Study What Matters, Not What Doesn’t

by R. Gidon Rothstein Akedat Yitzchak, Fifth Sha’ar R. Arama has referred several times to the idea of angels guiding motions of the planets. In this sha’ar, he tells us he intends to dispense with two ideas apparently accepted in his time, the heavenly spheres are intelligent and more valuable to the universe, than people [remember: in medieval cosmology, the planets moved ...

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A Sinful Mitzvah

by R. Gidon Rothstein 10 Kislev: R. Uzziel on Mitzvah HaBa’ah Be-‘Averah Shu”t Mishpetei Uzziel 4; Inyanim Kelaliyim 6, dated 10 Kislev 5700 (he writes it as taf-resh-nun-nun, 400-200-50-50, I think so it will have four letters in Hebrew, instead of just the two letters taf-shin), responds to a teacher at Porat Yosef (the famed Sephardic yeshiva in the Old City of Jerusalem where, among others, R. Ovadya Yosef ...

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Creation Shows Us God

by R. Gidon Rothstein I have come to believe I cannot overstress how much I chop from R. Yitzchak Arama’s ‘Akedat Yitzchak to present what seem to me his core ideas. With all my efforts, he still unfolds his worldview slowly, the crucial points becoming clear only with a periodic review of what he repeats most, what he insists on telling us ...

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Conditional Get and a Kohen

by R. Gidon Rothstein Netziv on When Conditions In a Get Make Problems for a Kohen and His Wife Click here for the audio version. On other occasions, we have discussed a man giving a get to his wife with a condition, how to avoid leaving her in marital limbo should he go missing in action. Shu”t Meshiv Davar 4;50, dated second day Rosh Chodesh Kislev, 5642 ...

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Detecting an Affair

by R. Gidon Rothstein Two Teshuvot from 25 Cheshvan: Tzitz Eliezer on Detecting an Affair The desire to “win” a divorce leads some people to make every effort to twist and use the legal system however they can, and courts are not always as adept as we’d like them to be at catching on. Two responsa of Tzitz Eliezer with a 25 Cheshvan connection show him ...

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Beit Din At A Conversion Immersion

by R. Gidon Rothstein 18 Cheshvan: R. Ovadya Yosef on the Beit Din Being Present for a Conversion Immersion The final step of conversion to Judaism has the convert immerse in a mikveh (ritual bath), an immersion which must be witnessed by the overseeing rabbinical court. This simple halachic fact presents obvious complications when the convert is a woman. Shu”t Yabi’a Omer 1; Yoreh De’ah 19, dated ...

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People as the Center of the World

by R. Gidon Rothstein ‘Akedat Yitzchak, Third Sha’ar (Conclusion, Week of 13 MarCheshvan): People as the Center of the World We’re up to the creation of humanity in R. Arama’s review of the ten sayings of creation in the first chapter of Bereshit. He thinks Hashem intended people to unite the upper worlds and lower ones, by combining aspects of both.   Bereshit Rabbah 8 portrayed ...

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Wedding Pictures at the Kotel

by R. Gidon Rothstein 11 Cheshvan: R. Hayyim David HaLevi on Taking Wedding Pictures at the Kotel People can mistake sanctity of a place, kedushat makom, for some kind of magical power rather than a venue for closer relationship with Hashem.Shu”t Aseh Lecha Rav 6;43, dated 11 Cheshvan 5745 (1984; it’s unusual for R. Hayyim David Halevy to date his responsa. Usually, he ...

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