Journal

How Does Torah Make You Free?

by R. David Silverstein The Mishna (Avot 6:2) cites the position of R. Yehoshua ben Levi who says that “the only person who is truly free is one occupies himself with Torah study.” Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (Koren Siddur p. 676) explains that the Hebrew language “distinguishes between two kinds of freedom, hofesh and herut. “Hofesh is negative liberty, the absence ...

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Why Weren’t the Non-Jews Under the Mountain?

by R. Francis Nataf Judging from the sources in the Talmud, there is more than a tinge of ambivalence about the non-Jews being left out of Matan Torah. Though the Talmud was written in the context of a nascent Christianity that preached a gospel to all men, it was likely more than this that prompted the rabbis to justify the ...

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The Torah’s Response to Calamity

by R. Yair Kahn I. Reading the Tokhacha Slowly   Parashat Bechukotai begins with a section of berakhot and kelalot, blessings and curses. It details some of the benefits Yisrael will receive if they adhere to the terms of the covenant, but also describes the terrible calamities and tragedies that will befall Bnei Yisrael if, chalila, they ignore those terms. There is a custom that the section of the ...

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The Need for a Mechitza Without a Minyan

by R. Daniel Mann Question: Is there a need for a mechitza between men and women when there is no minyan? Answer: We must start our answer with some sources that serve as the basis for the need for a mechitza. Most explicit discussions on the matter are relatively recent, as the mechitza was taken for granted without halachic discussion ...

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Sanctified Time

by R. Yonatan Grossman In this week’s parasha, immediately after the section about the different festivals, we read two commands that return us to the themes that permeate the end of Sefer Shemot – the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and the service done within it. First is the command to light the Eternal Light (Ner Tamid) on the menora, ...

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Scrolling Down the Pages of Jewish History

by R. Yechiel Spero (shared by R. Akiva Males) This story appears in R. Yechiel Spero’s Pesach Haggadah: Touched by Our Story (pp. 88-91) and is republished here with permission from the copyright holders (Arstcroll / Mesorah Publications, Ltd.). The pictures below — of the Tur Shulchan Aruch (printed in Berlin 1702) which belonged to Rabbi Yaakov Emden (Germany, 1697-1776) — were taken by  ...

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Yom Ha’atzmaut and the Poetic Man

by R. Reuven Tradburks In discussing the tefillot that are said or not said on Yom Ha’atzmaut, Rabbi Gil Student distinguishes between Messianic Zionists and Hopeful Zionists. While that distinction is accurate and valuable as a description of attitudes to Zionism, I think it is “shtayim sh’hem arba”, 2 that are really 4. In addition to Messianic Zionists and Hopeful ...

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When a Jew Requests Assisted Suicide

by R. Jason Weiner When a Jew Requests Assisted Suicide: Towards a More Nuanced View of Euthanasia On the one hand, there is little room for any nuance when it comes to euthanasia (i.e., a physician hastening the death of a patient), or physician-assisted suicide [1]It should be noted that those who support physician-assisted suicide object to it being referred ...

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