Responsa

Burial in a Mausoleum

by R. Gidon Rothstein 14 Elul: R. Moshe Feinstein on Burial in a Mausoleum Exile periodically lures Jews to adopt non-Jewish values, and then demand the community respect their right to act on those foreign ways of life. Shu”t Iggerot Moshe Yoreh De’ah 3; 143 and 144 (144 is dated 14 Elul 5732 (1972)), advises the rabbis of Cleveland on how to respond ...

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Crushed

by R. Gidon Rothstein 7 Elul: Chatam Sofer on What Is a Petzua Daka Devarim 23;2 excludes from marriage a petzu’a daka, a man whose reproductive organs have been injured or destroyed. In Shu”t Chatam Sofer 3; Even HaEzer 19, dated 7 Elul 5585 (1814), Chatam Sofer sought a way to allow a man who apparently sustained an injury to those private areas continue living with his wife. The ...

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Commitments Betrayed

by R. Gidon Rothstein 1st Day RH Elul: Chatam Sofer on Commitments Betrayed Capitalism dislikes the market inefficiencies of monopolies, which might color our reading of Shu”t Chatam Sofer 2; Yoreh De’ah 9, dated the first day of Rosh Chodesh Elul 5598 (1838). The only shochet, ritual slaughterer, in a certain area had allowed another shochet to join him, with terms and conditions which recognized his monopolistic rights to shechitah in that region. ...

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Grafting That Isn’t Kilayim

by R. Gidon Rothstein 23 Av: Chatam Sofer on Grafting That Isn’t Kilayim [Click here for the audio version].    Shu”t Chatam Sofer 2; Yoreh De’ah 287, dated 23 Menachem Av 5575 (1815), shows practical farming questions arose in halachah even before Jews returned to Israel and took up agriculture. The questioner noticed people in his area had a technique for planting ahal or shoshanim (ahal is either aloe or agarwood; shoshanah often refers to roses, ...

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When Marriages Do and Don’t End

by R. Gidon Rothstein 16 Av: Netziv and R. Yitzchak Elchanan on When Marriages Do and Don’t End [Click for the audio version] To divorce his wife, a man must have da’at, the mental competence to authorize the court and scribe to write and deliver the document of divorce on his behalf, Shu”t Meishiv Davar 4;48, dated 16 Menachem Av 5636 (1876), records R. Naftali Tzvi Yehudah Berlin ...

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The Obligation to Learn Torah on Tish’a B’Av

by R. Gidon Rothstein 9 Av: Klausenberger Rebbe on the Obligation to Learn Torah on Tish’a B’Av I should not be able to find responsa dated the ninth of Av, Tish’a B’Av, since it’s a day when Jews are not supposed to learn ordinary Torah. Most people assume the permissibility of learning devarim ha-ra’im, sad or depressing areas of Torah (such as Eichah, the ...

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Picking and Choosing Poskim

by R. Gidon Rothstein Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av: R. Betzalel Stern on Picking and Choosing Poskim Posek-shopping is a natural instinct; we want to be told our desired course of action is also an or the appropriate one. Shu”t Betzel HaChochmah 6;29, dated Rosh Chodesh Menachem Av 5747 (1987) takes up the issue, how to choose a posek without predetermining the answer we get. A ...

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Community Voting Rights

by R. Gidon Rothstein 22 Tammuz: Tzitz Eliezer On Community Voting Rights On the 22nd of Tammuz, 5707 (1947), Tzitz Eliezer (3;29) responded to a request to lay out rules for who can or should be selected to positions of leadership, who votes, and related issues.  Much of this, he points out, he had already discussed in volume two of his work, responsum 24. For those of ...

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Kashering Glass Utensils

by R. Gidon Rothstein R. Ezriel Hildesheimer Defends Kashering Glass Utensils [Click here for the audio version]. The Torah does not mention glass as a material for utensils such as pots and pans, leaving us no instructions for how to make glass items kosher. We often assume it is impervious to absorption, which would mean we could wash it off carefully and use it ...

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Must Slaves and Women Settle the World?

by R. Gidon Rothstein 9 Tammuz: R. Ya’akov Ettlinger on Whether Slaves and Women Must Settle the World Halachah defines two aspects to the obligation to bear children. The Torah commands piryah ve-rivyah (commonly translated as being fruitful and multiplying), and Chazal added an obligation known as la-shevet, based on Yeshayahu 45;18, where the navi reminds us Hashem did not create the world to be void, but la-shevet, to be inhabited. ...

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