Parshas Toldos 5771

  25:19 (וְאֵלֶּה תּוֹלְדֹת יִצְחָק, בֶּן-אַבְרָהָם:  אַבְרָהָם, הוֹלִיד אֶת-יִצְחָק) The Tosafos Bracha says a P’shat on the first Rashi in the Parsha (ואלה תּוֹלְדֹת יצחק: יעקב ועשיו האמורים בפרשה). Why… Read more »

Toldos – Truth and Falsehood: A Halachic Perspective

This week’s parashah includes the difficult episode of how Yaakov takes Yitzchak’s blessings, ostensibly by means of deception. This episode, and a number of additional episodes in the life of Yaakov, raise a patent difficulty: How could Yaakov, whose fundamental attribute is Truth, seem to be involved in apparent trickery and falsehood? Discussion of this question leads us to the halachos of truth and falsehood. What, if any, is the prohibition invovled with speaking falsehoods? To what does the Torah instruction of distancing oneself from falsehood apply? When, and under which circumstances, is it permitted (or obligatory) to deviate from the truth? May one do so on a regular basis? These questions, and more, will be discussed in this week’s article.

The Power of the Shofar

Although Rosh Hashanah is the first of the Ten Days of Repentence, the prayers of the day make no mention of sin, we do not recite the Thirteen Attributes of Compassion, and personal requests are few and far between. What is the nature of the day, and its unique teshuvah? Why is the entire day a Yom Teru’ah, a “Day of Sounding the Shofar,” and which inner labor does this call upon us? The article will discuss the essence of Rosh Hashanah, and strive to clarify our personal role on this great day.

The Mitzvah of Writing a Sefer Torah

This week’s article deals with the halachic issue of writing a Sefer Torah. What are the parameters of this mitzvah? Does the mitzvah apply today, and if so, why do most people not write a personal Sefer Torah? Can a Sefer Torah be written in partnership? Is there a mitzvah of writing or purchasing other sefarim? These questions, and more, are discussed in this week’s article.

Cruelty to Animals: The Prohibited and the Permitted

This week’s article discusses the prohibition of tzaar baalei chayim, causing pain and suffering to animals. What are the parameters of the prohibition? When is it permitted to cause pain to animals? Does a corresponding prohibition apply to humans? These questions, and more, are discussed in this week’s article. This week’s Q & A discusses issues of Kerias Shema.

Ki Teitzei – Weights and Measures in Halachah

The Torah is particularly stringent with regard to matters of weights and measures, prohibiting not only the act of deception,
but even keeping false weights and measures in one’s possession. Today, there is virtually not a home in which several weights
and measures can be found, and their halachic status is not as clear as we might think. Is it permitted to keep an
inaccurate kitchen scale at home? What of bathroom scales, a baby bottle (with volume markings), or a tape measure? This
week’s article deals with these questions, and with related issues of weights and measures.

Yuhara: Laws of Arrogance

This week’s article discusses the issue of yuhara, displaying arrogance or haughtiness in the performance of mitzvos. What are the parameters of this prohibition? What categories of mitzvah performance are included, and when is there no concern of yuhara? We will seek to clarify this issue in this week’s article. This week’s Q & A discusses the question of calling up a father and son for hagbahah and gelilah.

Parsha Ponderings – Parshas Masei

אֵלֶּה מַסְעֵי בְנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר יָצְאוּ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם לְצִבְאֹתָם בְּיַד־מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן ‘וַיִּכְתּב מֹשֶׁה אֶת־מוֹצָאֵיהֶם לְמַסְעֵיהֶם עַל־פִּי ד These are the travels of the Israelites who left the land of Egypt led… Read more »

Parshas Pinchas – Inheriting the Rabbinate

When the concept of inheritance is brought up, we are far more likely to think of money and possessions than of positions of authority. Yet, poskim over many generations have expounded on the question of “rabbinic inheritance”: Does a son inherit his father’s position as rabbi of the community? This, and related issues, are the subject of the present article, which finds an important source in Parshas Pinchas.

Disinterment of Graves: A Grave Concern?

This week’s article discusses the contemporary issue of relocating graves. Although the issue has been somewhat politicized in recent years, we mustn’t forget that in principle, the question of disinterring graves is strictly halachic. What is the nature of the prohibition to exhume remains? When is it permitted to do so, and in particular, are various public needs sufficient cause for leniency? These important questions will be discussed in this week’s article.

The Shavuos Diet

This special article for Shavuos deals with the custom of eating dairy products on Shavuos, and their proper separation from meaty foods. What is the source for the custom of eating dairy foods on Shavuos, and how is it performed? What is the optimal way to avoid mixing dairy and meaty? And what is the ideal way in which our time over the Shavuos festival should be spent? These questions are discussed in this week’s article?

The Halachic Status of Music: During the Year and in the Sefirah (Part 1)

Although it is well known that one mustn’t listen to music in the sefirah period, it is striking to note that this prohibition is not found in any early authority, from the time of the Talmud until the Mishnah Berurah! What, then, is the nature of the customary prohibition? When can one be lenient, and when must one be stringent? To answer these questions, we must first understand the halachic approach to music throughout the year, which is the subject of this two-part series.

Honoring Seder Night Pledges

This week’s article discusses the contemporary question of fulfilling promises—Afikoman promises. Is there a full halachic obligation to honor one’s Afikoman promise of Seder Night? Is there a difference between young and older children? Is the duress that a parent sometimes experiences in trying to retrieve the Afikoman a factor? These questions, and more, are discussed in this week’s article.

Biur Chametz the Easy Way— Laws of Selling Chametz (Part II)

This week’s article continues the discussion of the Sale of Chametz. How is the rabbi, or the person responsible for the sale, appointed by the individual homeowner? When is the sale to the non-Jew actually performed? How do international sales work? And what products should be included in the sale? These questions, and more, are discussed in this week’s article.

Biur Chametz the Easy Way: The Sale of Chametz

This week’s article is the first of a two-part series on the sale of chametz. What is the history of the chametz sale that has become so widespread? What was it initially intended for, and what does it achieve? Does one fulfill the mitzvah of tashbisu by selling one’s chametz? What are the benefits of a collective sale, and how should the purchasing non-Jew be given access to his chametz? How, indeed, must the chametz be treated over Pesach? These questions, and more, are addressed in this week’s article.