List Papers

Title Pages Description
Metzitzah b’Peh: Why It Matters 20

A sharp analysis of the halachic debate raging in Jewish circles. Reviewed by a prominent Mohel, who is spearheading the court case defending this tradition, this paper looks at the way metzitzah b’peh has been treated throughout the ages and how it might be dealt with today. Important supplementary material included.

Questions of Interest: The Heter Iska 11

The prohibition of ribbis is circumvented by way of a heter iska. How does it work? Who may use it? Why are many poskim wary of its usage? These complicated laws are vital knowledge in today’s marketplace.

Being Generous to Gentiles 3

Wherever and whenever humanitarian disasters strike, Jewish agencies are the first to help. Why? This paper explores the Jewish people’s responsibilities to the peoples of the world.

Not All Wine Is Fine 30

A detailed look at the history and laws of yayin nesech. Can an irreligious Jew render wine yayin nesech? Is pouring wine part of the prohibition? What difference does pasteurization make?

Rinse and Repeat 40

Why must we wash our hands each morning when we awake? A fascinating review of the different rationales behind the morning netilas yadayim, as well as a comprehensive breakdown of the practical laws of this daily practice.

Singing in Good Company 25

May a female singing hopeful be trained by a male voice instructor? This paper analyzes a whole host of halachic issues that are essential to deciding this question. These include a discussion of the isur of kol isha; the problematic nature of an occupation that requires direct engagement with those of the opposite gender, including doctors, schoolteachers and others; the isur of yichud and its applications, and a number of halachic precedents to facilitate a sound conclusion.

Architecture, Art and the Torah 9

Did the design of the Temple edifice bear any theological themes? If the architect of the Beis Hamikdash had to be of moral character, why was Herod - a mass murderer - permitted to do so? May a Jew serve as the architect of a church? What were the Rebbe Rashab's comments after viewing the artwork of the Renaissance painter, Raphael?

An Uplifting Shabbos (Sources) 177

This item features a summary of halachic opinion regarding the use of Shabbos elevators and prepaid trains and busses. It also surveys the halachic definition of creating "fire," and how poskim define the use of electronic devices and appliances on Shabbos. This package includes an index with 25 copies of original responsa.

Hagar 101 3

If Avraham was specifically instructed to refrain from marrying a maidservant, how was he permitted to marry Hagar? How could Avraham marry Hagar if Jews may not marry a first or second-generation Egyptian convert? Was Hagar betrothed through a form of kiddushin or was she considered a concubine? Was the marriage of Avraham and Hagar divinely ordained?

Get by Force 10

What is the position of contemporary halachic authorities regarding coercing a husband to provide a Get for his wife? – reviewed here in light of the recent scandal.

Tefillin Basics 15

This paper features a compendium of sources for the instruction of foundational aspects of the mitzvah of Tefillin.

עזר כנגדו

5

לא טוב היות האדם לבדו. סקירה על דבר משמעות טובת האדם והתועלת שנוצרה על ידי בריאת האשה, על דרך הפשטני והמדרשי. עזר כנגדו.

Youth of the Future (Sources) 117

How can we empower our youth to be the leaders of tomorrow? An indexed collection of sources from the Rebbe about youth and other related subjects.

See Beyond the Disguise 7

The teachings of Kabbalah and Chassidus illuminate the yom tov of Chanukah and reveal the hidden messages of the Chanukah lights. What is the connection between the Ohr Haganuz (the light that was concealed at the beginning of time), and the light cast by the Chanukah candles?

Dynamics of Dispute 11

The Talmud describes an instance where Rava appears to have completely dismantled a series of laws proposed by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. When may an Amora dispute a Tanna? An in-depth review.

More than One Bashert 10

Are we ensured to marry our soul mate? Do we have more than one?

Rite to Eternal Rest 22

Were Jews historically buried in their own cemeteries? Why may gentiles not be buried in a Jewish cemetery? This paper includes a review of a number of ancient Jewish cemeteries around the world.

בישול ישראל

7

בירור מקיף ביסוד האיסור של בישול עכו״ם, טעמו והגדרתו בספרות התלמוד וההלכה.

Did Lot Pray to the Angels? 7

The Biblical account of the destruction of Sedom raises many questions. Amongst them: Why does the Torah imply that the angels defied G-d's wishes by acting independently? Did Lot in fact direct his prayers to the angels? Was his defense of the inhabitants of Tzoar that much better than Avraham's arguments to spare Sedom?

Location, location, location 4

Where should a mezuzah go? An analysis of the Chabad approach, where the mezuzah is placed on the doorpost opposite the hinges.

A House of Prayer for All Nations 6

Do gentiles have an obligation to pray? What do they say? How does G-d regard their prayers?

Continuous Creation 8

Are there any scientific parallels to the Chassidic doctrine of Continuous Creation? Did either theory inspire the other? A deeper look at one of Chassidus' defining beliefs.

The Art of the Ark and Other Rules of Shul Kibudim 5

May a congregant given a kibud pass it on to someone else? Should the honor of opening the Aron Kodesh to return the Torah be given to the same person who took out the Torah? How to navigate the pulpit rabbi's diplomatic minefield.

Is Judaism just for Jews? 10

May non-Jews participate in personal and communal performance of mitzvos? What must we be aware of when working with intermarried families? A look at how the people of the book share their birthright with the people of the world.

Opsherenish: The Origins of a Jewish Boy's First Hair Cut 9

Many Jews won't cut a boy's hair until he is three years old. What is the history of this custom? What lessons does it hold for us? And does everyone have to keep to it?

Unhealthy Obsession?: Why food and feasts are central to Judaism 23

Why is eating so important to Jewish people? Is there something holy about it? A comprehensive survey of the role that food and eating plays in Jewish life.

חלוקת התורה לפרקים

5

רגילים אנו לציין לפרק זה או אחר בתורה. אך מי אכן עומד מאחורי חלוקה זו? שקלא וטריא על מקורה של חלוקת התורה לפרקים והתייחסותם של גדולי ישראל בעד או נגד אימוץ חלוקה זו אל תוך ספרות היהודית המסורתית.

When is a Mechitzah Out of Bounds - Guidelines for Mechitzos 14

What are the opinions of leading poskim on the appropriate height of a Mechitzah?

The Mysticism of Twins 6

A fascinating exploration of Kabbalistic, Midrashic, and Chassidic teachings about the significance and spiritual meaning of twins.

Hygiene and Halachah 4 What do Torah sources require in maintaining a high standard of cleanliness, particularly with regard to food preparation? (Hebrew)
Why the Torah Is Inconsistent 8

Why are some words in the Torah spelled one way but pronounced another? Why does the Hebrew word for "she" have conflicting spellings? What is the reason for these anomalies- and they threaten the validity of the Torah?

What It Takes to Be a Tzadik - Understanding Yosef 6

Why is Yosef referred to as HaTzadik? Didn’t he slander his brothers? A new look at the saga of sibling rivalry and forgiveness.

Kosher Cosmetics: Can a Torah Scroll Be Touched up? 0

An analysis of the halachic status of a Sefer Torah whose parchment has been coated with a substance that improves its appearance.

Hezek Re’iah: If Looks Could Kill… 5

A review of the laws of hezek re’iah, visual trespass: the liability, the breach, and the damages.

Saints or Sinners? 20

The Bible seems to be littered with tales of the misdeeds of the righteous. Is it naïve to ignore these stories? Do we need to reconsider our role models? How can we interpret these stories truthfully but in a way that confirms the holiness of our heroes?

Matrilineal Descent: Who Is a Jew 10

Jewish identity is matrilineal. Why? How do we know this? What do we respond to those who argue otherwise? 

The Chazzan’s Dilemma 8

The greatest cantorial pieces call for the repetition of certain words. When is this allowed? What is the issue? And what role, if any, does the Chazzan play in Chabad philosophy?

Meaning of the Moon: A Kiddush Levana Digest 14

Who is obligated to bless the moon? What is the meaning behind its prayers and rituals? Discover why the moon hangs high in Jewish thought in this review of its laws and customs.

Dilemma of the Dishes 6

Your hostess has labored to prepare a tongue tantalizing gourmet dinner, but alas - her fine china dishes were never ritually purified by immersion in a Mikvah. How do you navigate this delicate situation?

Is the Menorah a Publicity Hound? 4

Some people place their Menorah in the window for all to see. Others put it inside the home, opposite the doorpost. What's the difference? Which way is better?

Tough Love: How Abraham Could Slaughter Isaac 10

How could a father be so willing to kill his son? Did Avraham fail to ask for divine mercy for Yitschak? And why is Avraham, not Yitschak, the celebrated hero of Akeidat Yitschak?

ברכת ברוך שפטרני - מקורו וטעמיו

5

׳שפטרני מעונש הלזה׳ - ביטוי נדיר ותמוה. לפנינו סקירה כוללת על מקור מנהג אמירת הברכה בעת עלית הבר מצוה, טעמו וביאורו.

טוענת שנבעלה אם מותר לבעלה להחזירה

7

עיון בדין אשה שזינתה ואיסורה על בעלה והמסתעף מזה במקרה של חשש ניאוף. עריכת התשובה בהתייעצות עם שני מורי הוראה.

Microwaves: A New Look at the Way We Cook 12

Jewish law regulates the consumption of food cooked by a Gentile. Is microwaving considered cooking for this purpose? This paper illustrates how the ancient kashrut laws apply to modern technologies.

Conversion: Is There Any Going Back? 13

What are the criteria for a proper Jewish conversion? Are they negotiable? And if a convert stops practicing Judaism, is his or her conversion revoked?

בירור מקיף בדיני ומנהגי מי שבירך

10

מי שבירך את אבותינו. מהמקורות ועד הנוסחאות, המאמר שלפנינו סוקר את השתלשלות המנהג ושופך אור על שאלות השכיחות והמעניינות גם יחד. כלי עזר לכל גבאי ובית כנסת.

Different Strokes for Different Folks 16

The distinction between Jew and Gentile has often been misunderstood and used to incite hate. This paper explores the difference between Jews and Gentiles in Jewish law, and its impact on modern-day living.

Shabbos with a Bang 10

The Sages forbid clapping and dancing on Shabbos. What is the halachic justification for the Chassidic custom to dance and clap in prayerful song on Shabbos? What about applauding at the conclusion of a great speech?

Bond of Brothers 17

Are the souls of two brothers closely aligned? What is the legal formula for inheriting the estate of a deceased brother? Why are Jews referred to as the “brothers” of G-d? A comprehensive treatise on the legal and spiritual dimensions of the brother-sibling relationship.

הזכרת שם עבודה זרה

21

בירור מקיף ביסוד הדין של הזכרת שם עבודה זרה והמסתעף בפרטי דיני כתיבת שם הדת או האליל שלהם ומנהיגיהם.

Shedding Light on the Ner Tamid 8

What is the reason some Shuls have a Ner Talmid? Does Chabad share this custom? 

Spelling Variations in the Torah 24

Totafot and mezuzot have variant spellings: should this inconsistency disturb us? Is the Torah trying to convey a deeper message? A sweeping look at why the Torah sometimes spells the same words differently.

Human Disabilities and Halachic Sensibilities 8

What are the challenges that the physically and mentally disabled face in observing Jewish law? Are exceptions made? How does halacha balance its obligations to the Torah and to man? 

The Meaning of Veyiten Lecha 6

The beautiful Veyiten Lecha prayer customarily recited after Havdallah assembles a wide array of Torah passages. What do they mean and why do we say it?

Do Winds of Change Blow in Shul? 11

In Jewish practice, adopted customs are as binding as statutory law. To what extent must a shul and a community maintain their customs? When, if ever, may traditions be changed?

The Mandate to be a Mentsch 6

Jewish law reserves great respect for the human being, whether his emotional health or physical wellbeing. This paper looks at the safeguards for human dignity that Judaism has in place, inspired by the belief that to respect man is to respect G-d.

 

The Woman Behind the Throne - Who was Osnas bas Potifar the wife of Yosef? 5

We know precious little about the wife of Yosef HaTzaddik, the woman who is said to be the daughter of Potiphar. Who was she and what happened to her? What role did she play in the story of Yosef and Potiphar’s wife? A profile on one of history’s mystery figures.

