Author Archives: David Silverstein

Rabbi David Silverstein is Sgan (assistant) Rosh Yeshiva and Gemara Ra"m at Yeshivat Orayta.

Judaism and Cultural Identity

by R. David Silverstein The book of Shemot opens with Pharaoh expressing concern about the rapid growth of the Jewish people. Interestingly, when commenting about the threat posed by the size of the Israelites, he references them as a “nation;” thus providing the first written record of the term “nation” of Israel (Shemot 1:9). The implication of Pharoah’s comment is ...

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The Impact of Hukkim on Religious Discourse

by R. David Silverstein Parshat Hukkat begins with a detailed description of the purification ritual known as the “parah adumah” (red heifer).  The purpose of this procedure is to purify someone who has become ritually contaminated by coming in contact with a human corpse. Among the many mysterious features of this legislation is the fact that the priest who performs the ...

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How Does Torah Make You Free?

by R. David Silverstein The Mishna (Avot 6:2) cites the position of R. Yehoshua ben Levi who says that “the only person who is truly free is one occupies himself with Torah study.” Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (Koren Siddur p. 676) explains that the Hebrew language “distinguishes between two kinds of freedom, hofesh and herut. “Hofesh is negative liberty, the absence ...

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The Religious Significance of NOT Eating Kitniyot on Pesach

by R. David Silverstein Every year around Rosh Chodesh Nissan, the internet is filled with online petitions, Facebook groups and newsletters practically begging rabbinic authorities to permit the consumption of legumes (Kitniyot) on Pesach for Jews of Ashkenazic decent. One Facebook group called the “Kitniyot Liberation Front,” defines itself as a “movement… dedicated to liberating all Jews who wish to ...

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