Musings

Ha Lachma Anya

by R. Ira Bedzow In Ha Lachma Anya, we immediately show the matzah that our forefathers ate, in order to help us look back and personally experience the Exodus at the present moment.  Yet, the remainder of the paragraph serves a much greater purpose than simply reminding us of what our forefathers ate.  Like the four cups of wine, this ...

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Cups of Redemption

by R. Ira Bedzow One is obligated to drink four cups of wine at the Pesach Seder in a manner that is demonstrative of being free (BT Pesachim 108b).  The Jerusalem Talmud (JT Pesachim 10a) provides a number of reasons for why we drink specifically four cups of wine. Rav Yochanan said in the name of Rav Benaya that they ...

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Opposite, Not Oppositional

by R. Shmuel Zuckerman וַיֹּאמֶר ד’ אֱלֹקִים לֹא טוֹב הֱיוֹת הָאָדָם לְבַדּוֹ אֶעֱשֶׂהּ לּוֹ עֵזֶר כְּנֶגְדּוֹ – בראשית ב And the Lord G-d said: ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper opposite him.’ (Genesis II) ואמר רבי אלעזר מאי דכתיב [בראשית ב] אעשה לו עזר כנגדו זכה עוזרתו לא זכה כנגדו ...

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Finding Inspiration After Purim

by R. Gil Student We celebrate Purim every year to commemorate the celebration in ancient times, when joy conquered fear and good vanquished evil. The story of Esther and Mordechai as told in the book of Esther takes place over many years. Too often, we skip the dates in the text and miss an important message hiding in plain sight ...

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Gun Ownership in Jewish Law

by R. Gil Student Laws about gun control serve as perpetual fuel for political debates. However, everyone agrees that some people should carry guns in some circumstances. Whether police officers or soldiers, on duty or prepared for duty, some people need to carry guns in order to protect the public. In Messianic times, weapons will be turned into ploughshares (Isa. ...

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Pass the Challah

by R. Gil Student There is a debate about the proper way to cut challah bread when cutting it for a group of people sitting at the table. May you cut pieces for everyone at first, or must you cut only for yourself, eat a little, and then cut for everyone else? And then there are variations in between. A ...

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Reading Rambam on the Rabbi-Community Relationship

by R. Tzvi Sinensky Contemporary Halakhah, the study of a set of texts with an eye toward legal application, is a well-trodden, time-honored approach to Torah study. But there is a potential cost to this goal-oriented method of learning: when we examine selected sources in an attempt to derive practical conclusions, we tend to view the subject matter incompletely, and ...

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Grammatical Pedantry

Is there a Talmudic precedent for those pedantic people who insist on correcting everyone’s grammar? What does the Jewish tradition have to say about such a practice? I’m glad you asked. The Tosefta (Berakhos 5:18) discusses whether the person calling others to recite the zimmun introduction to the grace after meals should say “nevarekh” (we will bless) or “bar’khu” (you ...

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Women Rabbis: Jewish Unity and the Limits of Autonomy

by R. Rafi Eis Is this the moment of an irrevocable split? Emotions have been running high in the Modern Orthodox community in the past three weeks over the clerical role of women in Orthodox Judaism. The OU statement expanded the official synagogue roles for women, but also denied them serving as congregational rabbis. The responses and counter responses newly ...

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Counting Intermarried for a Minyan

by R. Gil Student Can a man who is intermarried be counted for a minyan? The Minchas Yitzchak (3:65) quotes the Chakham Tzvi (38) who writes that there are certain sins that are so rebellious that the community would excommunicate someone who commits them. Examples he gives are openly violating Shabbos and repeatedly sleeping with non-Jewish women. The Chakham Tzvi ...

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