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Halacha (Jewish Law)

All About Matza, March 29

Eating matza is one of the most well-known mitzvot of the seder and Pesach itself, but there are various kinds of matza and various customs about when to eat them. Join this course to learn all about matza including shmura matza, machine-made matza, the difference between the two, and how halacha deals with technology in making matza.
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Are Mezzuzot Lucky Charms?

One of the mitzvot which make the Jewish people distinctive is the mitzvah of mezuzah. Even non-Jews know that we put "little boxes" on our front doors. In the popular imagination the mezuzah is viewed as an an amulet or sort of "lucky charm" that Jews put on their doors to keep bad luck away. This is of course a trivialization of the mitzvah. In the course of these shiurim we will study the interpretations given by our sages to this mitzvah as well as the Halachot which govern it. I hope that the shiurim will be both enlightening as well as instructive.
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Astrology: Is it Kosher?

Is it permitted to rely on astrology to guide our lives? Can we use astral forces to heal sickness and disease? How can we distinguish between prohibited superstition and permitted wisdom? We will study the opinions of the great rabbis from the Talmud through the modern authorities. Our sources are in Hebrew. In class we will translate and explain them.
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Bal Tashchit: Judaism, Halacha and the Environment

The laws of bal tashchit, the prohibition of wasteful destruction, are of broad application in protecting the environment. We will examine rabbinic sources from the days of the Mishna through contemporary authorities in order to determine what is halachically permitted and what is prohibited. PLEASE NOTE: This class requires a minimum of 10 paying students in order to ensure its continuation this zman.

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Bein Adam l’Chavero: Interpersonal Mitzvot

Among the topics to be covered: causing insult, affront, embarrassment, and shame; charity; maintaining or establishing peace (darchei shalom); putting a stumbling block before the blind; inciting others to sin; rebuking. Participants are encouraged to suggest other topics of interest to them. For each topic we will focus on the opinions of the leading authorities.
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Blessings on Bread and Cake

When is the blessing for bread (המוציא לחם מן הארץ) required and when do we say the blessing on cake (בורא מיני מזונות)? When is pizza considered like a pie (מזונות) and when is it considered like a piece of bread with topping (לחם)? What is the difference between true bread and "mezonot bread"? When eating matsa, Ashkenazim wash hands and say the blessing on bread (המוציא); Sefaradim say the blessing on cake or crackers (מזונות) when eating matsa. Why? How much cake must one eat for the cake to be considered a meal? Our primary sources are in Hebrew. In class we will translate and analyze them.
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Can a Non-Jew Sin for You?

The prohibition of asking non-Jews to do what halacha prohibits us from doing applies through the length and breadth of Torah. Just as we cannot sterilize or neuter animals, we cannot ask non-Jews to neuter our farm animals or household pets. Just as we cannot violate the sanctity of Shabbat and Yom Tov, we cannot ask a non-Jew to perform prohibited actions for us. In this series we will examine the parameters of this prohibition and learn under what circumstances the great rabbis have been lenient and permit asking non-Jews to act for us. Our primary sources are in Hebrew. In class we will translate and analyze them.
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Charity: To Whom Should We Give Tsekadah?

We all have limited budgets for charitable giving. No one can fulfill all the needs of all the poor. Are we obligated to help all who ask?  Who has precedence in receiving help? We will study the opinions of the great rabbis from the Talmud through the modern authorities. Our sources are in Hebrew. In class we will translate and explain them.
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Cheating People Out of Money: Which Prohibitons Are You Violating, and How?

From a seemingly simple obligation like paying workers on time to robbing others outright, the Torah inserts numerous safeguards to prevent us from wrongly possessing other people's money. By looking at the Talmudic and halachic presentation of several of the Biblical prohibitions against cheating others out of money-- withholding wages, robbery, interest, and overcharging-- we hope to gain a better understanding of the Torah's view of honesty and of the nature of possessions.
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Chinuch: The Halachot Governing the Raising of Children

Chinuch – Educating the Young in Mitzvot

The commandments of the Torah do not apply to children under the age of Bar/Bat Mitzva. But we are obligated to educate them in mitzvot and train them to perform the mitsvot correctly.