Requests for Sources (#11) 0
  1. What is the significance of turning ninety years old? (Shliach in Canada)
  2. Does Torah see advantages to land ownership? (Shliach in Pennsylvania)
  3. Should someone put on Tefillin during Mincha if they did not do so during Shacharis? (Shliach in Virginia)
  4. What are the obligations of an institution in terms of severance pay? (Shliach in Australia)
  5. Why do the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper? (Shliach in Ohio)
  6. Were the waters of the Mabul waters of blessing or of curse? (Shliach in Iowa)

A Knotty Issue: Women and Teffilin 19

This paper addresses the question that has engulfed the Jewish community lately: may women and girls put on Tefillin? A survey of the long-running debate in Jewish literature and a look at the final consensus today.

Kiruv with Love: Its Origins and its Propriety 19

What are the founding principles of kiruv? What are the origins of kiruv b’ahavah specifically? What are its advantages and its pitfalls? A thorough examination of the phenomenon that now defines Jewish life.

Tying Tztitzis at Night 6

Does making tztitis at night make them invalid? What was the position of the Rebbeim in this regard?

HaMan: The Villain and the Miracle Food 2

Given that both Haman and ‘the Manna’ are spelled the same, is there any deeper connection between the two?

  • Legend of a Cookie - The Purim cookie. Three corners, folded to swathe a filling. Supposedly it is named after the wicked Haman from the Purim story. How is this cookie reminiscent of the wicked Haman? (Sources)

  • Dealing with Disabilities 50

    A look at the halachic status of those with mental and physical disabilities, such as autism and deaf-muteness.

    The Greatest Paradox: The Power of Free Choice 23

    If an omniscient G-d already knows what our future holds, how is it possible to have free will? Known as the clash of yediah and bechirah, this paradox has gripped scholars for millennia. This paper explores the ongoing debate.

    Handmade vs. Machine Matzah 30 What’s the difference between the two types? Why do some people prefer one over the other? And why is the Chabad preference for hand-made matzah?
    Can Rabbis Give Medical Advice? 11

    While it is undisputed that doctors are healers of the body, the ultimate Healer is G-d. May we also seek medical guidance from rabbis or other Jewish authorities? Is it irresponsible to ask rabbis about medical issues- or is it irresponsible not to?

    Putting G-d on Trial: Heresy or Humanity? A Jewish Response to Tragedy 56

    When tragedy strikes, we struggle to understand G-d's ways. Is it ok to openly challenge Him? Is it a sign of deep belief or deep blasphemy? What about the Jewish greats, Moses at their head, who brazenly questioned G-d? This paper is a comprehensive study of the acceptable Jewish response to death, tragedy and pain. 

    May Dormitories be Passed Over for Pesach? 7

    The uncertain ownership that yeshivah students have of their dormitory rooms creates chaos when it comes to Pesach preparations. This paper clears the confusion. Must they do bedikas chametz?  If yes, with or without a brachah? And do they also need to sell the chametz?

    Last Rites Done Right 15

    This paper examines the elaborate rituals of taharas hameis. Why is the body laid on the floor during the process? Why are earthenware shards placed on the eyes of the deceased? Why is earth from the land of Israel scattered over the body?

    Is It Always Necessary to Get a Get? 14

    If a couple was married under Reform or Conservative auspices, do they need a get should they wish to divorce? An analysis of the validity and consequences of non-Orthodox marriage ceremonies.

    The Laws of the Jew and His .22 11

    Recent events have highlighted the role of firearms in the synagogue. Do guns belong in a house of prayer? What about if they are concealed? And what are the clashes between gun-carrying and Shabbat observance?

    ירושת שררה ומינויי ציבור

    8

    הבנה יסודית במושג הורשת השררה ומינויי הציבור מאב לבנו בספרות התלמוד וגדולי הפוסקים, שופכת לנו אור בדין מינוי תפקידים תורניים וציבוריים, כמו רבנות ושמשות והדומה, בימינו אנו. למען יאריך על ממלכתו הוא ובניו בקרב ישראל.

    Paradox of Prayer: If G-d Is Perfect, Why Try to Change His Mind? 11

    If we believe that G-d is the ultimate good who does only good, why would we pray for a change to our fate? This paper solves the paradox between perfect belief in G-d’s benevolence and the centrality of prayer in Jewish belief.

    Love Thyself: The Imperative to Secure Material and Emotional Wellbeing 9

    An interesting look at man’s obligations to himself. What does Jewish law demand of him to do to better his lot in life? A survey of the financial, emotional and health precautions that one must take.

    Does Brushing Teeth Brush over Shabbos? 8

    Brushing teeth triggers various halachic concerns about the violation of Shabbat. This paper deconstructs the practices of oral hygiene to examine if there are issues of chovel, schita, uvdin d’chol and memareach.

    The Third Temple — Today? 12

    This paper seeks to crystallize the Torah commandment to build a Temple. To whom does it apply? When is the commandment in force? And if we do build a Temple today, what status will it have?

    As Confusing as Night and Day 19

    The International Date Line causes halachic headaches in a number of ways. A fascinating discussion of the overall halachic view of the International Date Line, with a focus on the specific difficulties it imposes on the observance of Shabbat and Shavuot.

    My Heart Is in the West - Praying Toward Yerushalayim 15

    Must a shul always face the Holy Land? What are the reasons behind this famous tradition? And if the shul was already built facing another direction, must it be changed?

    Gone Without a Trace - Mourning an Unverified Death 10

    Missing persons raise tough questions. How long must we wait before they are presumed dead? What is the mourning process? And may the missing person’s spouse ever remarry?

    Jewish Chemistry: Physical Actions and Spiritual Reactions 20

    Jewish ritual is rife with physical actions—such as standing, bowing, rising— which hint to the spiritual drama unfolding in the background. This paper takes a close look at several of these to gain an understanding of the complex interplay between man’s physical state and his spiritual state.

    The Torah’s Vision of Friendship 21

    This paper seeks to define the role of friendship in Jewish thought and law. What is its significance? To what extent, if any, must one build and develop friendships? What halakhic obligations attach to these relationships?

    Sacred Shepherds: An Essay on Jewish Leadership 33

    Why do the Jewish people need leaders? Where is the line between guidance and dictatorship? What qualifies one to be a leader? An analysis of one of Judaism’s most central institutions.

    The Round Figures that Trigger Sniggers 10

    The census figures recorded in the Torah seem too perfect to be true. Each of the tribes reported a population that was a convenient multiple of 5, 10 or 100. Were these numbers rounded out?  

    Can G-d Change His Mind? 10

    The Torah contains instances where G-d appears to have reconsidered His decision, often in response to human action. How can an eternal G-d be subject to change? Does that mean the earlier decision was wrong? Is G-d’s word not final?

    Marriage Made in Charan 13

    A factual review of our forefather’s wedding and marriage arrangements. How old was Ya'akov when he got married? How old were Bilhah and Zilpah? Were Rochel and Leah twins? Why did Ya'akov work for seven years for each of them?

    Dots and Squiggles 9

    Explore the origins of Taamei HaMikra and discover when and where unconventional trop is applied. This paper also includes a discussion of the interplay between dikduk and trop.

    Requests for Sources (#12) 0

    (1)   The parallels of the wedding-Matan Torah metaphor; (2) What may and may not be done in a Shul; (3) Homiletics for a hadran on Mishnayos (4) If the name of a man is Abba, may his children call him Abba? (5) Why do we read the parshiyos of vehayah ki yeviachah specifically while wearing the Tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam? (6) What is the halachic view about playing music after the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash? (7) Was it considered a sin for Adam to engage in relations before Shabbos?

    The Dynamics of Jewish Marriage 15

    This detailed review of the halachic underpinnings of a marriage sheds light on several controversial issues. Why can divorce be initiated by the man only? What, in the Jewish view, is the essence of marriage? Why are the gender roles so vastly different?

    Study or Sink: Secular Education and the Hunt for a Job 16

    Judaism generally eschews secular education at the expense of Torah study. The reality, though, is often that one must gain some education or skill in order to make a livelihood. What does Jewish law say about this? What are the limits? How do we balance dogma with daily life?

    Related: Studying the Secular: The Soul of the Matter
    The Drugs Debate 23

    What does the Torah stand on narcotics and other illegal substances? Would halacha demand that government intervene and regulate its citizens’ drug use? Or perhaps it is better to legalize such things, allowing addicts to escape a life of crime and perhaps start on the path to recovery?

    Birkat Kohanim from Temple times until Today 28

    If Birkat Kohanim is one of Judaism’s most cherished blessings, why outside of Israel today is it so rarely recited? Why in Jerusalem is it sung daily, but only seldom in the Diaspora? Why do we seem to disregard how Shulchan Aruch regulates Birkat Kohanim?

    How to Cook Wine So Jews Can Dine 16

    It has saved many a Shabbos meal and avoided much embarrassment. But how exactly does yayin mevushal address the problem of yayin nesech? What is the technical definition of mevushal? A behind-the-scenes look at kosher wine production and its laws.

    A Peek into Paradise 28

    A thorough demystification of Gan Eden, lending clarity to an oft-misunderstood feature of Jewish belief. This paper reaches into centuries of literature to define what the purpose of Gan Eden is, what transpires there, and what a person must do to gain entry to this exclusive realm.

    The Law and the Lore of Ascending the Temple Mount 30

    Once the home of the Beit Hamikdash, the Temple Mount endures as the holiest place on earth. It has also continued to ignite much passionate debate in Jewish law. May a Jew climb this sacred mountain? Must he? And if he does, what must he be aware of?

    Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Non-Orthodox Jews and Shabbat Observance 24

    Inviting non-Shomrei Shabbat to attend Shul or meals at your home is often also an invitation for them to drive on Shabbat. What are the laws of this overlooked yet critical issue? Do the ends ever justify the means? How can we balance our love for our fellow with our love for halacha?

    הכרזות באמצע התפלה

    43

    תופעה מבורכת ההולכת ומתרחבת בימינו היא מספר הבאים לדרוש את ה׳ בבתי הכנסת. בין אלו, גם מתחילים שאינם בקיאים בסדר התפילה, וזקוקים להנחיות והדרכות באמצע התפילה. מובן כי הנחיצות מחד דורשת גם בקיאות בדיני הפסק בתפילה מאידך. לפנינו בירור מקיף לשאלה מתי ובאיזה תנאים מותר להפסיק לצורך הכרזה באמצע התפילה.

    Love Thyself (Part II) - The Limits of Physical Self-Abuse 38

    Does smoking violate our responsibility to protect our bodies? What about drinking alcohol? Do drugs fall into the same category? This paper examines the parameters of shmiras haguf and extracts the principles that inform halacha’s approach to the various ways of harming oneself.

    Thanking G-d for Goodness Part I 13

    This broad analysis of Birchas HaGomel takes a modern focus: Does a domestic flight over water trigger this blessing? An international one over land? What about a missed flight that crashes? A look at the basic laws and rational behind Gomel lays the foundation to determine when and why the blessing is required.

  • (See also Thanking G-d for Goodness Part II)

  • A Map to Moshiach 33

    Moshiach's arrival will be preceded by events and circumstances that are foretold in the writings of Chazal. Some are catastrophic, some euphoric, and some appear fantastical. This paper examines the different descriptions of these heady days, with a particular focus on the views of Rambam and the Rebbe.

    A Bad Bet or a Light Laugh?: The Difference Between Lotto and Gambling 28

    Millions of people who would never step foot into a casino regularly buy lottery tickets. Can a Jew do so? Would playing lotto put him into the halachic category of a gambler? How can we distinguish the lottery from poker, blackjack and roulette?

    The Happiness Imperative - Part I 10

    Joy is one of Judaism's highest placed values. See why from a range of perspectives including halacha, mussar, and Chassidus. The Baal Shem Tov's unique emphasis on simcha rounds out this broad discussion.

    Shaking Hands and Shaking the Boat 26

    How does a Rabbi explain to women why he won't shake their hands? And why can't we find a similar way to avoid embarrassment—our own and our female laity's?

