Bechukotai – The Halachic Ban and its Laws

This week’s article discusses the issue of the cherem, the halachic ban, which was almost the exclusive mode of punishment available to Jewish communities for two millennia. What is a cherem? What were the crimes generally punishable by excommunication? Who has the authority to enact a ban, and how is it released? Are there practical implications for the modern day? These questions, among others, are discussed in this first of a two-part series on the subject.

Parashas Shemini – Halachos of Bugs in Food

In this week’s article we turn our attention to the prohibition of consuming bugs. Which insects are forbidden for consumption, and which are permitted? What are the special stringencies involved with eating bugs? What are the defining principles of the obligation to check for bugs? Must one search for bugs under the microscope or magnifying glass? These questions and more are addressed in this week’s article.

Early Bedikas Chametz

This week’s article discusses the timely obligation of bedikas chametz. True, there are still two weeks to go till Pesach, but even now, somebody leaving home might be obligated to check his house for chametz. What are the halachic details of this obligation? Is a blessing recited before checking? Does selling one’s chametz exempt one from the obligation? These questions, and more, are discussed in this week’s article.

Bedikas Chametz: Principles and Halachos

This week’s article discusses the mitzvah of bedikas chametz. Does searching for chametz involve a Torah mitzvah, or a rabbinic enactment? Does one have to ensure that he possesses chametz before he begins searching for it? What is the halachah concerning checking books for crumbs? We will seek to answer these questions, and others, by elucidating the matter from its primary sources.


Parashas Vayikra – Coercion in Mitzvah Performance

This week’s article focuses on the principle whereby one must coerce his fellow Jew to perform mitzvos—a principle mentioned in connection with korbanos at the beginning of Vayikra. When, how, and to what extent must we enforce the performance of mitzvos? Does the obligation of coercion fall on beis din alone, or even on individuals? What value does a coerced mitzvah possess? These questions, and more, are discussed in this week’s article.

Parshas Emor – The Meaning of Chinuch

As parents, the idea of chinuch is a concept that is always close to our hearts. We invest much thought, toil, and money in the chinuch or our children, realizing the crucial value of chinuch in molding the next generation. Of course, chinuch is not merely a technical, halachic matter. Chazal teach us that every child (and every person) is an entire world, and chinuch implies seeking to allow the world within our children to flourish and to blossom, giving him the tools to realize the tremendous potential with which each individual is endowed. However, there are also certain halachic definitions, in particular with regard to chinuch of mitzvos, which are important to know. This essay will address the basic concept of chinuch for mitzvos.

Lashon Hara in Shidduchim

This week’s article concludes our three-week study of the laws lashon hara, and specifically addresses the issue of shidduchim, which is perhaps the issue in which questions of lashon hara arise most frequently. How are shidduchim investigations to be conducted? Which questions should be answered, and which should be evaded? We will seek to outline the general principles of speaking lashon hara in the context of shidduchim, and mention the halachic details that result.

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.

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.