Latest Essays

On Interfaith Dialogue

There is an excellent discussion in the “comments” section of The House of Hock regarding interfaith dialogue. The question revolves around Rav Soloveitchik’s claim, in his famous essay “Confrontation”, that religious experience is very personal and cannot be communicated through dialogue. While this would rule out interfaith dialogue, it also seems to rule out intrafaith dialogue, a seemingly ludicrous proposition. ...

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Women’s Prayer Groups: R. Hershel Schachter’s Position

Prefatory Comments When a question is posed before a posek, there are a whole host of considerations for him to take into account. This is particularly true when the underlying issues are subject to dispute and can go either way. The posek, then, has the right to rule according to whichever opinions he believes to be appropriate. If a posek ...

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Women’s Prayer Groups: Coming Soon

This is just to notify readers that my current plans include initiating a discussion of Women’s Prayer Groups. The plan is to post four separate summaries of the positions of the following rabbis (in this order): R. Hershel Schachter, R. Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, R. Yehuda Henkin, R. Eliezer Berkovits & others. Interlaced in my summary will be my own comments ...

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Cardinals in the Beis Midrash II

In further to the discussion about the officially sanctioned visit of cardinals to Yeshiva University’s beis midrash, I thought the following analysis of R. Yosef Dov Soloveitchik’s position by Prof. Lawrence Kaplan is worthy of note. This is taken from Prof. Kaplan’s article in Judaism 48:3 (1999), provocatively titled “Revisionism and the Rav; the Struggle for the Soul of Modern ...

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Judging Favorably

Over Shabbos, I was discussing with my wife the recent stories in the news about prominent members of the frum community whose sins (particularly sex-related) have been recently publicly revealed. My wife wisely said that it is incumbent upon us to believe that, if these allegations are true, these people are the rare exceptions and certainly nowhere near the norm ...

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Homosexuality in Halakhah IV

R. Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb in this week’s The Jewish Week: The position of traditional Judaism on homosexual behavior is clear and unambiguous, terse and absolute. Homosexual behavior between males or between females is absolutely forbidden by Jewish law, beginning with the biblical imperative, alluded to numerous times in the Talmud and codified in the Shulchan Aruch… Nevertheless, while the ...

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Zebu Controversy II

Another online article that discusses the issues involved in the Zebu controversy: Buffalo, Giraffe, and the Babirusa (“Kosher Pig”): The Halakhic and Scientific Factors in Determining their Kashrut Status by R. Dr. Ari Z. Zivotofsky, originally published in the Bar Ilan journal BDD, 2001.

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Homosexuality in Halakhah III

As further to this ongoing discussion, and in response to my friend Sholem’s recent post on his blog, I continue the dialogue. Let me start out by saying that the burden of proof is on those who wish to limit – for all intents and purposes, set aside – a biblical prohibition. This is a very serious suggestion, one over ...

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The Camel, The Hare, And The Hyrax II

I got my copy of R. Nosson Slifkin’s The Camel, The Hare, And The Hyrax. As is the author’s usual style, the book is beautifully done, with many pictures and a colorful cover. Unlike his other books, this one does not have enormous margins. This book is legitimately 200+ pages (albeit with a large font, but I attribute that to ...

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