Sunday, October 22, 2017

Divrei Torah

The Nature of the Sanhedrin, the Nature of the People

Blogging R. Lichtenstein, Horayot, Week One

RA”L’s shiurim on Massechet Horayot, delivered in the post-Pesach zman of 5765/2005, largely deal with the remarkable circumstance that underlies the beginning of the tractate: The Sanhedrin rules

The Kohen’s New Clothes

Tetzaveh 5776

What’s with all the emphasis on the sartorial splendor of the kohen gadol? I mean that I don’t care that much what my religious leaders wear. Maybe if I were a Sephardi, like one of my daughters, I’d prefer my rabbis in gowns and turbans, but not me. I’m not even happy with

What Is Jewish Divorce?

Blogging R' Lichtenstein: Gittin, Week One


I have been following a more-or-less chronological scheme in taking up R. Aharon Lichtenstein’s published volumes (other than taking Minchat Aviv first, and interspersing English volumes among the Hebrew ones),

A Big Deal

Mishpatim 5776

People love pomp and ceremony. We connect the most trivial events with very solemn, and often spectacular, ceremony. The Super Bowl comes to mind, and, of course, Olympiad openings and closings. But we do this all the time. We make a big deal out of very insignificant occasions. Besides

Rav Lichtenstein’s Other Role Models

Blogging R. Lichtenstein, Leaves of Faith, Volume Two

As I mentioned, I am going to combine R. Aharon Lichtenstein’s view of R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach from Volume One with the short, last essay in Volume Two (“The Source of Faith Is Faith Itself”). Together they present a picture of people

The Shorter Long Way

Waze has become my New York Yankees. It’s as important to me to beat Waze as it is for my beloved Red Sox to beat that Evil Empire in the Bronx. We start out on a simple trip from Stamford, CT to Teaneck, NJ. My wife checks Waze to see which of the four (normal) approaches to the George Washington Bridge will be the fastest route to

Introduction to Chazaka

In Choref Zman of 5761 (post-Sukkot 2000-Nissan 2001), Yeshivat Har Etzion studied the third chapter of Baba Batra, known as Chezkat HaBatim. As the editors note in their introduction, the main topic of the chapter is the chazakah, the presumption of ownership, established by occupying a certain property for three years.

Hardened Hearts

My service in the IDF was highly unusual, if not unique. I began serving when I was 37, and like many of those latecomers to the army, I started off as a guard without much responsibility. However, a couple years into my service the army reorganized the units in Yehuda and Shomron. So, at the ripe old age of 42, I was transferred into a

Being Entrusted With Someone Else’s Property

Blogging R. Lichtenstein, Baba Metzia, HaShoel, Week 1

The next volume of RA”L’s shiurim was those he gave during the six-week zman that starts at the beginning of Elul and goes until Yom Kippur of 5757–8 (Sept.–Oct. 1997), and was published in 5763 (2002–3). In his preface, RA”L

What Should We Learn and Why?

Blogging R. Lichtenstein: Leaves of Faith, Week One

In 2003, KTAV published the first volume of Leaves of Faith; the second volume came out the next year. It seems to have been planned as a pair from the start–both volumes have the same dedication, “To Tovah–With Appreciation and


Did you ever hear a professional quarterback or baseball pitcher talk about how the game is beginning to slow down for them? Although I never experienced that feeling in my short and undistinguished athletic career, I think that I get the concept, because I watch sports on TV with super slow motion for every important play. Then you can

Vayishlach: Finished Product

Did you ever notice that at the beginning of many movies or shows there are certain characters whom you expect to be villains? Then later in the performance you’re disappointed when they turn out to be good? Shouldn’t we root for everybody to be good guys? Well, we don’t. I believe that, l’havdil (let’s differentiate between holy

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