Author Archives: Gidon Rothstein

Non-Jews Violating Shabbat on Jews’ Behalf

by R. Gidon Rothstein 27 Tammuz: R. Uzziel on Non-Jews Violating Shabbat on Jews’ Behalf The personal interplay between the person asking the question and the respondent is also an aspect of the responsa literature from which we can learn. In Shu”t Mishpetei Uzziel 3;Orach Chayyim 31, dated 27 Tammuz 5798 (1938), R. Uzziel responds to an article by R. Yosef Shaul Elyashar, ...

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Building a Covenant With Hashem

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Ki Tavo opens with different ways in which the Jewish people will in the future or are right then reaffirming their relationship with Hashem. Since “relationship” cannot apply to Hashem in the ordinary way (Hashem is so Other that the use of human language is always either incomplete or incorrect), aspects of these covenantal moments offer ...

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Where to Place a Mezuzah

by R. Gidon Rothstein 20 Tammuz: R. Ya’akov Ettlinger on Where to Place a Mezuzah Mezuzah seems like a fairly simple mitzvah: you buy a piece of parchment with the proper writing on it, put it in a case and attach it to the right doorpost of a doorway. In fact, several of those words need better definition before we can ...

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Character Counts

by R. Gidon Rothstein Ramban to Ki Tetzei, Week Two: Character Counts Ramban interprets a few of the halachot in this parsha as a matter of shaping our character, a timely reminder that Jews are supposed to care about character in ourselves and in others, are supposed to value good character and react negatively to those who have not yet developed themselves to a minimal level ...

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Choosing Communal Leaders

by R. Gidon Rothstein 13 Tammuz: R. Uzziel on Choosing Communal Leaders People struggle with ceding power to leaders, however they are chosen, because they may or will take actions the citizenry will dislike. Shu”t Mishpetei Uzziel 4; Choshen Mishpati 3, dated 13 Tammuz 5695 (1935), responded to HaPoel HaMizrachi’s questions about the powers of leaders, and the best way to select them. He starts ...

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Complications of War and Marriage

by R. Gidon Rothstein Ramban to Parshat Ki Tetzei, Week One: Complications of War and Marriage Parshat Ki Tetzei opens with the rules for how to treat a yefat to’ar, a woman taken captive in war, whom the soldier expects to marry. Before he can, the Torah tells him, דברים פרק כא:יב וַהֲבֵאתָ֖הּ אֶל־תּ֣וֹךְ בֵּיתֶ֑ךָ וְגִלְּחָה֙ אֶת־רֹאשָׁ֔הּ וְעָשְׂתָ֖ה אֶת־צִפָּרְנֶֽיהָ: (יג) ...

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Moshe’s Sin at the Rock

by R. Gidon Rothstein 6 Tammuz: Tzitz Eliezer on Moshe’s Sin at the Rock I think we sometimes hear the word “responsum” as limited to practical halachic discussions. For some meshivim (and this might depend also on whether the scholar himself collected these letter for publication, or his heirs did), any correspondence on Torah matters qualifies. That means, for example, that some or many responsa deal ...

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Going to War

by R. Gidon Rothstein Ramban to Shofetim, Week Two: Going to War At the end of the parsha, the Torah tells us about how Jews went to war. Two comments earlier in the portion seem to me to lay some groundwork for success in war (and in life). The King’s Character and Ours דברים יז: כ לְבִלְתִּ֤י רוּם־לְבָבוֹ֙ מֵֽאֶחָ֔יו וּלְבִלְתִּ֛י ...

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