Guest Posts

Homosexuality: Another Orthodox Perspective

Guest post by Dr. Alan Jotkowitz Dr. Alan Jotkowitz is Professor of Medicine and Director of the Jakobovits Center for Jewish Medical Ethics, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and a Senior Physician at Soroka University Medical Center, Beer-Sheva, Israel. This post was written in response to R. Dr. Gidon Rothstein’s recent post here: link. Introduction In the course of a ...

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Why Homosexuality Is Different in Our Times

R Gidon Rothstein / This past Shabbat, Jews all over the world read the lists of prohibited sexual acts in Parashiyot Acharei Mot and Kedoshim. That reading could and should spark many important conversations and realizations—about the Torah’s view of sexuality, about the role of the different relationships in our lives, about the meaning of the death penalty, about karet and its ramifications, and more. One central such conversation, in our times, is about homosexuality. Increasingly, those who struggle with this incarnation of the yetzer hara, the evil inclination, and those close to them, wonder aloud why it is that Orthodoxy is so “homophobic,” so opposed to people who are doing their best to live good lives, but have a sexual inclination that differs from the ordinary.

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Beit Hillel's Approach to Halacha

R Yitzhak Ajzner / Beit Hillel recently released a responsum addressing the question of inviting a non-orthodox Jew for a Shabbat meal, knowing that it is likely that the guest will desecrate Shabbat if he comes. This publication, which permitted and even encouraged such an invitation, with certain crucial qualifications, aroused much public debate, including a discussion in the Hirhurim-Musings blog (link). In deference of the important participants and readers of this forum, I would like to offer further background to this responsum, explaining Beit Hillel’s Halachic approach, paying attention to the uniqueness of Beit Hillel’s methodology for making Halachic rulings, and finally giving further background to the particular Shabbat-guest responsum.

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Yom Ha-Zikaron Reflections

R Dovid Gottlieb / Earlier today I had the privilege of joining thousands of others for the memorial ceremony at the Kefar Etzion Regional Cemetery, where we paid our respects to those who’ve died al kiddush Hashem and have given their lives for the State of Israel. The ceremony began with the piercing sound of the siren, as all of the individuals standing together – little children, teenagers, parents and grandparents – came to a sudden and unified silence. While the siren sounded my heart was in my throat, my eyes welled up, and my mind raced. I thought about those who have been killed and those who they left behind; about what it means for us as a nation and what it means for me as an individual – as a husband and as a father.

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My Nom De Plume Exposed

Guest post by R. Michael J. Broyde Starting about twenty years ago, I and a friend occasionally used a pseudonym to write about matters of halacha and Jewish public policy. The views expressed were not reflective of an overall joint ideology, but we wished to write together on some matters where we shared a common interest. This pen name — ...

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President Carter, Yeshiva University and Our Community

President Carter, Yeshiva University and Our Community: Having a Yeshiva which is a University Guest post by R. Michael J. Broyde Rabbi Michael Broyde is a law professor at Emory University, was the founding rabbi of the Young Israel in Atlanta and is a dayan in the Beth Din of America. For the sake of transparency, he notes that he ...

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A Traditional Jewish Approach to Homosexuality

Guest post by R. Avraham Edelstein Rabbi Avraham Edelstein is a Founder and Director of the Ner LeElef Institute for Leadership Training and a Founder of and Senior Advisor to Morasha Olami. He sits on the boards of numerous Jewish educational organizations around the world. He writes extensively on the interface of Judaism and the modern world. His weekly blog ...

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Pharisee Sects and Edgar Allan Poe

R Yitzchok Tendler / It comes as no surprise that America’s writers and poets of the 19th century touched heavily on Biblical themes. They were, after all, overwhelmingly Christian. Far more surprising, and scarce, are instances of their references to Rabbinic Literature. In this regard, a relatively obscure short story by Edgar Allan Poe, A Tale of Jerusalem, stands entirely in a league of its own. The breadth of familiarity with Rabbinic Literature and Temple protocol, the extent to which this narrative is so replete with abstruse Talmudic references, is, frankly, astounding. Poe goes far beyond mere Talmudic reference; he actually adopts its idiom and syntax, employing free use of Hebrew and Aramaic to color his characters.

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Shaving on Chol HaMoed

R Michael Broyde / I first gave this shiur twenty years ago in Congregation Beth Jacob in Atlanta on the Shabbat after the Rav died, which was the day before his funeral on Sunday, Chol Hamoed day 4, Pesach 1993. Given the Rav’s landmark work in matters of hashkafa, it is easy to overlook his contributions to contemporary halacha, and I hope that this piece, and the few that I hope will follow (one on the unique view of the Rav concerning a missed yaaleh veyavo) will do a bit to share my view of the Rav as an innovative halachic authority. Although I was privileged to sit in the Rav’s shiur at YU the last 18 months that he gave such a shiur, the truth is that I did not learn much from shiur, as I had a hard time understanding much of what the Rav said.

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When "This" Is Not "This"

Guest post by Prof. Shlomo Karni Shlomo Karni was Professor of Electrical Engineering and Religious Studies at University of New Mexico until his retirement in 1999. His books include Dictionary of Basic Biblical Hebrew:Hebrew-English (Jerusalem: Carta, 2002). The demonstrative term “this” in Hebrew is זֶה for masculine singular, indicating: someone/something near or far: (זֶה סֵפֶר תּוֹלְדֹת אָדָם (בר’ 5:1 (וְזֶה ...

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