Repenting a Coerced Forbidden Pleasure

by R. Gidon Rothstein [Click for the audio version]. Let’s admit that not all of us are so enveloped in Torah and mitzvot that we find distasteful that which the Torah prohibits. Shu”t Chatam Sofer 1 (Orach Chayyim); 202, dated 8 Adar 5599 (1839), deals with a man like us, who was forced to violate the Torah and liked it.  He had been taken captive ...

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Wearing Hatzalah Walkie Talkies on Shabbat

by R. Gidon Rothstein 2nd Day RH Adar: R. Moshe Feinstein on Wearing Hatzalah Walkie Talkies on Shabbat [Click for the audio version] Hatzalah is a deservedly well-known organization, with volunteers available day or night for medical emergencies. A central dispatcher fields distress calls and alerts volunteers in the area through a walkie-talkie system. Shu”t Iggerot Moshe Orach Chayyim 4;81, dated second day Rosh Chodesh Adar 5739 ...

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Writing Names in Gittin – Ashkenazic or Sephardic

by R. Gidon Rothstein [Click for the audio version]   I find it hard to convey technical issues ofhalachah in a way that does them justice. That means that with all my efforts to randomize this selection process, we probably take up fewer such technical questions than are reflected in the responsa literature.Shu”t Yabi’a Omer 10; Even HaEzer 34, dated 24 Shevat 5743 (1983) helps us make ...

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Halachic Information from Heaven

by R. Gidon Rothstein 17 Shevat: R. Kook on When We Can Get Halachic Information from Heaven [Click to hear an audio summary of this responsum]. Some strands of Jewish thought take up the metaphysical, discussing, analyzing, or investigating how the divine and/or angelic realm interacts with and impact our physical world. Our state of exile sometimes lets us forget that ...

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Releasing an Unreleasable Vow

by R. Gidon Rothstein 10 Shevat: R. Yitzchak Elchanan Spektor on Releasing an Unreleasable Vow It’s hard to react to people who break bounds of propriety, whether those codified in rules and laws or “just” as part of norms accepted in society. It’s hard to know what to do because to mete out the consequences such people deserve often brings ...

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Adopting a Jewish Girl

by R. Gidon Rothstein 3 Shevat: Tzitz Eliezer on Adopting a Jewish Girl and on Saying Kiddush By Heart When I was growing up, word on the Jewish street was that we adopted only non-Jewish babies, to avoid the halachic problems that can come with a child of unknown lineage. On 3 Shevat 5722 (1962), Tzitz Eliezer 7;40 was asked about an adoption that raises this issue ...

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How Chatam Sofer Spent 25 Tevet

by R. Gidon Rothstein How Chatam Sofer Spent 25 Tevet on Five Years of His Life (You can hear a half-hour audio version of this, thanks to There’s no particular reason a responsum should exist for every possible calendar day, although the length of Jewish history and wealth of the responsa literature generally means I generally get to choose from more than ...

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Cornea Transplants

by R. Gidon Rothstein 18 Tevet: R. Ben–Zion Abba Shaul and R. Ovadya Yosef Debate Cornea Transplants [Click for the audio version at, which leaves R. Ovadya Yosef for the 20th of Tevet]. One of the wonders of the past hundred years has been the flowering of Torat Eretz Yisrael, Torah from the Land of Israel. In this series, where I review responsa ...

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Doing Business with Prohibited Items

by R. Gidon Rothstein 11 Tevet: R. Kook on Doing Business with Prohibited Items [Thanks to the good people at the OU, especially R. Jack Abramowitz and David Hochhauser, I have recently completed audio summaries of all the responsa in this series, even as I continue to work on written versions. Click for a half-hour shiur discussing this responsum]. Halachah defines some items as assur be-hana’ah, ...

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Employer/Employee Relations

by R. Gidon Rothstein 4 Tevet: R. Uzziel on Some Basics of Employer/Employee Relations Perennial questions of how to structure social institutions do not always have a single halachic answer, so they arise each time society changes. Shu”t Mishpetei Uzziel 4;Choshen Mishpat 42, dated 4 Tevet 5698 (1937; interestingly, while other rabbinic writers re-order the letters to avoid the possible reading tirtsach, kill or murder, R. ...

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