Halakhic Positions

Josephus

Halakhic Positions of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik by R. Aharon Ziegler Josephus was a Jewish general who surrendered to the Romans and became a prominent intellectual in Rome. It seems that the Jews under Josephus’ command fought heroically, but gradually the defenders were isolated and decimated by hunger. With no hope left, the fighters under Josephus’ command entered into a ...

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Eicha – Ayeka

Halakhic Positions of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik by R. Aharon Ziegler Yirmiyahu HaNavi begins Megillat Eicha lamenting about Yerushalayim – with the word “Eicha”, how is it possible? How could such a tragedy have happened? In Bereishit [3:8], after Adam HaRishon ate from the Eitz HaDa’at,  G-d calls to him and questions him with the word “A’Yeka”- “Where are you?” ...

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Two Aspects of Torah Study

Halakhic Positions of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik by R. Aharon Ziegler Rav Soloveitchik explained, based on the Rambam in Hilchot Talmud Torah [1:1-8], that the Mitzvah of Torah Study consists of two performances. The first involves acquiring knowledge and training the mind in the methodology of Torah; such as conceptual analysis, and precise application. This is based on the second ...

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The Shema and Its Blessings

Halakhic Positions of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik by R. Aharon Ziegler The Tefillot recited after Yishtabach and before Shemoneh Esrei are referred to as the Bir’kat Shema blessings of Keri’at Shema. The Rabbanim instituted these Berachot as an integral entity with Keri’at  Shema, since they reflect the important themes of Keri’at Shema. When we recite the phrase “Ki Hu Levado ...

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Connecting Redemption to Prayer

Halakhic Positions of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik by R. Aharon Ziegler The idea of Semichat Ge’ulah LeTefillah is that there should be no interruption between “redemption” and “prayer”. In practical terms this means that we begin the Shmoneh Esrei, immediately after saying the words “Ga’al Yisrael”- Redeemer of Israel. Yet, there seems no obvious connection between the two. Tefillah is ...

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Main Lesson of Megilat Esther

Halakhic Positions of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik by R. Aharon Ziegler In discussing whether one can or should sacrifice his life to save an entire community, Rav Soloveitchik related the story of Rav Mann from Vilna. Thia story takes place in the village of Vilna, in the late 1700s. Rav Mann confessed to stealing an icon from the church in ...

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Changing the Tune for the Third Chapter of Eicha

Halakhic Positions of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik by R. Aharon Ziegler There is a prevalent custom where the reader of Megillat Eicha for Tisha B’Av changes the trop tune when he reads the third chapter. Some claim that this is done because the sentences are all shorter and more cryptic making the regular trop sound awkward. Rav Soloveitchik said that ...

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The “Burden” of Prophecy

Halakhic Positions of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik by R. Aharon Ziegler Chazal note in the Midrash (Bereishit Rabba 44:6) that there are ten words that are used to describe prophecy. One of these words, used regarding the prophecy of the Navi Malachi (1:1) is Masah, which can be translated as “a burden”. Why is such an inappropriate word used with ...

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Mind Over Action

Halakhic Positions of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik by R. Aharon Ziegler According to Rav Soloveitchik, Halacha is not simply law. It is a way of living and thinking. It is true that there are many areas of Jewish law where what matters is what we do, not what we think. But, on the other hand, there are some areas where ...

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Torah and Tefillah

Halakhic Positions of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik by R. Aharon Ziegler Both Torah study and Tefillah [prayer] rank high in the annals of our religious faith and tradition. As a matter of fact Moshe Rabbeinu points to these two factors as the pivotal aspects of our greatness and uniqueness. In Parashat Va’et’chanan [Devarim 4:7-8] Moshe states: “Which is a great ...

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