Magazine

Shul Challenges: Engaging Young Adults After COVID-19

by R. Aton Holzer, MD There has been a considerable amount of discussion online regarding the return to normalcy in Jewish communal life, and in particular, to the shul, after the pandemic has finally concluded. Anecdotally, rabbis have particularly noted the absence of young families in synagogue participation during this time, even to the extent allowed, and in activities that ...

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Va-Yehi and Building Blocks of a Good Life

by R. Gidon Rothstein The tale of the end of Ya’akov’s life, his blessing Yosef’s sons, his own sons, his passing and its aftermath, VaYehi shows us elements of how to live well. Wisdom Is Not Always Easy to Recognize Ya’akov’s dealings with Yosef and then Reuven in the parsha show us ways wisdom is not always easy to spot. Yosef presented his sons ...

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Eat Meat on Shabbat when it Bothers his Wife?

by R. Daniel Mann Question: My wife and I are relatively newly married. I am used to having fleishig Shabbat meals, whereas my wife is disgusted by meat (including poultry, mainly by the smell). Is it right for us to stop having meat at Shabbat/Yom Tov meals or should we try to figure out an arrangement that my wife can ...

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Leitzim and Liars

by R. Gidon Rothstein Finding a Definition of Leitz, Then a First Look at Liars Last time, I pointed out weaknesses in the translation of leitz as scoffer, because Rabbenu Yonah’s list of five kinds of leitzim clearly includes people who are not. Our last two kinds, the “least” bad of the five, further convince me leitzim means something else. Killing Time The fourth kind are people who ...

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The Forbidden Sefer

by R. Gil Student Our thirst for Torah has limits. We treat learning as a sanctified activity and therefore restrain our activities to ensure we use appropriate sources and texts. Are there some Torah texts that we must avoid due to their ownership or the materials with which they were made? I. The Firstborn Torah In 1840, in a town ...

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Learning Is Doing

by R. Gil Student I. Special Power of Learning Torah We have not offered the Temple sacrifices in nearly 2,000 years but we continue fulfilling those mitzvos through our ongoing study of their laws. Does this special power of Torah study apply to other mitzvos as well or just sacrifices? The answer has implications for us today, during the (hopefully ...

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VaYigash: Human Emotion on Display, and Miracles Not on Display

by R. Gidon Rothstein VaYigash ends the tension we have undergone since VaYeshev, shows us the reunion of Ya’akov and Yosef. Along the way, comments of Onkelos, Rashi, and Ramban I noted in previous years seem to me to highlight the emotional elements of people’s lives more than usual. Ya’akov and Yosef’s Connection The verse describes Ya’akov’s spirit as coming alive upon ...

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Finding Out Late about the Presence of a Kohen or Levi

by R. Daniel Mann Question: As a gabbai, sometimes I do not realize either that a kohen is present and I give the first aliya to a non-kohen, or that a levi is present and I give the second aliya to the kohen. What do we do when this is discovered?  Answer: It depends. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 135:6-7) ...

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Four Groups in Real Trouble

by R. Gidon Rothstein To appreciate the move Rabbenu Yonah makes at paragraph 172 of the third sha’ar of Sha’arei Teshuvah, let’s remember the structure of the sha’ar until now. Rabbenu Yonah started with Rambam’s insight the punishment of a sin tells us about its severity, guides us as to how vigorous a repentance is needed. Rabbenu Yonah therefore spent the sha’ar moving from the “least” stringent ...

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