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March 05 Kosherpages launches 

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Bamidbar - Shevuoth

Wednesday, 24th May 2017

"Count the sons of Levi according to their fathers’ household, according to their families, every male from one month age and up shall you count them (Bamidbar 3;14)" 

The counting of the tribe of Levi was different to the counting to that of every other tribe. The children of Israel were to be counted “from twenty years upwards”, yet, the members of the tribe of Levi, were counted from one month upwards. Why is the tribe of Levi different? 
Counting a person means that he is reckoned as part of the community. We do not normally reckon infants and children into the count of those who have accepted Jewish responsibilities upon themselves, since although they might have been educated by parents and teachers to make Judaism the main part of their life, it is not certain that they will continue to do so as adults. Therefore, for the tribes of Israel only those who were twenty and upwards can be counted truly as part of the community. 

The tribe of Levi, however, were different. The whole essence of the Levites was to be the bearers of Jewish service and Jewish learning. They therefore could be relied upon to imbue their young with absolute loyalty to Judaism. From the age of one month old the members of Levi were reckoned in the counting of their tribe, since it was known that by the age of 20 they would definitely still be on board with Jewish commitment. 

The tribe of Levi shows us the way. In these current times, when our people is under attack, we must imbue our young with love of Torah from an early age, and thereby ensure their Jewish loyalty and commitment. 


Thursday, 18th May 2017

If your brother becomes impoverished...............(25:35)

The first half of Behar deals with various laws regarding "Shmita" . In short, the commandment of "Shmita" is that in the 7th year all agricultural activities ceases, and the land of Israel lies fallow. The Parsha (Torah portion) then continues regarding numerous laws of the poor. A questioned is asked, whats the connection between "Shmita" and the laws of charity? If the Torah places them next to each other, then we assume a connection exists?

When the farmer reaches the 7th year , he is confronted with a dilemma regarding "Shmita". It's often very difficult to allow one's source of income to lie dormant, namely one's land. This takes much faith and courage. 

Yet, it can cause a person much anxiety about one's livelihood. G-d is keenly aware of this fact, and promises in verses 25:19-22 that the person that keeps "Shmita" will be blessed with abundance. The "Shmita" year is now over, and this farmer finds that G-d has surely blessed him with abundance and wealth. However, a very relevant question remains as follows: Can this farmer now relate to the anxiety his poor neighbor is feeling? 

This is the true test of "Shmita". Just like this farmer felt anxious about "Shmita", can he now feel the pain of his impoverished brother? Perhapes by connecting "Shmita" with charity, the Torah is teaching an auxiliary reason for the Mitzvah of "Shmita". Hashem (G-d) wanted the rich landowner to feel somewhat anxious about "Shmita" so that he can now "taste" his impoverished friend's anxiety about being poor. 

This is perhaps the true test of "Shmita",namely what has the landowner learned from his "Shmita" experience? Is he a better person from it ,or not? Is he more generous with the blessings G-d has bestowed on him, or not? Perhaps the Torah is teaching us that the aftermath of "Shmita" regarding the poor is more of a test to the landowner than "shmita" itself. 


Thursday, 11th May 2017

Included in its discussion of the Yomtovim (Festivals) throughout the year, this week's parsha (Torah portion) lists the mitzvah (Commandment) of Sefiras HaOmer, to count the days and weeks from the second day of Pesach (Passover) until Shavuos. 

We were just redeemed from Egypt on Pesach, as Hashem (G-d) brought us from slavery to freedom. At first glance, we would assume that this remarkable redemption was the ultimate goal, as Hashem saved us from our enemies while at the same time making His existence known to the world. Why, all of a sudden, after this great milestone has been reached, do we begin counting towards another event? 

If we look at what took place on Shavuos, the culmination of the Sefiras HaOmer, we can find the answer. On Shavuos, Hashem revealed Himself on Har Sinai and gave the Jewish people His beloved Torah. 

