Latest Essays

Three Views of Yehoshu’a on Moshe’s Last Day

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Ha’Azinu After the Torah records the song of Ha’azinu, 32;44 tells us Moshe came and relayed it to the people, he and Hoshe’a bin nun. Since we know him as Yehoshu’a, ever since 38 years ago, when Moshe changed his name, commentators wonder why the Torah uses his original name. Their answers offer three perspectives of ...

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How/When to Start Breaking Yom Kippur Fast

by R. Daniel Mann Question: I (a religious doctor) am often consulted about those who cannot fast all of Yom Kippur. Is there a halachic preference for such people to start eating/drinking earlier “with shiurim” (small installments) or to wait longer but then necessarily have the amount of full “violation.”  Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 618:7, based on Kritot ...

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Audio Roundup 2023:37

by Joel Rich I’ve seen pulpit rabbis who take a significantly longer time for their amida than do their congregants and have the shatz say chazarat hashatz (including kedusha) while the rabbi continues his personal amida. I’ve seen others who speed up their amida and have the shatz wait for them in a manner that a significant percentage of the ...

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Fasting on Yom Kippur

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Ha’azinu We’re in the homestretch of the year, running out of mitzvot in the parsha itself (one reason I will switch tracks next year, start a new project that I’ll describe after Simchat Torah). Usually, She’iltot helps us out, except for Ha’azinu, he doesn’t have anything I could work with. However, for Ve-Zot HaBerakhah, he had the mitzvah to fast on Yom Kippur, a ...

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Three Brief Reviews

In the Fall 2023 issue of Jewish Action, I review the following three books: Torat Chaim: Words to Share at Life’s Meaningful Moments edited by Rabbis Wes Kalmar, Noah Cheses, Steven Miodownik and Brahm Weinberg The Golden Age of the Lithuanian Yeshivas by Ben-Tsiyon Klibansky Choshev Mishpat: Software Ethics in Halacha by Shaul Moshe Alter Torat Chaim: Words to Share at Life’s ...

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Trapped By The Sermon

by R. Gil Student Many rabbis use the High Holiday sermons as an opportunity to showcase their talents and to showcase crucial ideas and themes. Considering the large crowd, rabbis may spend months preparing just the right combination of information and inspiration. In other words, it’s a big deal. Some congregants enjoy the sermon. Others flee the room. Some envy ...

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Earning Our Intuition: It’s Not In Heaven, But…

by R. Gidon Rothstein In looking at the rich phrase in last week’s parsha, lo bashamayim hi, it is not in heaven, I came across two comments I have not reviewed here, that seem to me particularly relevant to the Yamim Noraim and our experience of teshuvah, repentance. (Fortunately for me, many commentators think of the verse as actually about teshuvah, although the ideas here come from ...

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Shofar Blowing during the Silent Amida

by R. Daniel Mann Question: I will be the chazan for Musaf at a small, quite new minyan. The one thing that is “foreign” to me, is that they blow 30 kolot (blasts) during the silent Amida (=Amida). They are willing to not blow shofar for my sake, since the existing group anyway has mixed feelings about the minhag. Should/may ...

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The Mitzvah to Blow Shofar

by R. Gidon Rothstein Special for Rosh HaShanah I am bringing this project to a close after Sukkot of this year, moving on to see how the Arukh HaShulchan presents and blends de-oraita with de-rabbanan, Torah law with rabbinic law, custom, and everything in between. Until then, because Rosh HaShanah is on Shabbat, we have the opportunity to consider an extra mitzvah, one I had not discussed ...

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