    Sequence of Scripture - Retracing the Writing of the Torah from Sinai 40

    What elements of the Torah were revealed before the giving of the Torah? How was the Torah first conveyed to Moshe and the Jews? What was the process used to record the Torah? Is any of this reflected in the setup of the Torah, the way it is written, divided into portions, its spaces, letters or crowns?

    Moshiach's Mysterious Harp - Music of the Future 10

    The ultimate redeemer is expected to play a kinor of eight-strings. Understand the mystical dimensions of this instrument and the unique era of a world living in peace and harmony.

    Anatomy of a Cry: What the Shofar Sound Bites Mean to You 10 The Blowing of the Shofar: Reasons and Significance
    The Jewish View of Anti-Semitism 50

    Sadly, antisemitism is as much a part of Jewish life as anything else. So what does the Torah say about this regular fixture of our lives? How does Chassidus explain this ancient hatred? Can we do anything about it or is this part of Jewish destiny?

    Judge Duty - Sitting on the Sanhedrin 15

    How were judges appointed to the Sanhedrin, the highest Jewish court? Did they have life tenure? Was there a way they could be removed or impeached? A fascinating look into how the Jewish judicial vacuum was filled after Moshe's passing.

    The Great Religious Cover-up: Tznius – Origins and Applications 25

    How did we get from belief in monotheism to rules about skirt lengths, necklines and singing? This paper cuts to the very heart of tznius and why it is one of Judaism's unshakable foundations. An analysis of the Torah and halachic source for tznius, and how its ancient laws find modern life.

    Thanking G-d for Goodness Part II 17

    What defines a "dangerous scenario" for which one must recite birkas hagomel? This paper addresses the questions and challenges introduced by air travel, and defines the types of illnesses and levels of recovery that require the gomel blessing.

    Great Shakes: Understanding the Mitzvah of Shaking the Lulav and Esrog 25 Up, down, left, right, the lulav nanuim are a bewildering sight. This paper delves into the mysticism behind the historically venerated mitzvah of shaking lulav and esrog. What are its origins? What does it represent? How is it relevant today?

    תואר גופני אצל הקב״ה

    20

    מעיקרי האמונה הוא החיוב להאמין שהקב"ה מושלל הוא מגשם וציור גופני. אך האומנם זאת היא הדיעה המוסכמת אצל גדולי ישראל לדורותיהם? והאם ביכולתו ית׳ הבלתי בעל גבול להתלבש גם בדמות גופני? על שלילת הגשמות והנמנעות אצלו ית׳ בספרות החקירה והחסידות.

    The Power of Tefilah b'Tzibbur 74

    A digest of the philosophy behind communal prayer. What makes it so valuable? What purpose does it serve? Does the prayer of the individual not achieve the same as the prayers of a congregation? A look at the deeper meaning of tefilah b'tzibbur.

    The Meaning of Love 19

    With our culture drowning in a flood of twisted representations of love, it is little wonder that people are feeling more alone than ever. It is time to rediscover the true definition of love. According to Torah, what is love? What is its value? How do we achieve it? A survey of the Jewish ideal of love.


    When to Wash - Activities That Require Hand-Washing 22

    Everyday life presents many instances where one ought to wash their hands: cutting nails, using the restroom, taking a nap, to name just a few. A review and commentary on the range of activities that require netilas yedayim.


    יסוד תקנת אמירת ברכת שהחיינו 26 שהחיינו וקיימנו לזמן הזה. בירור מקיף ויסודי אחר תקנת ברכת שהחיינו. מדוע נהוג לברכה על פרי חדש לעומת אירועים משמחים שאינו נהוג לברכה? מהם כללי היסוד הקובע את אמירתה? סקירה הלכתית ומגוונת מממקרים ושאלות רלוונטיות. ראה זה חדש.
    Requests for Sources (#14) 0
    • Layman Logic vs Rabbinic Rigor: How seriously do we take the saying, daas baale baatim hepech daas Torah? To what degree should parents be involved in the decision making process of school administrations? 
    • When G-d was Exiled: What is the source and meaning of the radical idea that has given so much comfort: galu l’Edom, shechinah imahem? 
    • Giyur k’Halacha and Women’s Tevilah: Must a Beis Din of men be fully present, or is it sufficient that they hear the sounds of her immersion? 
    • Is the Torah Green? Recycling. Climate change. Ecosystem preservation. Are any of these concepts discussed in the Torah? Are the ideals behind them the same ideals that enliven Jewish learning and living? Is a ‘Jewish environmentalist’ an oxymoron or a role model? An ancient religion meets a 21st century movement.
    • What is the correct practice regarding raising one's voice while reciting the kedushah of uva letzion
    Honor is not Dead: Kibud Av V'Em 22 Many of contemporary society’s challenges could be remedied by the observance of the mitzvah of honoring one’s parents. Yet Kibbud Av V’Em is a broad and sweeping mitzvah with vaguely defined boundaries. To what extent are we obligated? Are we required to sacrifice our own social life to care for our parents? Does it apply to marriage partners? How do we define respect? Learn the Torah’s definition of honoring our parents.
    The Prophet who Ran from G-d 22 Yonah. A prophet, a man of G-d – and a man who ran away from his duty. Yonah is one of the most famous and enigmatic prophets in Jewish history. Discover how Yonah's actions are viewed from the Torah's perspective and examine why his deeds were recorded for posterity.

    הפרדה בין אנשים ונשים

    105

    בירור מקיף על יסוד דין המחיצה, טעמיה והגדרתה. איזו מחיצה כשרה ומהם כללי היסוד המחייבים הפרדה בין גברים לנשים? סקירה הלכתית המסתעפת להשלכות רלוונטיות במיוחד בימינו אנו.

    מנהג הנחת אבן על המצבה

    2

    מנהג ישראל קדום להניח אבן על מצבת הקבר כשמבקרים בבית החיים. לפנינו סקירה כוללת על מקור המנהג וטעמו. הקיצו ורננו שוכני עפר.

    גידול הזקן ואיסור השחתתו

    15

    הדרת פנים זקן. סקירה כוללת ומקיפה על יסוד איסור השחתת הזקן, השיטות והטעמים בזה.

    A Palestinian State? 32

    There are few topics more central to modern Jewish life than Israel. Israel’s policies regarding the territories it conquered during Six Day War remain controversial. As an issue that involves the security and safety of millions of Jewish lives, it is crucial to find a sustainable approach. In recent years, with the revolution in Egypt and Israel's wars with Hamas, the Rebbe’s opinion in this debate has been proven to be ever more accurate, as is now acknowledged by many in the Jewish world and the Israeli establishment. What was the Rebbe’s view, and why is his opinion deemed so vital to addressing this issue?

    In G-d we Trust 84 Bitachon. It’s a powerful word; the absolute faith that G-d will always provide. From financial deals to health concerns, travel arrangements to hopes for the future – we trust that G-d only acts for the best. But how can we have Bitachon when we’re faced with a violent and dangerous world? When personal tragedy strikes, how can we continue to have faith? Where is the line drawn between Bitachon and folly? When one laughs in the face of nature, is he trusting in G-d or scorning G-d’s providence?
    It’s Written in the Stars: The Jewish Approach to Astrology, Zodiac and the Horoscopes 207

    Since the dawn of civilization, man has been fascinated with divining his destiny. Whether it was reading animal entrails or tracing the movements of stars, ancient philosophers claimed to know the answers to your future. Though Torah holds most of these methods in contempt, Astrology remains a hotly debated subject in Torah. What is Torah’s viewpoint on this ancient form of divination? Is it idolatry? Sheer nonsense? Isn’t the Jewish fascination with months and Mazal a form of Astrology? Embark on a thorough analysis of Torah’s perspective on this art.

    The Scribe’s Code 18

    Judaism is a multi-faceted religion with vastly different cultures, but one thing that stays the same throughout all of Judaism is Ksav Ashuri – the script the Torah is written in. This script binds all Jews throughout space and history, dating back, unchanging, for thousands of years – or does it? How far back does it really go? Has it not evolved over time? Study the origins of the Torah’s script.

    The Torah’s CEOs (sources) 17

    The Torah granted executive powers to the Chachomim when It commanded us to listen to them. But do the Rabbis sometimes go too far? The Torah commanded us to perform the Mitzvah of Eglah Arufah – but the Chachomim abolished it because they felt there were too many murderers. How can the Chachomim uproot an express command from the Torah? What about scenarios where the increase in murderers doesn’t make a difference? How far does the power of the Chachomim really reach?

    צירוף קטן למנין

    15

    צירוף קטן להשלמת מנין היא שאלה נפוצה ותלויה בשיטות שונות. המאמר שלפנינו מסכם את שיטות הראשונים והכרעת הפוסקים בספרות ההלכה לצד התנאים ופרטי הדינים בזה.

    נשים בתפקידים תורניים וציבוריים

    39

    בתקופתינו הנוכחית, עדים אנו לתופעות חדשות בכל הנוגע למעמד האשה ביהדות. מעל כל ספק, מכבדת התורה את מעמדה, עד כי לעתיד ׳נקבה תסובב גבר׳. עם זאת, ההלכה קובעת תנאי כשרות המועמדים לתפקידים תורניים ציבוריים. לפנינו בירור מקיף על דבר מינוי האשה לתפקידים אלו. כל כבודה בת מלך פנימה.

    מסחר עם גנב וגזלן

    12

    מסחר שותפי פותח שערים והזדמנויות רבות בשוק המסחרי, אך יחד עם זאת מעורר גם שאלות הלכתיות: האם יש לברר תחילה אם כסף המושקע של השותף אינו מן הגזול? עד היכן מוטלת האחריות על כתפי הסוחר? עיון ביסוד איסור קנין דבר גנוב מגנב שופך אור על נידון רלוונטי במיוחד בימינו אנו.

    Request for Sources (#10) 0

    • The Rebbe’s call for random acts of kindness was a bold and revolutionary initiative. What are the many ways the Rebbe’s implemented his campaign?

    Modest Beauty - Building a Beautiful Synagogue 5

    One of the virtues most lauded in Judaism is modesty and simplicity. Yet when it comes to building a Shul, we strive to make it as extravagant as possible. Examine this seeming contradiction in a paper analyzing the importance of building a Shul.

    Adding Time 29

    Shabbos and Yom Tov are both so precious to the Jewish people that many Jews welcome them in early. How does this fit in with the prohibition of adding to a Mitzvah? What is the source of this practice? Study all the opinions and Halachic ramifications.

    (Hebrew)

    צלם אלקים

    46

    כי בצלם אלקים עשה את האדם. האומנם? והרי אינו שייך ציור גופני אצל הקב״ה ח״ו? להלן חקר ועיון תמציתי משלל הפירושים שנאמרו בזה על ידי מפרשי המקרא, הוגי מחשבת ישראל, ומאורי הקבלה והחסידות.

    Requests for Sources (#15) 0

    •   The Dancing Jew - Jews have gained renown over the years for their studiousness and intellectual capabilities. The Jewish passion for dancing seems to be out of sync with this. What is the significance of dancing in Judaism?

    •   A Talking Snake - Man was set apart from the animal kingdom by his ability to speak. How were Chava and Bilam able to converse with the snake or donkey? Was this conversation real?

    •   Yosef’s Deception - Of all his brothers, Yosef was always closest to Binyomin. Yet Yosef caused Binyomin significant distress by hiding his goblet in his packs. What is Torah’s view on Yosef’s actions?

    The Poet King 45

    Dovid Hamelech remains one of the most famous yet most mysterious men in Jewish history.  A king and a sage, a warrior and a poet, his accomplishments seem to be a cluster of contradictions. Study the life of one of Israel’s greatest kings, with an emphasis on the viewpoint of Chassidus.

    Yosef the Tyrant? 13

    Handling economic depressions is one of the duties of modern government. Yet when the Egyptians begged for food during the famine, Yosef enslaved them as payment. Wasn’t it his responsibility to provide food? Why did the Egyptians beg for food instead of demanding their due right?

