Journal

Maimonidean Thinking in the Modern World

by R. Ya’akov Ariel This essay is excerpted with permission from Rav Ya’akov Ariel’s introduction to the third volume of the Mifal Mishneh Torah’s edition of Moreh Nevuchim. Translation by R. Moshe Schapiro. Published here with permission, although the author has not reviewed the translation. Section headings were added by the editor. I. Historical Reasons for Commandments Many chapters in ...

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Loving Your Neighbor While Standing on One Foot

by R. Eliyahu Safran We know of the man who comes to both Shamai and Hillel, proclaiming his willingness to convert if he could be taught the “whole of Judaism” while standing on one foot. Shamai snapped at the man and sent him away but Hillel said, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor.  The rest ...

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Conclusion to Symposium on Jewish Ideas

by Gil Student Over the past twenty years, voices emerging from and associated with the movement that calls itself “Open Orthodoxy” have attempted to change Jewish practices and beliefs to be more consistent with contemporary secular practices and beliefs. Many leaders have responded by denying the merit of these attempts. While correct, these responses deserve more depth and breadth, explaining ...

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Orthodoxy and LGBTQ in a Progressive World

by Rafi Eis The 2001 documentary Trembling Before G-d, changed the trajectory of Orthodox Judaism’s approach towards homosexuality. Until that point, a mainstream Orthodox view considered homosexual activity as a promiscuous lifestyle choice.[1] The film, however, profiled several Orthodox Jews for whom homosexuality was nature. They desperately wanted to live an Orthodox heterosexual life and build a family. However, no ...

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R’Baz and the Racham

by R. Eliyahu Safran In categorizing kosher animals and fish, the Torah delineates the characteristics that make an animal or fish kosher.  Does it chew its cud and have split hooves?  Does it have fins and scales?  So long as an animal or fish fits the criteria, it is considered kosher.  The Torah does not list the names of specific ...

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Reflections on Orthodoxy and Biblical Scholarship

by Yitzhak Berger Introduction From one perspective, the tense relationship between academic Bible study and traditional Jewish belief seems oddly ironic. Judaism ushered in a theology that would transform the global religious landscape. And to this day, its central monotheistic doctrine enjoys the support of great thinkers and resonates with the deepest experiences of countless religious believers. The study of ...

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Faith in the Modern World

by Netanel Wiederblank In recent decades debate has proliferated about the degree to which a Jew must believe. Does the Torah merely demand actions, the 613 mitzvot as well as moral and ethical behavior, or does it demand belief? The question has been considered from an academic perspective,[1] as well as from a popular/sociological perspective, as people have observed the ...

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Introduction to Symposium on Jewish Ideas

Gil Student The strongest force in the world is the power of an idea. People inspired by an idea have toppled governments, invented radically new technologies and saved countless lives. Judaism is founded on the idea of monotheism, that there is a single Creator who made the universe and  whom we must serve. But that is not the only idea ...

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Who Stands Behind the Mask

by R. Eliyahu Safran Who Stands Behind the Mask: What We Hide; What We Reveal Rava said, It is one’s duty levasumei, to make oneself fragrant [with wine] on Purim until one cannot tell the difference between ‘arur Haman’ (cursed be Haman) and ‘barukh Mordekhai’ (blessed be Mordecai)  – Babylonian Talmud, Megillah 7b Over the centuries, the “duty” to make oneself ...

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Dueling Seudot: Purim vs. Shabbat

by R. Yaakov Hoffman When Purim falls on Friday, Purim and Shabbat are at cross purposes. On the one hand, one is supposed to have a large and festive seudah in honor of Purim. On the other hand, this meal could potentially spoil one’s appetite for the evening’s Shabbat meal. How should one balance these two considerations? Based on the ...

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