Magazine

Breaking a Monopoly

by R. Gil Student I. Competing Bids In approximately 1547, one litigant (“Shimon”) bought a region’s liquor monopoly for three years from the local nobleman. Before the three years were done, someone else (“Reuven”) bought the monopoly for the next three years for a higher price. Shimon complained that Reuven elbowed into his territory and stole his livelihood. The two ...

Read More »

Who Can Judge Alone?

by R. Gil Student  I.The Ludmir Decision In 16th century Poland, leading rabbis debated whether a single rabbi, a Torah giant, can effectively resolve a monetary dispute. In general, a religious court requires at least three judges. However, the Gemara (Sanhedrin 5a) says that a single expert can resolve monetary cases. While the Tur (Choshen Mishpat 3) says that according ...

Read More »

The Teiku Within Us

Halakhic Positions of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik by R. Aharon Ziegler Although HaShem occasionally reveals Himself in a dramatic fashion, at other times, He is mute and passive.  Gemara Gittin (56b) interprets the word “ba’aillim” in the Pasuk “MI Chamocha Ba’ayllim HaShem” (Shemot 15:11) “Who is like You among the heavenly powers”? as “ba’alim”, reading the pasuk as saying Who ...

Read More »

Joke Kiddushin

by R. Gidon Rothstein 14 Tammuz: Chatam Sofer on Joke Kiddushin The pomp with which Jews marry today mean we can be confident the couple involved truly intended to be married. Halachically, however, a kiddushin can occur any time a man gives a woman an item of value and says the required formula in front of two witnesses. Shu”t Chatam Sofer 3; Even Ha-‘Ezer 1;80, dated ...

Read More »

Toveling which Utensil First

by R. Daniel Mann Question: I made a beracha before toveling several utensils, primarily glass, which I started with. Then I noticed that one of the utensils was metal. Since toveling metal is a Torah obligation and for glass it is Rabbinic, could the beracha on the glass utensil count for metal? Should I have made another beracha on the ...

Read More »

Why People Circumcise Themselves, and the Benefits They Gain

by R. Gidon Rothstein Akedat Yitzchak, Eighteenth Sha’ar, Second Part Humans Should Take the World to Its Next Level Tanchuma Tazria records a conversation between Turnus Rufus (a Roman officer) and R. Akiva. However they get there, R. Akiva ends up telling Turnus Rufus the foreskin cut off during circumcision is excess (R. Arama compared it to hair or fingernails, body ...

Read More »

Trapped By The Sermon

by R. Gil Student Many rabbis use the High Holiday sermons as an opportunity to showcase their talents and to showcase crucial ideas and themes. Considering the large crowd, rabbis may spend months preparing just the right combination of information and inspiration. In other words, it’s a big deal. Some congregants enjoy the sermon. Others flee the room. Some envy ...

Read More »

Epitome of Chesed

Halakhic Positions of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik by R. Aharon Ziegler Rav Soloveitchik taught that if one wants to understand what the epitome of chesed is all about, one merely opens a chumash and read about the life of Avraham Avinu. In the book of Bereishit (12:1) we read about three travelers coming to visit the ailing Avraham: one to announce ...

Read More »

Shabbat Clocks, Electric Lights for Chanukkah, and Hearing Mitzvot Over the Telephone

by R. Gidon Rothstein 7 Tammuz: Tzitz Eliezer on Shabbat Clocks, Electric Lights for Chanukkah, and Hearing Mitzvot Over the Telephone Technology benefits and challenges halachic observance. Shu”t Tzitz Eliezer 20;19, dated 7 Tammuz 5702 (1942) hearkens back to technologies now old hat, but still offer insight into how we can or cannot let such advances impact our practice. The responsum originated in three issues a ...

Read More »