Halakhic Positions

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 ...

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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 ...

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Blessing HaShem

Halakhic Positions of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik by R. Aharon Ziegler What does it mean to bless GD? How can a person of flesh and blood, temporal man, “a broken shard”, and a “fleeting wind”, approach the Everlasting King of Kings, the Creator of the world, and say, Blessed are you, HaShem? According to Rav Soloveitchik, when one recites a ...

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Kedusha and Sacrifice

Halakhic Positions of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik by R. Aharon Ziegler Rav Soloveitchik cited the Midrash Tanchuma [to Tazria 17] that the Roman governor Tineius Rufus asked Rabbi Akiva, “If GD dislikes the uncircumcised , then why did He create man in an uncircumcised state”? Rabbi Akiva responded, “Does the earth yield bread?” In this response, the Rav explained, Rabbi ...

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Real Meaning of Tzedakah

Halakhic Positions of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik by R. Aharon Ziegler It would seem, upon initial examination that the word “tzedakah”, rooted in the word “tzedek”, justice, is an inappropriate term to describe the act of giving charity. Performing an act of charity is generally understood to be a display of “chesed”, kindness, to one’s fellow. We owe nothing to ...

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Genuine Joy

Halakhic Positions of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik by R. Aharon Ziegler Every one of our biblical Chagim has an element of Joy; Pesach, Shavu’ot, Sukkot, and even Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur. This joy must include the entire household, as the Torah states “you, your son, your daughter”, and “your servant and your handmaid” (Devarim 12:18, 16:14). According to Rav ...

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Bracha Al Ha’kos

Halakhic Positions of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik by R. Aharon Ziegler The Rambam distinguishes between the different Brachot which are recited over a cup, [Al Ha’Kos.] Regarding Kiddush, Birkat HaMazon, and Birkat Nissuin (Sheva Brachot), Rambam rules that the Brachot must be specifically recited over a cup of wine. (Hilchot Brachot 7:15, Hilchot Shabbat 29:17, and Hilchot Ishut 10:4). However, ...

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Power of Hirhur Teshuvah

Halakhic Positions of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik by R. Aharon Ziegler The Gemara Avodah Zara (18a) relates that when R’ Chananya ben Tradyon was burned at the stake by the Romans, pieces of wool soaked in water were placed over his chest to prolong his agony. The Roman executioner, intensely moved by his suffering, asked R’ Chananya whether he could ...

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