received the second set of [?]
2022-09-01
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The Righteous Soul, its Travails and Destiny

Where does the soul come from and to where is it going? This is a question that we don?t think about often, but it is of vital importance if we want to spiritually succeed in life. In this sprawling episode ? originally recorded in 2016 and only released now ? we examine the soul, what [?]
2022-08-09
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Mezuzah: A Deep Dive

The mezuzah that graces the doorposts of every Jewish home is perhaps our most recognizable mitzvah. But what exactly is a mezuzah? What is its power? How does it change the Jewish home and the Jewish experience? In This very special podcast episode, we take a deep and profound look at the Mezuzah to discover [?]
2022-06-28
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Six Questions for Shavuos

The Festival of Shavuos marks the anniversary of the greatest event in all of human history: the Revelation at Sinai. This momentous event never happened before history and was never replicated. God spoke to an entire nation. They heard His voice and lived to tell the tale. In our liturgy, this festival is known as [?]
2022-06-03
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Ruth: The Enduring Lesson of Shavuos

The Book of Ruth ? and its eponymous heroine ? are true enigmas. The Book contains no new laws and its story, while inspirational and poignant, bears no easily discernible connection to the Festival of Shavuos, when it is read. The Book?s protagonist, Ruth, has a decidedly checkered pedigree, yet becomes the matriarch of the [?]
2022-06-02
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Shavuos: The Time to Become Extraordinary

Shavuos is the day that marks the most significant event in the history of humankind: A nation coalesced around Mount Sinai to temporarily catapult into a state of prophecy, to hear God say the Ten Commandments, and to live to tell the tale. Shavuos is thus aptly named, ?the Day of the Giving of the [?]
2022-05-29
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Agency, Urgency, Insurgency: Six Powerful Pointers on Self-Development

There is a widespread custom to study Pirkei Avos, the Mishnaic Book of the Ethics of our Fathers, between the festivals of Pesach and Shavuot. As we prepare for the reenactment of the Sinai Revelation and the giving of the Torah, we prime ourselves to become worthy vessels for Torah by refining and improving ourselves. [?]
2022-05-24
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Lag BaOmer and Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai

Lag BaOmer is the day that marks the Yahrtzeit/Hillula of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, one of the great Sages of the Mishnaic Era. In celebration and recognition of Rabbi Shimon?s accomplishments and stature, the custom is to make it a mini-holiday. But of course, Rabbi Shimon was not the only transcendental Sage of that time. His teacher [?]
2022-05-15
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Omer: Seven Themes for the Seven Weeks of Seven Days

The days spanning the Festivals of Pesach and Shavuos, of Exodus and Sinai, are called the days of the Omer. During these 49 days, during these 7 weeks of 7 days, we are commanded to count the days by mentioning each day?s number and the corresponding number of weeks and days. In this sweeping podcast [?]
2022-05-03
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The Pesach Seder: How to Maximize the Year’s Most Powerful Night

The first night of Pesach ? the second night as well is the Diaspora ? is arguably the most important nights of the year. On this night we were redeemed from Egypt, this is the night of the Exodus, this is the night of the death of the firstborn; tonight we became a nation. This [?]
2022-04-13
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Pharaoh and the Haggadah

On Pesach we celebrate the Exodus from Egypt. Our nation endures hundreds of years of servitude and enslavement and unimaginable suffering and torment under the ruthless rule of Pharaoh and the Egyptians. But God did not forget His covenant. In keeping with His promise to Abraham, the Almighty redeemed us from Egypt with an outstretched [?]
2022-04-11
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Pesach: The Lifeblood of our People

The Exodus from Egypt is the founding episode of our nation. The Almighty plucked us out, a nation from amidst a nation, and chose us to be His people. What were the preconditions of the Exodus? What had to happen in order to facilitate our freedom? When we examine the Exodus carefully we learn about [?]
2022-04-06
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We Have Been Blessed With a Baby Boy

