Category: Jewish Law / Halakha

Amusing article from Reuters: Israel to Soothe Trauma with Marijuana – specifically for soldiers under stress. For a more serious take on drugs in Judaism, read this article by David…

Culture Jewish Law / Halakha

Homosexuality and Orthodox Judaism

A few months ago, Avraham pointed me to this Forward review of Rabbi Steve Greenberg’s new book Wrestling with God and Men. I wrote some preliminary thoughts based on the review, but the YUCS server crashed as I submitted it for posting. This technical glitch proved to be fortuitous in that Rabbi Greenberg visited UC later that week and I was able to talk to him personally and purchase a copy of the book. Although he still did not convince me of his arguments, he conveyed the emotional turmoil with which people live. In halakhic matters, people often ignore the human dimension involved of an issue and develop their opinions in a social vacuum. However, halakha is ultimately followed by people many of whom face difficult conflicts for a myriad of personal reasons. While personal issues alone are not sufficient to change Jewish law, we cannot ignore the tension and struggles that people face in their quest to be observant Jews.

Below is my review of Rabbi Greenberg’s book, as submitted to a writing seminar.

Articles, Papers, and Publications Jewish Law / Halakha Jewish Thought, Theology, and Machshava

Huge thanks to Jacob Sasson for sending me the link to Strange as it might seem, the Sepharadic matzot are not the wholesome crispy goodness most of us are…

Jewish Law / Halakha

Rabbi Adam Mintz of the Lincoln Square Synagogue recently made a questionable statement to the New York Times: Rabbi Adam Mintz, who describes his congregation of 900 families at the…

Jewish Law / Halakha

I’m trying to work on shticks, but my blogging time has been getting filled up with halakhic questions. And yes, Torah takes priority over Purim shticks. Today is the Fast…

Jewish Law / Halakha

הָקִיצוּ שִׁכּוֹרִים וּבְכוּ וְהֵילִלוּ כָּל שֹׁתֵי יָיִן עַל עָסִיס כִּי נִכְרַת מִפִּיכֶם:

Awake, ye drunkards, and weep, and wail, all ye drinkers of wine,
because of the sweet wine, for it is cut off from your mouth
” (Joel 1:5)

Before I get to the shticks this year, I want to write about the dangerous practice of drinking on Purim. Each year, some people overdo it and wind up sick, hospitalized, or worse. The problems are exacerbated by Rabbis who encourage and sometimes force students to drink regardless if the students have the alcohol tolerance or are of the legal drinking age.

On the other hand, the Talmud seemingly requires excessive drinking; in which case, even 13 year olds would be obligated. Lets begin with the relevant passage from Megillah 7b:

אמר רבא: מיחייב איניש לבסומי בפוריא עד דלא ידע בין ארור המן לברוך מרדכי

This is loosely translated as “Rava said: a man is obligated to get drunk on Purim until he does not know the difference between “cursed Haman” and “blessed Mordechai.” This of course, requires an immense degree of intoxication. Some major halakhic works simply cite this dictum without qualification (Rif 3b, Shulhan Aruch Orach Hayim 795:2). Consequently many take this statement at face value, and therefore drink and encourage others to get inebriated, under the assumption that they are fulfilling a rabbinic commandment.

I’ve found several sources on the web which deal with this issue in one way or another, but I’ve found most of them to be lacking in real analysis. What I will show here is that while this statement might be obligatory, it does not require the degree of drinking which is commonly practiced.

(For readability, I will be sacrificing some precision in translations).

Jewish Law / Halakha Jewish Thought, Theology, and Machshava

It’s time now for my response to Rabbi Daniel Stein. Sorry for the delays, but I do have schoolwork to do here. I’ve been working on a response that will adequately address R. Stein’s points, while not succumbing to ranting. As comical and entertaining as a Grach-type review would be, I feel that R. Stein’s article deserves a serious analysis and critique.
(Rants may come at the end)

Jewish Culture Jewish Law / Halakha Jewish Thought, Theology, and Machshava

The Yeshiva part of YU’s student council (SOY) publishes an annual “Torah” journal called “Beis Yitzhack.” Each year, Roshei Yeshiva, rabbinic alumni, Kollel or rabbinical students, and some undergraduates submit…

Jewish Culture Jewish Law / Halakha Jewish Thought, Theology, and Machshava

If you were following Protocols a while ago, you might be familiar with Douglass Rushkoff and his recent book Nothing Sacred. I know I’m a little late with this, but…

Jewish Culture Jewish Law / Halakha Religion Science and Technology Society

Shavua Tov everyone. A few things on my mind before I get back to the take home midterm. The first is a response to a critique I found on Heimishtown.…

Jewish Culture Jewish Law / Halakha Jewish Thought, Theology, and Machshava Random Acts of Scholarship