The Obligation to Write a Sefer Torah

by R. Gidon Rothstein This week is a two for one, because just before the mitzvah from this week’s parsha, that every male Jew own/write a Torah, Rambam records the obligation for a king to write one. I hope that looking at them together will give us productive comparisons and contrasts. The Two Mitzvot Obligation 17 in Sefer Ha-Mitzvot records the command for each ...

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Warnings to Help Us Stay in the Fold of God’s Service

by R. Gidon Rothstein While reminding the Jewish people they are entering a covenant with God, Moshe Rabbenu worries there might be among them some thinking “I will be safe when I follow my willful heart,” 29;18. Admitting he is explaining derech derash, in a more homiletical way [more likely reacting to issues of his time], Meshech Hochmah starts off with Sifrei’s reading of Devarim 11;15. ...

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One or Two Breaths?

by R. Daniel Mann Question: I will be blowing shofar in an Ashkenazi minyan. What should I be doing about blowing tashrat (tekia-shevarim-teruah-tekia) – with neshima achat (=na – shevarim and teruah with “one breath”) or shtei neshimot (= sn – a significant break between them)? Answer: The gemara (Rosh Hashana 34a) derives the need for three sets of shofar ...

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The Mitzvah of Hakhel

by R. Gidon Rothstein Sefer Ha-Hinuch folds Va-Yelech into Nitzavim, listing the two mitzvot in Va-Yelech as if they were in Nitzavim—he does not let on that there is such a parsha as Va-Yelech. If we remember that he thought Mishpatim was two parashiyyot, Mishpatim and Im Kessef, we see there he “gained” one, here he has “lost” one. This year, I’ll take one of those mitzvot for Nitzavim, the mitzvah of Hakhel, the other (writing a sefer Torah) for Va-Yelech. This is a good year to study Hakhel, ...

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Three Brief Reviews

In the Fall 2022 issue of Jewish Action, I review the following three books: Judaism of the Poskim: Responsa and the Nature of Orthodox Judaism by R. Gidon Rothstein Authentically Orthodox: A Tradition-Bound Faith in American Life by R. Zev Eleff Make Your Berachos Meaningful: A Deeper Understanding of the Opening Words of All Our Berachos by R. Mechel Handler Judaism of the Poskim: ...

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Money Isn’t the Only Way to Happiness

by R. Gidon Rothstein Meshech Hochmah comments twice on 26;11, with no break to clarify whether he meant to connect them. To explain the Torah’s reference to you and beitecha, your household, rejoicing in all the good Hashem will give, he repeats the Gemara’s assumption the word refers to a man’s wife, the centerpiece of his household and life. He knows a ...

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Does Pruzbol Ruin the Ability to Fulfill Shemittat Kesafim?

by R. Daniel Mann Question: My community has a project that in our pruzbol (=prz – a mechanism to obviate shemittat kesafim (=sk)), one excludes a loan given through a gemach, upon which we fulfill the mitzva of sk (voiding loans at the end of Shemitta). Why can’t the prz apply to everything, and I still fulfill the mitzva by ...

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Emulating Gd’s Ways

by R. Gidon Rothstein Teaser: I have more a personal stake in this mitzvah than most, for reasons I will share along the way. For now, let’s see how our usual teachers wrote about the obligation to emulate God’s Ways. For Rambam, Obligation Eight commands us le-hidamot bo yit’aleh, “to emulate Him,” more literally “to become like Him, the Exalted One.” Rambam ...

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