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.

Rabbi Reisman – Parshas Eikev 5770 Rebbi is in Yerushalayim and he spoke a little about the Ir Hakodesh

. The Chasam Soifer asks a Kasha. Yirmiyahu 31:14 – 16 יד כֹּה אָמַר יְרוָר, קוֹל בְּרָמָה נִשְׁמָע נְהִי בְּכִי תַמְרוּרִים–רָחֵל, מְבַכָּה עַל-בָּנֶיהָ; מֵאֲנָה לְהִנָּחֵם עַל-בָּנֶיהָ, כִּי אֵינֶנּוּ טו כֹּה… Read more »


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.

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.

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.

Parashas Vayakhel – The “Mini-Temple”—Halachos of Shuls

This week we take an in-depth look at the laws of the shul, and in particular, the laws derived from the comparison between today’s “small sanctuary” and the original Temple. Is this comparison made on a Torah level, or only on a rabbinic level? What are its ramifications concerning building or destroying a shul? Which halachos are extracted from the comparison (such as the structure of the shul, placement of the bimah, doors, the aron ha-kodesh, and so on), and which are not? These questions, and more, are discussed in this week’s article.

Parashas Ki Tisa – Halachos of Machatzis Ha-Shekel

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.

Parshas Teruma – Halachos of the Western Wall

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.

Parshas Mishpatim – Taking the Law into Your Own Hands: Permissible or Not?

This week’s Parashah, Parashas Mishpatim, presents the natural and direct continuation from the event of receiving the Torah, of which we read last week. After the Torah was given, Moshe, under instruction from Hashem, began to teach the people the intricate laws of the Torah, and in particular, the civil law that the Torah defines. This week’s article presents a fascinating halachic discussion over whether, and to what extent, a person is permitted to take the law into his own hands. In addition, the article addresses the delicate question of whether it is permitted to hand a Jewish criminal over to the police, where he will be subject to punishments other than those sanctioned by the Torah.

Parashas Yisro – The Righteous Convert

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.

Parashas Beshalach – Working and Learning

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.

Va’eira: Changing Halachah in a Changing World?

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.

Vayeitzei – The Basics of Ma’aser Kesafim

In this week’s parashah we find the vow made by Yaakov Avinu to tithe everything he receives for the sake of Heaven. In this connection, we dedicate our discussion to the basic laws of maaser kesafim — some of which are actually extracted from the vow made by Yaakov. What is the special virtue of giving maaser? Why is it permitted to ‘test’ Hashem in this matter? What is the nature of the obligation to give maaser, who is obligated in doing so, and to whom may the maaser money be given? These questions, and more, are discussed in this week’s article.

Chayei Sarah – Halachic Aspects of the Shadchan

In line with the theme of this week’s Parashah, which includes the first shidduch recorded by the Torah, this week’s
article is dedicated to the halachos governing shadchanus. What is the principle behind payment of a shadchan, as
commonly practiced among Ashkenazi communities? When must shadchanus gelt be paid, and who is obligated to
make the payment? How are shadchanus fees divided between various parties involved in making the shidduch?
These questions, and more, are discussed in this week’s article.

To Drink or Not to Drink

In this week’s Parashah we learn of the potency of wine and the disasterous effects it can have. But what is the halachic status of wine and drunkeness? Does halachah distinguish between different degrees of inebriation? Aside from the question of “permitted or forbidden,” which further ramifications are there of drinking and drunkeness? These questions, and more, are address in this week’s article.