Flora and Pfingsten

My weekly פרשה lectures and הלכה column for the past פרשיות אחרי מות-קדושים discussed the Biblical prohibition against “walking in the ordinances” of the Gentiles. As I discuss, a debate over the scope and parameters of this prohibition is apparently behind the controversy over the custom (or family of customs) of the arraying of trees, […]

Copying Cruciform Churches, Campanas, Circuses and Colosseums

We recently mentioned in passing Rav Zvi Hirsch (Maharaz) Hajes’s prohibition of bell ringing to gather the populace for prayer; here is his discussion in full. He begins by prohibiting the deliberate construction of octagonal, and certainly quadrilateral, synagogue buildings, “in the form of the halls of the nations” [perhaps a reference to the cruciform […]

Of Anno Domini and Ad Hominem

From yesterday’s parshah: הַחֹדֶשׁ הַזֶּה לָכֶם, רֹאשׁ חֳדָשִׁים: רִאשׁוֹן הוּא לָכֶם, לְחָדְשֵׁי הַשָּׁנָה.1 This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. Ramban famously ascribes normative force to this verse: וטעם החדש הזה לכם ראש חדשים, שימנו אותו ישראל חדש הראשון, וממנו ימנו […]