On friday evening, I often like to eat chulent from the chulent pot. I know before even thinking of doing chazara the food must be fully cooked. At what stage… Read more »
Posts By: Rabbi Yehoshua Pfeffer
Dwelling on the opening of the parashah, and in tune with the time of the year—on an ordinary year, the custom of machatzis ha-shekel would be performed this week—this week’s article discusses the laws and intricacies of the custom. What is the meaning and function of the half-shekel donation? Who must donate, and to whom is the donation given? When must the donation be made, and what must its value be? These questions, and more, are discussed in this week’s article.
In this week’s parashah, Parashas Terumah, the Torah begins to define the Mishkan (Tebernacle) and its vessels, and instruct Moshe in their construction. Befitting the theme of the parashah, we dwell this week on the laws of the Western Wall. Was the Western Wall part of the Temple, or the Temple Mount? Is somebody who is ritually defile (tamei) permitted to approach the Wall? It is permitted to place one’s fingers (or a note) between the crevices of the Wall? May one derive benefit from the Wall? These questions, and more, are discussed in the weekly article.
Two aspects of this week’s parashah connect the weekly reading with the highly contemporary issue of conversion to Judaism. One is the tale of Yisro, the first person to convert to the nascent nation of Israel. The other is the giving of the Torah at Sinai, the source from which the Talmud derives the basic laws of conversion. We therefore take the opportunity to discuss the halachic aspects of conversion and, in particular, the question of mitzvah acceptance on the part of the proselyte. To what extent must the convert accept upon himself the yoke of mitzvah fulfillment? Must we address the sincerity of the proselyte, or can his words be taken at face value? Must he accept upon himself all mitzvos? How, indeed, is the acceptance defined? These questions, and more, are discussed in this week’s article.
Unlike Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot, Tu Bishvat is not a Torah festival. And unlike Hanukkah and Purim, it is not even a rabbinic festival. However, as will be explained below,… Read more »
In this week’s Parashah we read the passage of the manna, which is known to be a segula fo parnasah. Yet, the segulah of reading the passage of the manna cannot be effective if one makes no effort to earn an income. The question that this week’s article discusses is how much effort should one make? What, if any, is the degree to which working for a living should be combined with the study of Torah? Is it better to entirely dedicate oneself to Torah, or is it better to combine it with working for a living? For those who do combine the two, what is the ideal way of doing so? These questions, and other details that pertain to this delicate issue, are discussed in the weekly article.
This week’s parashah begins to chronicle the miracles in Egypt. In regular times, however, the order of nature, which Hashem directs yet does not interfere with, controls the world. Yet, There are a number of differences between the natural world of today and the phenomena described by Chazal, which present poskim with a halachic dilemma. Many halachos in Chazal and the poskim are based on the nature of the world as perceived by our Sages. Many have questioned the status of such halachos, in light of our modern understanding of the world. How should we relate to the halachic rulings of Chazal and poskim that are at odds with modern scientific findings? Are there some halachos that change, while others remain constant? What will be the ruling in case of matters that Chazal considered dangerous, yet we view as being innocuous? These questions, and others, are addressed in this week’s article.