Magazine

Audio Roundup

by Joel Rich Thoughts to Ponder: Creativity and Tradition – Prof. Israel Ta Shma (I’m listening to the Social Theory Course and he continually hits the points I always wonder about.) He says: The historical foundations of this communal structure are rooted in an internal Jewish tradition reflected in the Talmud, on the one hand, and in the influence of ...

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The End of the Hirhurim Blog

After nine and a half years of near-constant maintenance of this blog, I believe Hirhurim has run its course. We have accomplished a lot over this time, including over 5,000 posts and nearly 11 million hits. In my opinion, the ideas and dialogue have gotten stale. Additionally, for a few years already, social media has taken blogs’ former place of ...

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The Final Year of Hirhurim

For the past two years, I reported annual traffic statistics taken from Google Analytics: last year, two years ago. Here are the website traffic highlights of the past year (August 9, 2012-July 31, 2013): Average weekday* daily unique readers: 1,353 (9% growth from previous year) Average weekend* daily unique readers: 784 (7% growth) Day of the week with most unique ...

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Audio Roundup

by Joel Rich From the recent Klal Perspectives: Most individuals involved in community matters are motivated by one or more of three considerations: a sense of accomplishment, kavod, and entertainment. (Me – sounds like a Bizarro Pirkel Avot) So in R’Rosensweig’s Kaye Scholer Shiur he was waxing eloquent about the Ibn Ezra on Lo Tachmod (Shemot 20:13). While he seemed ...

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Moshe Is True And His Torah Is True

RCA Statement on Torah Min HaShamayim (link) Jul 31, 2013 — In recent days there has been much discussion regarding the belief in Torah Min HaShamayim. We maintain that it is necessary not only to assert the centrality of this bedrock principle in broad terms, but also to affirm the specific belief that Moshe received the Torah from God during ...

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Passion for Treif

I. Army Treif The Torah requires such a demanding food ethic that its exceptions command attention. The rationale for blanket permission to indulge certainly bears theologically important lessons. As we shall see, it may teach important strategies in managing overwhelming passion. The primary exception to food regulations is piku’ach nefesh, life-saving measures. You may eat non-kosher to save your life. ...

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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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The Unthinkable Loss

I cried on Tisha B’Av. Not for the destroyed Temple we were mourning, to which most of us have trouble relating, but because of a book that served as my primary Tisha B’Av reading. R. Jeffrey Saks’ and Dr. Joel Wolowelsky’s To Mourn A Child: Jewish Responses to Neonatal and Childhood Death (published by OU Press, with which I am ...

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Is Vegetarianism Dangerous?

I. Vegetarianism and Values Judaism demands a strict kosher diet but no one claims that this exhausts the values that should guide your consumption. Advocates for Vegetarianism argue that your morals should prevent you from eating animals, even if the Torah permits it. However, one important scholar argues in the opposite direction. R. Ya’akov Ariel was recently quoted as opposing ...

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Western Wall in Jewish Literature

R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Kinos Mesoras HaRav, p. 370: It is noteworthy that the Western Wall is not referred to at all in the Babylonian Talmud or the Jerusalem Talmud and is hardly mentioned in the Rishonim. For example, Maimonides’ letter describing his arrival in Jerusalem does not mention anything about the Western Wall. There is a reference to the ...

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