Spending Our Money To Save Others

10  Sivan: Spending Our Money To Save Others by R. Gidon Rothstein What are our financial obligations when it comes to saving others’ lives? Who Pays? That’s the question Avraham S. Avraham (a noted doctor and Torah scholar, who was close with R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and author of Nishmat Avraham, an authoritative collection of volumes on medical halachah) pursued ...

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One Witness

by R. Gidon Rothstein 3 Sivan: One Witness On the third of Sivan, 1933, R. Benzion Meir Chai Uzziel (later to be Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel), wrote about whether one witness can support a claim. Shu”t Mishpetei Uzziel 4; Chosen Mishpat, 24 is somewhat technical, but it is such technical discussions that let us articulate halachic principles that then ...

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Forced Kiddushin

by R. Gidon Rothstein 25 Iyyar: Forced Kiddushin R. Yitzchak Elchanan Spektor (1817-1896) was recognized as the posek of his generation and, as  head of an important kollel, trained many leaders of the next generation. On the 25th of Iyyar, 1866 (Shu”t Ein Yitzhak, 1; Even haEzer 57), he answered the following question, dealing with a case interesting on its ...

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Taking Possession of Chametz on Pesach

18 Iyyar (Lag BaOmer): Taking Possession of Chametz on Pesach by R. Gidon Rothstein Welcome to a new series Torah Musings does me the honor of hosting. Over the past several years, I have become attached to the idea of learning a shu”t, a responsum, written on that Jewish date. There is a certain charm to it, it seems to ...

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The Derashot haRan Essays We Deserve and the Ones We Got

by R. Gidon Rothstein The title of each installment entrances you, induces you to click or scroll, hooks you into following through to the end. The language floats you from word to word as the ideas infiltrate your being. When each piece ends, you wait impatiently for the next one, anxious for the new vision that will inform and infuse ...

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Prophecy, Soothsaying, and the Line Between Them

by R. Gidon Rothstein Drasha 12, part 3 Ran sees prophecy as the antidote to sorcery, as its replacement. He references here his earlier comments in the fifth Drasha, that Hashem chose Egypt as the site of the slavery so that Moshe’s prophecies would happen in the center of world sorcery. Defeating their sorcerers demonstrated that prophecy is a superior, ...

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Sages Over Prophets

by R. Gidon Rothstein Drasha 12, part 2 The Talmudic sage Amemar makes a daring comment in Baba Batra 12a that Ran struggles to explain. Scholars, Amemar states, are greater than prophets. Ran explains that prophets have one power only, to communicate what they were told; we’re obliged to listen, even if that command temporarily contravenes Torah law, other than ...

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Three Types of Rabbinic Authority

by R. Gidon Rothstein Drasha 12, part 1 What gives rabbis, or even the Gemara, authority in halachic issues? In this drasha, Ran reviews the sources of rabbinic authority, whom he had set up as the source of ultimate justice, and his view of why the Gemara isn’t open to later disagreement. Preventing Divisive Controversy Prior essays in this series ...

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It’s Important to Be Insecure

by R. Gidon Rothstein Drasha 11, part 3 Ran’s view of batei din, halachic courts, turned them into an institution whose work could have been performed by a prophet. Since, in his view, courts articulate ultimate justice, he wonders why Hashem didn’t leave that to prophets, who could tell us Hashem’s will exactly. They’re Not Steady, They’re Sources of Faith ...

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