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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Defining a Shoteh, Revisiting a Heresh

by R. Gidon Rothstein We should be discussing the next type of halachic person, the shoteh, commonly thought of as a person who is not in his/her right mind. We will, but be forewarned Peri Megadim will take us back to heresh for comparisons. (A better person than I would have read and absorbed the entire second part of this Petihah Kollelet, reordered it more straightforwardly and then ...

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Hukkat: People’s Power to Frame Life

by R. Gidon Rothstein The events of Parshat Hukkat remind us of our significant role in shaping our experience of what happens, and therefore how we react to it. The parsha opens with rules of the parah adumah, the red heifer whose ashes would be mixed with water and then could be the way to remove the ritual impurity associated with contact with the deceased. ...

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Lacking One Sense, Not Two: The Deaf or the Mute, for Peri Megadim

by R. Gidon Rothstein We will see many exceptions, so let us stress the rule at the outset: a Jew lacking either the ability to hear or to speak counts as a full halachic adult. Granting our sometime need to verify his/her mental competence, and areas where his/her disability will prevent full participation, halachah assumes a person either deaf or mute is an ordinary ...

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Korah: What We Don’t Understand Can Feel Threatening

by R. Gidon Rothstein Korah’s rebellion annually confronts us with issues of trusting leaders, warns us of the self-interest that can delude us completely, can give us mistaken confidence we are correct as we head down a disastrous road. This time around, I think Onkelos, Rashi, and Ramban raise the possibility it was the introduction to the sanctity associated with ...

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