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16 Adar: Shushan Purim, 1949

The sixteenth of Adar is two days after Purim in most places in the world, but in the city of Jerusalem and its surroundings, it is the day after Purim.  In 5709 (1949), it was a day to reflect on what had just occurred in Jerusalem. For thousands of years, Jews in Jerusalem had observed […]

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2 Adar: Two Arguments and How Chatam Sofer Refrained from Mixing In

On two occasions on the 2nd of Adar, in 1813 and 1830, Chatam Sofer wrote letters to explain his resistance to getting involved in a far off dispute.  Instead of taking them chronologically, I will follow the order of his publishing them. The first, in his Responsa 1 (Orach Chayim); 13, was addressed to the […]

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Pidyon haBen for a Test Tube Baby

Last week, I did not give a Shabbat morning at the Riverdale Jewish Center; in thinking about what to send out for this post, I was reminded of a comment of Maharsha, the late 16th century Talmudic commentator, in both Shabbat (from 75b to 76b) and Sanhedrin (from 42b to 49b).  Noting that he was […]

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11 Shevat: Including Non-Religious Jews in a Minyan, and Its Discontents

On the 11th of Shevat, 5712 (1952), R. Isaac Herzog, z”l, the first Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel, answered a question about including non-religious Jews in a minyan.  The question, published in Heichal Yitschak Orach Chayim 2, came from Copenhagen, from R. Ib Nathan Bamberger, whom I have come to know personally. […]

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4 Shevat: Saying Kaddish for a Teenaged Child

Sixteen years ago, Tsits Eliezer 22;17 was asked about the appropriateness of a father saying kaddish for a teenaged child of his who had passed away.  We might instinctively dismiss the question as insensitive, but R. Waldenberg’s answer enlightens us about more than just kaddish. The questioner had two reasons to think that the father’s […]

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