Saturday, 22 October 2016

Completing the Circle: Connecting V'Zot HaBracha to Bereishit

originally posted Sept. 25, 2013

In the spirit of the time, we invite you to look at the following Insight on the Nishma website at

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Teki'ah At Ne'ilah - Tur O"Ch 622-623

From RRW

Q1: What is the earliest source for blowing‎ at the end of Ne'ilah?
Q2: What does the Te'kiah accomplish?
Q3: When is it sounded‎?
Q4: Which notes ares sounded?

A1: I'm still not certain, but it seems to be post Talmudic

Several reasons are "proferred" in B"Y
A. Related to Yoveil - Mordechai
B. So as to co-incide with silluk haschinah. - Hagahot Maimoniyyot
‎C. Tosafot - to indicate it's nightfall. Arguably a good reason to blow after night "mamash" and perhaps to delay until after Arvit

Several options are mentioned:
A. ‎Yeish Nohagin Miyydad after Ne'ila
B. Some before "sheimos"

Opionions differ
A Tashrat
B. Te'ki'ah
Bottom line, there is not a rigid consensus at the end of the Rishonim as to how this‎ works.
EG The Bach‎ does favor as close to Ne'ilah possible, but this appears to be a preference not an absolute because he characterizes it as "adif t'fei"

Friday, 14 October 2016

Ha'azinu: "He Measured the Seas in the Hollow of His Hand"

With the reading of Ha'azinu, we encounter the artistic and poetic within Torah. It is with specifically this in mind that we direct you to the following article on our website.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

On Conflating the Personal Life with the Publlic life

From RRW
JFK And Women: Was John F. Kennedy a Feminist?
Perhaps the biggest lesson here is that questions like “was Kennedy good for women?” are misleadingly simplistic. They unintentionally conflate the personal with the professional, and require more than one word to answer (more like 1,400 words, at current count). Kennedy was good for the women of the nation, bad for the women in his immediate vicinity, and that’s probably about as close to an answer as we’re ever going to get.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Putin's Puritan Piety: The Ideological War against the West

Here is how this article from the Gatestone Institute is introduced:
  • Russia is one of the few countries in the Western world in which religion is becoming increasingly important and not less.
  • To establish his authority on the Russian society, President Vladimir Putin has shaped a doctrine mobilizing the entire Russian society against a perceived Western "decadence". He has declared that Russian traditional family values are a bulwark against the West's "so-called tolerance -- genderless and infertile."
  • The first Cold War was a clash between Western democracy and the Soviet dictatorship of the proletariat. The new Cold War is a one between Western liberalism and Russian conservatism.
 What do you think? The full article is at

In considering this issue, I would remind one of the position of Rav Moshe Feinstein in response to the question of how to respond to the political question of whether to support the Pro Life position or the Pro Choice one. Rav Moshe contended that, since the Pro Life position could include viewpoints that would bar abortion when halachically mandated, we should support the view that a woman should be able to make her own decision in concert with her religious guide -- essentially a Pro Choice stand. Albeit that this does truly reflect the Torah viewpoint on abortion (a law that, through the Noachide Code, also applies to non-Jews), this position will ensure that a Jewess in such a position will be able to fully practice her religion. This is the overriding value of the concept of Freedom of Religion.

What this development in Russia would seem to raise is the issue of whether any movement towards stricter moral standards, motivated by specific religious aspirations, raises a question for Jews, even as these standards may be more in line with Torah teachings. Of concern is the possibility of the development of further religious impositions that may actually limit our practice of Torah.

We look forward to your comments.

Rabbi Ben Hecht