Is The Torah Pro-Life or Pro-Choice?

With this new Alabama law which outlaws most kinds of abortions, I have observed that the Orthodox Jewish community is more diverse in their opinions on abortion than I had previously imagined. I have heard many argue that being anti abortion is a Christian thing, and that halacha / Judaism is much more lenient on abortions. I won’t lie, I found this to be very…

Horayos 7b – A Deeper Understanding of Abaye and Rava

I felt that a deeper understanding of the מחלוקת between רבא and אביי re: whether the case of the High Priest instructing differently from the Sanhedrin must be in two different places – would be very beneficial – so I started going through an important קרן אורה on the topic. Because this is outside of the scope of our general study of Horayos together, I…

The Way of the Nazir

During the Aseres Yemei Teshuva this year, Rabbi Haber Shlit”a advised me to read the writings of Rav Tzaddok HaCohen, particularly Takanas HaShovin. Generally speaking, I read the Hasidic mystics the way the Rivash advises one read the Kabbalists – even if it’s from a known Mekubal – it’s still only a maybe. As I read through it, some of his ideas stuck, some of them…

דער פאלטאווער עילוי

Rabbi Yoel Shurin – the Poltava Illui – was a talmid of the Netziv and the Rosh Yeshiva of yeshivas Ohr Torah. I found this article about the Poltaver Illui in the Yiddishe Licht. And here in the publication Beis Yaakov. Also, a קשה he asked in בבא קמא is brought in אבן האזל. Some historical documentation here, here and here. I have previously posted about…

Misplaced Loyalties: Part IV

Correction: Previously, I had written that the Ohr HaChaim was a 15th Century commentator. He is a seventeenth century commentator. (I subtracted instead of added to the 1600s.) Let’s examine some of the more salient points of the Ramban we mentioned in the last post here. The Ramban claims that the verse in Deuteronomy 17:11 about not straying from the words of the Sages, implies…

Misplaced Loyalties Part III – The Radical Views of Nachmanides

Let’s just come right out and say it! In addressing this conflict between the Sifrei and the Talmud – which says that one could err in his understanding of the commandment to listen to the Sages – we are focusing on something profound. This commandment, to heed the words of the Sages, is different than most commandments. This is not a question of how to…

Misplaced Loyalties: Part II

Now that we have seen the sources here – we can begin understanding when we say it is a liability to rely on the authority of the Sages and when one is obliged to do so. First, we should quickly note, that the Sages we are referring to here are the Sanhedrin. Let’s start with the apparent contradiction between the Sifrei and the the Talmud Yerushalmi…

Misplaced Loyalties: Part I – Sources

First, Some Sources: Regarding translations: The translations of Biblical verses are usually the King James Version The translations of the Bavli Talmud are usually Sefaria.org. (Note that I did not necessarily review or agree with the translation). Since I have not found an open-sourced quality translation of the Rambams, Midrashim, Yerushalmis etc – all such translations are my own. על פי התורה אשר יורוך ועל…

Misplaced Loyalties: טעה במצווה לשמוע לדברי חכמים

A Preface. I’ve often encountered a challenge when writing about topics that interest me – where I start writing without realizing how involved the topic and how much time it will take to write something accessible to a general audience. As such, recently I’ve tried to write really short self-contained blog posts. So it’s with some misgivings that I start writing about an extremely involved…

Sefirah and LagBaOmer Part III

To recap here is a general timeline of the development of the mourning customs during the days of Sefiras HaOmer: Some time during the first century CE Rabbi Akiva’s students all die during a period between Passover and Shavous Sixth Century The talmud records the story as an example of Rabbi Akiva’s teaching that if you taught students when you were young, you should teach…