Ep. 122 Current Jewish Questions 35 – Electricity in Jewish Law 1

Rabbi Josh Yuter introduces the subject of Electricity from the perspective of applying old halakhah to new technologies.

Current Jewish Questions 35 – Electricity in Jewish Law 1 Sources (PDF)

Current Jewish Questions 35 – Electricity in Jewish Law 1




Ep. 121 Halakhic Process 26 – R. David Hartman and Religious Individualism

In the penultimate class in his Halakhic Process series, Rabbi Josh Yuter examines the trend of religious individualism through the writings of Rabbi David Hartman.

Halakhic Process 26 – Hartman and Individuation Sources (PDF)

Halakhic Process 26 – R. David Hartman and Religious Individualism




Ep. 120 Current Jewish Questions 34 – Electricity

In this Very Special Episode of Current Jewish Questions, guest lecturer Dr. Allen Mincer introduces the series on Electricity in Jewish Law with an introduction to the science of Electricity.

Ep. 120 Current Jewish Questions 34 – Electricity 1




Ep. 119 Halakhic Process 25 – Open Orthodoxy

Dedicated to the memory of Mr. Ed Goldsmith

If there is a fallacy of ‘Open Orthodoxy,’ it is not that it isn’t ‘Orthodox,’
but that in reality it isn’t very ‘Open.’

In this important installment of the Halakhic Process series, Rabbi Yuter deconstructs the halakhic methodology of Rabbi Avi Weiss and his Open Orthodox approach to Jewish law.

Halakhic Process 25 – Open Orthodoxy Sources (PDF)

Halakhic Process 25 – Open Orthodoxy




Raiding the Shelves – 2013 Edition

Last night was my first experience at the Jewish Book Council’s “Raid the Shelves” event where a $5 donation entitles you to take whatever books you want. Some people came prepared with multiple bags and several even had the foresight to bring rolling suitcases. Since I’m at a loss for space as it is, I figured a backpack would be good enough and would force me to be more judicious with my selections. While I missed out on a few interesting books, here’s what I took home. Keep in mind, I almost entirely judged books by their cover, and selections do not constitute endorsements or recommendations.

Without further ado, this was my haul…




Introduction to the Laws of Eiruvin Series

support-the-eruv-and-carry-on-2In my Current Jewish Questions series we recently completed a three part sub-unit covering a basic introduction to the laws of eiruvin. For those interested in a general overview of the laws of eiruvin, I am collecting the links in this convenient post. Note that since this is an introductory class it does not cover many of the technicalities which affect the practical validity of any communal eiruv. In other words, do not confuse listening to this series as semikhah with which you can now pasken eiruvin for your (or anyone’s) community.

Part 1 – General Overview: Discusses the innovation of the eruv, its origins and the basics of what it accomplishes.

Part 2 – Physical Corrections: Covers the tikkunim or physical corrections one must make to an area as a prerequisite for establishing an eiruv.

Part 3 – Coming Together: Explains the requirement for 100% communal participation, as well as several solutions when that proves impossible.




Ep. 118 Current Jewish Questions 33 – Introduction to Eiruvin 3

support-the-eruv-and-carry-on-2Rabbi Josh Yuter’s Introduction to Eruvin concludes with a discussion on the requirements for total communal participation, and solutions for circumventing this nearly impossible halakhic condition.

Current Jewish Questions 33 – Intro to Eiruvin 3 Sources (PDF)

Current Jewish Questions 33 – Introduction to Eiruvin 3




JOFA 2013 Conference Preview

The paradox of JOFA is not “Orthodox Feminist” but “Jewish Alliance”

A few weeks ago I received an email from the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA) promoting their upcoming conference. As a selling point for the conference, the email proclaimed:

It’s not just for feminists anymore…

It’s for… Singles, Halachacists, Hopefuls, Parents, Visionaries, Intellectuals, Students, Artists, Questioners, LGBT, Challengers…

The 2013 8th International JOFA Conference is for you.

Ignoring for a moment my initial snark about going to a feminist conference to pick up women, the marketing language employed is actually quite intriguing. After all, since the “F” in JOFA stands for “Feminist” it does seem odd that JOFA would so blatantly be expanding its target demographic to the point of even diminishing the importance of “Feminist.”

I do have a conjecture, which if true, would make this year’s conference particularly fascinating. Specifically, most of the stated goals of JOFA have either been accomplished or have been taken over by other organizations. Women’s participation in the synagogue not only continues to grow, but it is becoming more normalized in the Modern Orthodox world as opposed to an anomalous fringe. Furthermore, with the newly ordained Maharats, Jewish women are now assuming formal religious leadership positions within Orthodox synagogues and communities. With these advancements over the past 10 years, it would be interesting to see how JOFA answers the question “what next?” After all, simply advocating for “more of the same” is hardly a way to energize one’s base, let alone attract the next generation of woman, many of whom cannot appreciate how much needed to be done by others to provide what they take for granted.

My sense is by expanding beyond the limits of “Feminism” JOFA can attract not only this new generation of feminists (men and women) but also those who for various reasons are uncomfortable or disenchanted with “feminism” and its implications or those who think that the feminist movement has done all it can within the confines of “Orthodoxy.”

At any rate, I personally am looking forward to attending the conference – if nothing else than to see for myself where Orthodox Feminism may be heading in light of its successes.




Ep. 117 Halakhic Process 24 – Conservative Judaism

Rabbi Josh Yuter’s Halakhic Process series turns towards the Conservative Judaism’s legal hermeneutic, and how it compares to what is often employed by their Orthodox counterparts.

Halakhic Process 24 – Conservative Judaism Sources (PDF)

Halakhic Process 24 – Conservative Judaism




Ep. 116 Current Jewish Questions 32 – Introduction to Eiruvin 2

In the second part of his Introduction to Eiruvin, Rabbi Yuter provides a general overview regarding the physical construction of an eiruv.

Current Jewish Questions 32 – Intro to Eiruvin 2 Sources (PDF)

Current Jewish Questions 32 – Introduction to Eiruvin 2