Magazine

Competing Rabbis

by R. Gidon Rothstein 20 Kislev: Chatam Sofer on Competing Rabbis Capitalist countries assume that competition challenges people to do their best, leading to improved products at cheaper prices. True as that is in many areas, halachah did not see it as an unmitigated good, and developed the idea of hassagat gevul, encroaching boundaries, occasions when it’s unacceptable to compete with the person already filling ...

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How to Tell When Your Tefillin Need Adjustment

by R. Daniel Mann [Periodically, we re-issue our discussion on the proper position of tefillin shel rosh. Many people motion to their friends to straighten their tefillin, which is rarely a problem, and do not realize that tefillin extending too far forward is a far more severe problem. In Living the Halachic Process, I:G-1, we develop the halacha that the ...

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Holiday Parties

by R. Gil Student I’ve often heard rabbis speak about office holiday parties as if they are obviously and unequivocally forbidden and it’s troubled me. I’m not quite sure what the big deal is but I’m also not certain that all rabbis understand the varying circumstances. For some people, missing a holiday has no career impact. For others, it might. ...

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Chanukah Lights: How Long?

by R. Gil Student Often, when social circumstances change significantly from the past, some people automatically assume that Jewish law must change. Others summarily dismiss the suggestion that the law will ever change. Both approaches are incorrect. Rather, these matters require careful and sensitive analysis by the leading scholars to determine the nature of the law and whether the change ...

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What is the Shekhinah?

by R. Gil Student I. Divine Presence The Bible and Talmud refer frequently to the Shekhinah, God’s presence, without explaining the term. This leaves students relying on their intuition. When informed by years of study, this intuitive understanding usually fares well. However, historically, some people have reached theologically dangerous conclusions on these matters, leading important thinkers to explain this term ...

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Chazan Starting with Chazarat Hashatz

by R. Daniel Mann Question: As we were finishing up silent Shemoneh Esrei, an avel came in and wanted to take over as chazan before doing silent Shemoneh Esrei. He davened until Kedusha and planned to continue silently. People told him to continue chazarat hashatz out loud. Was it possible to do this? Answer: The idea of a chazan starting ...

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Stepping Right, Stepping Wrong

by R. Gidon Rothstein Ramban to Vayishlach: Stepping Right, Stepping Wrong Ramban opens his commentary on Vayishlach (32;4) by telling us it’s meant to inform us that Hashem saved his servant from a stronger foe (Esav), and to teach us that Ya’akov did not rely on his righteousness, but made all the attempts he could to save himself. His specific strategies are ...

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