Magazine

From the Archives of Tradition

by R. Yitzchak Blau The tension between heteronomy (being ruled from the outside) and autonomy is a perennial question of religious thought.   Does traditional Judaism, with its powerful emphasis on halakhic obedience and subservience to God, grant value to autonomous thinking? In an early issue of Tradition (Fall 1963), Rabbi Alexander Carlebach, rav of Belfast, addresses this question. He strives ...

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How Orthodox Is Open Orthodoxy?

by R. Gil Student My column in last week’s The Jewish Link Rabbi David Rosenthal recently published a book on an emotionally charged communal issue. The book’s title—Why Open Orthodoxy Is Not Orthodox—leads with his conclusion. To the author’s credit, he places his agenda front and center. Are we, as a community, willing to entertain this hurtful and painful accusation? ...

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Calling a Blind Man to the Torah

by R. Gidon Rothstein 3 Tammuz: Masat Binyamin on a Blind Man Being Called to the Torah Not that I need more ways to be reminded of how little I know, but reading responsa literature repeatedly brings to mind authorities I have encountered less often than their impact on halachic thought deserves. For Masat Binyamin (that’s how the Bar-Ilan project ...

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Vort from the Rav: Korach

Bamidbar 18:15 אֵת בְכוֹר הָאָדָם … תִפְדֶה you shall redeem the firstborn of man. The ceremonial of redemption of the first born son re-enacts the drama of Abraham offering Isaac to the Lord, of the knight of faith (using Kierkegaard’s term) giving unreservedly away his son to God. Children are the greatest and most precious charge God has entrusted to ...

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Disposable Diapers on Shabbos

by R. Gil Student To my knowledge, there are three or four trends in disposable diapers that are relevant to their use on Shabbos. I do not know whether disposable diapers ever required the use of safety pins. Regardless, the majority of posekim rule that there is no problem in using safety pins on Shabbos if one does it normally ...

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Denigrating the Dead

by R. Gil Student I. Identifying the Gatherer Traditionally, people see the Mekoshesh, the man in the desert who gathered wood on Shabbos (Num. 15:32-36), as a story about the laws of Shabbos. However, it also teaches us about the proper attitudes to history. The Gemara (Shabbos 96b) records R. Akiva’s attempt to identify the Mekoshesh as Tzelophechad (Num. 27:1-7), ...

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Vort from the Rav: Shlach

Bamidbar 14:17 וְעַתָּה יִגְדַּל נָא כֹּחַ אֲדֹנָי Now, please, let the strength of the Lord be increased. What precisely does this phrase mean? How can the Omnipotent’s strength be magnified? When Israel sins, God is in a sense “helpless,” as Rashi said: “His strength is weakened as a woman (Rashi on Numbers 11:15). Similarly, on the phrase “the Rock of ...

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Pray With The Leader

by R. Gil Student The standard way to pray with a minyan is to arrive more or less on time and to pray together with everyone else. That way, you start the silent Amidah together with everyone else, praying as a quiet community. This is tefillah be-tzibur, prayer with a community. What if you come too late to catch up? ...

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