Torah Corner


What’s New in Kitniyos?

What’s New in Kitniyos?
[By Rabbi Yair Hoffman] It is a custom that is in the news.  The OU, for example, recently changed its interpretation on what items fall into it.  In certain circles in Israel it is a custom under relentless attack.  And it is a custom that is far older than many religions, including both Protestant Christianity and even Islam.  We are, of course, referring to the custom of Ashkenazic families to refrain from consuming kitniyos. HISTORY The minhag to not eat kitniyos (often defined ...
(11 opinions  |   March 27 )

May Orthodox Rabbis Permit Women to Don Tefillin?

May Orthodox Rabbis Permit Women to Don Tefillin?
[By Rav Mayer Twersky and published on TorahWeb.  Rav Mayer Twersky is a Rosh Yeshiva at RIETS and a grandson of Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik] I. The Ruling of the Ramo and Modern Reaction ואם הנשים רוצין להחמיר על עצמן מוחין בידן and if the women wish to act stringently [and don tefillin] we rebuke them (Ramo, Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 38:3) Recently, some rabbis have publicized and implemented their view that women wishing to ...
(27 opinions  |   March 26 )

Halachic Analysis: Why No Autopsies

Halachic Analysis: Why No Autopsies
[By Rabbi Yair Hoffman] Recent events in the Jewish community have brought up the concept of autopsies in Jewish law. Some question why Jewish law is opposed to autopsies. In this short essay, a brief overview of the “whys” is offered. In almost every venue or endeavor, American citizens generally face three varying sets of laws. There are federal laws, state laws, and local laws. Mature, intelligent citizens view their laws with a sense of pride and duty. Observing them is not viewed ...
(8 opinions  |   March 26 )

Parsha Potpourri: Parshas Tzav/Purim

Vaya'as Aharon u'banav es kol ha'devarim asher tziva Hashem b'yad Moshe (8:36) After discussing more of the laws governing the various offerings, Parshas Tzav turns its attention to the inauguration of the Kohanim. It relates at length the procedure by which Aharon and his sons were consecrated to serve as Kohanim. After relating all of the details of the process, the parsha summarizes and concludes by recording that Aharon and his sons did everything that Moshe had commanded them to do in ...
(Add your opinion  |   March 14 )

Vertluch: Parshas Tzav/Zachar

The minhag on Purim is that during the reading of the megilah, certain parts are read with a sad and cheerless tune; the same tune that is used when we read Megilas Eicha. Amongst them are ‘v’kaylim m’kaylim shonim’ and ‘asher heglah m’yerushalaim im yichunya melech yehuda’….. On the surface we can comprehend the second pasuk since it depicts the beginning of the galus. The first pasuk, however, does not. This being so, why do we read it in that tune? The gemara answers that ...
(Add your opinion  |   March 14 )

The Megillah Reading - An Overview

The Megillah Reading - An Overview
[By Rabbi Yair Hoffman] The obligation is to read the Megillah at night and in the day in commemoration of the miracle, where they cried out day and night. The daytime reading begins at sunrise and continues until the end of the day.  If it was read from Amud HaShachar – dawn, the Mitzvah has still been fulfilled.   It is interesting to note that the Mishna does not mentione the night reading at all. The reader must read the Megillah as if it was an iggeres – a letter.  ...
(Add your opinion  |   March 14 )

Hilchos Uminhagei Purim 5774 By Rabbi Y. Dov Krakowski

Hilchos Uminhagei Purim 5774 By Rabbi Y. Dov Krakowski
The following is meant as a convenient review of Halachos pertaining to Purim. The Piskei Din for the most part are based purely on the Sugyos, Shulchan Aruch and Ramah, and the Mishna Berura, unless stated otherwise. They are based on my understanding of the aforementioned texts through the teachings of my Rebeim. As individual circumstances are often important in determining the psak in specific cases, and as there may be different approaches to some of the issues, one should always check ...
(2 opinions  |   March 14 )

Taanis Esther - An Overview

Taanis Esther - An Overview
[By Rabbi Yair Hoffman] HISTORICAL OVERVIEW During the time of Mordechai and Esther , the Jews united on the 13th of Adar to fight and wage war, standing up for their lives. They fasted during the day of battle to beseech Hashem for mercy. This is the explanation for Taanis Esther given by Rabbeinu Tam (cited in Rosh Megillah 1:1). Hashem sees and hears every person during his or her time of need, when they fast and return to Hashem with all their heart. In order to remember that Hashem ...
(Add your opinion  |   March 13 )

Halachic Analysis: Matanos L'Evyonim

Halachic Analysis: Matanos L'Evyonim
[By Rabbi Yair Hoffman] The mitzvah of Matanos L’Evyonim on Purim is to give at least one gift to two different poor people on Purim day. The plural form of the word “L’Evyonim” teaches us that it must be given to two people. Even a poor person who himself has reached a financial state that he must ask for charity, must still give. INTENTIONS The Yesod v’shoresh HaAvodah (12:6) recommends that one should recite the following preamble before fulfilling the ...
(3 opinions  |   March 12 )

