Moshe Put the World in its Place, as Did the Flood

by R. Gidon Rothstein It turns out Pesach is coming, so I am going to skip ahead to a sha’ar of R. Arama’s from early in Shemot, about freewill and whether Hashem withdraws it as a punishment. I hope to have the first installment next week, but might have to take a week off. Moshe Put the World in its Place, as ...

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Defining Residence for Purim

by R. Gidon Rothstein Since this responsum is about Purim, I don’t want to blur focus by mentioning my Pesach book As If We Were There (see what I did there?). Happy Purim! 14 Adar: R. Zvi Pesach Frank on Defining Residence for Purim In most years, 14 Adar is Purim, so few responsa are written on the date (true, 7 out ...

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Miracles and Faith

by R. Gidon Rothstein R. Arama intends this sha’ar to show the Flood fully proved Hashem’s having created the world from absolute nothingness (commonly referred to as ex nihilo, the Latin for absolute nothingness; I know none of us speak Latin anymore, but it is shorter than saying “from absolute nothingness” each time). Creation ex nihilo opens the possibility of miracles. [This last idea, Hashem created the world ...

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Can a Shower Substitute for Mikveh for a Man?

by R. Gidon Rothstein I won’t make a full blown pitch each time, but a reminder: As If We Were There (if you don’t know what that means, email me!) 7 Adar Sheni: R. Wosner on Whether a Shower Can Substitute for Mikveh for a Man Although it’s less of a need than in a world without a Beit HaMikdash, some men today still immerse ...

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Noach Saves the World

by R. Gidon Rothstein Noach Redoes Adam The framework R. Arama used for the story of Adam, Kayin, Hevel, and then Shet (who R. Arama thinks combined the best qualities of Kayin and Hevel) repeats itself with Noach. As he was the first human after the Flood, his three sons parallel Adam’s three, Shem taking the place of Shet. The ...

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Necessary Supervision in Factories

by R. Gidon Rothstein A public service announcement, if I may. With the advent of Adar Sheni, we think of Purim and the Pesach which soon follows. Three years ago now, I published As If We Were There, a series of readings starting with the first of Nissan and continuing through Pesach, along with a memoir of my father’s wonderful Sedarim (the ...

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The Definitions of Good People

by R. Gidon Rothstein With the upcoming Rosh Chodesh Adar Sheni (which means Purim and then Pesach), I want to mention As If We Were There, a book I published three years ago. It’s a set of daily readings, starting with Rosh Chodesh Nisan taking us through the end of Pesach which I honestly believe will reshape a reader’s experience of ...

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A Problematic Fixing of a Sefer Torah

by R. Gidon Rothstein 23 Adar: R. Ovadiah Hedayah on a Problematic Fixing of a Sefer Torah [Click here for the audio version.] Part of what attracted me about random responsa was the exposure I (and we) gain to rabbinic figures whose names we have heard but whose Torah we rarely access. R. Ovadiah Hedayah, a significant Sephardi Torah scholar of the ...

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Balance in the Intellectualism

by R. Gidon Rothstein R. Yitzchak Arama’s Parashat Bereshit (week of 20 Adar Aleph): Balance in the Intellectualism with Which Humans Build Gd’s World Parshat Bereshit takes up more than a tenth of ‘Akedat Yitzchak. We already paused once in his exposition, after the four she’arim which gave his view of the seven days of Creation. I will briefly summarize what we said then, and ...

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Shushan Purim of 1949

by R. Gidon Rothstein 16 Adar: When to Observe Shushan Purim of 1949 [This responsum is an example of an error I made in gathering responsa for this project: although we tend to treat the second Adar as the “real” one for purposes other than observing a yahrzeit (as my friend R. Shmuel Hain recently pointed out), I grouped Adar responsa from years with ...

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