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Lifnei Iver – Weapons Sales (Mitzvah 232)
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“לא תקלל חרש ולפני עור לא תתן מכשול ויראת מאלקיך אני ה” To what extent is one who sells weapons liable for any illegal or immoral use? Even if selling arms is a necessary evil, we need to be careful not to treat it as a lechatchila. We need to remember it’s not the ideal […]
Do Not Curse Judges, God, and Kings (Mitzvot 69-71, 231)
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(אלוקים לא תקלל ונשיא בעמך לא תאור” (שמות כב:כז” (לא תקלל חרש”  (ויקרא יט:יד” Is the first half of the verse referring to cursing God or a judge? The Sefer HaChinuch lists both. When the Torah lists a punishment, it also separately provides a warning. When you use God’s name in vain or to curse […]
Loans to the Poor – part two (Mitzvot 66-68)
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Watch part one When someone approaches you asking for tzedakah, to what extent do you need to check to make sure it’s legitimate? The Rambam holds there is an obligation to check which means, practically that it’s best to give tzedakah through an organization since it can more efficiently check the person’s legitimacy. A poor […]
Loans to the Poor – part one (Mitzvot 66-68)
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The laws of tzedakah do not appear as a mitzvah in the Torah but are derived from either the mitzvah to lend to the poor or maaser ani. Tzedakah was built into the agricultural mitzvot (Peah, Maaser, etc.). Only after the shift from an agricultural-based society do we see codification of the laws of charity. […]
Witchcraft (Mitzvot 62, 249, 510-514)
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מכשפה לא תחיה: Does Judaism believe in witches? Do they have real power? If black magic and other forms of magic are real what is the reason why they are prohibited? How do we feel about external influences on Judaism? The approaches of the Talmud Bavli versus the Talmud Yerushalmi. Download the mekorot Delivered at […]
Bal Tashchit and the Environment (Mitzvah 529)
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What is the deeper/philosophical understanding of the prohibition of בל תשחית (not wasting)? The prohibition of bal tashchit is presented in the context of cutting down a fruit tree. Three areas of environmental law in halacha: pollution control, allocation of space, and nature conservation. Each concept shows how Judaism differs from the modern environmental movement. […]