Magazine

Va-Yeshev: Lessons of NonLiteral Onkelos

by R. Gidon Rothstein Bonding with a Child The beginning of Parshat Va-Yeshev, 37;3, tells us Ya’akov had a special bond with Yosef, loved him more than all his sons, ki ben zekunim hu lo. Most literally, we would read the words to mean Ya’akov was an older father, had a soft spot for the son of his old age. ...

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Being Counted, Being Important

Halakhic Positions of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik by R. Aharon Ziegler In the secular world, the underlying theme of “taking a census” is that the individual, the YACHID, means nothing; he is but a number. Only the masses are important; only the total nation collectively is meaningful. Only statistical facts are to be gleaned from a census- the average income, ...

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Ya’akov Also Works for His Goals

by R. Gidon Rothstein Akedat Yitzhak, Sha’ar 25, Part Three A Digression on Laziness To describe Ya’akov’s leaving where he had the dream, the Torah says va-yisa Ya’akov raglav, Ya’akov picked up his legs. R. Arama relates it to the Midrash’s comment about Shemot 15;22, where Moshe leads the people away from Yam Suf. As Mekhilta said about the Jews ...

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Daily Birkas Kohanim: A Historical Revision

by R. Gil Student I. Ashkenazim and Birkas Kohanim Every day, kohanim, men of the priestly families, bless the congregation with the biblical blessings (Num. 6:24-26). At least in theory. In practice, Ashkenazic communities only observe this on holidays, except in Israel, where it is observed daily. I believe that the standard understanding of how Israeli Ashkenazic practice became different ...

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The Mount Sinai Narrative: A Literary Analysis

by R. Gil Student Seven weeks after the Exodus, the Jewish people gathered around the foot of Mount Sinai to receive the Torah. This historic experience is described primarily in five chapters: Exodus 19-24. [1]Although see also Deut. 4 In a 2015 book, Prof. Benjamin Sommer of JTS dissects this passage into multiple sources in which he finds different accounts ...

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Va-Yishlah: Lessons of NonLiteral Onkelos

by R. Gidon Rothstein Who’s Afraid of Angels? I have commented on Onkelos’ mixed approach to the metaphysical, sometimes seeing the supernatural where the verse did not require it, other times tamping down the metaphysical, finding a way to avoid ascribing some action or incident to Hashem. Our parsha gives a few examples I think add to our understanding. The ...

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Eating before Havadalah

Halakhic Positions of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik by R. Aharon Ziegler After the conclusion of Shabbat we are not permitted to eat before reciting Havdalah over a cup of wine (Havdalah al HaKos). This is true even if we have already recited Havdalah during Arvit, which serves to remove the prohibition of performing forbidden work. While we find in many ...

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Heating Pad on Shabbat

by R. Daniel Mann Question: I have muscle pain in my back, which sometimes becomes severe. Going to bed with a heating pad has made a big difference sometimes. May I use it on Shabbat, or is it a problem of muktzeh? Answer: There are a few issues of muktzeh involved here. One is whether to consider a heating pad ...

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