Anonymous Gifts To the Poor

A couple of years ago, I came across an “amazing chiddush of R’ Yosef Engel regarding matanos la’evyonim”: The gemara (Shabbos 10b) quotes Rav as teaching that if you give a gift to a friend, you have to tell him about it — don’t just leave an anonymous present in his mailbox. Maharal explains that […]

The Cities Of Bistan

My friend M.W. recently consulted me about an obscure geographical reference in Hida’s שם הגדולים: וכבר ידוע דבארץ הצבי וארץ מצרים וערי ביסתא”ן דמשק וארם צובה וערי פרס וגלילות טורקיא”ה וערי המערב קבלו עליהם הוראות מרן ז”ל …1 Where on earth is “Bistan”? Google was not our friend; extensive searching for various spellings and variations […]

The “Reckless Partier” Defense

We have previously discussed the “reckless partier” defense – a halachic exemption from liability for torts perpetrated in the course of customarily boisterous celebration (e.g., on Purim, or at a wedding). The primary early source for this is a ruling of Tosafos (based on Rashi’s interpretation of a Mishnah), echoed throughout the French-German halachic tradition: […]