Parashas Korach – The Mitzvah of Techeiles

This week’s article discusses the specific mitzvah of techeiles. Recent claims to the identification of the source of techeiles have brought the halachic issue to the fore of halachic debate. What is the obligation of affixing techeiles to one’s tzitzis? What is the halachic status of “safek techeiles”? What are the laws of tying techeiles? This week’s article will deal with these questions and more, together with an introduction detailing the historical loss and claim re-discovery of techeiles.

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.

Using the Jewish and Secular Date

As we approach the month of Nissan, the reading on this Shabbos includes Parashas Ha-Chodesh, the reading of the New Month: “This month is for you the first of months, it is the first, for you, among the months of the year” (Shemos 12:2).

The mitzvah of sanctifying the new month was the first mitzvah given to the Jewish People as a nation, and it preceded their coming forth from Egypt.

In the initial creation of the world, a number of commentaries (including the Sefornu, the Vilna Gaon, and others) note that the creation of time is included in the very first words of the Torah: “In the beginning Elokim created.” In a similar vein, a mitzvah of time – a new time frame that had hitherto not existed – was given to the nation of Israel before its national creation.

Although the mitzvah of setting and sanctifying the month is not practiced today, the interpretation that Ramban gives to the text gives rise to a possible contemporary application of the mitzvah, and to a halachic issue that many authorities have discussed.

In the present article we will discuss the mitzvah of using the Jewish Date in documents. Is there such a mitzvah? Is there a prohibition against using the secular date? What is the significance of the Jewish months commonly used? How should letters and checks be dated? These questions, among others, are addressed below.

Parashas Pekudei – The Two Months of Adar: Which is the True Month?

As we approach the onset of the second month of Adar—Adar Sheini—we dedicate this week’s article to the oft-confusing identification of the “true” month of Adar. As we shall see, classifying the “principle” month of Adar might have ramifications that embrace a wide range of halachic issues. In which of the Adar months is a bar-mitzvah celebrated? When is a yahrzeit commemorated? Which of the two months is considered Adar for legal purposes? These issues, among others, will be discussed in this week’s article.

Vayigash – Respect Your Grandparents – To Which Extent

In this week’s parashah we find Yaakov Avinu offering sacrifices to the G-d of his father, Yitzcak. The mention of Yitzchak, rather than Avraham, leads Rashi to comment (based on the Midrash) that a person is obligated in the honor of his father to a greater degree than that of his grandfather. We take the opportunity to discuss the concept of honoring one’s grandparents. Is there an obligation to honor one’s grandparents, and what is the extent of the obligation? Does the obligation apply even after a parent’s death? Does it apply equally to paternal and maternal grandparents? These questions, and more, are discussed in this week’s article.

Parshas Vayeitzei 5772

  We find that when Yaakov sleeps at Har Hamoriah 28:20 (וַיִּדַּר יַעֲקֹב, נֶדֶר לֵאמֹר: אִם-יִהְיֶה אֱלֹקים עִמָּדִי, וּשְׁמָרַנִי בַּדֶּרֶךְ הַזֶּה אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי הוֹלֵךְ, וְנָתַן-לִי לֶחֶם לֶאֱכֹל, וּבֶגֶד לִלְבֹּשׁ). That… Read more »

The Halachic Ban and its Laws (Part II)

After beginning to outline the basic idea of the halachic ban, in the article of two weeks ago, we turn this week to the particular halachos of declaring a ban—and also to discuss a number of bans that were actually made over the generations, such as the ban against studying foreign languages in Jerusalem. How is a ban declared, and what are its halachos? What is the jurisdiction of those making the ban? How is a ban cancelled? We will address these issues, and others, in this week’s article.

Remembering Amalek: Halachos of Parashas Zachor

This week’s article discusses the halachos of Parashas Zachor, which is read this week in advance of Purim. Is the reading of Zachor a Torah mitzvah, or a rabbinic enactment? Does the mitzvah require a kosher Sefer Torah, and a reading among a quorum of men? Are women obligated in the mitzvah? These questions, and more, are discussed in the present article.

The Joy of the Month of Adar: Why and How?

This week’s article discusses the famous statement of Chazal: “When Adar enters, we augment our joy.” Why is the month of Adar singled out from all other months in its expression of joy? What halachos does the special status of the month include, and in which way are we to express the joy of the time? These points, and more, are discussed in this week’s article.


Parshas Bo

Rabbi Reisman   וּבַיּוֹם הָרִאשׁוֹן, מִקְרָא-קֹדֶשׁ, וּבַיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי, מִקְרָא-קֹדֶשׁ יִהְיֶה לָכֶם 12:16 וּבַיּוֹם הָרִאשׁוֹן, מִקְרָא-קֹדֶשׁ, וּבַיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי, מִקְרָא-קֹדֶשׁ יִהְיֶה לָכֶם:  כָּל-מְלָאכָה, לֹא-יֵעָשֶׂה בָהֶם–אַךְ אֲשֶׁר יֵאָכֵל לְכָל-נֶפֶשׁ, הוּא לְבַדּוֹ יֵעָשֶׂה לָכֶם… Read more »

Parshas Va’eira 5770

8:8 & 8:26 ח. וַיֵּצֵא מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן מֵעִם פַּרְעֹה וַיִּצְעַק מֹשֶׁה אֶל יְ־רוָ־ר עַל דְּבַר הַצְפַרְדְּעִים אֲשֶׁר שָׂם לְפַרְעֹה: כו. וַיֵּצֵא מֹשֶׁה מֵעִם פַּרְעֹה וַיֶּעְתַּר אֶל יְ־רוָ־ר: Regarding the Tzefardai’a… Read more »

Taking Revenge and Bearing a Grudge: A Halachic Appraisal

This week’s article discusses a number of basic questions concerning the prohibitions against taking revenge and bearing a grudge. When are the prohibitions of taking revenge and bearing a grudge transgressed? Are they contingent on a person’s inner thoughts, or do they require a concrete action? Are there instances in which it is permitted to take revenge and to bear a grudge? We will seek to clarify these issues in this week’s article.

Parshas Toldos 5769

    25:28  וַיֶּאֱהַב יִצְחָק אֶת-עֵשָׂו, כִּי-צַיִד בְּפִיו.  Rashi on the Posuk explains a Medrash (בפיו: כתרגומו בפיו של יצחק. ומדרשו בפיו של עשו שהיה צד אותו ומרמהו בדבריו) that… Read more »

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.