Responsa

Waiting for People Who Pray at Length

by R. Gidon Rothstein 21 Tammuz: R. Menashe Klein on Waiting for People Who Pray at Length The questioner of Shu”t Mishneh Halachot 4;9, dated 21 Tammuz 5724 (1964) patronizes a shul with a bare minyan, the minimum quorum of ten, and the chazzan frequently starts the repetition of the Amidah with fewer than nine responding. He asks R. Menashe Klein to assess. The Minimum Number to Answer Two ...

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Joke Kiddushin

by R. Gidon Rothstein 14 Tammuz: Chatam Sofer on Joke Kiddushin The pomp with which Jews marry today mean we can be confident the couple involved truly intended to be married. Halachically, however, a kiddushin can occur any time a man gives a woman an item of value and says the required formula in front of two witnesses. Shu”t Chatam Sofer 3; Even Ha-‘Ezer 1;80, dated ...

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Shabbat Clocks, Electric Lights for Chanukkah, and Hearing Mitzvot Over the Telephone

by R. Gidon Rothstein 7 Tammuz: Tzitz Eliezer on Shabbat Clocks, Electric Lights for Chanukkah, and Hearing Mitzvot Over the Telephone Technology benefits and challenges halachic observance. Shu”t Tzitz Eliezer 20;19, dated 7 Tammuz 5702 (1942) hearkens back to technologies now old hat, but still offer insight into how we can or cannot let such advances impact our practice. The responsum originated in three issues a ...

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Celebrating Thanksgiving

by R. Gidon Rothstein First Day RH Tammuz: R. Moshe Feinstein on Celebrating Thanksgiving I had my bris and Bar-Mitzvah on Thanksgiving Day, with no control over the timing of the former, and relatively little on the latter. Shu”t Iggerot Moshe Yoreh De’ah 4;12, dated first day of Rosh Chodesh Tammuz 5741 (1981), takes up how Jews should relate to Thanksgiving festivities. (This responsum ...

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Forms

by R. Gil Student 23 Sivan: R. Moshe Feinstein’s Forms Shu”t Iggerot Moshe Choshen Mishpat 3;30 reproduces several forms R. Moshe Feinstein used in his personal life and/or wrote for others, the last of which was dated 23 Sivan 5731 (1971). I am charmed by the goodwill in the gesture—these forms do not show his creative halachic thought, no one ...

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Chatam Sofer on Women’s Hair Covering

by R. Gidon Rothstein I wish Star Wars was right when it said only a Sith thinks in absolutes, when in fact many of us fall into the trap, especially in our characterizations of rabbis. One of the ways in which I have been surprised as I’ve studied responsa has been in the nuance I have found in the writings ...

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A Gift of Land

by R. Gidon Rothstein 9 Sivan: R. Uzziel on a Gift of Land to a Now-Divorced Wife Aside from the sadness in the break-up of a marriage, hard monetary questions can remain [and, as bears repeating, neither side is necessarily malicious—each may truly believe the claims they are making]. Complicating matters, the Gemara’s assumed financial arrangements do not always reflect ...

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Selling Non-Kosher Meat to a Lapsed Jew

by R. Gidon Rothstein 2 Sivan: Avnei Nezer on Selling Non-Kosher Meat to a Lapsed Jew The nineteenth century saw a significant uptick in the number of Jews who had left observance, which creates halachic questions of how observant Jews may interact with them.  Shu”t Avnei Nezer Yoreh De’ah 126, dated 2 Sivan 5656 (1896) discusses a Jew who insisted on meat from the hindquarters ...

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Washing Nylon on Shabbat

by R. Gidon Rothstein 24 Iyyar: Tzitz Eliezer on Washing Nylon on Shabbat Nylon came along in the 1930s. Shu”t Tzitz Eliezer 5;10, dated 24 Iyyar 5714 (1954) responds to a questioner who wondered whether its resistance to absorption allows us to treat it more like leather than wool, linen, or silk. Dabbing water on the latter three on Shabbat (such as if ...

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Placing Conditions on Sales

by R. Gidon Rothstein 17 Iyyar: R. Uzziel on Placing Conditions on Sales [Click for the audio version.] Responsa usually look for the correct halachic response to a specific case. Much of the business of halachah, however, happens in the abstract, where scholars tease apart Talmudic passages and their halachic ramifications, whether or not they will later arise in practical circumstances. Shu”t Mishpetei Uzziel 4;Choshen Mishpat 34, dated 17 ...

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