Magazine

Seder on the Rooftops

by R. Gil Student Some modern thinkers–mainly Jewish universalists–express discomfort in the Seder recitation of “Shefokh chamasekha, Pour out Your wrath.” In this passage of the Haggadah, we call on God to punish the heathens who do not recognize Him and who destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem. While this is a direct biblical quote (Ps. 79:6-7), and addresses the gentile ...

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Does Money Create A Sale?

by R. Gidon Rothstein 26 Adar: Chatam Sofer on Whether Money Does or Doesn’t Create a Sale Halachah is meant to be a complete system, applicable to all areas of life. That includes monetary transactions, and I perhaps don’t often enough include responsa where a meshiv is asked to rule on such financial questions. These can seem less “religious,” and ...

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All the Days of Your Life

by R. Ira Bedzow When one first reads Rabbi Eleazar ben Azariah’s statement, “Behold I am about seventy years old, and I have never been worthy to [find a reason] why the Exodus from Egypt should be mentioned at nighttime until ben Zoma expounded it,” the first thought is to consider the focus of this section to be on the ...

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Minhag America and American Nationalism

by R. Gil Student In 1857, a leading reform-minded rabbi in America, Isaac Mayer Wise, published a prayer book he called Minhag America. With this publication, he attempted to unify American Jews around a single text of prayer, which of course faced immediate opposition and eventual failure. More radical reformers felt the book was too traditional and more traditional Jews ...

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Owning Public Mitzvot

by R. Gidon Rothstein 19 Adar:  R. Ovadya Yosef on Owning Public Mitzvot For whatever positive motives people donate to the public good, ego can get involved as well. In Shu”t Yabi’a Omer 7;23, dated 19 Adar 5738 (1978), some of that had clearly happened. R. Ovadya Yosef was asked for advice by brothers who had donated a parochet, a covering ...

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Ha Lachma Anya

by R. Ira Bedzow In Ha Lachma Anya, we immediately show the matzah that our forefathers ate, in order to help us look back and personally experience the Exodus at the present moment.  Yet, the remainder of the paragraph serves a much greater purpose than simply reminding us of what our forefathers ate.  Like the four cups of wine, this ...

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