Posts

Torah and Popular Culture

Torah U-Mada is one of those terms that means different things to different people. Dr. Lamm, in his classic book of that name, offers a number of different models for Torah U-Mada. One model that does not get much respect is that of Torah and popular culture. What can be valuable in popular culture? After all, it is just shmutz, ...

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The Hazards of Leading

Steven I. Weiss, in his latest blog The Canonist, directs readers to a website named ChillulHashem.com that has pictures depicting just how tough it is to be a Jewish leader. The subject of the signs in the picture to the left is none other than R. Aharon Leib Shteinman, great talmudic scholar from Bnei Brak and heir to R. Elazar ...

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The “Missing” Nun in Psalm 145

R. Shalom Carmy in “The Manufacture of Sulphurous Acid: Of Wisdom as a Catalyst in Torah Study” in Wisdom From All My Teachers, pp. 79-80: Psalm 145 (widely known as “Ashrei” after the verses that preface it in liturgical usage) is an alphabetical acrostic. The verse corresponding to the letter nun is missing. The simple explanation is that the acrostic ...

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Vote

When I was in yeshiva, there was a particularly crass youg man running for student government president who was garnering the menuval vote. The evening before the election, the mashgi’ah went into the beis medrash and gave a short speech. Without endorsing any candidate (which would have been inappropriate for a faculty member), he simply reminded students that if they ...

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Washing at Weddings and Elsewhere

One is not allowed, at least ab initio, to wait a long time between washing for bread and eating the bread. Nor is one allowed to leave one building and enter another even if done quickly. (See Shulhan Arukh, Orah Hayim 161 and commentators.) This leads to a familiar dilemma at weddings where the washing station is frequently across the ...

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Triumph of a Leniency

My synagogue rents a room in a local yeshiva (elementary school), right near the building’s catering hall. This week there was a bar mitzvah in the catering hall. On Thursday night, the father of the bar mitzvah called up my rabbi asking for help. It seems that his father, the grandfather of the bar mitzvah boy, has great difficulty walking ...

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Praying for the Right Thing

R. Mayer Twersky preaches against praying for or desiring the death of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Recently, there have been reports in the press of individuals wishing for the death of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. By no means am I assuming the veracity of such reports. (Moreover, even these reports attribute such malevolent wishes to an isolated few.) Thus ...

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Candy on Halloween II

Reader Chana Luntz sent me the following in an e-mail (posted with permission). My original post will be italicized. Her comments will be indented, mine not. When I first saw this, many years ago, I pointed out to R. Broyde that according to Tosafos in Avodah Zarah (26a), eivah only allows one to violate a rabbinic prohibition and not a ...

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Thought vs. Philosophy

Jewish scholarship has had many great thinkers throughout the ages, many of whom have pondered and explored the standard existential and metaphysical questions of philosophy. Would it be correct to refer to them as philosophers? For example, was R. Eliyahu Dessler a Jewish philosopher or merely a Jewish thinker? (For those wondering, I have no serious answer to the question ...

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