Articles

A New Analysis of "Kol B'Isha Erva"

There is no prohibition whatsoever of innocent singing; rather, only singing intended for sexual stimulation, or flirtatious singing, is forbidden. Although this distinction is not explicit in the early rabbinic sources, it closely fits the character of the prohibition as described in different contexts in the Talmud and the Rishonim, and it is supported by the language of the Rambam, the Tur, and the Shulchan Arukh.

Single Women Who Want to Have a Baby

Question to Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, Rosh Yeshiva of the Hesder Yeshiva of Petach Tikva:

I ask you to bravely write an answer to a question that has been disturbing me very much for quite some time. I am a thirty-six years old woman, rather pretty, educated and well taken care of, who has been attempting for over fifteen years to get married, but to no avail…

I want to have a child!!! I dream all the time about him and I want a child!!!

We've Come a Long Way, Maybe

The ideal for prayer... is kedusha or holiness... If ten women so desire, they may organize a minyan and conduct tefillah betzibur, public services; and in such a case, if men straggle in to such a synagogue, it is they who are guests sitting behind the mehitzah. I am told that in Boston there is a group of young Orthodox students, all girls, who are highly concerned about their role in Judaism, and have decided to pray every morning while donning the tefillin. I have no objection to that, and would encourage them.

Text and Context: Reflections on Contemporary Orthodoxy

“Home” is a concept not easily put into words. It is our refuge, our sanctum, our institution for the whole. It evokes the pictures of the happy family, of children playing in security, and the nurturing environment in which people grow into themselves. It is the place you go back to, that you belong to.

When home is not where your heart is, and the individuals comprising that home have no cohesive identity, there is no belonging – and sooner or later, those individuals (since, after all, that is all they are) learn that their home is broken, and they therefore run away to the refuge of their castles in the air (of which their psychologists collect the rent).

End the Chief Rabbinate's Monopoly

It’s painful to have one’s rabbinic credentials challenged by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. But that’s exactly what’s happened to me. In truth, it’s much more hurtful to the many people I’ve been honored to serve over the years.

In recent days, I have been informed that letters I’ve written attesting to the Jewishness and personal status of congregants have been rejected by the office of the Chief Rabbinate. I’m not the only Orthodox rabbi to have his letters rejected – there are others.

I have chosen to go public because the issue is not about me, it’s about a Chief Rabbinate whose power has gone to its head. As Israel’s appointed rabbinate, it is accountable to no one but itself.

Learning to Say Thank You

There is probably no sentiment as fundamental to Judaism as recognizing the good that others do for us and expressing our gratitude to them (in Hebrew, “hakarat ha-tov”). God is reputed to have created the world in a burst of loving-kindness for which humanity and all living creatures should intuitively praise Him, and the Jewish people’s special relationship with God is predicated on His kindness in having redeemed the Jews from Egypt. The very word for Jew in Hebrew, Yehudi, comes from the verb le-hodot, to thank, and hearkens back to our foremother Leah thanking God for giving birth to her fourth son. Therefore, I was not surprised to recently come upon a poster in Har Nof (a largely Haredi, Jerusalem suburb) proclaiming that this Jewish calendar year is the year of Hakarat Ha-tov.

What do we expect from our synagogues?

In light of the new Pew study on Jewish affiliation, there will be a lot of hand-wringing about what the Jewish community can do to get people more engaged. My revolutionary
suggestion? Get to synagogue.

People are always telling me that they’d love to come to shul more often, but they’re just not as religious as I am. Its one of the hazards of being married to a rabbi. Strangers think they know my exact level of religiosity, whatever that means. So here’s what I’ll say. You have no idea what goes on inside my head. And I have no idea what you’re thinking, either. Even more blasphemous, I don’t care.

Book Review of Hillel Goldberg's "Storied Lives around the World"

Storied Jewish Lives around the World, by Hillel Goldberg

Feldheim Publishers, 2013, 228 pages

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg, an award winning author who has published inspiring Jewish stories for over 45 years, and has authored five previous books, has now given us three dozen well-crafted, easy-to-read, inspiring tales of people who we will admire, people we should emulate.

“There is greatness,” Rabbi Goldberg writes, “not only in well known leaders. ‘There is no person who does not have his hour.’ I have known this person too – the ‘simple Jew,’ the poshuteh Yid – shining in his moment of distinction. I have tried to capture” the greatness of these Jews, and their contribution to those around them.