Archive for April, 2013


While the rabbis continued to express different views on the subject of teaching “wicked” students, the general tendency was to admit all those who thirsted for knowledge, even if their character was not all that might be desired. It was very rare for a rabbi to refuse to teach a student who genuinely wanted to learn, except in the case of specialized studies which were not part of the normal curriculum.

M. Aberbach, “The Relations Between Master and Disciple in the Talmudic Age” in Essays Presented to Chief Rabbi Israel Brodie on the occasion of his seventieth Birthday, eds. H.J. Zimmels, J. Rabbinowitz and I. Finestein (London: The Soncino Press, 1967), 23.

You have to be careful with your fundamentalism, because when you overstate your case, it can be so easily refuted.

Rabbi Josh Yuter, “Biblical Criticism and Orthodox Judaism“ Yutopia Podcast #101 (27 February 2013).

Sages had Different Views

We tend to talk in collectives: Hazal—hakhameinu zikhronam liverakhah, “our Sages, blessed be their memory,” “the Sages”—plural, the nevi’im, the Tannaim, the Amoraim, the Rishonim and Aharonim, but on another level we are—or should be—aware that each one of our Sages was himself a treasure-house of Torah, and had shittot and darkei limmud of his own, some of which he had in common with other members of his yeshiva or beit midrash. We are also aware of the fact that our Sages’ words were spoken with great precision and express concepts and principles that are internally consistent. We all know that the Ramban has certain shittot that differ from those of the Rambam, for example, and this is true in areas of Halakhah, Aggadah and hashqafah. The Gemara already notes that that is true of the Tannaim, and, to some extent, it does the same for the Amoraim. If we want to understand the Rambam ki-peshuto, we cannot mix the Ramban’s kabbalistic teachings with the Rambam’s Aristotelian ones….

Yaakov Elman, “Rava as Mara de-Atra in Mahoza,” Hakira 11 (Spring 2011), 59.

If Kevod ha-beriyyot is docheh lav shel Torah, it is also docheh divisive parochial policy.

Rabbi Alan Yuter, private e-mail.

…hopefully at all Jewish organizations, the act of working there should be part of their Jewish Journey. She hoped to connect this personal growth to the act of giving as being another important step on one’s Jewish Journey. Being a Jewish professional deepens one’s own experience as a Jew, as does giving tzedakah. Both can be seen acts of generosity which ultimately reward the giver.

Adam Naftalin-Kelman, “Staff Giving to the Nonprofits for Which They Work”, eJewish Philanthropy (8 March 2013).

One teacher shared with us that his measure of engagement is whether the teens are on their phones or not during class. In fact, he identifies potential participants for his program by looking for those who are texting during a service. He invites those students to a religious school class to learn about the prayers so that they can eventually return to services with a greater appreciation and understanding of what is going on – and at that point, they no longer feel a need to be on their phones during a service.

Barb Shimansky, “One Hundred Jewish Professionals Walk Into a Church…”, eJewish Philanthropy (22 February 2013).

“The Jewish world seems to want community without substance,” Bisman said. “Leaders like Alison are focused on substance. Translating that to language funders can understand is a challenge.”

Helen Chernikoff, “Meditating on the Margins,” The Jewish Week (22 June 2012), 10-11.

…there is no Talmudic evidence at all in regard to any importance attached to Isru Hag. There is, in fact, evidence to the contrary. The Talmud states: “The days that are written in the Scroll of Fasts the days before and the days that follow them are (also) forbidden; but as for Sabbaths and festivals, on them (on the very day of the Sabbath and festival) it is forbidden but on the day before, and on the day following, it is permissible.” It is evident thus that during Talmudic times, at any rate, the Isru Hag was not an established custom and that there is no convincing halachic foundation for observing the day after a festival, including Pentecost, as bearing some special significance.
It is noteworthy that neither Alfasi nor Maimonides nor R. Asher make any reference to the Isru Hag. The first of the codifiers to refer to it is the Tur. His reference to Isru Hag is however restricted to the day that follows the festival of Passover and has obviously its source in the Roke’ah.

J. Newman, “Isru Hag” in Essays Presented to Chief Rabbi Israel Brodie on the occasion of his seventieth birthday, eds. H.J. Zimmels, J. Rabbinowitz, and I. Finestein (London: Jews’ College, 1967), 304-305.