When we left Egypt we were free in the physical sense, much like modern-day third-world nations which remove the yoke of a dictatorship from upon them. Finally the moment had arrived, and although it must have been an exhilarating feeling to be free from bondage, the ultimate goal had not yet been reached. Only when we stood at Har Sinai and received the Ten Commandments, as well as the rest of the Torah, was the pinnacle reached. Why? Because without the Torah, we have no real direction in life, no guiding light to instruct us what is the right path and what is not. Other nations may fight for nationalism and freedom, and this is all well and good, but once they have vanquished the enemy, what direction are they to take for the future? 

Unfortunately for them, sometimes the answer is to create another dictatorship.  This explains why we count the days from Pesach until Shavuot. For just as a school boy or student anxiously anticipates and counts down the days until his last day at school, or graduation, so too do we long for and mark down each day until we receive the Torah. 

D’var Torah: Yom Ha’atzmaut

Thursday, 4th May 2017


Click the image below to hear the
Chief Rabbi's D'var Torah
for Yom Ha'atzmaut


Tazria Metzorah

Thursday, 27th April 2017

As part of his purification process, the metzora (the person afflicted with leprosy) is to bring two birds as a sacrifice for atonement. 

The Zohar comments that one of the birds is for the lashon hara (derogatory speech about another person - that the metzora spoke) and the other for the good words. 

What does the Zohar mean? Where are the good words which the metzora spoke and why does he need atonement for that? 

The explanation given is that the metzora does not need only to atone for the sin he did in speaking lashon hara, he also needs to be aware about, and gain atonement for the fact that he missed out on an opportunity of saying "good words". 

Instead of using those few seconds (and his tongue and voice box) to speak lashon hara, he could have been using his words wisely by speaking positively, Torah, words of encouragement or compliments to others, etc. These are ‘the good words’ which the Zohar is referring to. The fact that the metzora needs atonement for having failed to open his mouth to speak positive, constructive words. 

The metzora (along with ourselves) is being taught that it’s not enough to avoid sin. We are on this world to positively achieve things too and we must be proactive in this goal. 
Life is not only about not sinning - it’s about doing the positive! 



Thursday, 20th April 2017

Rashi (the famed Biblical commentator of the Middle Ages) on verse 11:2 tells us that the reward for Aharon’s (Aaron's) silence at the deaths of his two sons was that the portion of the Torah regarding kashrus (Kosher food) was told via him as well as via Moshe (Moses). All of G-d’s rewards match the deed perfectly. So what has eating Kosher got to do with silence?
One idea is that his silence (as Rashi says) showed his understanding that whatever G-d does it is for the best - he accepted G-d’s decree with love. This show of great understanding is connected to the mitzvah (commandment) we have, to understand and differentiate between kosher and non-kosher animals (Leviticus10:10).
Moreover, the fact that silence is connected to the laws of Kashrus shows us that there is a certain connection between what comes out of our mouths and what we put into our mouths.
Lastly, one underlying principle of kashrus of animals is that non-kosher animals tend to be cruel in their behaviour.  Thus, we do not want to ingest them for if we do so we will absorb a certain degree of cruelty and callousness into our characters. 

This means that the underlying idea of kashrus is keeping one’s character clean in terms of having good middos (traits).  The connection to Aharon’s silence here is that such a silence demonstrated a great wealth of good middos in putting G-d’s agenda over any pain Aharon might have experienced. 


Thursday, 6th April 2017

In his D’var Torah this week, the Chief Rabbi explains why this will be a great Shabbat…

Click here to watch the video and to read the text


Wednesday, 29th March 2017

"He (the priest) shall split it (with its feathers), he need not sever it ......." (Vayikra 1:17)
When a person feels inclined to give an offering to G-d, he may do so with the "Olah" sacrifice. If the person is poor, he may bring a dove as a sacrifice. This dove was offered on the alter with its feathers. Rashi comments that even though the smell of burning feathers is offensive, the sacrifice from this poor man still adorns the alter and is accepted by G-d. 
There is an important lesson that we can learn from the poor man’s sacrifice.
We all feel some doubt at times in regard to our spiritual growth and might feel that we are somewhat unable to reach great spiritual heights as compared to the many great sages and Rabbis and give up. This notion is a fallacy when we begin to see how precious burning feathers are when offered by a poor man.  Even burning feathers when offered with sincerity can be accepted by G-d.  When a person has nothing to offer G-d except for 'feathers', then that should still be offered. 
If we deem ourselves lacking ability, we should still learn Torah and offer G-d what we can even if perhaps the Torah learning may not be as grand as our friends. Even if our Torah might be like "burning feathers", we should offer it anyhow, even if only for the sake of giving whatever we have, to G-d. 
A king once decreed that whoever brings him the most precious item, that person will be granted a great title and prestige in the kingdom. Many people brought various magnificent and precious objects, yet the king seemed unimpressed for he already posessed many great treasures. However, in this kingdom lived a very poor man who also wished to particpate in this contest.

