Latest Essays

Innovation in Halakhah

An unauthorized translation of an excerpt from R. Hershel Schachter’s article on Women’s Prayer Groups: It is very clear that halakhah is not frozen. Due to all the many changes in circumstances, halakhah has been forced to respond appropriately. The questions of 1984 are not the same as the questions of 1974 and, therefore, in many cases the answers will ...

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Ethiopian (Jews?) II

R. Ovadiah Yosef, Yabi’a Omer, vol. 8 Even Ha-Ezer no. 11 sec. 2 I will not fear [to comment on] what I saw from R. Yitzhak Isaav Halevy Herzog zt”l… who wrote to question the Jewishness of the Falashas… I was very surprised to see that he disputed the words of great scholars who determined with certainty, without question, that ...

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Ethiopian (Jews?)

Around twenty years ago, with tremendous famine ravaging Africa, the plight of the Beta Israel came before the world Jewish community. These Ethiopians claim to be Jews who had lived there for thousands of years, since the destruction of the First Temple. The question came before the world Jewish community in the 1980s whether to accept the Beta Israel as ...

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The Name of G-d

REVISED ONE MORE TIME: Nisht, at the House of Hock, noted that The Forward has started hyphenating God’s name (into G-d). Nisht claimed that there is no halakhic basis for this practice, to which I countered that it is a matter of dispute. I was challenged to present a source, which I failed to do. The Shakh (Yoreh De’ah, 276:11) ...

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R. Jacob Joseph

As noted by Menachem Butler and HebrewBooks.org, today is the yahrtzeit of the first and only chief rabbi of New York, R. Jacob Joseph. R. Nosson Kamenetsky (Making of a Godol, p. 399 n. s) notes that according to R. Joseph’s monument, Joseph was his middle name and not his last name. However, R. Dov Katz in his Tenu’as Ha-Mussar ...

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Shabbos Violator

The Gemara in Eruvin (69a) tells of a man who would walk in public areas on Shabbos, clearly wearing an item that is considered a burden. In other words, he would consistently publicly carry on Shabbos. However, whenever he saw R. Yehudah Nesi’ah, he would cover the item. Because of this, the Gemara concludes that he is not considered a ...

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Tikkun Olam

Gerald Blidstein, “Tikkun Olam” in David Shatz ed., Tikkun Olam: Social Responsibility in Jewish Thought, p. 57: Since the Jew is able – as individual and perhaps as community – to participate in the processes that govern democratic societies as a whole, his silence and inaction reflect an acquiescence in the evils and abuses to which other human beings are ...

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Honesty

R’ Yisroel Belsky’s answers to questions about honesty. We need more of this type of teaching. Other classes of that nature at Torah.org: Business Halacha Business Ethics

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Haredization of American Orthodoxy V

R. Jonathan Rosenblum belatedly joins the discussion. His contribution is that the Haredi emphasis on kiruv is also a large element in the Haredization of Orthodoxy. New recruits tend to join the Haredi camp. This is certainly true in Israel, but is it true in America?

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Water Filters on Shabbos

Can a water filter be used on Shabbos? One of the 39 forbidden labors of Shabbos is borer – separating – and a water filter separates the water from dirt particles and bugs (which is precisely the whole reason for using it). Can one separate water from offensive particles? This is not a new question. People have been using water ...

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