Magazine

More Ways Jews Delete Themselves From the Blessed Future

by R. Gidon Rothstein When people today discuss core beliefs, they often point to the first Mishnah in the last chapter of Sanhedrin, a Mishnah Rabbenu Yonah brings up in paragraph 154 of the third sha’ar of Sha’arei Teshuvah. The Mishnah lists beliefs a Jew must adopt to be part of the Jewish people. [A point I may not have clarified as well as ...

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A New Post-Coronavirus Era of Halachah?

by R. Gil Student The beautiful flow of Jewish life was tragically diverted by Coronavirus. The pandemic altered our experiences of communal worship, celebrations, mourning and the plethora of daily rituals that constitute a major part of Jewish life. Many people were traumatized to varying degrees by the disruptions caused by the pandemic, without even discussing the great suffering and ...

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Are Stories Any Good?

by R. Gil Student I. Learning From Stories Judaism thrives on stories that inspire and educate. The Talmud and Midrash contain many such stories, some about legal cases and others about interactions filled with important messages. The Talmud explicitly discusses how to use stories properly, which can inform how we consume information in other areas of our lives. For example, ...

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Onkelos, Rashi, and Ramban to VaYishlah: The Jewish People, the World, and Angels

by R. Gidon Rothstein A Future of Tense Relations with Non-Jews Comments of Onkelos, Rashi, and Ramban I looked at in my previous samplings picked up on ways VaYishlah tells us of the expected struggle of the Jewish people to make their way among other nations. Ramban, 32;4, saw much historical foreshadowing in the parsha. Ya’akov’s preparations for his meeting with Esav tell ...

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The Necessity to See the Moon Before Kiddush Levana

by R. Daniel Mann Question: Last week clouds covered the moon after some of us began Kiddush Levana. Can the remainder rely on their “testimony” to join the beracha?   Answer: Many early sources (Yerushalmi, Berachot 9:2; Sanhedrin 42a, in some texts; Rambam, Berachot 10:16; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 426:1) present the seeing of the moon as the presumed prompt for making ...

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Dire Consequences for Mistreating Texts and Torah Scholars

by R. Gidon Rothstein Continuing Rabbenu Yonah’s Examples of Who Loses the World To Come Rabbenu Yonah has three concepts left to explain from last time, ways one can fall afoul of devar Hashem bazah, the word of Gd s/he denigrated. Each suffices to lose a Jew his/her share in the World to Come. The Arrogance of Dismissing the Value of Verses For ...

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The Mixed-Up Blessing on Chanukah Lights

by R. Gil Student I. Reasons to Deviate Rav Yosef Karo (16th cen., Israel; Shulchan Arukh (Orach Chaim 676:1) says that the first blessing on Chanukah lights is: “le-hadlik ner Chanukah, to kindle Chanukah light.” Many have noted how puzzling this is because the Gemara (Shabbos 23a) says that the blessing is “le-hadlik ner shel Chanukah, to kindle the light of Chanukah.” ...

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Last Names in Jewish Law

by R. Gil Student I. What’s In a Surname? Last names serve to identify an individual with greater specificity. There may be many men named Yosef ben Ya’akov in the marketplace but Yosef ben Ya’akov Schwartz is much less common. Should we use last names in Jewish ritual and particularly in Jewish legal documents like a kesubah and get? Initially, ...

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