What Is Kedushah, Anyway?

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Kedoshim Agreement of Tradition and Scripture I really should not be presenting HaKetav VeHaKabbalah’s reading of 20;19, because he focuses on female anatomy and the physical aspects of the act of sexual relations, topics I am not confident I can discuss appropriately for a venue such as this. I can’t fully resist, though, because his ...

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Finishing Yoreh De’ah 119

by R. Gidon Rothstein Starting Positive, Then Back to Lack of Trust Paragraph 43 of our long siman (and remember, Shulchan Aruch itself only had five paragraphs, suggesting this grew in significance in the interim)discusses those who sin out of fear. A convert who returned to his/her old religion due to governmental scrutiny or pressure (later in the paragraph, he ...

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Required Suspicions About Fellow Jews

by R. Gidon Rothstein Yoreh De’ah 119, Continued We’re in the middle of thinking about when we must worry a fellow Jew might affect us with his/her wrong actions. (In paragraph twenty, AH reminds us chashud, implicated, means we do not have firm evidence. If we did, we would have to act more stringently.) When and to What the Chashad ...

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Body, Soul, and How We Put them Together

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Acharei Mot The Torah introduces the list of prohibited liaisons with a general verse, 18;6, banning a man from approaching any she’er besaro, close relative, to uncover nakedness, a way to refer to the essential marital act. HaKetav VeHaKabbalah records Rambam’s reason, from Moreh Nevuchim, for why the Torah prohibited these relationships, even within marriage, ...

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Defined and Undefined in Parshat Metzora

by R. Gidon Rothstein Mikveh Is Needed for Taharah HaKetav VeHaKabbalah’s comment to the last verse of shishi in this week’s parsha, 15;28, tantalizes me mostly with why he felt the need to say what he did. The Torah speaks of a zavah, a woman who has what looks like menstrual flow at an unexpected time. [By Torah law, a ...

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Aruch HaShulchan’s Laws of Telling the Pesach Story

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Metzora, 5784 Let me say upfront: in my experience, Jews often limit the requirements/goals of Judaism with halachah, think that as long as we do what halachah says, we’ve fulfilled all God wants of us. The mitzvah of sippur yetzi’at Mitzrayim offers a corrective, reminds us it’s not all in those books. [For those who ...

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Mostly Tzara’at, with a Splash of Childbirth

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Tazria What Color is Yarok? In modern Hebrew, yarok means green, so when Vayikra 13;49 says a nega on clothing might look yerakrak, I had no doubt we meant green. R. Mecklenburg disagreed. First, he says yerakrak means strongly yarok, then defines “strongly” with a twist: were we to combine all the yarok shades, this ...

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Jews We Can No Longer Trust

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Tazri’a: Yoreh De’ah 119, Jews We Can No Longer Trust Yoreh De’ah 119 takes up a topic probably more relevant today even than in AH’s time, Jews we can and cannot trust on halachic issues. There are twenty se’ifim in SA, fifty-five in AH, so we’re not going to finish it this week, and next ...

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Limits and Their Limits

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Shemini Tum’ah To Avoid I guess I assumed HaKetav VeHaKabbalah was largely a rationalist, I think because he quotes nontraditional readers of Torah and is invested in showing how Chazal’s reading of verses fits the plain sense of the text. I guess I also assumed (the danger of assumptions!) rationalists treat tum’ah as a Torah ...

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Our Bodies, Our Prayers

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Shemini: Orach Chayyim 95 and 97 These chapters of AH are short enough to do two this time, expand our perspective of how our bodies do and should support our prayers. Our Feet Together Siman 95 starts with the idea of placing our feet right next to each other during prayer, to emulate the angels ...

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