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Sometimes lying is allowed, even in such mundane ways as how we answer the phone. Clearly, lying should be avoided whenever possible. The Torah emphasizes: “Mi-dvar sheker tirchak, Keep far from a false matter” (Ex. 23:7). Truth is a prime value in Judaism, described as God’s signature (Shabbos 55a). Yet, other values sometimes take precedence. Peace famously overrides truth. Hillel ...

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Is Rain A Good Sign?

by R. Gil Student Last week Israel experienced a downpour of rain. The timing is particularly interesting, perhaps marking the difference between a blessing and a curse, and raising an interesting example of decision-making in theology. Rain is good in the right time. At the wrong time, it destroys crops and ruins the year’s harvest. I. Bad Rain Traditionally, the ...

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The Internet’s Mussar

My article in this week’s The Jewish Press (link): An associate professor of sociology at Princeton University, Janet Vertesi, recently made news when she publicized her nine-month long efforts to keep her pregnancy entirely secret from marketers. She fastidiously kept all mention off of social media and made all pregnancy-related purchases with cash rather than credit cards. In today’s age, ...

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Dual Aspects of Intelligence

Halakhic Positions of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik by R. Aharon Ziegler In the format of the Shemoneh Esrei we begin with a sentence of petition, as in “Selach lanu ki chatanu” (Forgive us, our Father, for we have sinned), this is followed with an affirmative sentence “Ki mocheil ve’solei’ach ata” (For You pardon and forgive), and then conclude with the ...

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Motivation of Sin

Halakhic Positions of Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik by R. Aharon Ziegler The general topic of Teshuvah is not limited to any particular season or time of year, but is ongoing and always relevant. The Rambam, in the first chapter of Hilchot Teshuva lists the three stages one must go through to accomplish Teshuvah and receive forgiveness; HaKarat HaChet [recognizing and ...

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Dew’s Disappearing Comma

As our prayers, if not our weather, transition from winter to summer, I am reminded of an irate caller I once had to handle. During my brief stint at the OU, I quickly learned the downside of becoming friendly with the receptionist. Any caller with a question or comment in any way related to a book was directed to me. ...

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Style of Haggadah Commentaries

The Pesach Haggadah is generally considered to be the Jewish text with the most commentaries written on it. J.D. Eisenstein wrote around the year 1900 that over 1,500 commentaries have been published. By now it is probably well over 2,000. In R. Gidon Rothstein’s doctoral dissertation, he analyzed commentaries on Pirkei Avos and noted a significant change in styles in ...

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Ten Answers For The Wise Son

The Passover seder is full of fours: four questions, four cups, four sons. The midrashic reading of four sons into the biblical text is brilliant, comparing the four times the Torah refers to teaching sons. Yet the answers given within the haggadah raise many questions. Thankfully so, since the haggadah is the Jewish text most commented on. What follows are ...

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