Magazine

Pope Gregory I and the Jews

Pope Gregory I (“the Great”) was one of the most influential Church leaders of the medieval period. His policy on the treatment of Jews in Christian Europe, known by the Latin phrase “Sicut Judaeis,” instituted an official if ambivalent position that lasted from the sixth century to the beginnings of the modern era. E-mail subscribers: Please note that posts on ...

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Is Careful Language Possible?

The eightieth yahrtzeit today of R. Yisrael Meir Kagan, author of the important works Chafetz Chaim and Mishnah Berurah among others, offers us the opportunity to consider whether his rules for careful speech are realistic. While forbidden speech comes in many forms, I would like to focus on the cases where lashon ha-ra–true but disparaging information–is permissible. The Chafetz Chaim ...

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Audio Roundup

Is there application to some recent debates on Orthodox segmentation? R. Adin Steinsaltz writes (link): Living in an alien non-Jewish philosophical, psychological, and social milieu–as all Jews do, even the most pious–it is inevitable that we absorb its basic assumptions and that, as a result, certain of our Jewish assumptions are called into question. (How can the Torah speak in ...

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How to Use the Bible

The Bible is not just a text to study but also a source of inspiration and prayer. R. Herbert S. Goldstein once published the following incredibly useful list in his synagogue newspaper, as recorded in The Maverick Rabbi, p. 219 (reprinted here with permission): When you have the blues, read Psalm 34. When you are discouraged, read Isaiah 40. When ...

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Jewish Children Forced Into the Tsar’s Army

Reeling from the humiliating defeat of the Crimean War, the Russian Empire decides its policy of forcibly conscripting Jewish boys into military service is counterproductive, and finally abandons the cruel decades-old policy of taking underage children into thirty-one years of military training and service. E-mail subscribers: Please note that posts on Friday are automatically sent out on Shabbos. This function ...

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Communities, Combination and Creation

Series Introduction: Practical Highlights of Derashot haRan Welcome to a new feature, a weekly discussion of R. Nissim of Gerona’s Derashot HaRan. (While there has been some suggestion that the author of the work was someone else, Prof. Leon Feldman put that to rest in his 2003 Mossad HaRav Kook edition of the Derashot, in the introductory pages, 11-14). Better ...

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Audio Roundup

Speaking of Torah Musings? The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones. Julius Caesar: Act 3, Scene 2 ——— From a Pension Article ERISA and Sharia Law ERISA places duties on the plan fiduciary to diversify plan assets. How does a Muslim fiduciary tread cautiously so as to satisfy both the diversification ...

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The Danger of Dissent

Miriam’s sin and punishment not only serve as a cautionary moral tale about interpersonal care but also the unintended theological consequences of cynicism. Both aspects–behavior and attitude, cognizance of which according to one authority are formalized in a mitzvah observance–are important to take with us as we travel on the internet. In Numbers (12:1-16), we learn that Miriam (primarily) and ...

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Jews, Lepers and the Black Death

The summer of 1321 was plagued with rumors that Jews had entered into a conspiracy with lepers (some versions also included Muslims) to poison the wells of Europe, resulting in mass hysteria and mob violence. King Philip V was eventually able to quell the movement, but it resurfaced twenty years later in a much more potent form as the Black ...

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Audio Roundup

by Joel Rich Thoughts to Ponder: Creativity and Tradition – Prof. Israel Ta Shma (I’m listening to the Social Theory Course and he continually hits the points I always wonder about.) He says: The historical foundations of this communal structure are rooted in an internal Jewish tradition reflected in the Talmud, on the one hand, and in the influence of ...

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