Kvitel refers to a practice developed by Hasidic Judaism in which a Hasid writes a note with a petitionary prayer and gives it to a Rebbe (Hasidic leader) in order to receive the latter's blessing. This prayer may be a general request for health, livelihood, or success, or a specific request such as recovery from illness, the ability to bear children, a wedding match, etc. The writing, giving and reading of a kvitel is treated very seriously by Hasid and Rebbe alike, and is executed according to specific protocols. Because of their inherent sanctity, kvitelach may not be thrown away after use; they are either burned or buried.
The practice of giving kvitelach continues today in all the Hasidic courts. Kvitelach are also placed on the graves of Rebbes and tzadikim (plural of "tzadik," or Jewish holy man) with the hope that the soul of the deceased will intercede for the petitioner in Heaven.
It is a centuries-old custom for Jews to place kvitelach containing personal prayers to God between the stones of the Western Wall in Jerusalem. This practice has been also adopted by Christian pilgrims and foreign dignitaries as well. More than a million prayer notes are placed in the Western Wall each year. (Read more...)
Anne Frank was a Jewish girl who wrote a diary while in hiding with her family and four friends in Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in World War II. After two years in hiding, the group was betrayed and they were transported to concentration camps, where all but Anne's father Otto died. He returned to Amsterdam to find that Anne's diary had been saved. Convinced that the diary was a unique record, he took action to have it published. The diary was given to Anne for her thirteenth birthday and chronicles the events of her life from June 12, 1942 until its final entry of August 4, 1944. It was eventually translated from its original Dutch into many languages and became one of the world's most widely read books. Described as the work of a mature and insightful mind, it provides an intimate examination of daily life under Nazi occupation; through her writing, Anne Frank has become one of the most renowned and discussed of the Holocaust victims. (Read more...)
“You shall not profane My holy name, that I may be sanctified in the midst of the Israelite people — I the Lord who sanctify you, I who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God." (Leviticus 22:32–33.)
God told Moses to tell the priests these laws for the priests. None were to come in contact with a dead body except for that of his closest relatives: his parent, child, brother, or virgin sister. They were not to shave any part of their heads or the side-growth of their beards or gash their flesh. They were not to marry a harlot or divorcee. The daughter of a priest who became a harlot was to be executed. The High Priest was not to bare his head or rend his vestments. He was not to come near any dead body, even that of his father or mother. He was to marry only a virgin of his own kin. No disabled priest could offer sacrifices. He could eat the meat of sacrifices, but could not come near the altar. No priest who had become unclean could eat the meat of sacrifices. A priest could not share his sacrificial meat with lay persons, persons whom the priest had hired, or the priest’s married daughters, but the priest could share that meat with his slaves and widowed or divorced daughters. Only animals without defect qualified for sacrifice.
God told Moses to instruct the Israelites to proclaim the following sacred occasions:
Sukkot for 8 days beginning on the 15th day of the seventh month
God told Moses to command the Israelites to bring clear olive oil for lighting the lamps of the Tabernacle regularly, from evening to morning. And God called for baking twelve loaves to be placed in the Tabernacle every Sabbath, and thereafter given to the priests, who were to eat them in the sacred precinct.
A man with an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father got in a fight, and pronounced God’s Name in blasphemy. The people brought him to Moses and placed him in custody until God’s decision should be made clear. God told Moses to take the blasphemer outside the camp where all who heard him were to lay their hands upon his head, and the whole community was to stone him, and they did so. God instructed that anyone who blasphemed God was to be put to death. Anyone who killed any human being was to be put to death. One who killed a beast was to make restitution. And anyone who maimed another person was to pay proportionately (in what has been called lex talionis).