Magazine

To Redeem a First Born

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Bamidbar has no mitzvot in Sefer Ha-Hinuch, so She’iltot will open the door for us. Probably because this parsha has the replacement of the first-born by the Levi’im, he records the mitzvah of pidyon ha-ben, redeeming human first-born. It fits nicely with last time, when we looked at ma’aser behemah, some of whose rules were derived from verses about bechor behemah, first-born animals. Aruch Ha-Shulhan Yoreh De’ah 305;1 gives ...

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Dreams, Social Media and Jewish Law

by R. Gil Student Dreams are a common part of daily life to which the Talmudic Sages attribute great importance. They see in dreams both danger and opportunity, and therefore created three ceremonies or opportunities to rid ourselves of bad omens in dreams. However, on a more careful look, we find conflicting thoughts about dreams in the Talmud and a ...

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Behar: Third Aliyah

by R. Daniel Z. Feldman Commentary and insights into the third portion of Parashas Behar. If you cannot see anything below, click on this link. See here for past weeks: here

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Minyan. Community. Peer Group.

by R. Eliyahu Safran Peer group pressure has gotten a bad rap.  Inevitably, when we hear “peer group pressure” we picture teens and young adults being drawn into drug use, promiscuity and all manner of risky behavior; we imagine young professionals being lured into living above their means.  Too often, we overlook that peer group pressure can also be a ...

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The Workings of Jewish Life, How to Earn the Good and Avoid the Bad

by R. Gidon Rothstein Natural or Supernatural Protection and Support Parshat Behukkotai has a set of blessings, should the Jews act wisely and follow the Torah, and punishments/curses, should they do the reverse. In the blessing part, 26;6, Hashem promises to remove (ve-hishbati, more literally, I will give the land respite from, the same root as Shabbat) hayyah ra’ah, vicious beasts, from ...

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Interrupting Shabbat Meal for Shema/Sefira

by R. Daniel Mann Question: When we make early Shabbat, is it better, when nighttime falls, to recite Kri’at Shema and sefirat ha’omer during the meal or to wait until after the meal? Answer: We will be assuming you were correct in starting the meal. To make that clear cut, you should have started the meal at least a half-hour ...

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Ma’aser Behemah Draws Us To Jerusalem’s Torah, If We Want It To

by R. Gidon Rothstein A Mitzvah Suspended Only oxen, goats, and sheep may be offered as sacrifices, Sefer Ha-Hinuch 309 points out. For the purposes of the mitzvah of tithing newborn animals, goats and sheep are interchangeable (they can be tithed together), since the Torah refers to either as tzon (a word translated as “sheep,” not to be confused with sheep sheep). The end ...

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The Best Charity

by R. Gil Student I. Which Charity? Many people in the Jewish community have achieved varieties of financial success, allowing them the privilege of supporting many charities. This raises questions of communal and philanthropic priorities. Others have limited charity funds but still want to allocate them effectively. The issue is a blessing but also a complex problem, with multiple angles. ...

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