Although he had nothing of value, he did have a single penny. This penny was very dirty and dull in appearance, so this poor fellow decided to shine it and clean it until it sparkled.

He spent many hours shining the penny untill a magnificent shine emerged that literally lit up the room. This poor man travelled to the capital in order to gain an audience with the king so that he can present his item to the king. When the poor man presented the penny to the king, its shine was so magnificent that at first the king had mistakenly mistook the penny for a very precious gem with illuminating qualities, but after further observation it became apparent that this gem was actually just a very shiny penny.

The king then truly understood the real value of this poor man’s "most precious Item".
We must never underestimate what we personally have to offer, as long as it is given with sincerity and heart. 
In Talmud Barachos 5b the Sages said, "It is the same whether one does more or less, provided he intends it for the sake of Heaven".


Thursday, 23rd March 2017

And all the work of the Mishkan Ohel Mo'ed (Tabernacle) was finished; and the Israelites did according to all that G-d commanded Moshe (Moses), so they did (Exodus 39:32). 
This verse seems to be the wrong way round! Shouldn't it first say that the Israelites did according to all that G-d commanded Moshe (regarding the Tabernacle), and then say they finished making the items required for the Tabernacle? 
The Oznayim LaTorah explains that the latter part of the verse actually refers to all the other Mitzvot (Commandments) of the Torah which G-d commanded Moshe; it does not refer to the building of the Tabernacle. Therefore, the Torah is teaching that the Israelites completed the Tabernacle and subsequently observed the other Mitzvot. However, if this is so, why would the Torah mention this Mitzvah observance specifically upon completion of the Tabernacle? 
The Oznayim LaTorah answers by quoting the Mishnah: "One Mitzvah leads to another Mitzvah and one sin leads to another sin" (Pirkei Avot 4:2) .

G-d created a person with a balanced equilibrium in that he is inclined to do good as well as evil. When a person performs a Mitzvah he inclines his nature to the good. This now makes it easier for him to do more good deeds because he has tilted the balance in that direction. Similarly, if a person sins, he has imbued in himself a disposition to sin because that is the way he has influenced himself. It will now be easier for him to sin. 

At Mount Sinai after receiving the Torah, the Israelites' disposition was strongly in favour of Mitzvah performance to the degree where they approached the lofty level of angels, and actually found it difficult to sin. However, this changed with the golden calf. The sin of idolatry is so severe and damaging to the soul, that it not only negated the impact of the revelation at Sinai but tilted the balance the other way making it easier for them to sin! 

The Mitzvah to build the Tabernacle was to atone for the sin of making the golden calf. After they completed building the Tabernacle, they erased the effects of that sin and once more became inclined to perform Mitzvot. Hence, after they finished manufacturing all the items required for the Tabernacle and were ready to erect it, the Torah could state once again that "the Israelites did according to all that G-d commanded Moshe - refering to all of the other Mitzvot".

Ki Sissa

Thursday, 16th March 2017

At the start of our Sedra (Torah portion) we are told that the (male) members of Bnei Yisrael (Israel) were to give a half-shekel donation to the Mishkan (Tabernacle).
Why a half-shekel?

The Alshich explains that the half is to remind us that we are not complete - we are still working towards completing ourselves.

An alternative answer, the half-shekel was for the Mishkan, which, in turn, atoned for the chet ha’egel (sin with the Golden Calf). Since the women were not involved and did not sin in the chet ha’egel, the shekel-per-household was reduced to half a shekel - for only the men needed atonement for having sinned