Latest Essays

The Kohanim’s Blessing

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Naso We pretty much all know the basic routine for the priestly blessing (which we often call duchanen, I think because it usually involved kohanim ascending to a platform in front of the congregation; it is also called nesi’at kappayim, lifting of the hands, because they raise their hands over their heads when saying it), and it all seems to be de-oraita. ...

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Eight Answers for Shavuos

by R. Gil Student Every holiday has its unique practices and spirit… and its own question. Rav Yerachmiel Zelcer became famous for his Sefer Ner Le-Me’ah on Chanukah, in which he offered 100 answers to what is commonly known as the Beis Yosef‘s question: Why are there eight days of Chanukah when the miracle was only seven days? He followed ...

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This is the Way (to Get Married)

by R. Moshe Kurtz Lomdus on the Parsha: Bamidbar Based on the Acclaimed Sefer Chavatzeles HaSharon Q: May a younger sibling get married before the older one? And Nadav and Avihu died before the Lord, when they offered strange fire before the Lord, in the wilderness of Sinai, and they had no children; and Elazar and Isamar ministered in the ...

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Leadership of the People Earned and Lost

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Bamidbar In chapter three of our new sefer, Hashem has Moshe designate the Levi’im to serve in the Mishkan, under Aharon’s direction. In verses twelve to thirteen, Hashem clarifies they are being taken in place of the first-born, who “belonged” to Hashem since they were spared in Egypt, in the plague of the first-born. Still later, ...

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Planting a Fruit Tree He may Uproot

by R. Daniel Mann Question: We want to plant a fruit tree in our yard, but if we can work it out, we will expand our house and will need to uproot the tree. Is it alright to plant it in these circumstances? Answer: The Torah forbids cutting down fruit trees (Devarim 20:19). This is the strictest application of the ...

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Audio Roundup 2023:19

by Joel Rich Given that the kahal says the bracha for sfira/hallel after the shatz/rabbi, does your kahal answer Baruch hu Baruch shmo to the shatz/rabbi’s bracha? I was going to write a letter to Jewish Action concerning the artificial intelligence section, but realized it would be long enough for an article, for which I have no credentials. I just ...

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Carrying the Aron on Our Shoulders

by R. Gidon Rothstein Parshat Bamidbar Rambam and Ramban debate the nature of our mitzvah, forcing Sefer HaChinukh to take sides (Ramban was his direct teacher, while he built his whole book on Rambam’s count, as we have seen). Rambam’s Mitzvah—Kohanim Carry the Ark Rambam says Obligation 34 requires kohanim to carry the Aron, the Ark of the Covenant, on their shoulders, whenever there is need to ...

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Were Some Gedolim Heretics?

by R. Gil Student I. Great Rabbis and Divergent Beliefs I have been asked many times whether the act of defining lines of acceptable beliefs pushes some great Jewish thinkers outside of normative Judaism. Can we really declare that some great rabbis were heretics? Can we take away their place in the World-to-Come? If not, then we have to say ...

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