YISRO (Exodus, 18:1-20:23) — “American Idol Worship – Does G-d Care Who Wins the Super Bowl?”

Is it appropriate for players like Tim Tebow to make grand gestures of prayer to a Master of the World Who has His Hands full dealing with things that are much more important, like whether people who are out of work will find a way to make their mortgage payments?…

The rest of this message can be read by clicking here.

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About Rabbi Seplowitz

Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz is a chaplain, Mohel, and Sofer (Scribe — writer of Torahs and other Jewish texts.)

Rabbi Seplowitz studied at the Jerusalem and Queens, New York campuses of the Rabbinical Seminary of America (Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim) under Rabbis  A. Henoch Leibowitz , and Moshe Chait. He also studied in Mesivtha Tifereth Jerusalem, where he received Smicha, (rabbinic ordination) from Rabbis Michel Berenbaum and David Feinstein.

Rabbi Seplowitz has served pulpits in Tucson, Arizona and Kingston, New York. He currently lives in Monsey, New York.

For information about scheduling a Bris or a lecture, or just to say hello, call (800) 83MOHEL.

Personal Interests

Rabbi Seplowitz is a native of Norwich, Connecticut. He attended the Hebrew Day School of Eastern Connecticut and the New England Academy of Torah. His hobbies include fishing, home brewing beer, long distance walking and biking, and tending his backyard chicken coop.  (He calls himself a “third generation chicken farmer” and suggests that his children are fourth generation chicken farmers.  They respectfully respond that the tradition stops at 3! 🙂 )

Among his favorite quotations is the beginning of Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato‘s “Path of the Just”.

“The foundation of righteousness and the root of perfection in the service of G-d lies in a man’s coming to see clearly and to recognize as a truth the nature of his duty in the world and the end towards which he should direct his vision and his aspiration in all of his labors all the days of his life.”

This quote (in the original Hebrew) hangs on the wall in his office.

His favorite secular poem, which also hangs on his wall, is Rudyard Kipling’s “If.”


If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;


If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;


If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;

If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with triumph and disaster

And treat those two imposters just the same;


If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,

And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;


If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breath a word about your loss;


If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on !”;


If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch;

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;

If all men count with you, but none too much;


If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!

—Rudyard Kipling


Rabbi Seplowitz sums up the message of these two quotes: “In other words, learn what G-d expects of you, understand what is proper, and don’t be concerned about what others may think of your values. — JUST DO IT!”

Published in: on January 24, 2014 at 9:13 am  Leave a Comment  

Contribute to my efforts to help sick children with Bike4Chai

Last Spring my friend Mendy sent me an email, inviting me to sponsor him on a bike ride for Tzedakah.  Kupath Ezrah and Tomche Shabbos , two very important charitable organizations in our home town of Monsey, NY, would be the beneficiaries of this fundraising event.  Riders could choose between routes of 40, 50, or 60 miles, and were required to raise at least $750 in sponsorships.

So I made a donation to sponsor my friend’s ride.

Then I went out and bought a bike, joined him on the ride, and raised over $1000!  (So the bike paid for itself!)

As the oldest (and probably least experienced!) rider, I rode my 60 miles and crossed the finish line long after all the other riders (except one fellow who was kind enough to keep me company!) had gone home.

                         my friend mendy

My friend Mendy (back to the camera) and 3 rabbis!

                  finish line

                               The Finish Line!

Now I’ve decided to move up a bit.

This summer, I hope to bike 180 miles through 3 states to Camp Simcha, an extraordinary overnight camp that gives children with cancer a vacation from sickness that restores their spirits and renews their determination to fight!

The ride won’t be easy, but neither is life for a child with cancer or other serious illness. Camp Simcha and its sister camp, Camp Simcha Special, are Chai Lifeline’s flagship programs. Every year these two camps offer 420 children a chance to forget about illness and just be kids again (to learn more about the camps, visit www.campsimcha.org).

I will be biking to camp on Wednesday and Thursday August 3rd and 4th. My objective is to raise at least $10,000 by then and I hope you will help me reach this goal. I am already almost halfway there. All donations are 100% tax-deductible.

You can sponsor me in one of 2 ways.  You can send your check, payable to Chai Lifeline, to me, Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz, 5 Glenmere Court, Monsey, NY 10952.  Or you can send your check directly to Chai Lifeline, ATTN: Bike4Chai, 100 Clifton Ave, Lakewood, NJ 08701.  Include a note that you are sponsoring my ride.  (Please send me an email (brisrabbi@gmail.com) to let me know you sent it, so I can make sure it gets properly credited.)

Next month, after registration officially opens for the ride, it will be possible to donate online.

