Translating God

by R. Gil Student A long tradition exists of criticizing translators. The nuance of one language is often difficult to discern much less to transfer to a different tongue. Commentary, conventional wisdom has it, is inherent in translation. Judaism has a quasi-official translation of the Pentateuch, and it isn’t Artscroll. It is Targum Onkelos, the ancient Aramaic translation attributed to ...

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Answering A Priest’s Blessing

It is not uncommon for a Christian neighbor or friend to offer a blessing to a Jew or to anyone else. Often, these blessings colorfully invoke biblical themes in meaningful ways. Freestyle blessings are part of Christian culture. How should a Jew respond to these blessings? Obviously, a blessing offered in the spirit of friendship should be received in the ...

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What’s The Jewish View On Reincarnation And Past Lives?

by R. Gil Student This week’s big new big budget movie release Assassin’s Creed brings the popular action-adventure video game to the screen. In it, a man played by Michael Fassbender uses new technology to uncover his “genetic memories” of a previous life as a skillful challenger to an oppressive, evil organization. While this story is fantasy, every culture around ...

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Chanukah and Self-Doubt

by R. Gil Student What is Chanukah?, famously asks the Talmud (Shabbos 21b). What led the Sages to establish this holiday? The response has led to many essays attempting to understand what seems to be the Talmud’s wrong answer to this basic question. The Talmud tells the story of the Hasmonean rededication of the Temple, for which enough Menorah oil ...

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Who Can Be Called Rabbi?

by R. Gil Student I. Respecting Torah Scholars Calling someone by a title is a public display of respect, which is why it raises so many complex issues. Who is worthy of that respect and who, even if he once deserved that title, has lost the right to that level of respect? Convention varies by community and culture, some valuing ...

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Women’s Leadership – Correction

In a summary of a recent issue of Tradition, I incorrectly described Dr. Joel Wolowelsky’s article. In the latest issue, he responds and clarifies his view. He explains that he believes semikhah is certification of knowledge and therefore would be appropriate for religious learned women, too.  But, he said, it is distracting for them to use the title “rabbi” because some object ...

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Reuven’s Loss of Status

by R. Ira Bedzow Whichever way one understands Reuven’s actions and the motivations behind them, [1]There is a discrepancy in the way the Reuven’s actions are described in Genesis 35:22, Genesis 49:3-4, and I Chronicles 5:1.  See BT Shabbat 55b, where the wording between the texts is reconciled. the consequences of what he did are that, while he maintained his ...

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Home Fires in Jewish Law: A Study in Halakhic Change

by R. Gil Student I remember once as a teenager walking with some friends one Friday night in our small suburb. We somehow got to talking with gentile (African American) teenagers around our age who were also walking at that time. We explained some of the rules we follow and one asked us: “So if you find a twenty dollar ...

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Yaakov’s Vow

by R. Ira Bedzow After Yaakov wakes up from his dream, afraid because he realized that he slept in a place where God’s presence rests, he makes a vow (neder) to Hashem that upon his return he will build a house of God and will give a tithe from everything that Hashem gives him.  Yaakov states, אִם-יִהְיֶה אֱלֹקִים עִמָּדִי, וּשְׁמָרַנִי ...

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From Ethiopia to Shulchan Arukh

by R. Gil Student Rabbi Dr. Sharon Shalom immigrated from Ethiopia to Israel at the age of eight, eventually studying in Yeshivat Har Etzion and Bar Ilan University and currently serving as a congregational rabbi in Kiryat Gat. From Sinai to Ethiopia: The Halakhic and Conceptual World of Ethiopian Jewry, originally published in Hebrew and now translated into English, is ...

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