2,341 reputation
416
bio website
location
age
visits member for 2 years, 5 months
seen 15 mins ago

Jul
27
comment What happens at an Orthodox Bat Mitzvah?
I've heard in some Yeshivish circles the girl will give a brief Torah drasha (though a rabbi might have helped her write it), similar to what a boy would say at a bar mitzvah.
Jul
20
comment Exercises in *yiras shamaim* (awe of the Lord)
See the Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh, which is online in English for free: bilvavi.net/english_trans (part 1, section 5 for example); see also here azamra.org/Advice/awe.html (Likutei Eitzot)
Jul
14
comment Is the Oral Law mainly of Divine origin or is it largely influenced by the rabbis/cultures of the time?
You're right about the slippery slope -- so disbelieving in particular statements of Chazal or kabbalah, to the extent this is permitted, should probably be something personal and individual and done in a spirit of humility, not something public and strident.
Jul
14
comment Is the Oral Law mainly of Divine origin or is it largely influenced by the rabbis/cultures of the time?
With regard to mystical texts, my understanding is that one is not required to believe in everything they say. However, we should be mindful that virtually no post-Zohar recognized Torah authority has ever challenged the truth of kabbalah in general (the only exception I can think of is one commentator to the Shulchan Aruch with very brief comment expressing doubt about the kabbalistic concept of gilgulim because of a lack of a source in Chazal.) So ideally we should have respect and reverence for it, as we do even the non-halachic statements of Chazal in the Gemara.
Jul
14
comment Is the Oral Law mainly of Divine origin or is it largely influenced by the rabbis/cultures of the time?
See here, page 8 (the whole thing is worth reading). web.stevens.edu/golem/llevine/rsrh/hirschAgadaEnglish.pdf
Jul
14
comment Is the Oral Law mainly of Divine origin or is it largely influenced by the rabbis/cultures of the time?
The Ethiopians are not a very convincing proof against the validity of the Oral Torah, since we don't know their origin -- they could have been founded, for example, by converts who had access to the five books of the Torah but not the Oral teachings of the sages of that time. Or catastrophes or persecution may have led to the loss of any Oral Torah they had.
Jul
14
comment Is the Oral Law mainly of Divine origin or is it largely influenced by the rabbis/cultures of the time?
In addition, some authorities argue that much of the hashkafic and midrashic material in the Oral Torah is not necessary to accept; for example, Rav Hirsch seems to state that anything that you don't find reasonable you don't have to believe. This doesn't seem to apply, however, to the fundamental tenets of the faith, such as Rambam's 13 principles.
Jul
14
comment Is the Oral Law mainly of Divine origin or is it largely influenced by the rabbis/cultures of the time?
See the dispute between R' Slifkin and R' Meiselman. R' Slifkin argues (with many rishonim) that scientific statements were a product of their times. All traditional (that is to say Orthodox) Jewish authorities agree that the legal conclusions of the Oral Law are valid and from Sinai. However, certain matters, such as those relating to women, are only customary (often phrased in terms of dat yehudit)--for example, the Shulchan Aruch speaks of women washing their husbands faces, but rabbonim have explained to me that this is simply an example of what was generally expected of women at the time.
Jul
13
comment Does a married women going through the conversion process need to cover her hair?
The answer is good from a prudential point of view, but I don't think halachically there's any ruling one way or the other. A person in this situation should ask their rabbi or beis din for guidance. If the rabbi believes that the convert is completely committed to complete observance and will certainly cover her hair after she is converted and married, then perhaps he might be comfortable telling her to wait until the wedding. But it would certainly make sense to get used to doing it...(as with all the other mitzvos).
Jul
10
comment Not responding to insult
The essence of teshuva, repentance, is achieved through humility. One has to make oneself into nothing -- like a wasteland which people trample over. He must pay no attention whatsoever to opposition or to the contempt with which people may treat him. He should train himself to be silent and to be able to hear himself insulted without replying. One such as this is worthy of the name 'wise' and he will attain perfect repentance -- the 'Crown,' which is the summit of the Sefirot. This is the way to true and enduring glory, the glory of God (6). (Likutei Eitzos)
Jul
10
comment Not responding to insult
The true sign of a person who has returned to God is that he can hear himself insulted and remain silent. He can endure even the most murderous abuse with patience. Through this he reduces the blood in the left side of his heart (the seat of the animal soul) and slaughters his evil inclination. He will be worthy of partaking of the glory of God (6:2). (Likutei Eitzos)
Jun
9
comment If someone asks you to pray for them, is that shitoof?
This practice originated long before chassidus -- see Bava Basra 116a.
Jun
1
comment Halachos that one should learn
Good question. Not sure if any authorities have given precise answers of the types you are asking for, but maybe they have. If you study a few pages of the kitzur a day (with commentary based on modern poskim like the Kleinman edition), and study some from a book of Shabbos halachos each Shabbos, and supplement these with more specific works when necessary (like a book about brachos) then you'll more or less cover everything. Rebbe Nachman of Breslov strongly advocated that everyone should make a fixed practice of studying the Shulchan Aruch each day (even if you only have time for one law).
May
22
comment How far do orthodox Jews go to avoid symbols that are superficially from other religions?
In an American chassidic school I know of, they certainly use normal plus signs. Not sure if this is on topic, but I have heard of some Orthodox Jews, particularly Chabadniks, avoid using the term "Saint" in American place names. For example, the Lubavitcher Rebbe corrected someone who had said "Saint Louis" (or something similar) and said "Simcha Louis" instead.
May
22
comment Are you allowed to drink coffee/water during any part of the prayers?
Once you have recited the blessing for Torah study you can have water or coffee or tea. So then, or right after the morning blessings and before you start pesukei d'zimra, would be a good time to imbibe. Not sure about the other times.
May
14
revised What to do if mother-in-law is singing at meal?
added stuf
May
14
comment What to do if mother-in-law is singing at meal?
Since some authorities permit women to sing as part of a group singing a religious song, then forbidding that is a stringent opinion (not a chumra).
May
14
comment What to do if mother-in-law is singing at meal?
Even if one gets the psak that it's assur, the existence of other more lenient opinions, particularly for group singing of religious songs, is a good reason to be lenient for the sake of kiruv and shalom bayis. I assumed for the sake of the question that the Rav holds kol isha in collective religious singing to be assur, but not necessarily that the rabbi holds it must be avoided at all costs.) One can believe something is assur in the abstract yet follow a more lenient opinion under extenuating circumstances.
May
14
revised What to do if mother-in-law is singing at meal?
added an exception
May
14
comment What to do if mother-in-law is singing at meal?
Even if she respects him and his Judaism then she could still be offended and turned off. But if he is reasonable sure it would not push her away then it could be OK to mention it sometime so she learns. I'll edit accordingly.