Purim is a holiday whose meaning is shrouded in mystery. The only clear element is what we are commanded to do on Purim as set forth at the end of the Scroll of Esther: read the Megilla, hold a festive meal, and give gifts to the poor. This last mitzvah is not an administrative detail of a system of social justice. Yes, the Jewish people are commanded to pay a tax of half a shekel, as we read onShabbat Shekalim, the Shabbat preceding Rosh Chodesh Adar. But gifts to the poor are another matter; giving charity is an expression of the direct, mutual economic responsibility between people.
I am officiating at the wedding of a young couple in the near future. In preparing the ketubah [marriage contract], I learned that the groom’s father was born Jewish, but the groom converted at age four, along with his mother. The groom would like his name to appear in the marriage contract as “X the son of the names of his two parents,” since they are all Jewish now; but his father would like it to appear as “X the son of Abraham and Sarah,” since that is how his son was named at his conversion. What is the halakhah in this case?
Asked by Rabbi Rachel Schwartz on the behalf of a pupil at a Hebrew school in the United States: Why is the kittel worn on the High Holy Days? When were Torah scrolls first dressed in white for the High Holy Days and what prompted this change?
Erev Yom Kippur, minutes before the storm. A point of time in the regular weekday that is nonetheless all holiness. It is the moment of awe as the Day of Judgment approaches, the eleventh hour, our last chance. Yom Kippur itself is a time of forgiveness, but what is the role of the day before?
Have you addressed the matter of [Hanukkah] gelt, and especially that of gifts, from a historical and halakhic standpoint? Are there articles you could point me towards? Texts? Responsa?
n some synagogues the Gabbai corrects the Torah reader every time he makes even the slightest error in pronunciation or cantillation, while, in others, the Gabbai only corrects the Torah reader if he/she makes and error which changes the meaning of the text. Which practice is more correct?
With the high holidays approaching, the Schechter Institutes wish you and your loved ones a most festive and meaningful holiday experience. Dr. Tomer Persico, a respected researcher and lecturer on contemporary spiritual culture and frequent contributor to Israeli media, joined the Schechter faculty last year with the launch of our newest M.A. specialization – Spiritual Education. He is also a popular lecturer in TALI’s spiritual education program – Neshama Yetiera.
Belief in God is an intuitive belief given our neurobiological makeup. Intuitive reasoning tends to change over a lifetime to the degree that one’s frames of reference change over time. It therefore stands to reason that belief in God may also change over time. Indeed, a number of studies found this to be the case.
Is it permissible for a child to practice reading the Torah from aSefer Torah [Torah scroll] in preparation for a Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony? A rabbi wrote to me that “there is a problem halakhically to take a Torah out when it’s not for the need of thetzibur [=congregation]”. Any thoughts on whether this is forbidden?