With deep appreciation to the Almighty for all the goodness that He has bestowed upon us, I?m happy to share that my wife, Chaya, and I were blessed with a beautiful baby boy on Monday, March 14. Thank God, both Mom and baby are doing fabulous! In this special edition of the podcast, I share [?]
2022-03-20
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The Book of Esther on an Allegorical Level (Rebroadcast)

On Purim we read the Book of Esther, which tells the story of the Purim miracle. The Persian king Achashverosh conspires with his Amalekite viceroy Haman to eradicate the entire Jewish nation, but God refused to allow their plans to unfold. Queen Esther, together with her relative Mordechai, spearhead the effort to turn the plan on [?]
2022-03-15
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The Kabbalistic Conflict of Purim with Rabbi Shmuly Botnick

Purim is a tantalizing festival. We get the dress up in costumes, read about close brush with destruction that our nation endured many centuries ago, and to drink alcohol guiltlessly. It?s a great party (certainly for extroverts). But what?s the deeper secret behind the day? What did Haman actually try to do to our nation? [?]
2022-03-13
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Purim: A Primer

The festival of Purim commemorates the story of salvation that our nation experienced in Persia more than two thousand years ago. Haman the heir of Amaleik schemed a plot to eradicate the entire Jewish people in one randomly selected day, the 13th day of Adar. But the Almighty would have none of it. In His [?]
2022-03-08
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Special: An Interview About My New Book, Upon A Ten-Stringed Harp

In conjunction with our annual fundraiser this week at giveTORCH.org (every donation is tripled), we are releasing a special interview conducted by the TORCH Board President, Dan Kullman, about my new book, Upon A Ten-Stringed Harp. Please consider contributing to our annual fundraiser at giveTORCH.org.
2022-02-17
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The Divorce Vaccine – Second Dose: The Essence of an Amazing Marriage & TORCH Fundraiser (giveTORCH.org)

Please support The This Jewish Life Podcast and the annual TORCH fundraiser at giveTORCH.org Every donation will be TRIPLED! Show your support for TORCH and The This Jewish Life Podcast and donate to the annual fundraiser at giveTORCH.org ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? [?]
2022-02-15
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Tu B’Shevat: The Secret of the Rosh Hashana for Trees

The fifteenth day of the Jewish month of Shevat ? known as Tu B?Shevat ? is the New Year for trees and fruits. All the fruits that sprout before this cutoff are associated with the previous year?s yield and the ones that come afterwards are attributed to the new year?s. If that was all that [?]
2022-01-13
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Chanukah and Joseph (Rebroadcast)

Every year, Chanukah falls out during the weeks in which we read about Joseph and his exploits in Egypt. Our Sages tell us that there is a deep connection between Joseph?s and the Maccabean heroism. Many connections have been proposed, and in this podcast I suggest a new approach to understanding how Joseph precisely embodies [?]
2021-12-02
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Chanukah: History, Laws, and Customs (Rebroadcast)

About 2,200 years ago, the Jewish Nation faced an existential threat: The Assyrian Greek Empire led by Antiochus and his Hellenist henchmen undertook a concerted campaign to systematically eradicate the Jewish religion. They sought to make the Jews forget the Torah and depart from the mitzvos; they defiled the Temple; they harassed the Jewish daughters; [?]
2021-11-28
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On Death and Dying: Part 2 – How to Prepare

How do you prepare for your day of death? Is that an important question? One can argue that living is much more important than dying. Death, this line of reasoning argues, is something that happens on its own and not something that we need to concern ourselves with. In this podcast, we present a completely [?]
2021-11-24
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On Death and Dying: The Jewish View

Death is the destiny of mankind. Since Adam and Eve made the regrettable decision to consume from the Tree of Knowledge, Good and Evil, man has been condemned to die. But what exactly is death? How does the experience differ from person to person? Why is it a subject worthy of our focus? These should [?]
2021-11-22
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The Divorce Vaccine – First Dose: How to Select the Right Spouse

