Magazine

The Disappearing Jewish Woman

by R. Gil Student Separate entrances. Sky-high mechitzos. Publications without pictures of women. Some people take the growing frequency of these and similar phenomena as a sign that women are disappearing from the Orthodox community. Obviously, this fear is overstated. Anyone walking the streets of Brooklyn will see that women still exist, in public, living and thriving. Setting aside the ...

Read More »

Vort from the Rav: Ki Savo

Devarim 26:12 וְאָמַרְתָּ לִפְנֵי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ     Then you shall say before the Lord, your God. This formula is known as vidui ma’asros, the confession of the tithes. Prima facie, the title “confession” is not fitting for this Parshah. We know what confession stands for: We confess that we have sinned, transgressed, erred. Yom Kippur confession is an act of ...

Read More »

When to Cut the Challah?

by R. Daniel Mann Question: Does one fulfill lechem mishneh if the bread is cut, or the matza is broken, prior to the completion of the beracha? Answer: The basic question you ask is the subject of a machloket in the gemara (Berachot 39a) in regard to the preference of making a beracha on a full loaf of bread throughout ...

Read More »

How Hard It Can Be To Get Back to Basics

by R. Gidon Rothstein The Abomination of Worshipping Powers Other Than Hashem דברים פרק לב:טז יַקְנִאֻ֖הוּ בְּזָרִ֑ים בְּתוֹעֵבֹ֖ת יַכְעִיסֻֽהוּ: Devarim 32;16: They incite His jealousy with strangers, anger Him with abominations. Rashi, based on Sifrei, took “abominations” to refer to homosexual relations and to witchcraft, both of which the Torah calls to’evah, abomination. Ramban disagrees, because he sees this entire ...

Read More »

The Need for Metzitzah ba-Peh

by R. Gidon Rothstein 10 Elul: The Need for Metzitzah ba-Peh During a Circumcision Conflicts between modern science and halachah are nothing new, so when we find a respondent from a hundred years ago deal with an issue that is also still contemporary, it offers interesting light on the question. Shu”t Binyan Tziyyon 23, dated 10 Elul 5606 (1846), is an example, since it defends metzitzah be-peh, ...

Read More »

Thinking About God and Natural Disasters

Religious philosophy is replete with vibrant, sometimes desperate, reconciliations of divine justice and mortal experience. Explanations abound for why bad things happen to good people and good things to bad. But why bother? Why should so many great minds apply so much effort to this intractable problem? Put differently, since ultimately we must utilize faith somewhere in the answer, what ...

Read More »

Vort from the Rav: Ki Seitzei

Devarim 26:19: תִּמְחֶה אֶת זֵכֶר עֲמָלֵק מִתַּחַת הַשָּׁמָיִם you shall obliterate the remembrance of Amalek from beneath the heavens. Our faith in man’s goodness should not blind us to the latent demonic in man. Civilized men can become the personification of evil. The thin veneer of social restraint can suddenly be lifted, exposing the ugly, brutish potential of man. Created ...

Read More »

Building Blocks of Perfection, Straight and Alone

by R. Gidon Rothstein Unchanging Perfection Ha’azinu starts—and is mostly taken up with—a song that Moshe Rabbenu was told to teach the Jewish people, as a lasting witness of right and wrong ways to act. An early verse refers to דברים פרק לב:ד הַצּוּר֙ תָּמִ֣ים פָּעֳל֔וֹ כִּ֥י כָל־דְּרָכָ֖יו מִשְׁפָּ֑ט Devarim 32;4: The Rock, all his works are perfect, for all his ways ...

Read More »

Women and Shofar

by R. Gil Student On Rosh Hashanah, Jews throughout the world hear the shofar blown 100 times each of the two days (except on Shabbos). Hearing shofar is a time-bound positive mitzvah (mitzvas aseih she-ha-zeman gerama). Since, generally speaking, women are exempt from time-bound positive mitzvos, they are not required to hear shofar. However, over the centuries women have accepted ...

Read More »

Sukkah Constructions and Obstructions

by R. Gidon Rothstein 3 Elul: R. Uzziel on Sukkah Constructions and Obstructions Building a sukkah requires open space, which can sometimes be at a premium. Shu”t Mishpetei Uzziel 3; Orach Chayyim 78, dated 3 Elul 5702 (1942) has R. Uzziel responding to a rabbi who was checking whether he had ruled correctly about a sukkah with certain problems.   One wall of this sukkah was nine tefachim [there are various views about how long ...

Read More »