New Periodical: Hakirah 14
A massive new issue of Hakirah (vol. 14, Winter 2012):
- Letters – Responding to an article about a unity celebration of Yom Ha-Atzma’ut in 1953, Dr. Marvin Schick argues that it was an exception and the Orthodox community was more fractured then than now. Editor disagrees (I agree with Dr. Schick). Malka Nussbaum writes about the possible side effects of vaccinations and R. Asher Bush convincingly responds that all that talk is highly misleading and dangerous. Neil Normand provides some comments and sources regarding intentional sins.
- A Chapter in American Orthodoxy: The Eruvin in Brooklyn by R. Adam Mintz – A fabulous overview of the extremely complex controversy. I would quibble that he is overly sympathetic to the pro-eruv view in his initial presentation of R. Moshe Feinstein’s view (i.e. he would change his mind if he knew all the facts) but returns to what I consider a more objective reading toward the end of the article. I also point out that the anti-eruv camp argues that there are streets that go straight through Brooklyn (Ocean Parkway, Flatbush Ave), even if pro-eruv proponents dispute this (Ocean Parkway curves at both ends and Flatbush Ave has a circle in the middle). For what it’s worth, based on my rabbeim’s views on eruvin in general, I would carry in the Flatbush eruv if it was socially acceptable in my circles. But it isn’t and I don’t. Let me also add that the danger of people forgetting the laws of carrying due to an eruv is real. The Shabbos immediately after Hurricane Sandy, I saw someone carrying even though the eruv was certainly down (I knew it was but he should have assumed).
- The Kashrut of Kingklip: Its Turbulent History and Who Decides by R. Ari Zivotofsky and R. Ari Greenspan – Argues that the fish is kosher and a combination of mistakes and politics has led to its disappearance from kosher lists. An excellent window into a subsection of recent rabbinic history.
- Shemoneh Esreh in Eretz Yisrael, ca. 220-250 C.E. by R. Heshey Zelcer – An analysis of texts and manuscripts to determine the original, brief (on average only 7 words each!) wording of the blessings of the Amidah prayer.
- “Learning” Mathematics by Sheldon Epstein, Yonah Wilamowsky and Bernard Dickman – Shows math in commentaries and how it can be used to explain a few mishnayos. Ultimately fail to show that math is an important tool for learning Talmud. From their presentation, it seems necessary for a handful passages, far fewer than biology and history. Is this reason alone justification for hours of math class every week for years? (Note that I majored in math and think it is an important life skill.)
- Because the Sound is Good for the Spices: A Brief Note on Pittum ha-Ketoret by R. David S. Farkas – An exhaustive search for an explanation of the puzzling rabbinic assertion that sound improves the grinding of spices. No conclusion but a lot of interesting suggestions.
- Priestly Meat Portions in Exile: Popular Custom and Rabbinic Responses by R. Yaakov Jaffe – Different reactions among Medieval authorities regarding the contradiction between practice and text on whether the priestly portions of meat, the matenos kehunah, are given outside of Israel. Historical approach applied responsibly, showing clear influence of Dr. Haym Soloveitchik.
- The Exodus: Convergence of Science, History and Jewish Tradition by Judah Landa – A riveting revision of ancient history showing a convergence of text, tradition and history. I’ve read books like this (link). I believe the polite term for such a view is unconventional.
- Two Myths about German Jewry by R. Mordecai Plaut – 1) A large portion of pre-War German Jewry were Orthodox, 2) German Jewry did not ignore the Nazi threat and emigrated where possible.
- Rabbi David Friesenhausen’s Zemirah for the Solar System by Dr. Jeremy Brown – A study of a fascinating but largely forgotten rabbi and intellectual from the late 17th, early 18th centuries who promoted Copernican astronomy.
- The Biblical View of Slavery, Then and Now by Yaakov S. Weinstein – Study of the Civil War sermons on the topic of slavery. Points out that ironically Reform rabbi David Einhorn’s view is standard Orthodox view today. Although R. Bernard Illowy also argues against slavery.
- The Jew and the Potlatch by R. Yonatan Kaganoff – Brilliantly and cynically argues that the high cost of Orthodox lifestyle prevents undue leisure time and disposable income, which solidifies community.
- Metzitzah Be-Feh With A Tube? (Hebrew) by R. Moshe Tzuriel – Sketches the controversy among authorities and argues that a tube is definitely preferable. Editors note that the article was submitted before the recent NY controversy.
- The Rambam’s Order of the Commandments (Hebrew) by Benzion Buchman – Unravels the Rambam’s order of his commandment list based on theological concepts. Applies these concepts in detail to the list.
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