Journal

Can Educators Ride the Mercava Into the Future?

by Shalom Z. Berger Who is greater? A well-read scholar (“Sinai”) – or he who uproots mountains (“Oker Harim”) – the keen dialectician? A well-read scholar is greater, for all need the owner of the wheat. This paraphrase of a well-known Gemara in Horayot (14a) comes to mind when discussing the Mercava project. This new educational tool, promoted via YouTube, ...

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Fundamentalism Reconsidered III

by Jonathan Sacks Continued from here and here There is a great deal more to be said about the narrow subject of ‘fundamentalism’ as a way of reading sacred texts, without yet touching on the social and political dimensions of the phenomenon. But I hope enough has been said to show that the use of a term drawn from the ...

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The Laws of Damages: A “Declaration of Human Rights”

by Elchanan Samet Two Agents of Damage After opening with the laws of Israelite indentured servants, Parashat Mishpatim moves on to the laws of damages, or torts (21:12-22:5). The 31 verses regarding damages are divided into two halves of more or less equal length: A) (21:12-27) – Sixteen verses dealing with a PERSON who causes damage either intentionally or unintentionally. ...

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Fundamentalism Reconsidered II

by Jonathan Sacks Continued from here The second sense in which the term fundamentalist is used is to describe a particular approach to Biblical authority. As Barr puts it: ‘For fundamentalists the Bible is more than the source of verity for their religion, more than the essential source of textbook. It is … practically the center of the religion,’ he ...

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An Oven With Shabbat Mode

Question: My electric stove has a Shabbat mode, which enables us to cancel the automatic shut off (needed for 2 days of Yom Tov) and keeps the exact heat you set without fluctuation when the door is opened. On Shabbat, can fully cooked dry food be placed in the oven to be warmed up?  Answer: We will try to make a little ...

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Embracing the Metaphysics in the First Mitzvot of the Torah

Seeing is believing but the most powerful forces are often unseen, hidden. The metaphysical, Ran teaches, is more powerful than the physical. In the last piece of the third Drasha , Ran discusses the mitzvot Moshe and Aharon were taught in Parashat haChodesh (Shemot 12). In line with themes we’ve seen before and will again, Ran portrays these as emblematic ...

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Eat Something

by Erica Brown “Be happy as you sit at your table and the hungry are enjoying your hospitality” Derech Eretz Zuta 9 The big news in Washington is that Michelle Obama’ 50th birthday party is coming, and the invitations are out. But – get this – the DC gossip columns are all buzzing about a small sentence on the invite: ...

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The Most Prestigious Aliyah

It is commonly believed that certain Aliyot in the course of the Shabbat morning Torah reading are more prestigious than others.  As such, it is customary in many congregations to award these aliyot to the rabbi or to distinguished guests. The most prestigious Aliya that one can receive is the last Aliya of each of the five chumashim. Additionally, on ...

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Moshe Rabbeinu and Matan Torah

by Yair Kahn A Strange Debate In this week’s parasha, immediately prior to the Asseret Ha-dibbrot (Ten Commandments), an enigmatic dialogue is recorded (19:21-25). Hashem orders Moshe to warn the nation not to attempt to catch a glimpse of Hashem. Moshe argues that this is unnecessary, since Har Sinai was already placed out of limits to Bnei Yisrael. Nevertheless, Hashem overrules Moshe and insists that the nation be ...

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Open Orthodoxy, Rav Moshe, and the Importance of Being Earnest

by Zev Eleff “In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing.” Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest Rabbi Asher Lopatin, the recently appointed president of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, occupies a somewhat unenviable position. Opponents have time and again called on him to speak for “Open Orthodoxy,” a creation of his predecessor, Rabbi Avi Weiss. [1]Avraham ...

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