Thanksgiving Day, Thanksgiving Days, and The Ten Branched Menorah

My weekly parashah lectures and halachah column for this past פרשת צו discussed the establishment of days of thanksgiving, as well as other rituals of thanksgiving. One fascinating practice that I discussed in the lectures is the custom of some Syrian Jews, of Sephardic extraction, to kindle an extra light on each night of חנוכה. […]

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 “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: […]