Magazine

Vort from the Rav: Vayishlach

וַיַצֶב־שָם מִזְבֵחַ וַיִקְרָא־לוֹ אֵ-ל אֱ-להֵי יִשְרָאֵֽל There he erected an altar, and he named it “God is the God of Israel” (Bereishis 34:20) Rashi cites Megillah 18a, translating this phrase differently: and the God of Israel called him [i.e. Jacob] אֵ-ל. There are halachic implications to the two translations. The scribe (sofer) who writes a sefer Torah must have the ...

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The Problem of Apologetics

Students often find challenging the confrontation between Jewish tradition and their college studies. They are sometimes frustrated by their attempts to explain Judaism based on their newly acquired knowledge from the halls of academia. This encounter, when unsatisfying, has led many wonderful and thoughtful people to abandon Jewish tradition. However, the challenge is really a false dilemma, based on a ...

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Vort from the Rav: Vayeitzei

ועַתָה לְכָה נִכְְרתָה בְִרית אֲנִי וָאָתָה So now, come, let us form a covenant, you and I. (Bereishis 31:44) There are two types of covenants. In one type, the two parties agree to pursue a common goal and a shared destiny. There will be interaction between their respective cultures and there would therefore be no hesitancy to intermarry with one ...

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Audio Roundup

Received concerning an earlier query: “At the early minyan in my shul in Teaneck, the guy who leads slichos starts davening as well. Usually, he gives up the amud after Rabbi Yishmael or Yishtabach (if there are aveilim), but if the Shatz (I can’t imagine this happening) wanted the amud for all of shachris, notwithstanding the aveilim, we would let ...

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Synagogue Dues: The Middle Path

As Jewish communal institutions suffer declining membership, synagogues continue to reevaluate their dues structure. On the one hand, an established organization must cover significant overhead. On the other, the financial burden scares away potential new members. Two models are generally discussed but a third, popular in certain Orthodox communities, is often ignored. I. Synagogue Dues The primary model consists of ...

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What is a Goy?

The term “goy” today refers to a Gentile. It is not normally derogatory but, like many words (including “Jew”), with the wrong tone it turns into an insult. However, in Biblical Hebrew the word means something else. Rashi (Ps. 2:1) quotes R. Menachem Ben Saruk as saying that the words “goy”, “umah” and “le-um” are similar (kerovei inyan). Ostensibly, he ...

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The Permanent Friction Between Esav and Yaakov

Ran opens his second derasha with Malachi 1:2, where the prophet reminds the Jews of Hashem’s love, a love that is proven by the contrast between Hashem’s reaction to Yaakov and Esav. His audience might have known this verse by virtue of its being from the haftarah of Toledot (the derashah eventually deals with events from Toledot, specifically the securing ...

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The Martyrs of Mumbai

Pakistani terrorists attacked the Chabad House in Mumbai, India, on Wednesday, 29th of Heshvan, 5769 (26 November 2008). Part of a concerted attack that killed 179 and wounded hundreds, they murdered the young Chabad emissaries running the house, Rabbi Gavriel and Mrs. Rivky Holtzberg. Their infant son, who turned two the day after his parents were brutally killed, was heroically ...

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Audio Roundup

I’ve been thinking a lot about information overload and how a poseik must not only be familiar with an exponentially increasing number of halachic sources and theories (especially if you include archeological, historical and textual advances), but also the concomitant information explosion in all knowledge (and technology). I wonder if it’s too much to ask and whether heuristics (or mimetics) ...

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Vort from the Rav: Toldos

This is the first in a series of Torah insights from Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (“the Rav”), excerpted from the recently published Chumash Mesoras HaRav. Genesis 27:41 יִקְְרבו יְמֵי אֵבֶל אָבִי ואַהְַרגָה אֶת יַעֲקֹב אָחִי Let the days of mourning for my father draw near, I will then kill my brother Jacob. There are two mitzvos governing the obligations of ...

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