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Mar
24
comment What is the difference between sephardi and ashkenazi rituals?
we independently wrote essentially the same thing! it's almost impossible to say anything this general, especially since the "ashkenazi-sephardi" binary is too simplistic to be useful. :)
Jan
26
comment Peh at the end of a word
Wow! A new fact to add to my Biblical trivia. It's more common with kaf (e.g. וַיֵּֽבְךְּ + inflected forms), and of course happens with tav all the time (e.g. אָתְּ and associated verb forms). The only word I know with final dalet degusha is the plant נֵרְדְּ in Shir haShirim. It doesn't happen (to my knowledge) with bet or gimmel.
Jan
24
comment What are the symbols of the 12 tribes?
Maybe... Or maybe that interpretation of halakha was developed later. Or maybe the midrashic imagination is not concerned with halakha. There are many possibilities here. ;)
Jan
22
comment Rabbinic understandings of non-Divine origin of Onqelos
Great — thanks!! That's exactly the kind of answer my friend's looking for, I think. I'd love to see other examples.
Jan
20
comment Rabbinic understandings of non-Divine origin of Onqelos
seriously, no answers? do i have to put a bounty on it?
Jan
8
comment Is Zoroastrianism Avodah Zarah?
I don't know about the label of 'avoda zara per se, but there are many Jewish sources that engage with Zoroastrianism (check out the various examples and sources given in Yaakov Elman's EJ article). This is actually one of the hottest topics in contemporary Jewish Studies and there is a lot of work being done on Jewish-Zoroastrian contact. The pre-eminent work to have come out so far is Shai Secunda's amazing new book, The Iranian Talmud: Reading the Bavli in its Sasanian Context, and googling him will turn up a bunch of interviews and articles on the topic as well.
Dec
9
comment Variant text of דרור יקרא
Fair point, @SethJ. I'm not sure how useful this is either except adding a few more sources/arguments to the mix... I don't know if there is a conclusive answer here.
Dec
8
comment Variant text of דרור יקרא
Well, yes, I read it, so I know. He does eventually say that he thinks that Edom is original, even though it doesn't fit the metre. I'm not convinced.
Nov
14
comment Can a Jew serve as a secular judge?
I was really just being tongue-in-cheek, sort of about the can/may issue, but really just the general question "can a Jew serve as a secular judge": well, plenty of Jews have served as secular judges, so that answers the question. If you want to know what various interpretations of halakha say about it, that's really a different question (although obviously I understood the intent of the question, esp. with the halakha tag, hence the comment and not an actual answer).
Nov
13
comment Can a Jew serve as a secular judge?
Maybe ask these distinguished people? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
Oct
15
comment Can marooned Jewish couple marry in G-d's eyes alone and start a family?
@Shalom I appreciate your clarification although it certainly could have calmer in tone. Perhaps 'betrothed' was the wrong word: I was merely bringing the aggada in Ta'anit as an example of the folkloric motif of using non-human "witnesses" in the context of intent to marry — I did not mean to suggest that they were actually witnesses in the halakhic sense or that the couple had been halakhically married.
Oct
14
comment Can marooned Jewish couple marry in G-d's eyes alone and start a family?
The halakhic answer is as noted at the answer above. I also want to point out that there is a well-known Jewish folktale, first found in a manuscript of Midrash Tanhuma, about a king (usually Solomon) who locks his daughter in a tower but her destined husband finds her and they marry with Gabriel and Michael (or heaven and earth, in other versions) as witnesses. There's also the Talmudic story (Ta'anit 8a) of a man and woman who are betrothed with a well and a weasel as witnesses.
Oct
2
comment Story of a Great Rabbi who becomes an Apikores
Yep! I was just about to post that. At the end of the story it's suggested that the sage Elisha ben Abuya ("more like Elisha ben A-boo-yah!," my friend likes to say), was the one who saw it. BTW, the gemara rejects the answer of "the reward is in olam haba" as insufficient to explain this tragedy. Elisha's grandson, R. Jacob, suggests that it was a "shaky ladder", i.e. the world is sometimes a place of brokenness and injustice. I heard Daniel Reisel give a phenomenal drash on it once at Limmud.
Aug
19
comment What is the problem with dogs?
This is an interesting hypothesis about the significance of dogs in the TaNaKh and the world of the ancient Near East... But to me it doesn't explain what any of that has to do with prostitution, which from context is clearly the topic of this passage.
Aug
19
comment What is the problem with dogs?
I apologize for any disrespect! I'm sorry the link seems not to work, it works fine on my computer. I understood the tone of your first comment to be that scholarly sources that "disagree" with traditional rabbinic interpretation are not "real", and I reacted as a student of Jewish studies. I apologize if that was not your intention.
Aug
19
comment What is the problem with dogs?
@tryingToGetProgrammingStraight I added the note from the JPS TaNaKh, which hopefully is "real" enough for you. YUASK, I'm sorry you can't seem to see the page! It's in his book "The Construction of Homosexuality", pp. 94-97.
Aug
19
comment What is the problem with dogs?
If by a "real" source you mean "one that you agree with" I'm afraid I can't do that. I acknowledge that the rabbis of the Talmud, and hence Rashi etc., understand this verse as literally referring to a dog. I therefore began my statement by saying "Biblical scholarship"... You can take that or leave it as you will.
Jul
26
comment What scribes' Torah scrolls does a non-Orthodox synagogue use?
The Reform shul I attend in Toronto has commissioned a Torah from female sofrot, all of whom are trained in the laws of safrut and are writing it with the deepest sense of respect and yir'at shamayim (I'm terribly surprised to hear what Eytan Yammer wrote below!). The well-known British sofer Mordechai Pinchas (www.sofer.co.uk) began his work in the Reform/progressive movement, although he no longer identifies as Reform. The only other male Reform sofer that I know of is Neil Yerman.
Jul
24
comment Decorating of the Beitzah
Well, my point was that it's an established tradition in numerous Jewish communities, so clearly they didn't see it as forbidden! I generally assume that my ancestors knew more about their Judaism than I do, and it bothers me when people today go around making up humras and invalidating traditional Jewish practices. Furthermore, it's somewhat of a futile exercise: pretty much everything people think of as "Jewish" ritual or ceremony is in dialogue with (I don't like the phrase "borrowed from") the non-Jewish milieu in which it arose. So it's not "whether" but HOW it's Jewish, to me.
Jun
12
comment Source for the Baal Shem Tov's idea of seeing one's own flaw in others?
I've also heard this story, b'shem the BeShT. I'd be interested to see if there's a more specific source.