    What’s in a Name? 8

    From the moment Avrohom circumcised himself at 99, the Jewish Bris has been the pivotal act of Jewish identity throughout history. It is at this moment that a Jewish boy is given his name. Yet when a bris must be delayed for medical reasons, can the parents give him his name anyhow, or must the boy remain nameless until the Bris takes place? 

    Request for Sources (#16) 0

    A Time for Mercy - The  recital of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy (Yud Gimmel Midos HaRachmim) is the divinely ordained method to evoke G-d's mercy. But can they be invoked at any time, even without a Minayn? What is the Rebbe’s opinion?


    Publicizing in Private -  The defining theme of Chanukah is the Mitzvah to publicize the miracles that occurred then. From the Halacha to light at a window to the Rebbe’s campaign for public lightings, the defining theme of lightning the Menorah is the Mitzvah to publicize the miracles that occurred then. But does there still remain a special Mitzvah to light in your own home?


    The Jewish Black Box - The simple act of placing a black box on your arm and head is one of the most spiritually profound Mitzvos in all of Judaism. What does Tefillin really achieve? What is the reward for this Mitzvah?

    The Clock Strikes Six 15

    The winter Shabbos is an eccentric experience. The moment the last Kaddish finishes, a sudden urgency befalls the congregants: suddenly there’s a desperate need to be home, a manic dash to make it before that fated hour – and should you arrive just a minute too late, you have to wait until 7:00 for Kidush, or do you?  What is the origin of this seemingly peculiar custom? Does everyone agree with it? Should one wait the hour, possibly compelling guests to hungrily watch the ticking clock till the magic moment arrives?

    Raising Funds and Raising Spirits - The Value, Role and Virtues of a Fundraiser 34

    A central theme in the Rebbe's Torah is to reveal the soul of the most mundane matters. This relates to fundraising as well, where the Rebbe urged that it be viewed as a means to achieve greater spiritual goals. Explore the Rebbe's fascinating and insightful perspective on this important and relevant area of our shlichus.

    Mind, Matter and G-d - Vision of Science from a Chabad Perspective 11

    The human brain is capable of extraordinary feats. Our key to knowledge and our window to understanding, the intellect is universally recognized as the most exalted entity in existence. Yet both Torah and science recognize that the mind, and its capacity for understanding, is limited - a fact that the brain itself logically accepts. This paper demonstrates the limitations of the mind – and how human intelligence alone can never fully grasp the infinite.

    Includes: What lessons did the Rebbe glean from Einstein's theory of relativity, for dealing with apparent contradictions between Torah and Science?

    The Thinking Planet 31

    From the moment it was written, the Rambam’s famous Halachah that the intelligence of planets surpasses that of humanity has puzzled and perplexed Jewish scholars. What did the Rambam mean? The planets and stars are seemingly inanimate objects, incapable of intellectual thought. Are we so mistaken in our view of the constellations?

    To Give or Not to Give? 15

    While the tradition of Maaser is well known, many of its details are less well-known. Is there a time limit within which I must give? Am I obligated to give Maaser if I sell an item in order to purchase one of greater value? Is Maaser applicable when my stock shares rise? This paper thoroughly analyzes the fundamental Mitzvah of Maaser.

    Request for Sources (#17) 4

    Displaying a Torah Fragment in a Glass Case – A Sefer Torah is the most revered and holy item in Judaism, treated always with the utmost respect. Is it respectful to feature fragments of a Sefer Torah behind a glass? What is the Halachic perspective on publicly displaying in this manner a Sefer Torah that was confiscated by the Nazis? 

    Written and Directed by: G-d 52

    Hashgachah Pratis literally means, “Personal divine providence.” This refers to the ever-present eye of G-d that watches and directs our every step. Where did this concept originate from? Who coined the term? Once the world has been created by G-d, why is it necessary for Him to continue to "manage" my life? How is free choice to be reconciled with Divine Providence?

    His Name Was Moshe 14

    Moshe’s name is perhaps the most recognized name in all of Judaism, the name of arguably the greatest Jewish leader of all time – and a name that was given to him by an Egyptian Princess. Why did the Torah choose his Egyptian name as the name to be remembered for posterity? Why wasn’t his Jewish name recorded? And what was his Jewish name?

    Roots of Reincarnation 31

    Belief in the afterlife is a fundamental principle of Judaism. But where does the belief in the reincarnation of the soul fit into the picture? Considering its pronounced appearance in Kabbalistic literature, it is reasonable to wonder whether other voices within traditional Judaism embrace this concept as well.

    Constant Contact 13

    The belief that the world is created and sustained by G-d at every moment is commonplace. Recently some have challenged the assumption that this is the classical understanding of mainstream Jewry. Is he correct?

    Requests for Sources (#18) 0
    • Breathing Space - Many breathing exercises are techniques recommended by health care professionals to manage anxiety. But some of these are practiced by Eastern religions that are associated with idolatry. Are there breathing practices that are sourced in Kabbalah or Chassidus that are Kosher? 
    • A Father’s Pain, a Child’s Secret - The joyous reunion of Yaakov and Yosef, a father and son separated for over twenty years, is shadowed by a powerful question: why did Yosef not tell Yaakov he was alive? He was the viceroy of Egypt, the second most powerful man in the land – surely he could have told Yaakov that he lived? How could he let his father anguish in sorrow for no apparent reason? 
    • Blessing a Pretzel - The twisty curves of the Pretzel befuddles the mind with its simple query: what Brochah do you make on me? Learn the correct Brochah for a Pretzel.
    • Where is Israel? - With the current crises in Israel, knowing the exact boundaries the Torah set for Ertetz Yisroel has never been more crucial, and has never been more difficult. Where are those borders now? How are we to find those lands on modern maps? Where are the three lands that were promised as an inheritance to us when Moshiach comes?
    • Legend of a Cookie - The Purim cookie. Three corners, folded to swathe a filling. Supposedly it is named after the wicked Haman from the Purim story. How is this cookie reminiscent of the wicked Haman?

    תקיעת שופר - טעמיה ומשמעותה

    9

    בירור מקיף על מצות שופר ומשמעותם הפנימית של סוגי הקולות וסידורם לאור החסידות.

    Angels of the Ark 22 What did the golden cherubs atop the Ark represent? What was their exact form? And didn't their existence violate the prohibition against graven images?
    Tempering the Union 10 What are the earliest sources in the Torah for the commandment, purpose and benefit of Taharas Hamishpacha and Mikvah?

    דיני טלית ותפילין על פי מנהג חב״ד

    13

    המאמר שלפנינו סוקר את פרטי צורת עשיית הטלית ועטיפתו, ואת צורת התפילין ולבישתם על פי מנהג חסידי חב״ד, אשר יסודותם בהררי קדש של תורת הסוד.

    The Morality of Sarah 16

    The Biblical account of Sarah’s treatment of Hagar is well-known. How do the classic commentators and other authorities understand her behavior? Is she to be criticized or vindicated? What moral defense can be offered for Sarah banishing Yishmael?

    Why Pray? (Class) 30

    Prayer has always been a pillar of the Jewish tradition. It is often wondered: if Judaism most values action, what is the significance of uttering liturgy composed thousands of years ago, several times a day?

    (includes 30 pages of supplementary material)

    Part I in a Series
    The Mandate to Vaccinate 87

    People have long weighed the risks of preventive vaccination against the risk of deadly disease. Where does halachah stand on inoculations and is there room for personal autonomy on this matter?

    Ayin Hara (Sources) 116

    Is the evil eye mere superstition or is it based squarely on authoritative sources in Judaism? What are the sources in the Torah for this concept and what can one and should one do to protect themselves?

    What is the source for the segulah of wearing a red string?

    Yud Gimmel Midos (Sources) 196

    The thirteen hermenutical principles are at the bedrock of the Oral Tradition, serving as the basis for deducing the laws of the Torah. Are there good sources that define these clearly, and are there some concrete examples of their application?

    Writing a Sefer Torah (Sources) 27

    People often comission the writing of a Sefer Torah, either in the memory of a loved or for the merit of those who are living. Why is this a most worthwhile segulah?

    Gladness and High Spirits: A Review of Oneg Shabbos 8 This paper features a curricular overview of the mitzvah of experiencing Oneg Shabbos.

    היזק ראיה

    3

    גדול כוחה והשפעתה של ראיה עד כדי לגרימת נזק לחבירו. מן המקורות, תוך הגדרת האיסור ועד להשלכות מעשיות. טוב עין הוא יבורך.

    Holding the Torah While Upholding Halachah 11 The prevailing custom is that those who are ritually impure, such as a niddah, do not place themselves in contact with a Sefer Torah. This paper traces the origins of this practice and addresses its practical implications, such as entering a shul, kissing the Torah and dancing with it during hakafot.
    Public Access to Torah's Mysteries 21 A legend circulating in this community has it that Sefardim may not learn Chassidus. Is there any basis for this assertion?
    May We Share the Legacy? 9 The Torah generally forbids teaching Torah to gentiles. Are there circumstances when it would be permitted?
    Modest Footsteps: The Halachic Definition of Shok 28 Tznius demands that legs must be covered. This paper analyzes the definition of that rule. What is the shok- the thigh or the leg? What about feet? And what is the Chabad perspective on all this?
    Mysterious Misdeed: Making Sense of Mei Merivah 27 Formulated as a series of answers, rebuttals and rejoinders, the information in this document will be invaluable to you when studying this important subject. Why did G-d instruct Moshe to take the Staff? If he was not to strike the rock, why did it issue forth water? How could Moshe defy G-d's explicit instructions?
    Names are No Games 6 The meaning of the name "Sholom" in the teachings of Chazal.
    Old Worshippers and Timeless Prayer 16 A minyan of seniors, a common occurrence at old age homes, can be challenging. What does Jewish law say about seniors sleeping during the prayers, or seniors who are unable or unwilling to actively participate in the services?
    Private Matters 23 Is the NSA permitted to read your emails or wiretap your calls? May one read someone’s private correspondence if they are suspected of being involved in sinful activities?
    Regulating the Ultimate Blessing 6 Guidance from contemporary Poskim on the permissibility of contraception. Reviewed by a Moreh Hora'ah.
    The Bima in No Man’s Land 20 May the Bima be placed in front of the Aron? May it be placed between the men and women sections?
    The Brilliant Engineering of the Jewish Calendar 10 This research paper examines the internal workings of the Jewish calendar and provides solutions for some of its inconsistencies.
    Dust and Ashes: The Conflict Between Burial and Cremation 14 Why reducing the sanctuary of the soul to a pound of ashes is an unforgivable sin.
    The Reality of Dreams 17 What is the purpose of dreams? Are their messages real? Is a dream about a Tzaddik to be considered fact or fantasy? (Includes 88 pages of supplementary material)
    Why We Care About Hair: Background of the Hair-Covering Requirement 35 Married women cover their hair because 'seiar b'ishah ervah'. Where in the Torah do we find such an idea? Explore the history and practice of this intriguing halachah.
    Women’s Prayer Groups 12 What are the halachic issues and ramifications of holding separate women's prayer groups in Shul?
    You Don't Want to Miss a Bris 14 A comprehensive examination of the ancient promise that those who attend a bris are forgiven of all their sins. Where did the legend start? To whom does it apply? And how seriously do we take it today?
    Bizarre Burial? 5 Ancient Jewish sources indicate that Jews would bury their dead twice. What was the reason for this?
    Forced Circumcision? 6 Why does the Torah require the circumcision of all gentile slaves belonging to a Jew? Does Judaism endorse their forced circumcision? Is circumcision just one component of conversion or is it a distinct requirement of the Torah?
    The Tale of the Hebrew Tongue 40 Students of the Torah and ancient Jewish works find Hebrew to be a language with a mysterious and enigmatic history. What is the origin of Lashon haKodesh? Is the Hebrew we speak today identical to the Hebrew spoken thousands of years ago? Why was Aramaic preferred over Hebrew in Talmudic times? Pierce the veil of mystery surrounding our ancient and historic language.
    Pre-Nuptial Agreements 24 Many Rabbanim have proposed various Pre-Nuptial agreements to remedy the Aguna crisis. This features a synopsis of the views in favor and against the Pre-Nup.
    Unraveling the Tefillin 10 This paper is a sequel to Tefillin 101 and provides an expanded view of the halachic and esoteric dimensions of the mitzvah of Tefillin.
    The Morality of Civilian Casualties 31 One of the biggest horrors of war is the damage it inflicts on innocent people. But collateral damage is inescapable. What is the Jewish view of this painful reality? Where is the line between acceptable and immoral? Is the killing of innocents ever justified?
    Father from Far: Respecting a Non-Jewish Father 13 A study of the rights and responsibilities of a Jewish child to a gentile parent. Does the prohibition of cursing a parent apply? What are his kibud av obligations? And after the father dies, does the son tear kriah? Does he say kaddish?
    The Nusach Debate - Reciting the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy during the Ne’ilah Service 5 The Shul generally davens Nusach Ashkenaz and their Chabad Rav has been serving as shliach tzibur for Ne'ilah for over thirty years. Instead of repeating the Yud Gimmel Midos seven times, he only recites them three times, and has done so for over three decades. Has the Rabbi deviated from a well-established norm dating back over a millennium, or is the congregation blissfully unaware of the genesis of this practice? This paper highlights all available original sources on the matter and allows the reader to draw his own conclusion.
    Mechitzah Mania - When is a Mechitza Required 7 Have you ever sat down on a bus and found that you’re sitting in the women’s section? Came to a rally only to see you’re on the wrong side? At concerts, Simchos, Shiurim; it seems there are Mechitzos just about everywhere. What is the origin of this practice? Are these Mechitzos a sign of strict Jewish observance, or are they an indication of religious fanaticism?
    The Crucible of Life: On Challenges and Tests 17 Life is an endless gauntlet of tests and challenges. Judaism teaches us that G-d never gives us a challenge we can’t surmount, but the question remains: why? Why does G-d continuously test us? What purpose does it serve? Can we not succeed without them? And how can we learn to thrive in the face of challenge?
    A Stroll Through the Garden of Torah 17 Pardes. A single word that encompasses the wondrous depths of Torah. What does an esoteric discourse have to do with a Halachic debate? How can a Gematriah and a Tosfos be considered equal parts of Torah? Pardes. Every aspect of Torah has multiple facets of interpretation. Delve into the depths of Torah’s wellsprings as a single Mitzvah is explained – on four different levels of understanding.
    Souls and Spirits 9 This paper features an in-depth look at our spiritual anatomy. Are the Divine soul and the Good Impulse synonymous? What about the Animal soul and the Evil Impulse? Most importantly, how can this information empower us in our service of G-d?
    Bowing in Prayer 28

