Responsa

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 ou.org) 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 ou.org, 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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Rav Ovadya Yosef on Whether Ethiopian Jews Need to Reconvert

by R. Gidon Rothstein Ethiopian Jewry presented a significant problem for rabbis, because their lineage was unclear and their practices weren’t quite those of regular Jews. Were they Jewish and had lost much of the tradition, or were they people who attempted to convert but never actually did? That mattered especially once they started coming to the State of Israel, ...

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Competing Rabbis

by R. Gidon Rothstein 20 Kislev: Chatam Sofer on Competing Rabbis Capitalist countries assume that competition challenges people to do their best, leading to improved products at cheaper prices. True as that is in many areas, halachah did not see it as an unmitigated good, and developed the idea of hassagat gevul, encroaching boundaries, occasions when it’s unacceptable to compete with the person already filling ...

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Becoming a Firefighter

by R. Gidon Rothstein 6 Kislev: Tzitz Eliezer on Becoming a Firefighter One of the blessed challenges of a renewed Jewish presence in the Land of Israel is that it brings up questions of how an halachic Judaism can function in a full working society. Tzitz Eliezer 7;20, dated 6 Kislev 5722 (1961) takes up one such challenge. The rabbi of Pardes Channah, R. Yehoshua Zelig Diskin, ...

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Mussaf with a Minyan or Shacharit First

by R. Gidon Rothstein 28 Cheshvan: R. Moshe Feinstein on Mussaf with a Minyan or Shacharit First There may be people who have never come late to shul; for the rest of us, hard questions arise. Shu”t Iggerot Moshe Orach Chayyim 4;68, dated 28 Marcheshvan 5750 (1979), deals with a person who comes to shul when the community is already up to Mussaf, the additional prayer on Shabbat and holidays. ...

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Unsupervised Meat

by R. Gidon Rothstein 21 Cheshvan: Chacham Zvi on Meat Left Without Supervision We outsource much about kashrut, especially regarding meat. We walk into a kosher butcher, supervised by a rabbi or organization we trust, buy meat, go home and prepare and eat it. That has many advantages, since almost all the people involved in the process are more familiar with the relevant halachot than ...

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