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Just Be Nice

January 30, 2017, by

I have observed a recurring theme in my own writing. In past articles on this site, I have advised: That, if we arrive at shul and someone is sitting in our usual place (makom kavua), that we not say, “You’re in my seat,” but rather just sit close by. This is actually the halacha, plus

Torah Empowerment for Women

January 24, 2017, by

What do women really want? Hear Rabbanit Yemima Mizrachi on the Voice of Israel, tell about her childhood, and how she became the giant in Torah education she is today.

It’s Not Your Concern

January 24, 2017, by

The big news this past week was that Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, asked a rabbi about attending the inaugural balls on Shabbos and received a heter (dispensation) to accept a ride in a car. (They were willing to walk but there are serious safety concerns involved. Remember how Ivanka was accosted on

The Age of Miracles

January 18, 2017, by

Recently, I had occasion to quote the Simon and Garfunkel song “The Boxer,” which tells us that “a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.” The context was Israel’s antagonists, who justify lobbing missiles into Israel as the desperate act of an oppressed people but who criticize Israel’s self-defense efforts despite

Eliana Sohn: Following Her Own Yellow Brick Road

January 18, 2017, by

Ever since I attended a performing arts summer program in Jerusalem 10 years ago, I’ve had my heart set on Aliyah. Having moved a few times as a kid, I used the label ‘home’ sparingly. Even when I had my own car in college, I never programmed a home address to my GPS. Israel was

Rabbi Shimon and Garfunkel on the UN Vote

January 11, 2017, by

Throughout the Talmudic tractate of Shabbos, there is an ongoing debate between Rabbi Shimon and Rabbi Yehuda regarding what’s called a davar sheino miskaven – something unintentional – with Rabbi Shimon considering such actions permissible on Shabbos and Rabbi Yehuda considering them prohibited. The prototypical example is found on page 29b. There is a Biblical

Remembering Rav Moshe Shapiro zt”l

January 10, 2017, by

It had to be HaRav Moshe Shapiro Shlit”a. When I contemplated whom to honor as sandak for our newborn son with Down syndrome, Rav Moshe was the obvious choice. It wasn’t just because I desired a great and distinguished rav for the role. But it was because he had demonstrated sensitivity to our specific plight.

Midrashim: Don’t Be So Literal

January 3, 2017, by

I have observed a phenomenon among a large number of people who were raised Orthodox but became disenchanted (popularly known as “off-the-derech” or OTD). Many of them have a particular axe to grind: they complain about midrashim, which they find to be childish and simplistic. Now, I’m not suggesting that midrashim drove them away from

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