    As an expression of honor and submission, bowing before an authority has always been common. In Jewish prayer, numerous segments are associated with bowing and prostration. What are some of the reasons for bowing during the recital of Modeh Ani, Barchu, the Amida, Aleinu and during the Yom Kippur service? 

    The Bima and Equal Opportunity 28

    The aliyos to the Torah are given to men; But why? Do societal changes not play a role in determining issues of gender in Judaism? What is the meaning of Kevod haTzibur? Can a Tzibur forego its own consideration? When does the principle of Kevod haBriyos trump laws that are rabbinic in origin? 

    Au contraire! The Ins-and-Outs of Contradicting Parents, Teachers and Rabbis 8

    Each individual is blessed with a unique vantage point through which to observe reality. But are there circumstances in which voicing those opinions is inappropriate accoriding to Torah law? What is the halachah about disagreeing with pre-eminent Torah sages?

    The Contralateral Brain and Body 5

    Is there any mystical significance to the fact that the brain is designed in a contralateral fashion, with the right side controlling the left and vice versa?

    Where a Tallis is Inappropriate (Sources) 2

    It is common practice for those wearing a Tallis in shul, to remove it before entering a washroom. Why would a Tallis be any different than an ordinary pair of Tzitzis and Yarmulka that are never removed for this purpose

    The Steps of Ascent 7 The mizbeach was specifically required to have a ramp for the priests, while the menorah had a staircase for the high priest. Why were these two fundamental Temple structures accessed in different ways?
    The Covenants that Bind Us 15 There are many covenants between G-d and the Jewish people described in the Torah, such as the covenants with Avraham, before Matan Torah, before entering Eretz Israel, as well as many others. What is the significance of each covenant according to the traditional and mystical meanings?
    The Afterlife of the Righteous Gentile 5 Many religions restrict life and the reward in the afterworld only to followers of that religion. How do the Talmud and other classic rabbinic sources treat the question of whether gentiles can merit a portion in the World to Come?
    Kaddish and Closure 4 The recitation of Kaddish is a central Jewish mourning rite. Mourners recite Kaddish for eleven months following the death of a loved one. What is the meaning of the prayer and the details of its observance? Why is it recited for specifically eleven months?
    First Shofar 4 The shofar is an ancient musical instrument used to call the Jewish people together. It was blown to announce the new month, before the commencement of battle, and other occasions. It is still used on Rosh Hashanah and the closing of Yom Kippur to call the people to repentance. When was the shofar used for the first time?
    Coercing an Apostate to Divorce 5 Is coercion a valid means of achieving the divorce of an apostate Jew and his estranged wife? A Jew is assumed to have a natural desire to lead a Torah lifestyle. What if a Jew converted and rejected his heritage? If compulsory measures are taken to ensure his granting of a Get, is it halachically valid?

    סוד האגדה

    28

    רצונך שתכיר את מי שאמר והיה העולם - למוד אגדה. אכן, חלק האגדה שבתורה בלול מסתרי תורה, סיפורים, משלים ומליצות הדורשים פענוח. סקירה מאלפת על יסודות האגדה, דרכי לימודה ויחס חז״ל אל אופייה הייחודית.

    פתרון ההיתר עסקא

    9

    פתרון ההיתר עסקא הוא דבר נפוץ ומסובך גם יחד. המאמר שלפנינו סוקר את יסוד איסור ריבית והשלכותיו המעשיות, פתרון ההיתר עסקא ודעת גדולי ישראל בנידון.

    על בכיה ודמעות

    6

    עת לבכות ועת לשחוק. על סוגי בכיות השונות, מעלותיה והשפעתה על האדם, לאור השקפת הוגי מחשבת ישראל ומאורי החסידות.

    בנאי ששינה בהבנין

    6

    חילוקי דיעות בין הבעל הבית המעסיק והאומן היוצר והבונה יכולים ליצור שאלות רבות של דיני ממונות. מה הדין אם סיכמו לבנות הבנין מחומר מסויים ולבסוף נבנה מחומר בעל איכות נמוכה? דיון ממבט ההלכה על דין אומן שקלקל או שינה ממה שהוסכם תחילה.

    בניית בית כנסת נאה ומפואר

    3

    סקירה על דבר חשיבות בניית בית הכנסת ברוב פאר והדר, באגדה ובהלכה. זה א-לי ואנוהו.

    ברכת הקרקרים והבייגלך

    4

    כיבוד קל הנפוץ במסיבות שונות, מעורר לא פעם שאלות הלכתיות של סדר ברכות הנהנין. מהי ברכת הקרקרים והבייגלך? בדיקה יסודית אחר המקורות והמרכיבים מציע מסקנה הלכתית.

    גדר חיוב כבוד אב ואם

    5

    כבוד ההורים היא מצוה גדולה וחשובה עד מאד. אך ממבט ההלכה, מהי הגדרת המצוה והמגבלות שלה? מהו נכלל בכבוד או במורא? למען יאריכון ימיך.

    על רוחות שדים ודיבוקים

    4

    רוחות שדים ודיבוקים הוא נידון מסתורי הלוט בערפל. המאמר שלפנינו, מיוסד על מקורות חז״ל, משקף עמדת התורה על דיבוקים והתיקון שלהם.

    דין קדימה בצדקה

    2

    נפוץ הוא הפתגם התלמודי ׳עניי עירך קודמין׳. על מקור הדברים, טעם הדבר וגם הוראות ורמזים במצות הצדקה. פתוח תפתח.

    האדם בתור מדבר

    3

    ארבעה סוגי נבראים הם: דומם, צומח, חי ומדבר. אלא שמדוע נבחר תואר מעלת האדם בתור ׳מדבר׳ ולא בתור ׳שכלי׳? על שורש כוח הדיבור ומעלתו הייחודית.

    הודעת יוסף לאביו שהוא חי

    2

    לאחרי כי יוסף התיישב במצרים, מדוע הוא אכן בחר שלא להודיע לאביו על דבר היותו חי וקיים? ליקוט תשובות מפרד״ס התורה.

    הכרזת מזל טוב אחרי שבירת הכוס

    2

    מנהג העולם לברך את החתן והכלה בברכת ׳מזל טוב׳ תיכף אחר שבירת הכוס תחת החופה. אלא שיש וקראו תגר על מנהג זה מחד, ויש שיישבו את המנהג מאידך. מזל טוב?

    הצלת נפש בנפש

    4

    איסור רציחה הוא מהאיסורים החמורים ביותר. אך במקרים מסויימים, בבחינת יוצא מן הכלל, הותר להציל את חבירו ממיתה גם אם יש להרוג לשם כך. נשאלת איפוא השאלה באם פעולת הצלה של רבים מותרת אם תגרום על ידי זה הריגתו של יחיד? ההגדרה, התנאים והמגבלות.

    חגבים

    2

    מין החגב היא אמנם אחד משרצי העוף שהותרו על ידי התורה, אך המסורה המקובלת בזמנינו היא שלא לאכול חגב. סקירה על טעם הדבר והמסורות השונות. בורא מיני חגבים.

    טבילת כלים

    6

    שאלה נפוצה בדיני טבילת כלים היא לענין מכונת הקפה הביתית. האם אמנם חייבים אנו לטבול אותה? בעזרת טכנאי, המאמר שלפנינו מפרק את חלקי המכונה, ומציע מסקנה הלכתית מעשית.

    טעם שבירת הלוחות

    6

    ההנחה הפשוטה היא כי שבירת הלוחות היתה תוצאה מרוגזו של משה על חטאם של ישראל. אלא שמבט נוסף במפרשי המקרא מגלה טעמים וממתקים נוספים על דבר כוונתו של רוען של ישראל. שבעים פנים לתורה.

    יוסיף דעת יוסיף מכאוב

    6

    מעצות התבונה של שלמה המלך אל האדם: ׳יוסיף דעת יוסיף מכאוב׳. על איזה דעת מדובר, ומהו בדיוק הכאב? ליקוט ממגוון פירושים מפרד״ס התורה.

    הנחת פרחים מעל ארון או קבר המת

    17

    האם מותר להניח פרחים מעל ארון או קבר המת? הבנה יסודית בהגדרת האיסור והטעמים שלא ללכת בחוקות הגויים, מביא אותנו לסכם את שיטות הפוסקים בדין הנחת הפרחים.

    כשרות האכילה

    7

    מצוות התורה מחולקים לשלש סוגים: חוקים, עדות ומשפטים. מצות כשרות האכילה היא אמנם מסוג החוקים, אך רבים וטובים הציעו גם טעמים ליסוד המצוה. יש וביארו כנגד הגוף ויש וביארו כנגד הנשמה. על כוחו של מאכל והשפעתו על האדם.

    מהות ושרש נפשות בעלי חיים

    7

    גם לבעלי חיים ישנם נפש ורוח ממנה הם שואפים את חיותם. אלא ששונה היא מדריגת נפש הבהמה מנשמת האדם. על מהותה של נפש הבהמה ושורשה למעלה לאור תורת החסידות.

    מלכי בית דוד ומלכי ישראל

    6

    כתר המלוכה הובטחה לזרעו של יהודה. עם זאת, נמשחו בדברי הימים גם מלכים משאר שבטי ישראל. על יסוד החילוק בין מלכי בית דוד ומלכי ישראל ועל נצחיות המלכות של בית דוד. לא יסור שבט מיהודה.

    מצא אשה מצא טוב

    3

    מגוון פירושים על דרך הדרש והרמז על דבר טובת האשה ומעלתה. בנין עדי עד.

    מצוה לקיים דברי המת

    5

    בירור מקיף ותמציתי על יסוד הדין של קיום דברי המת, ההגדרות והתנאים בזה.

