Current Jewish Questions 1-50(ish) – The Stanton St. Shul Years

One of the great joys I’ve had in my time as the Rav of The Stanton St. Shul is the opportunity not just to teach Torah, but to do so in ways which may be more meaningful and relevant to people than they’ve previously encountered. The intent behind my Current Jewish Questions series was to start with real-world examples and explore some laws or ideas particular relevant to an actual situation. In this way, even obscure or difficult texts become accessible and relatable.

None of these classes were intended to be comprehensive – I’m constantly updating my own source sheets as I come across new material – but I hope they can serve as a useful introduction to many of the questions Jews encounter while living in the modern world, even if we cannot provide (or intentionally avoid) giving definitive answers.

Below is the complete list of all the Current Jewish Questions classes from my time at The Stanton St. Shul. 1 Please enjoy listening to the audio, following along with the source sheets, and feel free to adapt and modify these classes as you see fit for your own educational needs.

Notes:

  1. More classes were given though not all were uploaded for technical or quality reasons, hence the inconsistency in numbering. Either that or I simply can’t count.




Ep. 159 Current Jewish Questions 50 – Halakhic Humor

Rabbi Yuter closes out his Current Jewish Questions series at The Stanton Street Shul with a Very Special 50th class discussing parameters of humor in Rabbinic Judaism.

Current Jewish Questions – Halakhic Humor Sources (PDF)

Current Jewish Questions – Halakhic Humor




Ep. 158 Current Jewish Questions 49 – Reparations for Slavery and Discrimination

Inspired by Ta-Nehisi Coates’ recent Atlantic essay The Case for Reparations, Rabbi Yuter addresses this complicated topic through Biblical and Rabbinic sources.

Current Jewish Questions – Reparations Sources (PDF)

Current Jewish Questions – Reparations




Ep. 156 Current Jewish Questions 48 – Judaism and Evolution

In this class Rabbi Yuter addresses the theological challenge posed by evolution.

Current Jewish Questions – Evolution Sources (PDF)

Current Jewish Questions – Judaism and Evolution




Ep. 155 Current Jewish Questions 47 – Science and Judaism

This class introduces the topic of how to handle when Judaism and science conflict with each other.

Current Jewish Questions – Science and Judaism Sources (PDF)

Current Jewish Questions – Science and Judaism




Ep. 153 Current Jewish Questions 46 – Boxing / MMA

Back from a long hiatus (and a bout with bronchitis), Rabbi Yuter returns with a discussion on how combat sports like Boxing or Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fit in with Jewish law.

Current Jewish Questions 46 – Boxing and MMA Sources (PDF)

Current Jewish Questions 46 – Boxing / MMA




Halakha vs. Halakhic Gerrymandering – With Visual Aids

Religious Jews often talk about halakhah, and by their self-identification will attempt to frame their practices within a halakhic framework, but few if any can offer a logically coherent or consistent system to describe how halakhah is supposed to work. For example, one of the recurring issues in the Jewish community is what are the rules of halakhic adaptation, how does Jewish Law change, and how do we determine which changes are legitimate or flawed.

This is a subject about which I have discussed extensively on this site and even devoted a 30 part series dedicated to describing The Halakhic Process. However, it appears that for many people on the internet it is too much trouble to listen to classes, consult primary sources necessary for an argument, read long posts with a critical eye towards comprehension, let alone suffer the inconvenience of having to substantiate their own opinions with any semblance of rigor. 1

Thus, as a quasi-public service, today I am going to illustrate fundamental differences in approaches to halakhah by actually providing illustrations.

Notes:

  1. See for example the comments of John Stuart Mill discussed here way back in 2006.