Magazine

Changing Tables for Birkat HaMazon

Halakhic Positions of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik by R. Aharon Ziegler The Mechaber in Shulchan Orach Chaim (184:1) states, “MI SHE’ACHAL BE’MAKOM ECHAD TZARICH LE’VA’REIC KODEM SHE’YA’AKOR MIM’KOMO”, one who ate at a given place (table) must recite Bir’kat HaMazon (at that same place or table), before rising to leave the table. The Mishnah Berurah, based on the Magen Avraham, ...

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Population issues

by R. Gidon Rothstein Counting People or Coins In English, Bamidbar is known as Numbers, partially because it opens (and closes, in Parshat Pinchas) with enumerations of the Jewish people. The second and third verses of the book use several terms for counting the people, Ramban focuses on the root pkd, as in tifkedu otam, commonly and reasonably translated as “count them.” In Bereshit, the Torah uses ...

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Controversial Young Rabbis

by R. Gil Student I. Enforcing Qualifications In the 16th century, Egypt was home to a thriving Jewish community to which, in some ways, Israel was a satellite. In any community, people will try to find ways around authority figures – sometimes for good reasons, but often for less than noble ones. At the time in Egypt, people were selecting ...

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Giving Teruma to a Kohen

Question: Would it be better, when I take off terumot and ma’asrot, to give the teruma to a kohen instead of wrapping and throwing it out? Answer: First, let us consider what a kohen could do with teruma he received. It is forbidden to eat teruma when either the eater (Rambam, Terumot 7:1) or the teruma (ibid. 2:14) is tameh. ...

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The Egyptian Samsonite

by R. Gil Student I. Be Careful What You Say Looking through sixteenth century responsa from the Mediterranean region, I saw something strange that I have not seen in any other time and place. Many responsa discuss the rare phenomenon of the Nezir Shimshon, a Samson Nazirite. Most generations barely mention this phenomenon other than in a theoretical sense. This ...

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Baby Delivered with Forceps

by R. Gidon Rothstein 26 Iyyar: R. Ovadya Yosef on Pidyon HaBen for a Baby Delivered with Forceps Doctors sometimes use forceps to deliver a baby without the more invasive caesarean, when the mother’s efforts alone are not working. Shu”t Yabi’a Omer 9; Yoreh De’ah 26, dated 26 Iyyar 5729 (1969) responds to R. Baruch Rakover, who wondered whether such a baby could count as a bechor, a ...

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Psychological Pain In Reference To Mitzvot

Halakhic Positions of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik by R. Aharon Ziegler Judaism is very concerned and sensitive to the dignity and self-respect of the individual. The Gemara Berachot (19b) states that “kavod  ha’beri’ot  doche  afilu  leMitzvah  de’Orayta, be’shev  ve’al  ta’aseh”, that personal dignity and embarrassment  is so significant that it can, at times, even override a biblical Mitzvah in a ...

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Are Women Better?

by R. Gil Student Four years ago, we published two articles about women’s spiritual status in Judaism — one in which I quote a number of nineteenth and twentieth century thinkers who argue that women are spiritually equal to, or greater than, men and another by Rav Moshe Zuriel who explains the Maharal’s view that women are greater in some ...

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