The following is an except from a letter I received from a gentleman in Canada.
“What is a Noachide allowed to study? I have heard about three answers to this question. I have read the greater part of the book ‘The Path of the Righteous Gentile,’ in which the author states that a Noachide is allowed to study all of the Written Torah but only parts of the Oral Torah. Apparently this views states that only those sections that deal directly to the seven Noachide laws are permitted for study. Halachah would then be off limits.
“The second view I have heard is that Noachides are only to study the first eleven chapters of Genesis. Anything after that is given specifically for the Jewish people.
“The third view is that Noachides are allowed to study all materials that are available to Jews. The only difference being that a Noachide may not study anything ‘simply for it’s own sake.’
“If I were allowed to have a preference I would vote for the third view. However, I suspect that view number one is the correct one. I could provide you with links to where I found these various views … Read More >>
My comment about NATO bombing us was tongue in cheek. In any case, Israel will not expel the Arabs, and if it does, the United States will not support the action. I think talk about population transfers is devarim beteilim, pure wishful thinking and a waste of time.
In a few days, I will be going away for two weeks, and Rabbi Yitzchak Adlerstein asked me to make a contribution to the blog before I go. Reb Yitzchak, your wish is my command. This is in response to some of the opinions recently expressed on the blog.
The mission statement of the Pesach Seder is, I think all would agree, the “Avadim Hayinu” response to the Four Questions. It encapsulates the essence of the ritual. We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt. The Almighty miraculously brought us forth to freedom. In recognition, we spend the night discussing the wonders and glory of the Almighty.
There is another bit of information embedded in this mission statement. We declare that if the Almighty had not extracted us from Egypt we would still be there to this very day. This is certainly interesting and important, but why does it belong in the mission statement? Why is it so central to the essence of the Pesach Seder?
About twenty years ago, I had an argument with my father zecher tzaddik livrachah. I claimed that the Soviet Union would eventually fall and that the two Germanies would be reunited. He claimed it would never happen. I insisted that in the history of the world there has never been an empire that did not eventually crumble under its own weight. Even empires that provided services to their colonies, such as the British and Roman, eventually collapsed. Certainly then, an empire such as the Soviet Union that only sucked its colonies dry could not last very long. And when it collapsed, nothing would keep the Germanies from being reunited. My father, who spent some time in the Soviet Union during the Second World War, disagreed. “I was there!” he said. “With terror you can keep it up forever! And they will never allow the Germanies to reunite.” Continue reading → Peace and Pluralism
Fatheringay-Phipps is quite worked up about about my opposition to the name Yishmael and has done research to prove that the name was in long-time use among the Jews. He may be right, but in today’s day and age, I don’t think it’s a good idea. As for the name Elishama, I don’t think it is weird, and he can always call himself Eli, except for when he is being called to the Torah. I do have one question for our esteemed commentator. What kind of name is Fotheringay-Phipps for a good Jewish boy?
Last week, under the title “Conversions and Hebrew Names,” I posted an edited selection from my archive of correspondence with my readers, in which I presented the remarks of one correspondent and invited comment. This week I am posting my response. The idea of posting correspondences was well-received by visitors to the site and by fellow contributors, and I will gladly offer more selections in the future. Names of correspondents will, of course, be omitted. I have decided to name the archive One People, Many Voices, so that I will not need to explain what I am doing in the future. I will just begin by saying, “Here is another selection from One People, Many Voices.”
The following is the rest of the exchange from which I quoted last week:
“I agree,” I began, “that Yishmael would be inappropriate, since Yishmael is a traditional enemy of the Jewish people. It is true that there was a great Tanna named Rabbi Yishmael, but that is just the exception that proves the rule. In fact, one cannot help but wonder why indeed he had such a name. There must be a story to it. Continue reading → Bullseye
When I was asked to sign on as regular contributor to this Website, I was honored, pleased and also a little baffled about which topics to address. Most pieces that appear here are current events-driven. But since I am more inclined to read books than newspapers, by the time I hear about an issue it has more often than not long since passed away. Instead, I thought it might be interesting to share some of the email correspondences I have conducted with numerous readers over the last two years covering a wide range of topical Jewish issues.
A little while ago, I received the following email from a gentleman whose name I shall not disclose.
“I am currently reading and enjoying your book One People, Two Worlds. It is extremely helpful to my growth in Judaism.
“I am thirty-eight and am going through a non-Orthodox conversion. I have come to this decision after two years of study, contemplation and prayer. Raised in a different religion, I stopped practicing at the age of twenty. Two years ago, I joined a friend at Yom Kippur services and, particularly during the Kol Nidre, had a sense for the first time in … Read More >>