    מצות אהבת ישראל

    8

    ואהבת לרעך כמוך. ביטוי נפוץ ונעים. אלא שהאומנם הכוונה להמשמעות הפשוטה או שמא שהוא על דרך ההפלגה? האם די צורך החיוב במעשים של חיבה גרידא או שמא אהבה זו נחוצה להתבטא גם ברגש הלב של ממש? מאמר מסכם על הכלל הגדול בתורה.

    כפיית מצות הצדקה

    4

    עם הנבחר מתייחד בתכונותיו של רחמנות וגמילות חסד. אלא שלפעמים מתווצר גם מצב הנותן משום לשאלה: האם אפשר לכוף את העשיר לנדב מהונו לצדקה? או שמא אינו תלוי אלא בנדיבות לב של כל אחד ואחד? על מצות הצדקה ותנאיה.

    עניני מחילה

    16

    רגילים אנו יום יום למחול ולסלוח על דברים זעירים פה ושם, ברחוב ובאוטובוס. ״סליחה״ מבקש ההולך רגל, ו״מחול לך״ הוא מקבל בלב שלם. אך לא תמיד הדבר כן בסכסוכים וקטטות שבין איש לרעהו. המאמר שלפנינו מגדיר את חיוב המחילה, תנאיה והגדרתה.

    צדקה לגויים

    4

    עיון על רמת האחריות החלה על ישראל לפרנס גם את שאר עניי אומות העולם. דרכיה דרכי נועם.

    קריעת ים סוף

    3

    מגדולי הניסים והנפלאות שנעשו לאבותינו הוא ללא ספק הנס של קריעת ים סוף. אך מה קרה שם בדיוק? האומנם נקרע היום ועברו ישראל ביבשה מעבר אחד לעבר השני? או שמא היה הנס באופן אחר מהמשמעות הפשוטה? על קריעת הים וסוד מטרת הנס לאור החסידות.

    שריפת גוף המת

    7

    מקדמת דנא מסורת ההלכה היהודית לקבות את המת בקרקע דוקא. אלא שחדשים מקרוב באו למצוא סמך והיתר למנהג הגויים לשרוף את המת. מאמר תגובה ומסכם על חומרת איסור שריפת גוף המת. כי קבור תקברנו.

    תקנת השוק

    4

    חקר אחר תקנות חז״ל מגלה כי בין היתר תיקנו גדולי ישראל לדורותיהם גם תקנות שונות לשיפור מצב הכלכלי של עם ישראל. על ׳תקנת השוק׳ במקורות חז״ל ודברי ימי ישראל.

    Man vs Machine: The Matzah Story 7 This paper looks at some of the halachic issues that relate to machine-made matzas. These include the risk of dough being caught in the machine, the length of time the dough is left unattended, and the difficulties in properly cleaning the machine.
    L'chaim - the Torah Perspective on Alcohol Consumption 32

    People drink to socialize, celebrate, and relax.  Alcohol often has a strong effect on people – and throughout history, our people has seen both the ills and the virtues of wine and alcohol consumption. What do the traditional Torah sources say about this?

    Friday Lights 4

    Shabbat candles are perhaps one of the most evocative images of Jewish life. What is the source for this practice? Where, and how many, Shabbat candles are lit? 

    Waters at Rest 7

    The water used to bake Matzah must be mayim shelanu—water that had been drawn in the evening and left to cool overnight. What is the halachic background for this requirement?  

    Angels and Demons 5

    Many cultures believe in supernatural beings. Is there a unique Torah perspective on the purpose and function of these entities? How do they operate and should one be concerned about their existence? 

    Arabs Living in the Shtachim (Sources) 4

    When the State of Israel triumphantly vanquished its enemies that occupied its West Bank in a defensive war, a critical  question arose as to the future of the the local Arab population. How did the Rebbe recommend they be dealt with?

    יחס הקבלה וההלכה

    12

    לכל חלק בתורה כללים משלה. עם זאת, מיוסד על הכלל כי כל התורה כולה אחת היא, מקובל כי רבות השפיעה תורת הנסתר והקבלה גם על ספרות ההלכה. המאמר שלפנינו מוכיח על מידת ההשפעה של יחס זו גם על הכרעת פסיקת ההלכה. בסוד ההלכה.

    מלמדין אותו כל התורה כולה

    2

    מסתבר שכולנו בקיאים בתורה, או ליתר דיוק – היינו. אכן, במעי אמו, מלמדים להעובר כל התורה כולה. אלא כי רגע לפני צאתו לאויר העולם, בא המלאך ומשכחו. מהי אפוא מהותה ומטרתה של לימוד זו? ללמוד כדי לשכוח?

    סימני כשרות

    2

    מקובלת ההנחה כי שונים הם תנאי כשרות הבהמה והחיה מהעוף. אם העוף נאכל לפי המסורת היהודית, הרי שהבהמה והחיה נאכלים לפי הסימנים המנויים בתורה. או שמא לא? האם המסורת משפיעה היא גם על כשרות הבהמה והחיה?

    Architecture and Design of the Synagogue 47

    While a contractor, engineer and electrician are imperative for building any structure, a ‘halachic architect’ would also come in handy to ensure the design and architecture of your Synagogue meets the requirements. Where should the entrance be located? How many steps should the Bima have? And what are the specs for the windows? Study about the architecture of the Synagogue, its furnishings and decorations, as expounded in halachic and rabbinic literature.

    Intellectual Property (Sources) 191

    In a world where new ideas and startups appear every day, the challenge of protecting one’s ideas becomes an ever increasing concern. How does Jewish law perceive the definition of ownership with regard to intellectual property? Can one protect a brand, image or concept? Does it matter if the idea is copyrighted by law or not? This includes a synopsis of the basic sources on this complex matter.

    Supporting Yeshivos and the Jewish Future (Sources) 46

    A Yeshiva is the mainstay of the Jewish community. The Rebbe would often encourage people to support Yeshivos in a myriad of ways, be it by encouraging enrollment, assisting with financial support, and the like. This features a collection of the Rebbe’s talks on the importance of supporting Yeshivos.

    Identity of Moshiach (Sources) 6

    We are all waiting for Moshiach and pray daily for his arrival. But should we try to identify who he is? Is the identification of Moshiach appropriate? Were there Sages who indeed pointed out the persona of Moshiach throughout history?

    (Hebrew)
    Evolution of Prayer 34 Beseeching the Creator for His benevolence and salvation is a practice of universal import and value. But how did the uniquely Jewish form of prayer evolve? What was the process by which the first siddurim were designed? Part II in a Series
    The Devastation of Midyan: Justice or Genocide? 6 The final battle of Moshe's lifetime is known as the war with Midyan. Moshe conveyed the divine instruction to take the lives of all the male Midyanite minors. Can this paradigm be reconciled with modern-day norms of war?

    (updated)

    מצות הלואה

    27

    גדולה מצות הלואה מן הצדקה. אלא שככל ענין בתורה, גם פרטי דיני ההלואה רבים הם. על הזהירות בהלוואת חפצים ומאכלים; מתי פטור המלוה מלהלוות; חשיבות יסוד קופת גמילות חסדים - המאמר שלפנינו סוקר את יסודי המצוה, שיעורה וחשיבותה. לא תנעול דלת בפני לווין ולאוין, תרתי משמע.

    A Parting Gift of Atonement 7 Our Sages teach that the passing of the righteous serves to pardon the misdeeds of the generation. Does actual penitence on the part of the people play any role in the forgiveness that is granted? Is this associated, in any way, with the date of the passing of the righteous individual?
    What to Make of Divine Rage 8 The Torah's account of the feud of Korach raises many questions. By saying, "I shall consume them in an instant" G-d seems to appear vengeful. Why was it necessary to demonstrate such staggering might? Why was it specifically the Ketores that was used to stem the spread of the plague after the demise of Korach?
    Celebrating a Bas Mitzva (Sources) 26 What is the origin of this practice and what is the opinion of contemporary halachic authorities?
    Studying the Secular: The Soul of the Matter 26 What are the theological underpinnings of the school of thought that advocates for a Jewish child to experience a wholesome Torah education that is unencumbered by the pursuit of secular knowledge?

    This is a sequel to an earlier paper that addressed the relevant halachic issues.

    The Mindset of Prayer - Tefilah with Kavanah 38 Find out what is required of one who prays when it comes to focusing one's mind on the Almighty. To what degree is kavanah really necessary? Are there any techniques that provide a shortcut to healthy kavanah? Part IV in a Series
    Talking Animals (Sources) 89 Man was set apart from the animal kingdom by his ability to speak. How were Chava and Bilam able to converse with the snake or donkey? Were these conversations real?
    Early Rabbinic Attitudes towards Emigration to the United States (Sources) 71 Land of the free. During the 19th century, unprecedented numbers of European Jews emigrated to the Free World. What are the earliest rabbinic sources that address the challenges facing the new immigrants? Were there any positive sentiments expressed by leading Torah authorities about the freedom and opportunity that America afforded? Also, did King Solomon bring gold from the "Goldene Medina"?
    Long Life: In G-d's Hand or One's Own? 10 How can we reconcile the fact that the length of a person's life is predetermined by G-d and those behaviors that can shorten one's life? Do we have any control over life expectancy? How much significance ought one give to medical intervention in terms of lengthening life?
    Mother of Royalty 15 The circumstances surrounding the birth of King David remain obscure. Legend has it that Nitzeves endured great personal sacrifice in mothering the Sweet Singer of Israel. How is this chapter in King David's life understood through the lenses of Torah scholarship?
    Sanctity of the Synagogue 20 The synagogue has served as the center of gravity for Jewish communities throughout history. While Jews attend Shul first and foremost, to pray, many Shuls typically host all sorts of events and meetings as well. What does the halachah say about a Shul accomodating both social comaraderie and communion with the divine at the same time?
    Sexual Abuse and Misconduct in Jewish Law and Ethics – A Monograph 104 The reality of sexual abuse in the Jewish community demands a clear response and informed guidance. Understanding both the legal and ethical dimensions of this issue are critical to the prevention of this crime, and this paper seeks to address both.
    The Congregational Prayer Service - Prayer Section III 37 Familiarize yourself with the background of the various components that comprise the davening. The repetition of the Amida, the appropriate direction for prayer, who is fit to lead the service, the procedures of Krias HaTorah and much more. Part III in a Series
    Pristine Pedigree 9 “​The glory of children are their fathers​" ​(​Prov. 17, 6)​. ​One of the greatest gift​s​ we ​can ​give our children is a heritage they can be proud of. But what happens when the circumstances surrounding a child’s birth are questionable. ​Can the indiscretions of the parents taint the child’s soul​, and if yes, when? ​Can these limit his ​or her marriage prospects? A​n exploration of the relevant halachos covering a variety of situations.
    The Invisible Author 29 The human soul has always sensed the presence of a greater power. Yet the “G-d of ​Concealment” has somewhat evaded logical discovery. ​Study some of the classic proofs for the existence of the Creator as presented by ​c​lassic Jewish Philosophers (R​. Saadya Gaon​, Rambam, R’ Bachye ibn Paquda, Ralbag and others), the challenges presented by some more modern authors (including Hume, Kant, Neizche, Darwin​ and Dawkins) and some of the responses offered to their ideas. ​Including a summary and some suggested reading​s​.
    Fish ​Heads​ and​​ ​Black ​Cats​ - Superstition ​and the Jewish Tradition 71 Men have​ forever​ clung to non-rational practices to ensure their safety and success. ​But ​the Torah ​requires ​faith in G-d and avoidance of divination and the like. Where is the line between prohibited and permissible divinations or superstitions? Does a Torah-true lifestyle include its own Omens, good signs and practices which are permitted and even encouraged? What ​is the background ​of many of our more well-known Segulos?

