Halachah Category

Precautions in Shul in the Wake of Coronavirus

by R. Asher Bush With the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), which as of this date has no specific treatments, numerous halachic issues are being discussed; a few that have practical implications will be addressed here. It is worth noting that while much attention is correctly being placed on this new and yet untreatable virus, these issue apply to any ...

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Vigilantism in Jewish Law

by R. Gil Student I. The Subway Vigilante I’ve been thinking lately about Bernhard Goetz, who 35 years ago famously shot four teenagers trying to mug him (link). Goetz, called the “Subway Vigilante” by the media at the time, raised a national debate regarding taking the law into your own hands, and probably helped create a climate that successfully demanded ...

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The Valley of the Donuts

by R. Moshe Schapiro From the Shelves of the Library: Every once in a while we receive a book in the library that is so unusual that I feel compelled to share it with the world. I am referring to the publication of Sefer Emek HaSufganim (lit. The Valley of the Donuts) by Rabbi Reuven Schwartz. You may be asking yourself, “Where ...

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Mourner’s Kaddish: Quality or Quantity?

by R. Yaakov Hoffman Since reciting Kaddish is a concrete way of honoring a departed loved one, mourners are understandably anxious to do so at every possible opportunity. In most Ashkenazic congregations, mourners say Kaddish four times during Shacharit: after Korbanot, after Mizmor Shir Chanukat Ha-Bayit, after Aleinu, and after Shir Shel Yom. Many become upset if they miss even ...

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LGBT and Halakha: The Role of Intellectual Humility

By R. Yaakov Hoffman While the condemnations of Prof. Aaron Koller’s On Halakha and LGBT have correctly critiqued his theological conclusions, they have not gone far enough in demonstrating the flaws in his line of thinking.[1]See the essays of Rabbi Gil Student, Rabbi Harry Maryles, and Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer. To avoid any misimpression, I will state from the outset that ...

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Jewelry on Shabbat: Pretty or Prohibited?

by R. Yaakov Hoffman Many women would be aghast at the idea of omitting jewelry from their Shabbat wardrobe. It may thus come as a surprise that the Talmud unequivocally forbids women from wearing jewelry on Shabbat.[1]According to most authorities, it is permissible for a man to wear masculine jewelry. Some, however, recommend that a man be stringent and refrain ...

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Early Shabbat Services: Plag or 7:00?

by R. Yaakov Hoffman During the summer, many wish to eat the Shabbat evening meal well before dark. To accommodate them, many shuls offer early Friday evening services. Some daven Mincha right before plag ha-mincha (1 ¼ halachic hours before sunset) and immediately thereafter recite Kabbalat Shabbat and Maariv. Others begin Mincha at a set time all summer long – ...

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Hallel in Shul on Seder Night: Is Less More?

by R. Yaakov Hoffman Some Jews just can’t get enough Hallel. Not only do they say it during the Seder; they say it beforehand as well, at the end of Maariv. Doing so, however, is not a universal practice. Many Jews recite Hallel on Pesach night only during the Seder. What is the rationale behind each of these customs? While ...

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Reconsidering the Sheitel

by R. Yaakov Hoffman Can hair serve to conceal hair? The idea has been hotly contested in Jewish legal discourse since the sixteenth century, when some married women began to use wigs as their required hair covering.[1]For a comprehensive citation of the literature, see Otzar ha-Poskim on Even Ha-‘Ezer 21:2 (notes 24:5-8). The debate has continued until the present day. ...

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When is Shabbat Over?

by R. Yaakov Hoffman Determining when Shabbat concludes has always been a weekly necessity for observant Jews. Thus, one might assume that everyone ends Shabbat at more or less the same time. In actuality, there is a great deal of variation. Some people commence weekday activities on Saturday night 40 minutes after sunset, while others wait longer—some as long as ...

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