Latest Essays

Does God Need Us?

by R. Gil Student I. God Has No Needs On first thought, it seems outrageous to suggest that God would need us. In order to need something you have to lack something. If God needs something, that would mean his perfection is incomplete. Therefore, God cannot need anything. All of His actions must be done out of His own will ...

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Powerful New Search Tool

Do you vaguely recall a Torah Musings essay discussing a topic that you are currently discussing? This happens to me and many others all the time. Some people email me but I don’t remember everything we’ve discussed over the past twenty years. You now have a powerful new tool to search the twenty years of Torah Musings history. Go to ...

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The Enduring Lesson: Rabbi Akiva’s Caution Against Complacency

by R. Eliezer Simcha Weisz Rabbi Akiva, renowned for his moral teachings, famously expounded on the verse “ואהבת לרעך כמוך” (“Love your fellow as yourself” – Vayikra 19:18) – a principle he declared the cardinal rule of the Torah, the כלל גדול בתורה (Sifra, Kedoshim, Chapter 4). Yet, in an astonishing paradox, the Talmud relates that Rabbi Akiva’s very students ...

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The Commandment to Maintain Good Family Ties

by R. Eliezer Simcha Weisz The Deeper Meaning of “Deror” in the Jubilee Year [Yovel]  – The Commandment to Maintain Good Family Ties   התורה היא נצחית ומוחלטת, וכל פסוק בתורה יש בו משמעות ולקחים עבורנו גם בימינו, גם אם לכאורה מצווה ספציפית אינה ניתנת ליישום במובנה המקורי כפי שמובא בפסוקים The Torah is eternal and absolute, and every verse ...

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We Don’t Always Decide Who We Are

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Behar Do Not Free an Eved Kena’ani I chose the comment from HaKetav VeHaKabbalah for this parsha because it dovetails with other learning of mine, although it is not a full idea. Chapter 25, 44-46 introduces eved Kena’ani, a non-Jew in servitude to a Jew. [I avoid “slave” because of its English connotations, given the ...

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Mezuza for a Balcony

by R. Daniel Mann Question: Summary after follow-up questions: The apartment we are moving into has an open balcony (mirpeset), accessed only by our living room, whose main functions are “taking in” the air, sun, and view, and presumably for kids to play. (It is not for a sukka because most of it is covered by a neighbor’s mirpeset.) Its ...

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Audio Roundup 2024:17

by Joel Rich A recent series in my local shul on male head coverings included the following sources. שו”ת מהרש”ל סימן עב שו”ת הר צבי אורח חיים א סימן ג שו”ת יחוה דעת חלק ד סימן א This one especially made me laugh a bitter laugh because I found it particularly resonant today: שו”ת מהרש”ל סימן עב ועכשיו הוא להיפך ...

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Orach Chayyim 113, Where to Bow in Prayer

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Behar Our last few times learning together, we saw chapters where AH has many more paragraphs than did SA (as we will again next time, on steroids!). Our siman has nine se’ifim, in both SA and AH. For whatever that’s worth… Basics of the First Blessing of Shemoneh Esreh Although the chapter will discuss where ...

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