    Related: It’s Written in the Stars: The Jewish Approach to Astrology, Zodiac and the Horoscopes
    and Bones and Broomsticks: Sorcery in the Torah

    Spontaneous Generation 28 The Talmud refers to various creatures that grow spontaneously (asexually) - a phenomena roundly rejected by modern biology. What are some of the approaches that have been put forward to reconcile between the two and what bearing do they have the practical Halachah? Did the Rebbe espouse a unique approach to this?
    Multiple Minyanim for Mourners 22 Jews honor the memory of deceased parents by leading the prayer services and reciting the Kaddish. What happens when there are multiple mourners but only one Minyan to lead? Who takes precedence? If there are enough congregants to accommodate a unique Minyan for each of the mourners, does the principle of Berov Am trump the mourners obligation to honor their deceased?
    Is Your Caffeine Kosher? (Part I) 36 For some, only a serious serving of Cappucino or Esspresso can pack in a much needed energy boost for the day.

    With 11,962 Starbucks locations throughout the United States, the prospect of buying coffee from your local coffee shop raises some important halachic questions.

      Part I: Does a coffee prepared by a non-Jewish barista involve an issue of Bishul Aku"m? May one drink inside the coffee shop, or only to-go? What was the Arizal's unique take on the subject? Also: what is the proper Bracha on coffee beans?

      (Hebrew)

    Influencing the Divine 4 "If you are righteous, what do you give Him?" (Job 35:7) It is axiomatic that mortal actions are completely insignificant to an infinite creator. Yet the Torah provides examples of where human actions set off a chain reaction throughout the cosmos, affecting the supernal realms or reality. What are some of these examples, and how should they be understood? (Hebrew)
    Kollel or Career? 303 The Rambam is famous for suggesting that the unique status of the tribe of Levi can be shared by all those who devote their lives to Torah study while relying on others for their livelihood. Many have sought to reconcile this lifestyle with various rulings of the Talmud and Shulchan Aruch, as well positions of Rambam elsewhere. What are the arguments for and against?
    Gefilte Fish 7 In response to the buzz surrounding #GefilteFishGate, we shared the following material (free) on our social media feed on Facebook and Twitter

    This is where we stand on #GefilteFish

    Follow us there for more exclusive content!

    Immersive Torah Education 33 Providing the highest level of quality Torah education for Jewish children has always been of paramount importance to the Jewish community. Even amongst Chassidim, the Chabad educational model aspires for unique goals and engages a most rigorous regimen of Torah subjects for the entire duration of the school day. What lies at the heart of the Gold Standard of Chabad education?
    Motion Sensors on Shabbos (Sources) 209 The popularity of Smart Sensors is on the rise. As more aspects of ordinary life are administered by electronic mechanisms, many practical questions are raised about how observant Jewish life is impacted by the new technology.

    When the stairwell lights only turn on when sensing your presence, can you use them on Shabbos? What about the inadvertent motion that triggers a neighbors’ outdoor lights? Can you be present in a room that is monitored by closed-circuit surveillance cameras?

    A summary and index of the major contemporary Poskim on this issue.

    See also: "An Uplifting Shabbos" on the general issue of Electricity and Shabbos.

    A Look at Liturgy: On the Origin and Evolution of Piyutim 16 Piyutim are liturgical poems that are chanted during prayer primarily on the High Holidays, with some dating back many generations. What is their status in Jewish law? Must they all be recited or can they be omitted? What do we know about their origin and evolution? How important is it to adhere to local custom?
    A Mystical Prayer 5 Ana Bechoach is an ancient and mystical Jewish prayer and spells the names of G-d acrostically. What is the meaning of this prayer?
    Made in the Twilight Zone 26 "If not for the last minute, nothing would get done." The Mishna (Avot 5:6) lists a number of unique items created on that first Friday during Bein Ha-Shmashos (the twilight hour between shkia and tzeis hakochavim). If our Shabbos observance -- characterized by abstaining from creative labor -- is to be a reflection of Hashem's abstention from creation, why must we not engage in creative labor during Bein Ha-Shmashos? Some fascinating perspectives culled from the Midrash, Kabalah and Chassidus.
    Poultry and Milk - History 2 "Do not cook a kid in its mother's milk." Traditional Kosher cooking avoids all forms of meat and milk combinations, including poultry. What is the origin of this prohibition and when did it begin?
    Blessing the Public Square (Sources) 28 One of the the central themes of Chanukah is Pirsumei Nisa, the public display and celebration of the holiday. Around the world, Menorah's are kindled in Malls, at City Halls and all sorts of public places. May one recite the traditional blessing over the Chaukah lights if they are being lit in the city square and not in the privacy of one's home or Shul?
    Breaking a Fast 39 "You shall observe My statutes . . and live by them" (Vayikra 18:5). What halachic guidelines are invoked to protect the well-being of the ill and infirm on fast days? What medical advice should be sought out in advance, and what questions need to be asked? When ought one resort to 'shiurim'? How are they calculated?

    Reviewed by a Moreh Hora'ah B'Poel

    Calculated Moves 37 As a complex, strategic game known to improve memory and cognitive abilities, the Jewish attitude to Chess is an intriguing one. Were Torah scholars in favor of this pastime? Are there halachic issues to be aware when playing this game?
    Is Aliyah for Everyone? (Sources) 83 Eretz Yisroel is distinguished as "The Land G-d, your G-d, watches over; The eyes of G-d, your G-d, are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year" (Devarim 11:12).

    Settling the land of Israel is regarded by some authorities as a personal imperative, while others point to its intense holiness as a reason for caution.

    An assortment of articles and letters.

    סוד עניית אמן. פרק א

    13

    אמן. מילה קטנה הטומנת בתוכה אוצרות גדולות. המילה שהפכה לביטוי עמקי האמונה, בכוחה להמשיך ברכות וכוחות עצומים. מהו אפוא סודה של עניית אמן? האיך אמור האדם להתחבר אליה במדה מלאה? סקירה מקיפה לאור גנזי הקבלה והחסידות (חלק א).

    Making the Right Turn 22 Are you headed in the right direction? Depends who you ask. And when. Many Jewish practices, such as circling the Bima on various occasions, shaking the Lulav, lighting the Chanukah candles, and others, are associated with particular physical movements in both the right and left directions. However, the definition of right and left is apparently subject to interpretation. Is "derech yemin" clockwise or counterclockwise? Read the history of this controversy and its intriguing halachic applications.

    תפלה על קברי צדיקים. א

    35

    מאז ומעולם, היוו קברי אבותינו וצדיקי עליון ע״ה מקום לעתירה, תפלה ובקשה. אלא שמנהג קדוש זה היווה בד בבד גם מקור לתמיהה - מנא לן הא מילתא? האומנם אין היהודי אמור להתפלל אל הקדוש ברוך הוא, ולו יתברך בלבד? האם אין בזה משום איסור ׳דורש אל המתים׳? זאת ועוד: בקשותיו של אדם על קברו של צדיק - האם מהוות הן הפרעה למנוחתם או נחת רוח לנשמתם הטהורה? סקירה מקיפה ממשנתם של גדולי ישראל בנידון תפלה על קברי צדיקים.

    סוד עניית אמן. פרק ב

    10

    אמן׳ - מלה בת שלושה אותיות בלבד הטומנת בתוכה פנינים ומרגליות גם מתורת הנסתר והקבלה. מאמר המשך זה - פרק שני - בגדולתה של עניית אמן סוקר את סוד פעולת הברכה בעולם הספירות ועד המשכתה למטה על ידי עניית אמן. גדול העונה

    Praying in Unison - Kedusha during the Silent Amida 12 Joining the congregation in their recital of kedusha is important on many levels. But what should one do if he is still reciting the silent Amida? Or just about to begin? When a worshiper's private Amida collides with the recital of Kedusha by the congregation, what is the appropriate response?
    Amazon Prime and Amira Le'Nochri 32 The mandate to rest on Shabbos also precludes having work done for us by gentiles, under specific conditions. May one send Priority, Express or 2nd Day Mail on Friday? What about ordering through Amazon Prime? What may one say (or dictate) when scheduling shipping without violating Shabbos by proxy?
    Extending an Olive Branch (Sources) 24 Having survived the Great Flood, Noach was comforted by the sight of the dove clutching an olive leaf, the proverbial sign of peace.

    What is unique about the olive leaf? What was the message it conveyed to Noach? What relevant lesson can be gleaned from this incident?

    Visitor Information (Sources) 125 Emulating G-d's example, we are encouraged to visit and tend to the sick. Our presence is assured by the Talmud as having the power to heal a portion of the patient's suffering. Does Halacha provide guidelines for the visitor in the performance of this mitzva?

    Prayer, too, is an integral part of this mitzvah. What particular prayers should be said for their recovery? What about assisting the individual in the recitation of prayers during their final moments?

    Moshe's Unmarked Grave (Sources) 35 Jews have always cherished the land of Israel, and yearned to be buried there upon their passing. They also seek to have their grave marked honorably, so as to enable loved ones to visit and pray. Yet Moshe Rabbeinu merited none of these, buried in "the Valley of Moab," where "no person knows the place of his burial unto this day". Why was he assigned this fate? Does this somehow reflect his life’s unparalleled accomplishments?

    (Hebrew)

    Responsible Governance 15 It is the duty of our public servants to act in our best interests. What happens when they err? If a government official implements a bad decision, erroneously or maliciously, can he or she be held responsible for the results, be they financial or criminal? In the Torah's view, is a public servant or government entity held accountable?
    The Rainbow Effect (Sources) 75 We recite a special blessing upon seeing a rainbow, thanking G-d for upholding His covenant with Noach. But isn't a rainbow just a natural phenomenon, a function of light refracting off of moisture?

    Is there significance to the colors of the rainbow?

    Playing with Folly (Sources) 17 In addition to the Prohoibition against Gambling, observant Jews seem to have an aversion to the standard deck of playing cards.

    What could be wrong with an innocent game of Solitaire?

    History of Hakafot (Sources) 78 One of our most festive Holidays, an all-out celebration of the Torah, has neither Scriptural nor Talmudic basis.

    These sources trace the development of this custom as well as many others related to Simchas Torah: The yearly schedule for completing the reading of the Torah, the ensuing celebration and unique liturgy read on this occasion, the custom of dancing and circling the Bima seven times, other celebratory expressions such as marching with candles, torches and much more.

    Also includes a collection of anecdotes regarding the importance of experiencing joy during this event.

    (Hebrew)

    Prosperity of the Wicked (Sources) 22 "Why do the wicked prosper?" (Jeremiah12:1) This question has troubled the faithful from the times of Job and Jeremiah until today. Ought our faith in an unknowable G-d be weakened when witnessing the prosperity of the wicked? A smorgasbord of classic approaches.

    (Hebrew)

    A Rebbetzin and a Scholar 18 For much of history, women were relegated to the home, leaving the pursuit of education to their male counterparts. Today, institutions for higher Torah education for women and girls dot the globe. How did Torah study for women evolve? Study the background, history and halachic issues relevant to Torah education of women and girls.
    The Rebbe on the Holocaust 61 One of the most painful events to strike the Jewish people in recent memory is the tragedy of the Holocaust, which decimated European Jewry in a show of appalling cruelty. Having narrowly escaped its horrors himself, the Rebbe was uniquely placed to offer comfort and guidance to those who survived with both faith and sensitivity.

    • Part I - Making Sense of the Senseless: The horrific suffering of the Holocaust, having seared into our collective conscience, has confronted many Jews with a crisis of faith. The Rebbe offers a unique approach, allowing us to affirm our faith in a kind and just G-d, while maintaining our empathy for the plight of the Holocaust victims.

      This paper addresses a range of issues. How does one maintain faith in G-d’s justice in light of such unfathomable horrors? Is this paradox surmountable for all, including those who do not fully subscribe to all dimensions of Torah scholarship? Is it appropriate to rationalize the plight of the Holocaust victims? Does our moral outrage preclude us from taking to heart the lessons these events offer?

    Women's Rights and Religious Ritual - Part I 20 The notion of equality and egalitarianism calls for equal representation of all people in all areas of life. Yet the Torah explicitly exempts women from a number of mitzvah obligations, many of which are highly visible in the synagogue and community setting.

    • Part I-Understanding the Exemption: Does this exemption apply only to those mitzvos whose fulfillment is restricted to particular times? Does the unique calling of a Jewish woman impact the scope of her mitzvah obligations?

      Is there any substance to the claim ascribing this dispensation to the woman's “higher level of holiness”? Is this sourced in traditional Torah scholarship?

