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The Laws of Nezikin – Damages (Mitzvot 51-52)
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How much responsibility does an owner bear when his/her animal causes damage? Why is the ox the paradigmatic damager and what can we learn from this? The symbolism of the ox. The responsibility to look out for oneself and distance oneself from danger. Download the mekorot here Delivered at the OU Israel Center, Wednesday, November […]
The Laws of Kenasot – Penalties (Mitzvah 49)
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There are 5 different elements of the penalty for injuring another person – נזק, צער, ריפוי, שבת, בושת – damage, pain, medical costs, loss, and embarrassment. Why can Knasot only be adjudicated in the Land of Israel? What mechanism takes the place of kenasot outside the Land of Israel? What is the role of logic […]
Capital Punishment (Mitzvah 47)
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The motivation for Capital Punishment seems to be deterrence according to the Sefer HaChinuch. However, unlike other punishments the death penalty is irreversible, so there is great hesitancy to administer it. Extrajudicial killings Download the mekorot here Delivered at the OU Israel Center, Wednesday, October 24, 2018/15 Marcheshvan 5779
The Hebrew Servant (Mitzvot 42-46 and 481-482)
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Why is the law of the Eved Ivri/Amah Ivriah the bridge between Har Sinai and the Ten commandments and civil law? For most of Jewish History this hasn’t even been relevant. Why is Eved Ivri so central, why didn’t the Torah prohibit servitude? Delivered at the OU Israel Center, Wednesday, October 17, 2018/8 Marcheshvan 5779
Mitzvot 236 and 71: Defamation
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How do we define rechilut (usually translated as gossip) and how should it impact freedom of the press? What if something is defamatory only in a specific community? Download the mekorot here Delivered at the OU Israel Center, Wednesday, June 20, 2018/7 Tammuz 5778
Mitzvah 38: Thou Shall Not Covet
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Lo Tachmod is a thought-based prohibition. How can we be commanded about a thought? Is it a built-in safeguard against stealing? Why is it in the 10 commandments with capital offenses? Download the mekorot here Delivered at the OU Israel Center, Wednesday, June 13, 2018/30 Sivan 5778
Mitzvah 37: Thou Shall Not Bear False Witness
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The Sefer HaChinuch phrases this mitzvah as not to give false testimony in a court. Lying vs. giving false testimony. Women giving testimony in beit din. When is it permissible to lie? Download the mekorot here Delivered at the OU Israel Center, Wednesday, June 6, 2018/23 Sivan 5778
Mitzvot 326-335: Torah Economics (Shemitta and Yovel)
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The 10 mitzvot that discuss Shemitta and Yovel all revolve around how to create a Torah-based economy. Rav Chaim David HaLevy writes that the Torah doesn’t have a specific economic vision but provides guiding principles. Download the mekorot here Delivered at the OU Israel Center, May 23rd, 2018, 9 Iyyar 5778
Mitzvah 94: Ger Toshav (Shemot 23:33)
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The commandment not to allow idolaters to settle in the land of Israel. If they want to remain in the land they must accept upon themselves the seven Noahide laws. The relationship between Jews and non-Jews in the Land of Israel. Delivered at the OU Israel Center, May 16th, 2018, 2 Iyyar 5778
Mitzvah 36: Thou Shall Not Steal
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The Sefer HaChinuch based on Rashi says that the mitzvah of לא תגנוב (thou shall not steal) refers to kidnapping. The Heinz dilemma – can you steal in order to save a life? If you save your life by damaging someone else’s property are you required to reimburse them? Stealing ideas and “גניבת דעת”. Delivered […]