Quantity or Quality – Chaim Arukim or Aruchim?!

In the blessing for the new month, the Birkat HaChodesh prayer, we ask God to grant us “חיים ארוכים, lives of peace, of goodness, of blessing, of prosperity…”   What does חיים ארוכים mean?   Most translated siddurim, including the US Artscroll, the UK Singers/Authorised Daily Prayer Book and the Israeli Rinat Yisrael Siddur, read this phrase as Chaim AruKim, meaning “long life.”   Grammatically, it has been argued that even though the word appears to be vocalized as Aruchim, … Continued

He’arat Azhara (Cautionary/Warning/Inquiry Note)

Once the purchase contract for your new home is signed and the down payment has been made, the first action to be taken by the lawyer representing you is to register a “cautionary note.” This is a note registered in the Land Registry, or the Israel Land Administration – the Minhal, to warn/alert any prospective purchaser (to whom the seller might, conceivably, try and resell the property, following the signing of the contract) that a purchase contract has been signed … Continued

Between “Vayikra” and Bamidbar”

The book of “Vayikra” is characterized by permanence, holiness (the Temple, the Cohanim, the People, the Land), of static encampment around the Temple, and the world it represents of eternal and timeless values, ideals and goals.   By contrast, the book of “Bamidbar” is permeated by dynamism, change and fluctuation (both of the camp and of the People in their moods), the present and being constantly “on the move,” roving through the barren wilderness.   In the Ramban’s words on … Continued

What is Betterment Tax or Levy (Hetel Hashbacha)?

  Betterment tax (hetel hashbacha) is a levy payable to the local planning authorities by an owner or long-term leaseholder of a property, under Israel’s Planning and Building Law.   If, since the seller originally purchased the apartment, the planning authorities have adopted a new zoning plan allowing greater use of the property or additional building rights, or if the seller submitted a request and was granted additional building rights or other benefits affecting the value of the apartment – … Continued

Berlin is Jerusalem

There is a very famous “Meshech Chochma” on this week’s second parsha, Bechukotai. On the Tochecha in Vayikra (26:44), R. Meir Simcha of Dvinsk 1843-1926) adds the following philosophical gloss: “If the Jew thinks that Berlin is Jerusalem … then a raging storm wind will uproot him by his trunk and subject him before a faraway gentile nation… a tempest will arise and spread its roaring waves, and swallow, and destroy, and flood forth without pity. Therefore, you will not … Continued

An Introduction to Land Registration in Israel

Some 93% of land in Israel is in the public domain; that is, it is either property of the State, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) or the Development Authority (Reshut HaPituach – the body which was established in 1950 to manage lands entrusted with the Trustee for Absentee Properties After the War of Independence).  The Israel Land Administration (ILA) is the government agency responsible for managing this land which comprises approx. 22 million dunams. “Ownership” of real estate in Israel … Continued

12 Practical Tips and Tricks for Rental Contract Negotiations in Israel

You are about to rent an apartment. A person purporting to represent the landlord presents you with a single sheet of paper and shows you where to sign on the dotted line (“it’s just standard wording,” he assures you). What should you look out for to protect your interests?   Proper power of attorney and absentee landlord First, insist on seeing an original Power of Attorney document, to verify that the agent has actual authority to sign a rental contract … Continued

How to Survive an IRS (Child Tax Credit) Audit in Israel

Since 2001, US citizens living abroad have been able to file for the legendary “additional child tax credit” (ACTC) of up to $1,000 for each child under the age of 17. If aUS citizen living in Israel has an Israeli salary and the combined salary of both spouses is less than $110,000, the Israeli tax paid on the salary is credited against the US tax due. Assuming no other income, the Israeli tax credit will usually eliminate the US tax … Continued

Me’ein or Ma’on HaBerachot?!

I liked the following insight that appeared in the Hebrew “Shabbat BeShabbato” pages this week (Parshat Naso, No. 1526), written by Ya’akov Etzion.   Ya’akov gives an innovative explanation for a phrase in Friday night davening that I have always found difficult. In the Magen Avot prayer after the Amidah, the following words appear: “we will give thanks to His name every day continuously, me’ein ha-berachot“.  What do these two last words actually mean? The Gemara (Berachot 40a) explains the … Continued

Why Are Most Jewish Objects Covered?! Recommended D’var Torah for Parshat Pekudei, by Rabbi S. Weiss

Question: WHY ARE MOST JEWISH OBJECTS COVERED? Answer: The Gemara (Ta’anit 8b) says, “blessing only rests on that which is hidden from the eye. Once it has been counted, its potential for blessing is lost.” And so, many of our ritual objects are covered: The Torah has a mantle over it & is kept in an Aron; the Aron itself has a Parochet/curtain; a Mezuza has a housing/bayit, as do Tefilin; a Megila is kept in a case; Matza on … Continued