Magazine

Connecting to Hashem

Halakhic Positions of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik by R. Aharon Ziegler Rav Soloveitchik pointed out that Tefillah (Prayer) and Nevu’ah (Prophecy) are two sides of the same coin. While both involve dialogue between human being and G-d, there is one major difference: in Nevu’ah G-d initiates the dialogue and speaks to us, while in prayer the human being is the ...

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Preaching in the Local Language

by R. Gil Student I. Preaching and Change Proponents of religious change offer many different arguments for justification, some more plausible than others. One argument that I’ve seen seems convincing until you understand the historical context. This claim refers to the ban on rabbis giving sermons in the local language, e.g. German or English. This was once denounced as forbidden ...

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Maintaining a Possibly Grafted Tree

by R. Daniel Mann Question: I bought property with a nectarine tree and do not know if it is grafted. What do I do with it? Answer: The main prohibition regarding tree grafting is the act of grafting – (inserting the branch (scion) of one tree into the wood (rootstock) of another tree). Actually, this prohibition is not explicit in ...

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A Tzaddik and the Miracles That Happened to Him

by R. Gidon Rothstein Ramban to Noach: A Tzaddik and the Miracles That Happened to Him The first verse of this parsha describes Noach as ish tzaddik tamim, tzaddik hayah be-dorotav, that he was a whole or pure man, righteous in his generation. Rashi records a Rabbinic debate about just how good he was, based especially on how one reads the word for “in his generation.” In ...

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Extending Heter Mechirah

by R. Gidon Rothstein 20 Tishrei: R. Yitzchak Elchanan Extending the Heter Mechirah for Another Shemittah The heter mechirah is an halachic solution to the quandary of how to handle shemittah in times when farmers feel they cannot financially forego an entire year’s crop. Today, the issue raises religious, political, and economic questions, which are far beyond our purview here; but in 5656 (1895-96), a shemittah year, R. Yitzchak ...

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Failed Commitments

by R. Gidon Rothstein 13 Tishrei: Chatam Sofer on Failed Commitments The thirteenth of Tishrei might feel close to Sukkot for some of us, but Chatam Sofer’s responsa show him still involved in the usual business of life. As I didn’t find any one responsum that would take up our space here, I am going to share three relatively brief ones. While they are on ...

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If Tzitz Eliezer Were Your Rabbi, What He Might Say This Yom Kippur

by R. Gidon Rothstein 10 Tishrei: If Tzitz Eliezer Were Your Rabbi, What He Might Say This Yom Kippur In the later volumes of his responsa, Tzitz Eliezer (R. Eliezer Yehuda Waldenberg, 1916-2006) included two derashot, sermons, he gave on Yom Kippur (one before Yizkor of 5741, or 1940, the other before Kol Nidre of 5727, 1966).  We could do a great deal worse than having him serve as our ...

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