Kavod HaTorah as Part of Kabalat HaTorah

Ramban (Vayikra 23,36) writes that sefirat haOmer was meant to be like a long holiday, like a chol haMoed between Pesach and Shavuos. Yet, because R. Akiva’s students died during this period, because they did not properly respect one another, it turned into a time of mourning. Why did this ... Read more →

Reflections on Rus

The Talmud (Bava Basra 91b) juxtaposes three episodes – 1) Yehoshua and the Givonim, 2) Machlon, Kilyon, and Rus, 3) Yonadav b. Reichav and his descendants – because all three share the theme of faithfulness and betrayal. Yeshoshua honored his oath to the Givonim even though the Givonim ... Read more →

Muktza Sidetracked: Indirect handling of Muktza

On Shabbos 141a, Rav Ada bar Abba says in the name of the school of Rav that “tiltul min hatzad,” literally “moving” a muktzah item “from the side,” is permitted on Shabbos. Rav Ada bar Abba’s ruling is based on the Mishna on 141a which says that one can use one’s body to move ... Read more →

Speaking in a Bathhouse

The Gemara in Shabbos (40b) informs us of an occasion with Rav Yitzchak bar Avdimi who once went to bathe behind Rebbi.  Rav Yitzchak wanted to warm oil in the water and anoint himself with it, Rebbi told him to first put the flask of oil into a kli sheni (since the bath is a [...]

To Share or Not to Share? That is the Question

One for the great social revolutions that have marked the beginning of the 21st Century is the shift in the parameters of privacy. Alongside the great benefits that mass data and communications we have also seen a revolution in the field of privacy to the extent that some believe that “even ... Read more →

A Fifth Cup of Wine at the Seder?

There is a rabbinic obligation at the Pesach seder to drink four cups of wine. The Talmud Yerushalmi gives a few reasons for the choice of four cups. They parallel the four redemptions that Hashem promised the Jews in Egypt (Shemot 6); they parallel the four references to Pharaoh’s goblet ... Read more →

Halakhically Inclined: Women and the Mitzva of Haseibah

The Gemara in Masechet Pesachim (108a) clearly delineates the requirement of haseiba (leaning) for the eating of Matza and at least two of the four cups of wine at the Seder Leil HaPesach1. The Gemara then continues to discuss how the haseiba is done and if there are any people who are exempt ... Read more →

The Oppurtunity of Yom Tov

The Rambam,1 based on the pasuk in Yeshayahu of ‘ve-karata la-Shabbat oneg li-kedosh Hashem mekhubad,’ writes that on Shabbat we have mitsvot of Kevod and Oneg Shabbat. The Rambam defines the Mitsvah of Kevod Shabbat as including those things which a person does during the week in ... Read more →

From Matzah to Medicine

Upon feeling hungry, we may run to the local supermarket to purchase the widely consumed Red Delicious apples. We recite a berakha and take a bite out of the apple, chewing it slowly, feeling the crunchiness on our palate as it becomes softer and smaller.  Our mastication allows for the ... Read more →

Feeding Dependents and the Obligation Between G-d and the Jews

Pesach teaches the idea that the Jewish nation is indebted to G-d. This indebtedness is the source of our responsibility to keep G-d’s commandments, and to devote ourselves to Him. The pasuk in Behar1 invokes this concept as a reason why it is forbidden to oppress an eved ivri. Ultimately a ... Read more →