Category: Jewish Law / Halakha

Current Jewish Questions Jewish Culture Jewish Law / Halakha Jewish Thought, Theology, and Machshava Judaism Sermons, Lectures, and Divrei Torah

Current Jewish Questions Jewish Law / Halakha Jewish Thought, Theology, and Machshava

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

At times it seems that the Orthodox rabbinate has little more to contribute to the world of Jewish ideas than proclamations declaring who is, or more precisely who is not, “Orthodox.” Consider a few recent examples. This past summer Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky wrote a blog post (since removed) discussing his aversion to reciting the daily blessing shelo asani isha, thanking God for not having made him a woman. In response, Rabbi Dov Fischer castigated R. Kanefsky and the community he represents as, “propagating their views without being subjected to scrutiny and critique by those committed to a Mesorah-driven frumkeit” [emphasis added]. In other words, R. Kanefsky’s halakhic opinion is not part of the genuine “mesorah/tradition,” which R. Fischer apparently does possess. Another writer echoes R. Fischer sentiment more explicitly, “In my view this not only takes Rabbi Kanefsky out of the realm of Orthodoxy, it firmly puts him into the realm of Conservative Judaism.”

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

Fundamentals of Judaism Jewish Law / Halakha Jewish Thought, Theology, and Machshava The Halakhic Process

One reason why I started this blog way back when was to post answers to frequently asked questions, and this is a perfect example. I often get asked about kashering dishwashers and how to use them for meat and dairy dishes.

I will not go into a full treatment here of the multiple opinions, but I’ve found people seem genuinely shocked when I cite the opinion of the Shulhan Aruch, a usually acceptable source which in this case is relatively lenient compared to other opinions or conventional understanding.

Jewish Law / Halakha

The national trend toward legalizing same-sex marriage has posed a unique challenge to Modern Orthodox Judaism. Part of the allure of Modern Orthodoxy is its willing integration with the secular world and in legitimizing a wider range of religious lifestyles than their parochial counterparts. However, the religious proscriptions against homosexual activity must necessarily limit the extent of Modern Orthodoxy’s pluralism. While the topic of homosexuality in Orthodox Judaism has been discussed at length elsewhere, the frequent focus is on individuals struggling with their personal conflicting religious and sexual identities. In contrast, gay marriage is a public announcement and celebration of two people embracing a lifestyle forbidden by Jewish law.

Jewish Law / Halakha Judaism

Jewish Law / Halakha Jewish Thought, Theology, and Machshava Lectures Politics of Exclusion in Judaism

An Orthodox colleague recently created a controversy after writing a blog post explaining why he no longer recites the blessing shelo asani isha – thanking God for not creating him as a woman. Several Orthodox rabbis criticized this position for various reasons with one even questioning the author’s right to call himself “Orthodox,” ostensibly for deviating from the traditional liturgy through his omission. In the grand scheme of Orthodox Jewish history this rabbi’s personal choice is relatively trivial. However, in the subsequent squabbling over one rabbi’s legitimacy, the Orthodox rabbinate inadvertently exposes the inherent cognitive dissonance prevalent in the contemporary Orthodox community.

Jewish History Jewish Law / Halakha Jewish Thought, Theology, and Machshava Judaism

Jewish History Jewish Law / Halakha Jewish Thought, Theology, and Machshava Politics of Exclusion in Judaism