What’s In A Name?

My weekly lectures (available at the Internet Archive) and column for this past פרשת במדבר discussed the legitimacy of the use of non-Jewish names by Jews: In parashas Bemidbar (1:2), Hashem commands Moshe to count the Jews “with the number of their names”. The Sforno explains that this census (as opposed to the one at […]

Fair Dealing and Fraud

My weekly lectures (available at the Internet Archive) and column for this past פרשת בהר discussed the laws of אונאה: In parashas Behar, the Torah commands (25:14): “And if thou sell ought unto thy neighbour, or buyest ought of thy neighbour’s hand, ye shall not oppress [or ‘aggrieve’] one another.” The Talmud (Bava Metzia 51a, […]

Priestly Purity and the Pious

My weekly lecture (available at the Internet Archive) and column for this past פרשת אמר considered the halachic debate over כהנים visiting the graves of the righteous: In parashas Emor, kohanim (Aharonic priests) are prohibited from defiling themselves by contact with the dead. This includes visiting gravesites. Over the centuries, it has become increasingly customary […]