Author Archives: Ira Bedzow

Ira Bedzow is the Director of the Biomedical Ethics and Humanities Program at New York Medical College. Among his other responsibilities, he is in charge of a new master’s program in biomedical ethics at NYMC, which has an option for a focus in Jewish medical ethics. He is also the Senior Scholar of the Aspen Center for Social Values. Rabbi Bedzow received rabbinic ordination from Rabbi Zalman Nehemiah Goldberg (Yoreh Yoreh), Rabbi Daniel Channen (Yoreh Yoreh), Rabbi Yitzchak Oshinksy (Yadin Yadin), and Rabbi Dovid Schochet (Yadin Yadin). He earned his PhD in Religion at Emory University.

Effect of Wrong Type of Bitul

by R. Daniel Mann Question: What are the consequences if, after bedikat chametz, one recited the daytime bitul chametz? Answer: We must start with a look at the purpose and mechanism of the various bituls. The Torah forbids possession of chametz on Pesach (Shemot 13:7) and mandates its removal before Pesach (Shemot 12:15). To facilitate this, we search for chametz ...

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The Cry That Hashem Heard

by R. Ira Bedzow And we cried (nitzak) to Hashem, the God of our fathers, and Hashem heard our voice, and saw our suffering, and our toil, and our distress. The verses in Shemot that support this verse provide context into what motivated the beginning of our redemption from Egypt.  The first verse provides depth as to what had occurred ...

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All the Days of Your Life

by R. Ira Bedzow When one first reads Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah’s statement, “Behold I am about seventy years old, and I have never been worthy to [find a reason] why the Exodus from Egypt should be mentioned at nighttime until ben Zoma expounded it,” the first thought is to consider the focus of this section to be on the ...

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Starting with Shame and Ending with Praise

by R. Ira Bedzow The Mishna states with respect to the Seder night that the father begins his answer to his sons by mentioning disgrace and concluding with praise. The Talmud then asks: What is the meaning of the term: with disgrace? It cites Rav, who said that one should begin by saying: “At first our forefathers were idol worshippers,” ...

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Ha Lachma Anya

by R. Ira Bedzow In Ha Lachma Anya, we immediately show the matzah that our forefathers ate, in order to help us look back and personally experience the Exodus at the present moment.  Yet, the remainder of the paragraph serves a much greater purpose than simply reminding us of what our forefathers ate.  Like the four cups of wine, this ...

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Cups of Redemption

by R. Ira Bedzow One is obligated to drink four cups of wine at the Pesach Seder in a manner that is demonstrative of being free (BT Pesachim 108b).  The Jerusalem Talmud (JT Pesachim 10a) provides a number of reasons for why we drink specifically four cups of wine. Rav Yochanan said in the name of Rav Benaya that they ...

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Reuven’s Loss of Status

by R. Ira Bedzow Whichever way one understands Reuven’s actions and the motivations behind them, [1]There is a discrepancy in the way the Reuven’s actions are described in Genesis 35:22, Genesis 49:3-4, and I Chronicles 5:1.  See BT Shabbat 55b, where the wording between the texts is reconciled. the consequences of what he did are that, while he maintained his ...

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Yaakov’s Vow

by R. Ira Bedzow After Yaakov wakes up from his dream, afraid because he realized that he slept in a place where God’s presence rests, he makes a vow (neder) to Hashem that upon his return he will build a house of God and will give a tithe from everything that Hashem gives him.  Yaakov states, אִם-יִהְיֶה אֱלֹקִים עִמָּדִי, וּשְׁמָרַנִי ...

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Eliezer the Damascene

by R. Ira Bedzow Rabbi Acha said, “The ordinary conversation of the servants of the Patriarchs is more beloved before the Omnipresent than the Torah of their sons, for the section dealing with Eliezer is repeated in the Torah, whereas many fundamentals of the Torah were given only through allusions.” This statement may seem troubling since one would think that ...

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The Meanings Behind Unintended Laughter

by R. Ira Bedzow After giving him the commandment of circumcision, God tells Avraham two things about his wife: (1) no longer will her name be Sarai; it will be changed to Sarah, and (2) that God will bless her, and she will bear Avraham a son. [1]Genesis 17:15-6.  Avraham’s immediate response to this information was to fall on his ...

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