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31 03, 2022

Starting Seder Earlier

March 31st, 2022|Kiddush, Seudah, Havdalah, Marriage and Family, Orach Chayim, Pesach, Uncategorized|

QUESTION

Chicago, IL

What is the earliest time for the first cup for the start of the seder

ANSWER

I would definitely follow the Gra (Biur HaGra on SA OH 261:2; MB ad. loc., no. 23) here and start as early as 14 minutes after sunset. 

The only reason not to start earlier than tzeit is the Terumat HaDeshen (137) – then paskened by the Shulchan Aruch OC 472:1 – who holds that just as matzah can only be at (full) […]

31 01, 2019

Why Are We Doing This and Why Does it Matter?

January 31st, 2019|Uncategorized|

The enterprise of ta’amei ha’mitzvot, trying to identify the values that underlie the mitzvot, is an important although potentially dangerous one.  The importance lies in the fact that it helps us actualize those values both in the performance of the mitzvot and in other areas of our lives.  So, for example, if we understand that the purpose of blowing the shofar on Rosh HaShanah is to serve as a wake-up call for teshuvah, then being cognizant of this when the shofar is being blown might spur us to reflect and repent.  And if we understand that the reason that the […]

28 08, 2016

The Status of a Non-Believer Regarding Wine and Other Matters: Part 5 -Different Types of Heresy and Applications for Today

August 28th, 2016|Uncategorized|

Executive Summary

Two classic categories of a status of disqualification are that of the Shabbat violator and the heretic. Both categories require closer investigation. Shabbat violators have been excluded in the past primarily when their violation was part of a break with the community. Today, besides the arguments for decreased culpability based on tinok she’nishba, this reality does not exist: Shabbat violators do not stand outside the community, and this status of disqualification should not be relevant.

The status of the heretic was an innovation of Rambam, and it appears that even he did not apply it consistently. […]

28 08, 2016

The Status of a Non-Believer Regarding Wine and Other Matters: Part 4 – Status of One Who Does Not Believe, Understanding Rambam

August 28th, 2016|Uncategorized|

Executive Summary

Two classic categories of a status of disqualification are that of the Shabbat violator and the heretic. Both categories require closer investigation. Shabbat violators have been excluded in the past primarily when their violation was part of a break with the community. Today, besides the arguments for decreased culpability based on tinok she’nishba, this reality does not exist: Shabbat violators do not stand outside the community, and this status of disqualification should not be relevant.

The status of the heretic was an innovation of Rambam, and it appears that even he did not apply it consistently.  A close reading indicates that only […]

28 08, 2016

The Status of a Non-Believer Regarding Wine and Other Matters: Part 3 – Status of One Who Does Not Believe, in Gemara and Rambam

August 28th, 2016|Uncategorized|

Executive Summary

Two classic categories of a status of disqualification are that of the Shabbat violator and the heretic. Both categories require closer investigation. Shabbat violators have been excluded in the past primarily when their violation was part of a break with the community. Today, besides the arguments for decreased culpability based on tinok she’nishba, this reality does not exist: Shabbat violators do not stand outside the community, and this status of disqualification should not be relevant.

The status of the heretic was an innovation of Rambam, and it appears that even he did not apply it consistently.  A close reading indicates that only […]

28 08, 2016

The Status of a Non-Believer Regarding Wine and Other Matters: Part 2 – Status of a Shabbat Violator, Historical Development and Conclusion

August 28th, 2016|Uncategorized|

Executive Summary

Two classic categories of a status of disqualification are that of the Shabbat violator and the heretic. Both categories require closer investigation. Shabbat violators have been excluded in the past primarily when their violation was part of a break with the community. Today, besides the arguments for decreased culpability based on tinok she’nishba, this reality does not exist: Shabbat violators do not stand outside the community, and this status of disqualification should not be relevant.

The status of the heretic was an innovation of Rambam, and it appears that even he did not apply it consistently.  A close reading indicates that only […]

28 08, 2016

The Status of a Non-Believer Regarding Wine and Other Matters: Part 1 – Status of a Shabbos Violator in Rishonim and Poskim

August 28th, 2016|Uncategorized|

Executive Summary

Two classic categories of a status of disqualification are that of the Shabbat violator and the heretic. Both categories require closer investigation. Shabbat violators have been excluded in the past primarily when their violation was part of a break with the community. Today, besides the arguments for decreased culpability based on tinok she’nishba, this reality does not exist: Shabbat violators do not stand outside the community, and this status of disqualification should not be relevant.

The status of the heretic was an innovation of Rambam, and it appears that even he […]

23 09, 2011

Mesechet Gittin: Annulling Loans During Shmita

September 23rd, 2011|Uncategorized|

The Talmud (Gittin 37b) quotes a mishna in Shivi’it (10:8) that states that when a person attempts to return a debt during Shmita, the creditor should say to him “I annul it.”  But if the debtor says, “Nevertheless, I wish to return it,” then the creditor should accept the payment.  The Gemara goes on to say that the debtor should be encouraged, or perhaps even pressured, to say “nevertheless” and to return the loan.
 
This ruling is quite startling.   One […]
14 04, 2011

Magical Mezuzahs? Not so Much

April 14th, 2011|Mezuzah, Tefillin, Uncategorized|

In Masechet Menachot, there is a very rich section that deals with the laws of tefillin and mezuzah.   A particular theme of interest, especially in the context of the korban Pesach, is that of the mezuzah as an object that protects the house.   This idea is never stated in the Torah.  To the contrary, the Torah juxtaposes the mitzvah of mezuzah with that of tefillin and of constant Torah study.  The message is clear – have reminders of God all around you,  think of God and God’s mitzvot, and learn Torah at all times – when you […]

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