Halachic Analysis: Mishloach Manos - All You Need To Know To Do The Mitzvah Properly

Halachic Analysis: Mishloach Manos - All You Need To Know To Do The Mitzvah Properly
[By Rabbi Yair Hoffman] THE MITZVAH Mordechai and his Beis Din enacted that on the day of Purim each person must send a gift of at least two portions of food to a friend. This is seen from the verse in Megilas Esther, “Umishloach manos ish l’reyehu.” THE REASONS What is the reason behind the mitzvah of shalach manos? Two reasons are brought down. The Terumas HaDeshen (Siman 111) writes that it is to ensure that the recipients not run out of food items to serve for their ...
(1 opinions  |   March 11 )

HaRav Zev Leff: Parshas Vayikra

The Gates of Prayer And God called to Moses...(Vayikra 1:1) Rosh in his commentary to the Torah explains that the aleph in the word vayikra, with which the third book of Torah begins, is reduced in size to reflect the humility of Moshe Rabbeinu. Remaining to be understood is why this hint to Moshe's humility is placed specifically at the beginning of Sefer Vayikra. Vayikra opens with the numerous and complex laws concerning the Temple sacrifices. With the destruction of the Bais ...
(Add your opinion  |   March 07 )

Parsha Potpourri: Parshas Vayikra

Adam ki yakriv mikem Korban l'Hashem (1:2) In the times of the Beis HaMikdash, a person who sinned at least had the comfort of knowing that he could bring a sacrifice to complete the atonement process prescribed by the Torah. In the absence of this option, how can a contemporary person fully repent and cleanse the effects of his transgressions? The Mabit (Rav Moshe ben Yosef of Trani) offers us a tremendous consolation. He writes that in the times of the Temple, when Hashem's presence could ...
(Add your opinion  |   March 07 )

Vertluch: Parshas Vayikra

We know that the first word in parshas Vayikra has a small aleph. Chazal note that the reason was due to the humility of Moshe Rabbeinu. Rav Shach, zt”l, asks an interesting question. Every letter in the Torah has crowns and simanim, known as tagim, on top of them. We know that the Tanaim were able to uncover and teach us many aspects of halacha from the style and placement of these tagim. They were actually part of the Torah itself and a sefer Torah that does not have any, is considered ...
(Add your opinion  |   March 07 )

Medical Marijuana and Halacha

Medical Marijuana and Halacha
[By Rabbi Yair Hoffman] As of this writing there are twenty states in the U.S. that have now legalized “medical marijuana,” and a number of others on the way as well. The change in legal status has been both fast and furious. Proponents claim that it has so many beneficial medical effects. Opponents of the legalization of marijuana claim that the legalization thus far has been anything but truly “medical.” The question is how does halacha weigh in on this topic? Few in either ...
(15 opinions  |   March 03 )

Parsha Potpourri

Vayavey es ha'Aron el ha'Mishkan vayasem eis Paroches hamasach vayasech al Aron ha'Eidus ka'asher tzivah Hashem es Moshe (40:21) In his commentary on our verse, the Baal HaTurim points out that the Torah emphasizes that every aspect of the construction and assembly of the Mishkan was done precisely as Hashem commanded Moshe. In fact, the phrase "as Hashem commanded Moshe" is used 18 times in Parshas Pekudei. As there are no coincidences in the Torah, the Baal HaTurim explains that this ...
(Add your opinion  |   February 28 )

Vertluch: Parshas Pekudai

Parshas Pekudei is usually paired together with the previous weeks parsha, Vayahkel, as both parshiyos deal with the building of the Mishkan and the clothes for the Kohanim. At the beginning of the building process, in last weeks parsha, it was established that Betzalel would be leading this project. The gemara in Berachos (55a) states that at the time Hashem commanded Moshe to build the Mishkon he told him “go to Betzalel and tell him to build the Mishkon followed by the Aron and kaylim. But ...
(Add your opinion  |   February 28 )

Halachic Analysis: Getting Drunk on Purim

Halachic Analysis: Getting Drunk on Purim
[By Rabbi Yair Hoffman] It is one halacha that parents just don't like at all. It is also one that they do not really have an answer for. “But Mom, Dad, you are always telling me to keep halacha, and this is a Shulchan Aruch! The Shulchan Aruch states quite clearly (OC 695:2), ‘A person is obligated to get drunk on Purim to the point where he cannot distinguish between Boruch Mordechai and Arur Haman.’  It’s halacha, Mom!” “Oh yeah, well it’s also a halacha to honor ...
(15 opinions  |   February 27 )