Author Archives: Gidon Rothstein

A Tzaddik and the Miracles That Happened to Him

by R. Gidon Rothstein Ramban to Noach: A Tzaddik and the Miracles That Happened to Him The first verse of this parsha describes Noach as ish tzaddik tamim, tzaddik hayah be-dorotav, that he was a whole or pure man, righteous in his generation. Rashi records a Rabbinic debate about just how good he was, based especially on how one reads the word for “in his generation.” In ...

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Extending Heter Mechirah

by R. Gidon Rothstein 20 Tishrei: R. Yitzchak Elchanan Extending the Heter Mechirah for Another Shemittah The heter mechirah is an halachic solution to the quandary of how to handle shemittah in times when farmers feel they cannot financially forego an entire year’s crop. Today, the issue raises religious, political, and economic questions, which are far beyond our purview here; but in 5656 (1895-96), a shemittah year, R. Yitzchak ...

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Failed Commitments

by R. Gidon Rothstein 13 Tishrei: Chatam Sofer on Failed Commitments The thirteenth of Tishrei might feel close to Sukkot for some of us, but Chatam Sofer’s responsa show him still involved in the usual business of life. As I didn’t find any one responsum that would take up our space here, I am going to share three relatively brief ones. While they are on ...

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If Tzitz Eliezer Were Your Rabbi, What He Might Say This Yom Kippur

by R. Gidon Rothstein 10 Tishrei: If Tzitz Eliezer Were Your Rabbi, What He Might Say This Yom Kippur In the later volumes of his responsa, Tzitz Eliezer (R. Eliezer Yehuda Waldenberg, 1916-2006) included two derashot, sermons, he gave on Yom Kippur (one before Yizkor of 5741, or 1940, the other before Kol Nidre of 5727, 1966).  We could do a great deal worse than having him serve as our ...

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Mixing the Metaphysical with the Physical

by R. Gidon Rothstein Mixing the Metaphysical with the Physical: Towards an Accurate Summary of Ramban’s Views in Devarim We have been studying Ramban on the book of Devarim since just after Pesach, two columns on each parsha. Going forward, I hope to start with Bereshit (so that next Monday, Gd willing, we’ll study some pieces of Ramban’s Introduction to the Torah, and for theMonday of Chol HaMoed Sukkot, ...

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Forgiving People

by R. Gidon Rothstein 28 Elul: R. Hayyim David Halevy on Forgiving People Sometimes, I find a responsum that answers a question I’ve struggled with for a long time. Shu”t Aseh Lecha Rav 6;42, responding to a letter written on 28 Elul 5744 (1984), takes up a question which points out how difficult forgiving people can be, and is acutely relevant to ...

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Yosef, Gad, and Moshe

by R. Gidon Rothstein Ramban to VeZot HaBerachah, Week Two: Yosef, Gad, and Moshe The Gd of the Bush While blessing the tribe of Yosef (at the end of the berachah, he mentions both Ephraim and Menasheh), Moshe Rabbenu refers to retzon Shocheni seneh, the favor (or goodwill) of the One Who dwells in the bush. To explain why Moshe would choose to refer ...

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Pre-Authorizing a Get Before Going to War

by R. Gidon Rothstein 24 Elul: R. Herzog on Pre-Authorizing a Get Before Going to War Among the many casualties and tragedies of war, one that attracts particular attention of poskim is the limbo in which wives find themselves should soldiers go missing (or be taken captive, without good information about what happened or near-term hopes of getting his release). Shu”t Heichal Yitzchak Even HaEzer 2;40, ...

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