Responsa

Doubtful Kehunah

by R. Gidon Rothstein 14 Tevet: Doubtful Kehunah As the Rav, R. Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, z”l, pointed out in Halachic Man, halachah builds an a priori picture of life, which halachic people then work to apply and actualize to the world around us. Since that world isn’t always or perhaps often shaped by those who share that interest, there can ...

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Casualties of War and Yibum

by R. Gidon Rothstein 29 Kislev: Tzitz Eliezer on Casualties of War and Yibum The year 5708 (1947-48) is best known as when the State of Israel declared independence, with all the wonders that ensued. The series of letters Tzitz Eliezer reproduces in 3;26 show how much the shadow of the Holocaust loomed over them prior to that. The first ...

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A Woman Who Left Judaism and Returned

by R. Gidon Rothstein 22 Kislev: Noda BiYehuda on Yibum for a Woman Who Left Judaism and Returned We assume, mostly correctly, that the 19th century was when a largely traditional community, in which almost all Jews identified with the observant community, shifted to one where many or most were no longer observant. But the winds of change began brewing ...

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Converting a Woman Already Married to a Kohen

by R. Gidon Rothstein 15 Kislev (5722) : R. Moshe Feinstein on Converting a Woman Already Married to a Kohen Remembering What’s Supposed to Be When life presents less than optimal circumstances, we try to respond as generously as we can. That’s as it should be, but it can lead to forgetting the optimal circumstances, such that we’re not sure ...

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Rav Kook on Nidui and Cherem

by R. Gidon Rothstein 8 Kislev: R. Kook on Nidui and Cherem On the eighth of Kislev, 5676 (1915), R. Kook, Shu”t Da’at Kohen Yoreh De’ah 193, responded to a rabbi in Basel about whether he could punish a shul by not giving speeches there (because in 1915 in Basel, a rabbi refusing to give Divrei Torah was experienced as ...

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Invalidating a Gift

by R. Gidon Rothstein First Day Rosh Chodesh Kislev: R. Chaim Berlin on Invalidating a Gift One of the pleasures of a series like this is that it allows us to get to know, a bit, rabbinic figures we might not otherwise. The name of R. Chaim Berlin is one I’ve known since childhood, since my father, a”h, studied in ...

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R. Ovadya Yosef on Believing a Non-Jew

by R. Gidon Rothstein 23 Cheshvan 5739 (1978): R. Ovadya Yosef on Believing a Non-Jew This responsum is actually a bit of a bait and switch, since it’s titled as being about when we can believe a non-Jew, but the bulk of the lengthy discussion revolves around other issues. That’s because the decision about whether to believe that which non-Jews ...

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Do Non-Jews Get Reward for Mitzvot

by R. Gidon Rothstein 16 Cheshvan: R. Moshe Feinstein on Whether Non-Jews Get Reward for Mitzvot Last week, we saw a responsum that took a position I assume many of us found problematic. I’m doing it again this week, with fewer practical aspects but much broader theological ones—it ends up being about the role of mitzvot in the world, whether ...

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