When Is Kiddush Levanah?


by R. Gil Student Rosh Chodesh Elul marks the end of the Jewish summer and the beginning of the autumn holiday season. Throughout the month, we engage in customs that grow as we approach Rosh Hashanah, preparing us for the annual judgment day. In accordance with this mood, the Mateh Ephraim (582:1) writes that we should be particularly careful to ...

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by R. Gidon Rothstein 22 Av: R. Moshe Feinstein on Issues of Vestot In many areas of life, I have become suspicious of deliberate choice. I see, in myself and others, overconfidence that leads us astray all too often. One of the major appeals of choosing responsa by date, to me, is that it takes some of the choice out ...

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Prophecy VII: For Whom Is Prophecy?


by R. Gil Student I. Subpar Prophets We have seen at length that Rambam requires intellectual and spiritual preparation for prophecy, even though he agrees that there is a divine role in granting prophecy. Abarbanel (Commentary to Moreh Nevukhim 2:32) disagrees with Rambam and instead accepts the view that prophecy is a complete miracle, requiring no preparation at all. Among ...

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Prophecy VI: Why Believe A Prophet?


by R. Gil Student I. Why The Torah is Eternal Other essays in this series We already discussed why Rambam emphasizes the uniqueness of Moshe’s prophecy — to make the point that the Torah cannot be changed. But not everyone takes that approach. In Mishneh Torah, Hilkhos Yesodei Ha-Torah (7:7), Rambam enumerates the unique aspects of Moshe’s prophecy (Touger translation): ...

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Seeing a Sefer Torah Dropped


by R. Gidon Rothstein 15 Av: R. Uzziel on Seeing a Sefer Torah Dropped When I was growing up, everyone knew that dropping a sefer Torah meant everyone in the room had to fast for forty days (when I first heard that, at maybe seven years old, I couldn’t understand how people could fast forty days and nights straight). I ...

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Tu B’Av: The Celebration of Intermarriage


by R. Gil Student Rav Mordechai Eliyahu (Ma’amar Mordekhai, La-Mo’adim Ve-La-Zemanim 32:9-10) takes Tu Be-Av as an opportunity to praise Jewish intermarriage. The Mishnah (Ta’anis 4:8) describes the 15th day of the summer month of Av as an unusually happy day in the Jewish calendar. On that day, the young women of Jerusalem would go out to the vineyards and ...

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Permission to Believe in God II


by R. Gil Student Other essays in this series At the beginning of the Introduction to Permission to Believe, R. Lawrence Kelemen makes an important methodological statement: He is only out to make a rational case for believing in God, not to offer conclusive proof. I think it would help us to discuss why this is important and how it ...

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