Category archives: judaica

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They do not speak in my name, nor I in theirs

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

As the Midrash says, there are seventy faces of Torah. I have chosen to follow a certain path within Orthodox Judaism, but I’m willing to admit that other paths are also valid. In particular, if other Jewish men and women find spiritual benefit from practicing a higher level of gender segregation than I favor ...

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Some scrolls regarding proper treatment of scrolls

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

Mishnah Bava Metzia 2:8 (this is in the chapter discussing the laws of returning lost objects to their rightful owner; cf. Deuteronomy 22:1–3):

Someone who finds [lost] scrolls should read from them once every thirty days. And if he does not know how to read, he should roll them. But he should ...

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Charity for crooks

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

Like many people in the Orthodox community, I receive occasional brochures from Kupat Ha’ir, an organization that provides financial support to poor people in Israel. Kupat Ha’ir has such a history over-the-top marketing—touting the miracles that God has performed on behalf of its donors—that last year, one prominent Lakewood rabbi described its techniques as “gezel ...

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Breaking in my sleep

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

Mishnah Bava Kamma 2:6: “A human being is always mu‘ad [strictly liable; see Exodus 21:36], whether he behaves accidentally, deliberately, awake, or asleep….”

Bartenura: “If someone is sleeping and another comes and sleeps beside him, and the second one damages the first, he is liable. And if the first damages the second ...

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Translation from PR-speak to English of the Anti-Defamation League’s “Statement On Islamic Community Center Near Ground Zero”

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

We regard freedom of religion as a cornerstone of the American democracy, and that freedom must include the right of all Americans – Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and other faiths – to build community centers and houses of worship.

If we tried to use any legal maneuver to prevent this community center from being built, we would be ...

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I am not hip enough to come up with a proper headline to this post

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

Shaul Magid,1 reviewing a sociological study of ArtScroll, remarks:

Indeed, the new Conservative Etz Hayyim is arguably a response to the Stone Chumash the way the Beach Boys “Pet Sounds”(1966) was a response to the Beatles’ “Rubber Soul” (1965).

1 I recall meeting Rabbi Magid at Michael Carasik’s Shabbat table, and now ...

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Sorry, Bibi

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

The Nine Days are an appropriate time for Jews to repent, and it is appropriate for me to repent for being too cynical about the Israeli political process. I had assumed that the Israeli government is so independent of the Diaspora1 that complaints from liberal American Jews could not possibly block MK Rotem’s ...

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Maybe he thought it was a commentary on Leviticus

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

At shul today, I noticed a guy reading Foucault’s History of Sexuality during the Torah reading.

Thinking outside the beis medrash

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

I’ve seen a lot of angst in the Jewish blogosphere over the ever-rising cost of day school tuition; this article, linked by someone on my LJ-friends list, is the latest example of the genre. The problem has a tragic dimension, because of a little-known wrinkle in economics called the Baumol effect.

James Surowiecki explains:

When ...

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Dances With Monotheism

Last update on Nov. 11, 2014.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen some controversy in political and SF blogs regarding a certain Hollywood movie, in which a white American human takes on the form of a blue-skinned alien. I was reminded of this when I read last week’s parsha (Exodus 1:1–6:1), because one could argue that the ...

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