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Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers?

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It is a story that deserves to be told. In order to fully appreciate it, some background is necessary, especially for those unfamiliar with the natural disaster that struck the greater New York metropolitan area in 2012.

The disaster was known as Superstorm Sandy. She hit the eastern coast of the United States with...

Spires and Towers

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In his spiritual memoir, Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis describes his first trip to Oxford University as a young man in 1916. A scholarly boy, Lewis traveled to this fabled center of learning, known as the “city of dreaming spires,” with tremendous anticipation. But upon leaving the train station, Lewis became more and more bewildered; could this succession of “mean shops” and unimpressive streets really be Oxford? Lewis walked through the unimpressive town until he reached open country; only then did he turn around and look. “There, behind me… never more beautiful since, was the fabled cluster of spires and towers. I had come out of the [train] station on the wrong side and...

Conversion Rebellion: Israeli Religious Zionists Challenge Chief Rabbinate

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Recent news in Israel fails to shock Americans, even though it is rocking Israeli Religious Zionism to its core. A number of leading rabbis announced they would open a private conversion court. After years of trying to change the laws, attain the position of Chief Rabbi and negotiate with the Chief Rabbinate, Rav David Stav, Rav Nahum Rabinovitch and others have decided to proceed without the Chief Rabbinate. This has scandalized some of their colleagues, leading to public denouncements and confrontations. What is going on?

Ideology and Politics

Two simultaneous issues are being debated here, one ideological and the other halachic. For decades, the Chief Rabbinate has been summarily...

Kohanim and Kings

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Did you ever argue politics with an anarchist? How about theology with an atheistic communist? Well, I’ve done both and have learned a lot in the process.

It all goes back to a bench in Hester Street Park, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, near the Rabbi Jacob Joseph Yeshiva where I attended high school. The veteran reader of these columns will remember my descriptions of the several disheveled older men who populated that park and spent much of their disrupted lives on those benches.

Their story goes back to 1917 and the Russian Revolution. The communists were successful in overthrowing the czar and his regime, but were sharply divided among themselves about the direction that...

Trampled Laws

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Editor’s Note: This essay, written by Yeshiva University Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Mordechai Willig, published late last week on TorahWeb.org, has attracted a high level of interest and conversation online and off. We print it here in its entirety.


The mefarshim provide multiple interpretations of the opening phrase of Parshas Ekev, “V’haya ekev tishme’un eis hamishpatim ha’eileh.” The simplest interpretation is that of the Chizkuni, who explains “ekev” to mean “bishvil—because”, and thus the passuk means, “because you will listen to these laws, you will receive Hashem’s blessing” (D’varim 7:12).

Rashi connects the word “ekev” to “akeiv—a heel”, and...

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