Guest Posts

Tekhelet Perception

by Dr. Baruch Sterman While I am always thrilled to see the issue of tekhelet being discussed (Tekhelet: Color Perception or Apprehension, Efraim Vaynman), and certainly in such a thorough and thoughtful way, I feel the need to clarify my own position and correct several mistakes. Harav Eliyahu Tavger, the founder of our non-profit Ptil Tekhelet organization, has pointed out ...

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Rethinking Orthodoxy and Biblical Criticism IV

Kippah and Gown: Rethinking Orthodoxy and Biblical Criticism Essay 4: Historical Discrepancies in Ancient Treaty Literature and in the Torah In this series * Essay 1 * Essay 2 * Essay 3 * Essay 4 In my previous essay we saw how the brit between God and Israel resembles the relationship between a sovereign and vassal in ancient Near Eastern ...

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Three Practical Ways Bad Theology Hurts Us

Note that this post is a response to a previous post by R. Efrem Goldberg (link). At the end of this post, R. Goldberg responds. In a recent post in this space, R. Efrem Goldberg noted how rhetoric can quickly heat up over issues such as the divine authorship of the Torah. He argued that, important as the question is, ...

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The Akeidah Revisited

Prof Shlomo Karni / The maxim דִּבְּרָה תּוֹרָה כִּלְשוֹן בְּנֵי אָדָם , ‘the language of the Torah is that of [ordinary] people’, was used by our Sages to explain why exegesis, מִדְרָש , is not applied to every verse in the Torah; many verses are to be read and understood in a straightforward manner. We invoke this idea, with a slight variation, in the discussion that follows. Also, in this discussion, we use a comparison of a two-dimensional (2-D) world and a three-dimensional (3-D) one. Consider a “flat” world in which only length and width exist, but no height, or thickness (mathematically: there are only x- and y- axes, no z-axis). The denizens of this 2-D world, with their innately limited 2-D minds, cannot possibly envision anything but “flat”.

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The Most Important Discussions

Recently, a self-described Orthodox Rabbi wrote what has become a highly controversial article challenging the authorship of the Torah. His radical approach, which shares more in common with the conclusions of academic Biblical criticism than with traditional Rabbinic Judaism, garnered a harsh reaction and prompted a firestorm of articles, posts, and blog entries. Many immediately declared his views heresy and ...

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Honoring the Chief Rabbi of Israel

R Shlomo Aviner / Q: Is there are obligation to honor whoever is elected the Chief Rabbi of Israel? A: Absolutely. What kind of question is that?! Explanation: One is obligated to honor every Torah scholar and one is obligated all the more so to honor the Chief Rabbi. This is the story in the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (25). Rabban Gamliel, the head of the Sanhedrin – i.e. the Chief Rabbi, ruled one way and Rabbi Yehoshua ruled another way. Rabban Gamliel said to Rabbi Yehoshua: "You have to come to me with your staff and your money belt on the day that you calculated to be Yom Kippur." Rabbi Yehoshua asked Rabbi Dosa ben Hurkenos if he was obligated to go. He answered: "He is the Chief Rabbi and he decided. If you question this Chief Rabbi, you have to question every Chief Rabbi going back to Moshe Rabbenu." If you say, "How was it that former times were better than these?" (Kohelet 7:10), you are incorrect. You forgot. "Go to the judge that will be in your days" (Devarim 17:9) – that is the judge you have. And the later generations should not say that the earlier generations were superior (Rosh Hashanah ibid.).

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Drinking Water on Tisha B’Av

Guest post by R. Asher Bush Rabbi Asher Bush is the rav of Congregation Ahavas Yisrael in Wesley Hills, NY and is a longtime member of the faculty at Frisch Yeshiva High School. He is the author of T’shuvos Sho’el B’Shlomo and serves as the Chairman of the Va’ad Halacha of the Rabbinical Council of America. On one hand, I ...

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Terefot and Tish’a B’Av

Terefot and Tish’a B’Av: How Fixed Is Nature? Guest post by R. Gidon Rothstein Rabbi Dr. Gidon Rothstein is the author of We’re Missing the Point: What’s Wrong with the Orthodox Jewish Community and How to Fix It, Educating a People: An Haftarot Companion as a Source for a Theology of Judaism, and two works of Jewishly-themed fiction, Murderer in ...

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Letter to Zeide

Ari Lamm / Dear Zeide, I received this week with bittersweet emotion the news of your retirement from Yeshiva University. Years and years will be required to reflect appropriately upon your storied career, and I admit that I am in no position to initiate this endeavor. As your grandchild – and not even the first – I arrived, at best, during the seventh inning stretch of your career (a reference that I’ll have to explain to you some time), far too late to appreciate its full scope and impact.

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