Is Love Blind?

The central narrative in parashas Hayei Sarah is the mission of Avraham’s servant to obtain a wife for Yitzhak. It is generally assumed, by midrashim, other commentaries (including Ibn Ezra, in a passing remark in parashas Yisro1), and contemporary Orthodox students of the Torah that the servant in question was Eliezer, but the servant is […]

Beyond the Law

One of the most provocative interpretations of the fundamental distinction between Misnagdic and Hassidic theology I have ever seen appears in R. Yehoshua Mondshine’s Letter To A Friend: “מתנגדישע פרומקייט” מדרכי החסידות הוא שלא לנטות מדרך ההלכה ימין ושמאל, להזהר עד קצה האחרון אפילו בדקדוק קל של דברי סופרים, לבטל את השכל אל ההלכה ורצון […]

Pulling Permits For A Sukkah

Here is my weekly halachah column for Sukkos: The Torah reading for Shemini Atzeres (Devarim 16:13) contains the commandment: “chag ha’Sukkos ta’aseh lecha shivas yamim” (You shall make the festival of Sukkos for a seven day period). The Talmud understands the word lecha to mean that a sukkah must be one’s own: R. Eliezer rules […]