Journal

Chanukah: The Power of the Present

by R. Moshe Schapiro We are missing a tense. The typical Jewish religious perspective pivots between two points: the past and the future. Every day we remember going out of Egypt and we pray for the final redemption. Throughout the year, on various holidays and special occasions, we painstakingly recount past events, both salvations and destructions. At the same time, ...

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Chanukah: Let’s Make It a Tradition

by R. Moshe Schapiro Defining Wisdom You can’t find something if you don’t know what you’re looking for. We all seek wisdom, but what is wisdom? The Mishnaic sage Ben Zoma formulated an answer to this question (Avot 4:1): “Who is wise? He who learns from every man.” Ben Zoma is teaching us that we should learn from everyone, even ...

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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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Why Newman Matters to Religious Jews

by R. Shalom Carmy Being an Anglican clergyman, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, was a respectable position, sometimes a highly prominent one, but the Anglican Church was not known for its great piety or moral fervor.  We still find amusement in the way Fielding in Tom Jones (1749) and Trollope, in his Barsetshire series a hundred years ...

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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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Is 929 Kosher?

by R. Gil Student I’m told that some yeshiva graduates are learning 929 without fully understanding its background. I will make a few points here why this is not the daily Tanakh study program for the traditional Orthodox Jew, even if some traditional Orthodox teachers are involved for a variety of reasons. If you want to learn Tanakh daily, please ...

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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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On Changing Judaism For LGBT

by R. Gil Student Anyone reading this probably knows someone gay. The explicit biblical prohibition against homosexual activity and the associated rabbinic prohibitions, including the rabbinic condemnation of gay marriage, are not abstract concepts. The heartbreak, alienation, depression and everything else that follows are the real repercussions felt by our friends and family. The theological challenge is not theoretical but ...

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Mourners: Attending a Wedding

by R. Ari Enkin As a general rule, a mourner is forbidden to attend any celebration, especially one that includes a festive meal. This is especially true for a wedding. [1]YD 391:2. However, attending a wedding is subject to a different set of regulations than those of other celebrations due to the sensitivity of one’s presence or absence at such ...

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