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The Slightly Jewish Connection to Groundhog Day

The Slightly Jewish Connection to Groundhog Day

Many of us who grew up in America are familiar with the amusing (non-)holiday of Groundhog Day, but we are unfamiliar with its Christian forebear, Candlemas, of which an incidental observance of the day in Northern Europe involved divining the weather by watching the behaviors of similar animals, like badgers, and which, like other Christian … Continue reading

ממתי יש להתחיל סדר ליל פסח?

ממתי יש להתחיל סדר ליל פסח?

איתא באורח חיים תעב:א יהיה שלחנו ערוך מבעוד יום כדי לאכול מיד כשתחשך. ואף אם הוא בבית המדרש יקום, מפני שמצוה למהר ולאכול בשביל התינוקות שלא ישנו. אבל לא יאמר קידוש עד שתחשך. ההבנה הרווחת של הקטע הזה היא ש”כשתחשך“ היא לזמן מה לאחר השקיעה, המזוהה בדרך כלל עם צאת הכוכבים, בערך מרבע עד לשליש … Continue reading

בעניין ברכה על הליקוי

בעניין ברכה על הליקוי

ביום שני, ט׳׳ו בשבט תשע׳׳ט יהיה ליקוי לבנה על הבוקר, ויש לשאול האם יש לברך עליו? השאלה היא בהנחה שעצם ראיית התופעה המרשימה דורשת תגובה, כמאמר השמים מספרים כבוד א-ל ומעשי ידיו מגיד הרקיע. וקבעו חז׳׳ל ברכת עושה מעשה בראשית על תופעות שמימיות כאלה (ברכות ט:ב): על הזיקים ועל הזועות ועל הברקים ועל הרעמים ועל … Continue reading

When Rape is Not Rape

When Rape is Not Rape

My intent in writing this is to defend the laws of our Torah from those who would seek to belittle them. Due to the sensitive nature of the subjects herein, I would like readers to know that they should exercise discretion. I would like to return to an issue I discussed earlier. Many naysayers, new-agers, anti-semites, … Continue reading

Q&A: Jewish Names

Q&A: Jewish Names

Question: The other day, I heard a lecture about how parents are not allowed to give children non-Jewish names. What’s that all about? Answer: I am hard-pressed to find a definition of such a thing. What makes a name particularly Jewish or not? Question: Perhaps a name that is not Hebrew or not in the … Continue reading

Maimonides and the Jerusalem Talmud

Maimonides and the Jerusalem Talmud

Maimonides would often rule like the Jerusalem Talmud over the Babylonian Talmud. This is mentioned by the Maharik, mark 100, and Bei’ur Hagra to YD 63:1, but is also seen from a thorough analysis of his writings. In Otzroth Hagra, Rabbi Zuriel brings the Taklin Hadtin’s intro to Sh’qalim mentions the Bei’ur Hagra to OH  … Continue reading

Further Insights on Cantillation

Further Insights on Cantillation

In the three books of Emeth, there are many verses that conclude with a series of connected words, whereas in the other books, such a series would demand a number of mafsiqim preceding the end of the verse. However with regards to the beginnings of verses, the opposite is true, when we deal with unusually … Continue reading

As The Light Fades: A Hanukka Thought

As The Light Fades: A Hanukka Thought

The Oral Torah has three components: I. The traditions regarding interpretation of the written law and the performance of the commandments, including the commandments which are not even mentioned in the written law, such as the water libation on Tabernacles. II. The enactments of the sages of each generation, including prohibitive fences around the Biblical … Continue reading

What Belongs in Your Siddur: a Dagesh or a Comma?

What Belongs in Your Siddur: a Dagesh or a Comma?

Recently, I was privileged to be part of fun yet esoteric discussion on matters of Hebrew grammar. First some background: there is a grammatical phenomenon in Biblical Hebrew known as “nasog ahor,” literally, “stepped back.” In certain words that are accented on the last syllable but have an earlier syllable that is open, then sometimes … Continue reading