Thank you for participating in this Mitzvah, and in doing so, helping children and their families cope with the diagnosis, treatment and aftermath of serious pediatric illness.

May you and yours always enjoy the best of health!
Best regards,

Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz

PS For more info about the bike ride please visit www.bike4chai.com


Published in: on December 19, 2013 at 10:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

Rabbi Seplowitz’s Op-Eds

“On women rabbis, the OU is consistent and reasonable”  February 5, 2018

“Time For ‘Open Orthodox’ Congregations To Leave The OU”? January 21, 2018

Published in: on December 12, 2013 at 5:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

Arrange Kaddish Recital

Judaism teaches that the soul of a person lives on after death and is judged, not only for that person’s actions in his or her lifetime, but also for the results of one’s actions.

For example, Moses, although he died over three thousand years ago, is considered to be very much alive in that the Torah that he brought to us from Mt. Sinai is still observed till this very day. Similarly, if we are good and moral people because our parents taught us by example how to live our lives, they, in a sense, live on through our good deeds. If they donated their time and efforts and money to a worthwhile institution, as long as that institution continues in its good work, it stands as a tribute to the departed.

What it is

Among the 613 Mitzvahs (Commandments) of the Torah is the Biblical commandment (Leviticus 22:32) to publicly sanctify G-d’s Name. One way to do that is to recite the Kaddish, which is a public praise of G-d, calling upon the congregation to answer “Amen. May the Great Name be blessed forever and ever.” The Kaddish prayer is recited several times in various forms in each of the three services recited daily.

The Talmud relates that the great sage Rabbi Akiva was once met by the soul of a person who had passed away and had no one to say Kaddish in his behalf. Rabbi Akiva sought out that man’s son and taught him how to say Kaddish for his father.

The custom today is for Kaddish to be recited every day for 11 months after the death of a parent. It is also recited on the Yahrtzeit, or Hebrew anniversary of that person’s death. Of equal, if not greater importance, is the concept of improving our lives through acts of kindness, charity and the study of Torah. All of these actions show what a profound impact the departed had on our lives, and shows G-d that the righteousness of that person lives on through our deeds.

What it isn’t

Contrary to popular belief, Kaddish is not a prayer for the dead. (The Prayer in memory of the departed, Yizkor, is recited on various holidays throughout the year.) Nor is Kaddish a statement of acceptance of Divine Justice. (Such a Prayer, Tziduk Hadin, is usually recited at the funeral.) Kaddish, quite simply, is a mitzvah that we perform on behalf of the departed. Just as we give Charity and study Torah on this person’s behalf, so too do we publicly proclaim the holiness of G-d through reciting the Kaddish and ask God to “credit” our loved one for this Mitzvah.

Can I say Kaddish at home?

Since the whole point of saying Kaddish is to publicly proclaim the greatness of God, saying it at home defeats the whole purpose. (Yizkor, on the other hand, may, and under certain circumstances, should be said at home.)

Is it possible to appoint a proxy to say Kaddish?

Absolutely. While prayers are always appropriate, it is preferable that a donation be made to charity as well. Arrangements can be made for Kaddish to be said regardless of the amount of your donation.

Many charitable institutions provide the recitation of Kaddish in consideration of a donation, typically in the $350-$500 range.  (Some people prefer to have Kaddish said by one person for one person, rather than a rabbi saying Kaddish for a list of people.  There is an institution I know of that provides that service, to which I can refer you.  The requested donation in that situation is $800.)

I have taken it upon myself to provide this service for families in need of someone to say Kaddish.  I am at synagogue Services daily, usually 3 times daily, and recite Kaddish in memory of those people whose families have made that request. [I should point out, in all fairness, that my schedule occasionally makes it necessary for me to miss synagogue Services. In those circumstances, there is another rabbi who usually says Kaddish for the people on my list.  There MAY be an occasional instance when Kaddish ends up not being recited at all three daily services.] The amount of the donation, to the institution whose name appears below, is totally up to you. 


(To start kaddish recital right away, email me at brisrabbi@gmail.com. You can send the check later.)
Name of deceased __________________________________

Hebrew Name (if known) ____________________________

Hebrew name of deceased’s father (if known; otherwise, provide English name, if known) ____________________________

Hebrew date of death (if known) ____________________________

(If Hebrew date is not known) Civil date of death (including year) _____________
Before Sunset:  Yes____ No____

Your name ____________________________

Your address ____________________________

Your email address ______________________

Your phone number ____________________________

Relationship to the deceased ____________________________

Tomchei Shabbos
c/o Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz
2000 FountainView Drive
Monsey, NY 10952

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