    See also Part II-Mystery of The Mitzvos
    Women's Rights and Religious Ritual - Part II 14 The notion of equality and egalitarianism calls for equal representation of all people in all areas of life. Yet the Torah explicitly exempts women from a number of mitzvah obligations, many of which are highly visible in the synagogue and community setting.

    • Part II-Mystery of the Mitzvos: Mitzvos are an expression of the Divine Will. How can Jewish mysticism help us understand the role that gender plays in the performance of Mitzvos? Will the current framework that falls along gender lines change with the arrival of Moshiach?
    See also Part I-Understanding the Exemption
    Kosher 'Frankenfoods'? GMOs in Halacha (Sources) 228 Scientific advances have unlocked some of the 'source code' of living organisms, where by splicing genes from, say, arctic salmon into strawberries, or mice into chickens, we can produce strains of plants and animals which grow better, are more resilient, and are more beneficial economically or otherwise.

    While discussion abounds regarding the long-term health effects of these developments, what is the Torah's view on such manipulation? Do the ethos of kilayim preclude meddling in G-d's domain? Or does the command to "fill the earth and subdue it" (Bereshis 1:28) provide the ethical mandate to do just that?

    What are the Halachic ramifications? Is the act of implanting the gene –in flora or fauna- a violation of kilayim? What is the kosher status of the resulting hybrids? Does the status of the donor carryover to the recipient? What if the transferred genes affect the presence of the traditional kosher signs? (a tuna with no scales, a shark with scales)? Is an Esrog which has been thus modified considered a Murkav, disqualifying it from use for the Mitzvah?

    Is there a spiritual effect? Do the characteristics of those animals which the Torah deems negative carry over into the new creature? Would consuming this (otherwise Kosher) creature bring spiritual coarseness (timtum halev)?

    A collection of Tshuvos and articles in Hebrew and English.

    Seudah Shelishis - The Mystery and Mysticism of the Third Meal 31 Shabbos is a day of physical delight and spiritual rejuvenation. Each of the Shabbos meals is designed with taste and splendor, which elevates the simple act of eating to being a Heavenly experience. Of what mystical significance are the three halachically-mandated meals on Shabbos? How does Jewish mysticism transform our appreciation for the Shabbos in general, and our perception of the third Shabbos meal in particular?

    Do Lifestyles Have Alternatives? [New!] 115 Since the genesis of humanity, the family unit has comprised of a man and woman – the formula for procreation. There are, however, some who struggle with traditional orientations that depart from this standard.

    Should this issue be cast as merely a matter of human rights? What may be a healthy balance between compassion and adherence to Jewish law?

    A collection of responses and essays by contemporary Rabbinic voices.

    Related: Gender Identities

    Gender Modification and Jewish Law [New!] 310 "Man and woman He created them" (Bereishis 1:27). Newborn babies arrive from the mint of the Creator assigned with a particular gender. But does this have to remain this way? What if people feel that they ought to belong to the opposite gender? What is the Torah perspective regarding availing oneself of modern techniques to align one’s physical features with one’s “gender identity”?

    Throughout history there have been medical anomalies which have not fit neatly into the standard definitions of male or female. This collection also documents some of those instances as addressed by the Torah authorities of their times.

    Related: Alternative Lifestyles

    Feasts of Gratitude 17 G-d's benevolence is all around us. Every day we experience divine salvation whether we know it or not. But sometimes these events truly transcend the natural order for which we owe G-d an additional debt of gratitude.

    What is the appropriate way to express thanks to G-d when experiencing deliverance from danger? Is it preferable to do so discreetly or is a public celebration in order? What is the basis for the common custom of inviting friends to participate in a Seudas Hoda'ah (feast of gratitude)?

    Related: Thanking G-d for Goodness Parts I and II

    When the Swine Will be Divine 77 Hog farming is a multi-billion dollar industry, yielding one of the worlds most popular meats. Yet this animal is also emblematic of all that Judaism regards as distasteful and non-Kosher.

    A Jewish tradition describes the future return of this creature to the Kosher carte du jour in the Messianic era.

    Can this be traced to traditional Torah sources, and if yes, what does it mean? How can this be reconciled with the immutability of the Torah?

    Banning the Beans: How Kitniyos Became Off-Limits 39 Further restricting an already slimmed down Pesach diet is not something anybody would eagerly embrace. But the Jews of medieval Ashkenazic communities adopted the stringency of avoiding the consumption of legumes throughout the duration of Pesach. The question is, why? How was this ban treated for the centuries that have since passed? Was it adhered to equally in times of prosperity and adversity?
    The Sound of Shabbos: Voice-Activated Devices 18 Have you set up "Hey Siri!" on your iPhone yet? How about the Amazon Echo to obediently adjust your thermostat, turn on your lights and play your favorite music - all by the sound of your voice? During the week this might be great, but what about on Shabbos? Do the laws proscribing creative activity extend to actions that result from our verbal expression? What if some technology was devised to act upon your thoughts?

    Related: "An Uplifting Shabbos" and "Motion-Triggered Sensors"

    Our World - Judaism and the Environment (Sources) 0 How would you rate your concern for the environment?

    Are there Torah perspectives about respect for nature, plant life, wastefullness and the like that you should be aware of?

    The following collections feature sources exploring each of the following Mitzvos, as well as insights into how these laws inform our personal lives:

  • A. Ba'al Tashchis - (17 pages)
    Table of Contents       Request this paper
  • B. Shmittah - (50 pages)
    Table of Contents       Request this paper
  • C. Cutting Fruit Trees - (44 pages)
    Table of Contents       Request this paper
  • D. Orlah - (16 pages)
    Table of Contents       Request this paper
  • E. Tza'ar Balei Chaim - (47 pages)
    Table of Contents       Request this paper
  • F. Kilayim - (25 pages)
    Table of Contents       Request this paper
  • Judaism and the Environment. E-Tza'ar Ba'alei Chaim

    47

    Tza'ar Ba'alei Chaim

    Medical Intervention for Terrorists - To Treat or Not to Treat? 30 The sanctity and celebration of human life in Judaism can be said to be commensurate with the aspiration for death amongst our enemies. The recent headlines reporting that some Israeli MDA first responders provide emergency medical care for injured terrorists, raises some serious ethical dilemmas.

    What is the Torah's position?

    A detailed exploration of these laws as they pertain to Bnei Noach and Gerei Toshav; the laws of Lo Sichanem, Rodef, Moser and more.

    The Kosher Diet - Healthy in Body and Soul [New!] 15 Food makes the world go around. But for the Jewish consumer there’s a whole other angle to consider: is the food Kosher? To the discerning Jewish palate, the question also relates to the rationale behind the mitzva. Are there material or spiritual benefits to be had from its fulfillment or must it be carried out only because G-d has so ordained it?
    Bones and Broomsticks: Sorcery in the Torah Part I 20 Accustomed as we are to the world’s natural order, our notion of sorcery and other occult arts is accompanied by some level of fascination and intrigue.

    How does the Torah explain the mechanisms used to achieve divination and witchcraft? More importantly, how do we reconcile the existence of evil forces that are capable of inflicting harm on humanity that was not ordained by Heaven?

    Finally, how does one attain immunity against ominous spiritual realities?

    Healing in the Hereafter 14 Without question, our prize possessions are the children we raise, and it is they who remain our legacy after we depart from the world.

    Traditionally, children pledge funds to tzedakah and perform other good deeds in the merit of their deceased parents and loved ones.

    What are the legal and philosophical arguments in defense of the idea that the deceased may enjoy the merits accrued by the good deeds of others? What if the individual was less-than righteous? Can the tzedakah by community members benefit their soul as well? What makes Yom Kippur a most propitious day to pledge tzedakah for the deceased?

    The Vegan Advantage? 40 Since time immemorial, society has debated the merits of consuming animal meat for food. Today, many associate vegetarianism with compassion for sentient life, animal rights as well as a number of other cultural or health-related concerns.

    What does traditional Judaism have to contribute to this conversation? Turns out -- quite a bit.

    Discover the various philosophical, halachic and kabbalistic aspects of nourishing our bodies with sustenance of animal origin.

    Identifying the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy (Sources) [New!] 12 One of the focal points of the High-Holiday prayers is the recital of the "Thirteen Attributes of Mercy" revealed by G-d to Moshe as key to arousing divine mercy (Shemot 34:6-7).

    The Rishonim labored to identify the precise words of the verse that represent each of the thirteen attributes, yielding multiple interpretations.

    Understanding the meaning of these attributes according to the Kabbalistic tradition of the Zohar and Arizal provides for a slightly different division of the words in the verse.

    This collection provides some background on the significance of the Yud Gimmel Midos HaRachamim and its mystical meaning.

    The Soul of a Leader 22 In our era of material affluence, there is little we lack other than worthy, honorable and effective leadership.

    But you may be surprised to learn that many more people are capable of leadership than are currently aware. If you are reading this, you probably are too.

    Gain a deeper understanding of Jewish tradition’s rich history of iconic and celebrated leaders. How did they balance competence and control, with humility and self-transcendence? Most importantly, how can you?

    Bones and Broomsticks: Sorcery in the Torah Part II [New!] 36 How did man come to possess the arts of the occult? What is the scope of their influence over reality? How were they transmitted and shared? Are they still in existence?

    In what way are Kabbalistic practices to be distinguished from the occult? Our tradition tells of sages who used the secrets of Kabbalah to manipulate the powers of creation. Does this fall under the same rubric?

    Related: Bones and Broomsticks: Sorcery in the Torah Part I

    Familial Bonds in the Hereafter [New!] 19 "Either way, they are My children” [Talmud]. Blood is thicker than water, they say. The bonds of family are the anchor of an emotionally and spiritually healthy life. But what happens to these relationships after one passes on? Do we "meet again on the other side"? Do families stick together in the hereafter? What about teachers and their pupils? Is this contingent on whether the two are buried in close proximity?

    Do the souls of the departed maintain a relationship with those left behind? Do they relate to and empathize with the trivialities of our corporeal existence? Does prayer at their grave-site invoke merit on their behalf?

    Treatment for the Terminally Ill [New!] 18 "A single moment of repentance and good deeds in this world is greater than all of the World to Come" (Avot 4:17).

    During the final stages of a terminal illness, a patient may endure pain and suffering with no hope of improvement. What measures must be undertaken to prolong the life of the patient? What are the halachic requirements for administering nutrition, hydration, oxygen and antibiotics? Does the age or presence of mind of the patient play any role in the decision?

    Although questions of this nature must be dealt with by a Rav moreh hora’ah b’poel on a case-by-case basis, this paper provides an overview of the relevant issues.

    The Real Deal: Buying and Selling Olam Haba [New!] 18 A cornerstone of our belief is that a life of good deeds is rewarded with "a world that is truly good" in the Hereafter.

    Is there another way? Can one “purchase” eternal reward on the open market? Can you get the "deal of a lifetime" (or the afterlife!) on ebay?

    What are the Halachic principles of such a transaction? Can one buy or sell such 'intangibles'? Would the transaction by valid, legal tender? Do "free market principles" and "art of the deal" apply? How does this compare to the historic partnership of Yissachar-Zevulun?

    Includes a collection of stories about tzadikim who engaged in such “commerce” throughout the ages for the benefit of klal Yisroel.

    A Fractured World - The Events of the Mabul and the Continental Drift 7 Modern Geology postulates that the seven continents of the Earth originated in a single land mass, and at some point, drifted away from each other.

    Does this theory “hold water” from a Torah perspective? If yes, can this theory explain how the kangaroo reached Australia?

    Secrets of Kefitzas Ha-Derech [New!] 13 In 1903 professor Simon Newcomb argued that human flight was a “mathematical impossibility,” but that same year, the Wright Brothers successfully launched the first powered airplane.

    Having your travel route shortened and arriving at your destination almost momentarily is known in Biblical terms as Kefitzas Ha-derech. It may be “naturally impossible,” but miracles do happen! From Avraham to the Baal Shem Tov, some of our greatest heroes experienced this firsthand.

    Read this paper to explore this fantastic feat, its history and halachic ramifications. Have a safe trip!