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Issue 9.5: Israel

For my post high school gap year I studied in an Israeli Midrasha. While at first I struggled to catch on to classes in hebrew and grappled with cultural differences like casual lice breakouts, army time, and the consumption of whole cucumbers for breakfast, I eventually grew to love the authentically Israeli environment, one that felt wonderfully foreign and new in the best way. Unsurprisingly, this newness struck me most on Yom Ha'atzmaut.  Read more →

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Letter from the Editor

For my post high school gap year I studied in an Israeli Midrasha. While at first I struggled to catch on to classes in hebrew and grappled with cultural differences like casual lice breakouts, army time, and the consumption of whole cucumbers for breakfast, I eventually grew to love the ... Read more →

Rav Kook’s Thoughts on Slavery: Coherence and Tension

  One of the monumental societal changes that occurred in the 19th century was the abolition of slavery. That this was done primarily because of a moral argument made significant waves in Jewish thought at the time. If one human being owned and completely subservient to another human, ... Read more →

Halakhic Morality and the Halakhic Personality: a Review of “By His Light: Character and Values in the Service of God”

Reviewed Book: Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, By His Light: Character and Values in the Service of God. Edited by Rabbi Reuven Ziegler (Maggid Books, 2016) On the morning of April 20, 2015, upon hearing the news that Rav Aharon Lichtenstein had passed away, I began sobbing uncontrollably for a solid ... Read more →

“He Spoke Within a Cloud”: A Nebulous Narrative and its Normative Implications

Upon receiving news of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, sets off to meet the nation in the desert. Now Moses’ father in law, Jethro, the chieftain of Midian, heard all that God had done for Moses and for Israel, His people—that the Lord had taken Israel ... Read more →

Would The Maccabees Ban the Maccabiah?

Are sports a worthwhile and valuable Jewish activity? By the number of minyanim and kosher stands at athletic events, attendance appears to be a Halakhic obligation. But is playing or watching sports a Jewish ideal? Is there value to participating as an athlete or a spectator – or are ... Read more →

Of Homelands and Promised Lands: A Meditation On Exile

Yosef Hayyim Yerushalmi posited that the first exiles in history were the first couple – Adam and Eve. Banished from the Garden they initiate human history, history as wandering and displacement. In the same essay,[1] Yerushalmi notes that the Jews spent more of their history – even in ... Read more →

Review of Letters to Talia

Reviewed Book: Letters to Talia (Yedioth Ahronoth. 2005) On October 25, 1971, a high school girl living on an unnamed kibbutz near Haifa sent a letter to a twenty-year-old hesder student whom she had never met. She initially reached out to him because she wanted to know why, at a Gesher kiruv ... Read more →

Holistic and Holy: A Halakhic Approach to Eretz Yisrael

This is an edited transcript of a short lecture delivered by Rabbi Michael Rosensweig at a conference honoring both Rabbi Dr. Bernard Rosensweig and Rabbi Dr. Sol Roth. The edited transcript was prepared by R. Rosensweig’s student Avraham Wein. All edits and revisions were reviewed by ... Read more →

Between Community and Communion

Reviewed Book: R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Halakhic Morality: Essays on Ethics and Masorah (New Milford, CT: Maggid Books, 2017). While the wisdom of clichéd aphorisms warns us to “never judge a book by its cover,” it is hard not to judge Toras HoRav’s latest product by the austere black ... Read more →

Of Priorities and Perspective: Land for Peace in the Thought of Religious Zionist Thinkers

In the aftermath of the Baruch Goldstein massacre,[1] Rabbi Dov Lior, Chief Rabbi of Kiryat Arba and rosh yeshiva of its hesder yeshiva, eulogized Goldstein in front of the beit midrash of the yeshiva. This eulogy horrified Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein, rosh yeshiva of Yeshivat Har Etzion, and ... Read more →

Editorial

Hassidism was founded in the eighteenth century by Rabbi Yisrael ben Eliezer of Medzhibozh – better known as the Ba’al Shem Tov, or “Besht” – in the wake of the Khmelnitsky Massacres and Sabbateanism. Preaching the fundamental value of emotional religious fervor, appreciation ... Read more →

Tearing Water: A Hassidic-Halakhic Vort

Many Torah commentators relating to the episode of Keri’at Yam Suf (the splitting of the Reed Sea) overlook a simple, yet significant question: why do Hazal, the Jewish Sages,[1] refer to the miracle as a keri’ah – tearing – whereas the Torah describes it as a beki’ah, splitting? God ... Read more →

The Leipzig Manuscript (MS Leipzig 1) & Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson’s Rules of Rashi’s Usage of Targum

I. Introduction The Leipzig Manuscript, or MS Leipzig 1, is a manuscript of the commentary of Rabbi Shlomo Yitzḥaki (known as Rashi) to the Pentateuch and five Megillot, stored in the Universitätsbibliothek Leipzig (Leipzig University Library), which is currently in the process of being ... Read more →

Sof Ma’aseh be-Mah’savha Tehilah: Torah Study and Actional Mitzvot in the Philosophy of Ḥabad Hassidism

Human beings are blessed with many remarkable faculties.  We experience and interact with the world through our five senses and develop an internal intellectual and emotional structure through our minds and hearts.  We often intuitively know which faculty to use for particular purposes.  We ... Read more →