Guest Posts

Tekhelet Perception

by Dr. Baruch Sterman While I am always thrilled to see the issue of tekhelet being discussed (Tekhelet: Color Perception or Apprehension, Efraim Vaynman), and certainly in such a thorough and thoughtful way, I feel the need to clarify my own position and correct several mistakes. Harav Eliyahu Tavger, the founder of our non-profit Ptil Tekhelet organization, has pointed out ...

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The Akeidah Revisited

Prof Shlomo Karni / The maxim דִּבְּרָה תּוֹרָה כִּלְשוֹן בְּנֵי אָדָם , ‘the language of the Torah is that of [ordinary] people’, was used by our Sages to explain why exegesis, מִדְרָש , is not applied to every verse in the Torah; many verses are to be read and understood in a straightforward manner. We invoke this idea, with a slight variation, in the discussion that follows.Also, in this discussion, we use a comparison of a two-dimensional (2-D) world and a three-dimensional (3-D) one. Consider a “flat” world in which only length and width exist, but no height, or thickness (mathematically: there are only x- and y- axes, no z-axis). The denizens of this 2-D world, with their innately limited 2-D minds, cannot possibly envision anything but “flat”.

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The Most Important Discussions

Recently, a self-described Orthodox Rabbi wrote what has become a highly controversial article challenging the authorship of the Torah. His radical approach, which shares more in common with the conclusions of academic Biblical criticism than with traditional Rabbinic Judaism, garnered a harsh reaction and prompted a firestorm of articles, posts, and blog entries. Many immediately declared his views heresy and ...

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Honoring the Chief Rabbi of Israel

R Shlomo Aviner / Q: Is there are obligation to honor whoever is elected the Chief Rabbi of Israel? A: Absolutely. What kind of question is that?!Explanation: One is obligated to honor every Torah scholar and one is obligated all the more so to honor the Chief Rabbi. This is the story in the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (25). Rabban Gamliel, the head of the Sanhedrin – i.e. the Chief Rabbi, ruled one way and Rabbi Yehoshua ruled another way. Rabban Gamliel said to Rabbi Yehoshua: "You have to come to me with your staff and your money belt on the day that you calculated to be Yom Kippur." Rabbi Yehoshua asked Rabbi Dosa ben Hurkenos if he was obligated to go. He answered: "He is the Chief Rabbi and he decided. If you question this Chief Rabbi, you have to question every Chief Rabbi going back to Moshe Rabbenu." If you say, "How was it that former times were better than these?" (Kohelet 7:10), you are incorrect. You forgot. "Go to the judge that will be in your days" (Devarim 17:9) – that is the judge you have. And the later generations should not say that the earlier generations were superior (Rosh Hashanah ibid.).

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What to Wear to a Sin

Dovid Bashevkin / A religious person who sins is not an oxymoron but a part of reality as it has been from time immemorial. Indeed, as the wisest of men said, “there is no one righteous in the land who does good without sinning” (Ecclesiasties 7:20). The Talmud (Bava Basra 165a), in fact, says that everyone succumbs to “avak lashon hara” (a form of defamation rabbinically prohibited). How does a religious person resist turning momentary weakness into permanent damage?
Periodically, we hear of more salacious tales of sin in which religious people are overcome with passion and succumb to their baser temptations. Historically, attempts have been considered, but mostly rejected, by rabbinic leaders to allow less halachically objectionable behavior in order to prevent graver sins.1 Such considerations aside, what is to be made of people who find themselves overcome with desire they simply cannot resist? Do unavoidable sins of this magnitude exist? And if one finds oneself in a situation of grave sin (for instance, in a house of ill repute) should he take off his yarmulke or other identifying religious objects?

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Drinking Water on Tisha B’Av

Guest post by R. Asher Bush Rabbi Asher Bush is the rav of Congregation Ahavas Yisrael in Wesley Hills, NY and is a longtime member of the faculty at Frisch Yeshiva High School. He is the author of T’shuvos Sho’el B’Shlomo and serves as the Chairman of the Va’ad Halacha of the Rabbinical Council of America. On one hand, I ...

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Terefot and Tish’a B’Av

Terefot and Tish’a B’Av: How Fixed Is Nature? Guest post by R. Gidon Rothstein Rabbi Dr. Gidon Rothstein is the author of We’re Missing the Point: What’s Wrong with the Orthodox Jewish Community and How to Fix It, Educating a People: An Haftarot Companion as a Source for a Theology of Judaism, and two works of Jewishly-themed fiction, Murderer in ...

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Letter to Zeide

Ari Lamm / Dear Zeide,I received this week with bittersweet emotion the news of your retirement from Yeshiva University. Years and years will be required to reflect appropriately upon your storied career, and I admit that I am in no position to initiate this endeavor. As your grandchild – and not even the first – I arrived, at best, during the seventh inning stretch of your career (a reference that I’ll have to explain to you some time), far too late to appreciate its full scope and impact.

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