What do you are about to hear is a vaccine against divorce. This first dose is intended for single people, who have not yet decided who they want to spend the rest of their lives with. If you are already married, you?ve made your choice and this part of the vaccine is not relevant to [?]
2021-10-31
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But I’m a Good Person with Dan Kullman

When my dear friend, Dan Kullman, asked me to join him on The Shema Podcast to discuss the phenomenon of people saying, ?But I?m a good person,? I was not aware of how pervasive such a sentiment is and why discussing it would be interesting. In the end we had a delightful and stimulating conversation. [?]
2021-10-03
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Hoshana Rabbah, Shemini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah: The Meaning of Sukkot’s Climax

The Festival of Sukkot ends with a three-day constellation of significant days: The seventh day is Hoshana Rabbah, the eighth is Shemini Atzeres, and the ninth is Simchas Torah. These days have unique customs not found in any other day in the Jewish calendar. In this sweeping podcast episode, we explore these days, plumb their [?]
2021-09-26
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Dreaming of a Sunny Sukkah

We are amid the incredible Festival of Sukkos. Each day (except Shabbos) we shake the Lulav and Esrog, we celebrate with our family, and we dwell in our temporary residence, the Sukkah. But what happens when the weather does not comply? What do we do when it gets swelteringly hot? In this podcast, we demonstrate [?]
2021-09-23
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The Glorious Clouds of Sukkos

Over the course of the Festival of Sukkos (sometimes spelled ?Sukkot?, sometimes ?Succos?, rivaled only by the nightmare of trying to find the definitive spelling of Chanukah ? Hannukah, Hanukkah), we must dwell in a temporary structure, a Sukkah. Why? ?In order that your generations know that [God] made Sukkahs for us during the Exodus.? [?]
2021-09-19
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Tips and Tricks to Secure a Positive Judgment on Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is the end of the annual judgment. On Yom Kippur, the verdict written on Rosh Hashana gets sealed. Until that deadline, however, we can effectuate our judgment. The verdict can be rewritten and amended; the bad decrees can be annulled. But it won?t happen automatically. We need to expend effort to ensure that [?]
2021-09-14
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Jonah: Studying the Yom Kippur Reading on a Deeper Level (Rebroadcast)

On Yom Kippur afternoon, we read the 48-verse Book of Jonah, which tells of a renegade prophet, Jonah, who defies the directive of God and refuses to castigate the people of Nineveh and instead escapes from God to Tarshish ? with mixed results. A simple reading of the story reveals a tale of repentance, both of [?]
2021-09-13
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Reconciliation and Forgiveness: The Interpersonal Component of Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur is a day of atonement and expiation. On this auspicious day, the Almighty forgives us for all our transgressions and we become purified before God. But the purification of Yom Kippur is limited to sins between man and God. For interpersonal transgressions, there is no atonement unless the aggressor appeases and secures forgiveness [?]
2021-09-12
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The Seven Wonders of Repentance

Rosh Hashana kickstarts the Ten Days of Repentance which culminates in Yom Kippur. This is the time to repent. But repentance is a daunting and terrifying concept. All change is frightening. In this very special edition of the podcast, we shed a new light on repentance. We discover that repentance is a great gift that [?]
2021-09-05
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Man In The Arena: Three Ways To Understand The Judgment of Rosh Hashana

In addition to the many other themes and motifs of the day, Rosh Hashana is called the Day of Judgment. The Mishnah tells us that on Rosh Hashana every human has an individual audience with the Almighty in the same way that a shepherd counts each sheep individually. The judgment is comprehensive: all of a [?]
2021-09-03
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Rosh Hashana: Customs, Rituals, Ceremonies, and Practices

The two days of Rosh Hashana are two of the most important days in the year. These festival days are celebratory and joyous, but are also dedicated to prayer, to introspection, and repentance. Rosh Hashana is a time when we try to strike a delicate balance of festivities and trepidation due to the Day of [?]
2021-08-29
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The Essence of Elul

