Finishing the Second Part of the Petihah Kollelet

by R. Gidon Rothstein We have a few categories left in Peri Megadim’s list of unusual Jews, each treated briefly. Notably, he does not discuss the “ordinary” Jew, nor the differences between Kohanim, Levi’im, and Yisre’elim. It reminds me of the story of two younger fish who swim by an older one, the latter says “how’s the water today, boys?” After ...

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Va-Ethanan: The Road to Service of Gd

by R. Gidon Rothstein Punishment Comes, Although We Can Hope It Does Not Late in the parsha, 7;9, the Torah says Gd pays His enemies to their faces, to destroy them. Onkelos adds tavan di inun avdin, the good they have done, before destroying them. For evildoers, reward comes in this world, because Gd never fails to give all deserved reward. It contrasts ...

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Petihah Kollelet: Half Slaves and Tumtum

by R. Gidon Rothstein The category of the half-slave provides a good test case for many halachic issues, because the person is partially a Jew and partially a servant. One way this can happen is if partners own a servant together, and one frees him or her. The idea has inspired significantly more halachic discussion than I suspect it deserves in terms of frequency of ...

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Devarim: Finding New Forms of Leadership

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Devarim: Moshe Rabbenu and the People He Had to Lead Torah for the New Generation Ramban thinks the whole book was Moshe’s idea and initiative. He knew the new generation of Jews, none of whom had been twenty at the Giving of the Torah, needed to hear it from a living witness, so they could enter ...

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Petihah Kollelet: Women, Shared Responsibility, Then Servants

by R. Gidon Rothstein Who Is Responsible for Whom Peri Megadim here again returns to arevut, the question of how interconnected Jews are in their mitzvah observance, a topic he took up a few times in the first part of the Petihah Kollelet (for example, regarding whether it applies to the Oral Law and/or to rabbinic law). For women—and converts, he adds—he wonders about ...

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Matot and Mas’ei

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Matot: Building Our Lives, Sometimes the Wrong Way Shaping Personal Obligations with Words Tradition understands the commitment at Sinai to constitute an oath. The Torah lays out the fascinating option of creating a new Biblical obligation with an oath—a Jew who foreswears cigarettes, for example, has it become Biblically prohibited for him/her to smoke; or, a Jew ...

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Children and Women as Halachic Categories of Jews

by R. Gidon Rothstein Peri Megadim Petihah Kollelet : Finishing Children, Moving On to Women A Physically Undeveloped Twelve/Thirteen Year Old Last time, we finished with when we decide a person has become an adult despite never developing physical signs of adulthood, male or female, nor signs of being a man or woman who will never develop. I should have pointed ...

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Pinhas: Putting Moav Behind, Getting Ready for the Land

by R. Gidon Rothstein This week’s portion opens with Pinhas’ reward for his role in stopping the plague of last week’s parsha, brought on by the Jews’ falling for Midianite women and worshipping their god, and then Zimri publicly challenging Moshe on the matter. The Atonement of the Nation The Torah says Pinhas had been mechaper the people, 25;13, a verb we usually take ...

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Some Complications of Children

by R. Gidon Rothstein Peri Megadim: Some Complications of Children Children are still developing into adults and therefore officially exempt from mitzvot. Peri Megadim points out one quick divergence from the prior two categories, a child’s father is supposed to stop the child from engaging in prohibited activities, as hinuch, the rabbinic obligation to educate, an idea some of whose ins and outs we ...

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Balak: Bil’am Teaches Us About the Jewish People

by R. Gidon Rothstein Most of Parashat Balak happens away from the purview of the Jewish people. While they suffer the consequences of his parting advice to Balak—as we will see—for most of the time, the events would have become known to them only second hand. Nonetheless, the Jewish people are portrayed extensively and illuminatingly, mostly in the words Gd puts in ...

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