Contemporary Issues in Halakha

In this course, we will examine how halakha – Jewish law – confronts modernity (and vice-versa) on a number of issues, some of which have riveted the Jewish world recently.

To Fast or not to Fast? This is the question regarding Tisha b’Av and the three other minor fasts commemorating the destruction of Jerusalem. Does the return of the Jewish people to Israel and Jerusalem affect in any way how we observe these days? Is the mournful nature set in stone for eternity?

Pidyon Shevuyim – The Redemption of Captives: While we know that it is highly worthy in Judaism to save lives and provide the dead with a proper burial, are there no limits? If paying too high a “price” for captives will only spur the captors to step up their activities in the future, what has been gained? To what extent does halakha take into consideration the needs of individuals as opposed to the needs of the community as a whole?

Musical Instruments in the Synagogue: In the last couple decades we have seen significant growth in musical accompaniment to services on Shabbat and Holidays in a number of synagogues that consider themselves to be bound by halakha. Often there are a wide array of instruments and sometimes even “rock bands” performing. Can these developments be justified by Jewish law?

Giyyur – Conversion: Once a Jew always a Jew? Is conversion final in Judaism or can a Bet Din – a Jewish Court – revoke the conversion at a later date? Must the convert accept the yoke of all of the mitzvot at the time of conversion? What happens if it is later discovered that the convert is not leading an observant lifestyle?
Kohen & a Giyyoret (convert) – An Acceptable Union? Traditionally, it has been forbidden for a Kohen to marry a convert to Judaism. What is the reason for this and is it still relevant today? Is our understanding of the respective nature of the kohen and convert the same as in antiquity?

Introduction To Contemporary Issues In Halakha

Contemporary Issues in Halakha Instructor:  Rabbi Shlomo Zacharow Course Description: In this course, we will examine how halakha confronts modernity (and vice-versa) on a number of issues, some of which have riveted the Jewish world over the past year.  Naturally, the particular subjects are of interest, but it will also be enlightening to see how […]

To Fast or Not to Fast? – Contemporary Issues In Halakha

Contemporary Issues in Halakhah “To Fast or Not to Fast?” Rabbi Shlomo Zacharow Introduction In this lesson, I would like to examine the history and current relevance of four traditional fast days in Judaism which are in one way or another connected with the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem and the death or exile […]

Redemption Of Captives – Contemporary Issues In Halakha

Redemption Of Captives Introduction Before delving into the study material, I would like to provide an overview of Israel’s  prisoner exchanges in recent history by focusing in on three of the more well known cases. 1)  The Jibril Agreement was a prisoner exchange which took place on May 21, 1985 between the Israeli government and […]

Conversion In Jewish Law – Contemporary Issues In Halakha

Conversion in Jewish Law Introduction  One issue which has really riveted Israeli society for some time but especially over the past few months has been the conversion process.  I will first explain the specific incident which ignited this crisis and then expand upon its broader implications.  To provide the factual background I will quote extensively […]

Kohen And Giyyoret – Contemporary Issues In Halakha

כהן Kohen and גיורת Giyyoret (convert) Introduction Due to the Kohen’s special status, it has traditionally been forbidden for him to marry certain fellow Jews, including females who have converted to Judaism.  The questions today are if we must still maintain this standard and is this a “standard” in which we still believe?  If not, […]

Musical Instruments In Synagogue – Contemporary Issues In Halakha

Musical Instruments In Synagogue Introduction After a stimulating journey, we have arrived to our final topic . . . Musical Instruments in the Synagogue on Shabbat.  To shake things up a bit, I’d like to try to approach this topic slightly differently.  For the next few days, I’d like to hear from you on what […]

Waiting Between Meat And Milk – Contemporary Issues In Halakha

המתנה בין בשר לחלב Waiting between Meat and Milk Introduction The purpose of this section is to examine the basis for the different customs of waiting a certain number of hours after eating meat and before eating/drinking milk. A related issue – must one wait after milk and before meat?  Why is there a difference? […]

Laws Of Family Purity – Contemporary Issues In Halakha

Laws Of Family Purity In the final subject of our course we will examine the laws of family purity, specifically the positions in the Conservative Movement.  We will begin by examining the laws as outlined in the Torah and see how these are shaped through the Rabbinic lenses in the Talmud. Traditional practice, since Talmudic […]

Translate »