These 40 days from the beginning of the month of Elul, the final month in the Jewish calendar, and Yom Kippur are the most powerful days of the year. These 40 days coincide with the 40 days that Moshe was in Heaven for the third 40 day stint when he received the second set of [?]
2021-08-09
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The Three Weeks: A Primer

For the three weeks spanning from the fast of the 17th of Tammuz until the fast of Tisha B?av (9th of Av), the Jewish nation practices collective mourning. This mourning is the result of a collection of calamitous things that has happened to our ancestors during these inauspicious times. What is the background of these [?]
2021-06-27
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Ruth: The Enduring Lesson of Shavuos

The Book of Ruth ? and its eponymous heroine ? are true enigmas. The Book contains no new laws and its story, while inspirational and poignant, bears no easily discernible connection to the Festival of Shavuos, when it is read. The Book?s protagonist, Ruth, has a decidedly checkered pedigree, yet becomes the matriarch of the [?]
2021-05-12
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Shavuos: The Time to Become Extraordinary

Shavuos is the day that marks the most significant event in the history of humankind: A nation coalesced around Mount Sinai to temporarily catapult into a state of prophecy, to hear God say the Ten Commandments, and to live to tell the tale. Shavuos is thus aptly named, ?the Day of the Giving of the [?]
2021-05-10
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Who was Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and why does Lag Ba’Omer matter?

Lag BaOmer is the day that marks the Yahrtzeit/Hillula of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, one of the great Sages of the Mishnaic Era. In celebration and recognition of Rabbi Shimon?s accomplishments and stature, the custom is to make it a mini-holiday. But of course, Rabbi Shimon was not the only transcendental Sage of that time. [?]
2021-04-21
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The Rest of the Story with Esther Kaplan (Part 2: March 2021)

Esther Kaplan (née Wolbe), along with her husband AJ, experienced the worst nightmare parents can undergo when their adorable and perfect son Shlomo passed away only 16 weeks into his life. This intimate and stirring conversation follows up on the one we had in 2018 in which Esther shares the story of Shlomo?s life and [?]
2021-04-06
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Reflections on Loss, Tragedy, and Bereavement: An Interview with Esther Kaplan (Part 1: March 2018)

Esther Kaplan (née Wolbe), along with her husband AJ, experienced the worst nightmare parents can undergo when their adorable and perfect son Shlomo passed away only 16 weeks into his life. In this intimate and stirring conversation Esther shares the story of Shlomo?s life and opens up about how parents absorb and process such an [?]
2021-04-05
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TORCH Fundraiser: A Conversation with our Board President, Dan Kullman

Please support The TORCH Podcasts and the annual TORCH fundraiser at giveTORCH.org Every donation will be TRIPLED Show your support for TORCH and the TORCH Podcasts and donate to the annual fundraiser at giveTORCH.org ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? [?]
2021-03-04
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Havdalah and its Secrets + TORCH Fundraiser

Please support This Jewish Life Podcast and the annual TORCH fundraiser at giveTORCH.org Every donation will be TRIPLED Show your support for TORCH and This Jewish Life Podcast and donate to the annual fundraiser at giveTORCH.org ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? [?]
2021-03-02
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Esther on an Allegorical Level

On Purim we read the Book of Esther, which tells the story of the Purim miracle. The Persian king Achashverosh conspires with his Amalekite viceroy Haman to eradicate the entire Jewish nation, but God refused to allow their plans to unfold. Queen Esther, together with her relative Mordechai, spearhead the effort to turn the plan on [?]
2021-02-22
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A Life of Joy

When Adar enters, we increase in Joy (Talmud Taanis 29a). Adar, the month in which contains the Festival of Purim, kickstarts the season on joy in the Jewish calendar. On this month we were saved from Haman?s genocide, and it is closely followed by Nissan, the month of the Exodus. What does the Torah mean [?]
2021-02-19
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