October 17, 2013
by Rabbi Jason Miller
I never realized I had so many questions about animals until I met my brother-in-law, a veterinary radiologist and a devoted pet lover. It was at the first family dinner that my wife’s sister brought him to that I began to pepper him with questions about animals. I realized that I had an animal expert in my midst and all of a sudden I started to think of the most intricate questions about animals. My kids joined in and began asking him their own animal questions. Listening to his answers and learning from him was a fun experience and something that we have repeated often at family get-togethers.
As a rabbi I can relate to what my brother-in-law must feel when someone learns that he’s an animal expert and suddenly a game of 20 questions ensues. That happens to me when I’m at an event and someone (usually a non-Jew or an unaffiliated member of the Jewish faith) hears that I’m a rabbi. They take that opportunity to ask every question about Judaism that they’ve ever had and I become a living, breathing Wikipedia for them.
Well, now a rabbi from New Jersey has published a book that brilliantly answers the most common questions people have about animals with regard to the Jewish religion. Rabbi Ron Isaacs, spiritual leader of Temple Sholom in Bridgewater, tackles close to one hundred interesting questions about animals in his new book Do Animals Have Souls (Ktav). Only yesterday did I finished reading through every question in this book and I chose a perfect time to do it. Last Shabbat in synagogues all over the world we once again read the story of the creation of the world, in which animals and humans are created and then Adam (the first human being) is charged by God with the task of naming the animals. This Shabbat we read the story of the great flood in which Noah was charged by God with the task of preserving the animals by building an ark. Read the rest of this entry »
October 9, 2013
From the Jewish Press:
Rabbinic Authority: The Vision and the Reality introduces the English-speaking public to the scope of rabbinic authority in general and the workings of the institution of the beit din in particular. In this work, published by Urim Publications, Rabbi A. Yehuda Warburg presents ten rulings in cases of Jewish family law and civil law which he handed down as a member of a beit din panel. In each decision, the author offers a rendition of the facts of the case, followed by claims of the tovea (plaintiff), the reply of the nitva (defendant) and any counterclaims. Subsequently, there is a discussion of the halachic issues emerging from the parties’ respective claims and counterclaims, followed by a decision rendered by the beit din panel. To preserve the confidentiality of the parties involved in these cases, all names have been changed, and some facts have been changed and/or deleted.
These decisions touch on issues of employment termination, tenure rights and severance pay, rabbinic contracts, self-dealing in the not-for-profit boardroom, real estate brokerage commission, drafting a will, a revocable living trust agreement, the division of marital assets upon divorce, spousal abuse and a father’s duty to support his estranged children.
Accompanying these presentations is Read the rest of this entry »
May 31, 2012
by Gil Student
Shabbat: The Right Way
The application of Shabbat laws to contemporary circumstances is no simple task. So much of daily life has changed over the past century, not least of which is the blossoming of electronic technology, that the rabbinic discussions are dizzying to the untrained. Rabbi J. Simcha Cohen has selected topics on the laws of Shabbat, explaining simply and concisely the different opinions on the issues and offering practical conclusions. The book is not comprehensive, but instead focuses on highlights throughout the twenty-five-hour Shabbat period. He chooses some basic but interesting topics such as the details of Kiddush—the proper way to fill and hold the cup, whether to stand or sit, and more—and complex subjects such as showering on Shabbat and dancing at a sheva berachot. Rabbi Cohen is at his best when presenting the views of great authorities on the issues of the day. His clarity of language and thinking make him an excellent conduit of the halachic decisors of our day.
The original article appeared in the Jewish Action and can be viewed here.