We will study the principle rabbinic sources defining the parent’s and the community’s obligations vis-à-vis their children.

 

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Contemporary Conversions: Issues in Giyur Today (May 5- 19)

The question of whether the presence of a rabbinic court is legally necessary for a conversion to be valid has been the subject of much recent halachic discussion.  In this course we will explore this issue by reading primary halachic sources in their original context, as they were understand through history, and for their contemporary implications.
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Contemporary Halachic Issues Part 2

In this class we will follow the path of the modern-day posek and discover, through the texts that he would have used, the modern application of our previously established halachic rulings. Averaging a new question every two classes, we will learn through the relevant texts, understand the principle to be gleaned from each of them and then apply them, step-by-step, to our halachic query. PLEASE NOTE: This class requires a minimum of 10 paying students in order to ensure its continuation this zman.

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Contemporary Halachic Issues Part 3

In this class we will follow the path of the modern-day posek and discover, through the texts that he would have used, the modern application of our previously established halachic rulings. Averaging a new question every two classes, we will learn through the relevant texts, understand the principle to be gleaned from each of them and then apply them, step-by-step, to our halachic query. PLEASE NOTE: This class requires a minimum of 10 paying students in order to ensure its continuation this zman.
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Contemporary Halachic Issues: Part 1

In this class we will follow the path of the modern-day posek and discover, through the texts that he would have used, the modern application of our previously established halachic rulings. Averaging a new question every two classes, we will learn through the relevant texts, understand the principle to be gleaned from each of them and then apply them, step-by-step, to our halachic query. Please note that this class requires a minimum of 7 paying students in order to proceed. If this number is not reached, the class may be discontinued.
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Contemporary Issues of Kashrut

We will study rabbinic sources dealing with insect infestation, kashering modern baking ovens, and the status of chemical additives in foods. Our focus will be on understanding the underlying principles governing these issues. Sources are all in Hebrew. In class we will translate and analyse them.
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Contemporary Jewish Law Part 4

In this class, we will follow the path of a Posek to not only arrive at the bottom-line halakha for varied contemporary halakhik issues but also more fully appreciate the halakhik process. We will discuss questions such as printing mezuzot, water fountains on shabbat, IV assistance during Yom Kippur and others.

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Cultural Judaism (Feb 12, 19, 26, March 4)

-Superstition and Communicating with the dead -Music: during sefirat ha-omer, before Tisha be-Av; during mourning; and all year long February 12, 19, 26, March 4
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Drunkenness on Purim, March 14 & 21

The approaches of the principle poskim to the question of drunkenness on Purim: Is drunkenness permitted, prohibited, or optional?
Are the rules the same for women as for men?
The sources will be in Hebrew. In class we will translate and explain them.
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Dwelling in the Land of Israel

Is it obligatory to live in the Land of Israel? Is it permitted for children to abandon their parents abroad and move to the Land of Israel? When is it permitted for those living in the Land of Israel to leave temporarily or permanently? This course will survey the thinking of both the great Zionist and non-Zionist poskim.   Sources for this course are in Hebrew. In class we will translate and explain the sources.
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Engaging the Mind in the Sukka

Are you in the Sukka or is the Sukka in you? Discover the special kavvana, the special focus of the mind needed for fulfilling this mitzvah.  
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Examining the Shabbos App (Nov 20, 27, Dec 4)

Can Smart Phones be programmed for use on Shabbat? We will study the approaches of the leading poskim to the underlying technical issues. These approaches apply to Smart Phones and a host of other modern devices. We will study the original Hebrew texts of the great rabbis, translate them into English and analyse them.
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Exploring the Halachic Process: Hilchot Brachot

We will go through the laws of Brachot (blessings) from the sources of the Talmud and continue through to see how we got to the practical application of the laws today.
 
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From Long Life to Long Life: A Lesser Known Section of the Aruch haShulchan

Beginning from the laws of honoring parents, we will try to cover much of the Aruch haShulchan's discussion ranging from there until the laws of sending away the mother bird, halachot that sandwich other interesting halachot, such as those of Torah study, giving charity, and affixing mezuzot to our doorposts.
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Halachic Framework for Meaningful Yamim Noraim

The Season of Tishrei is a time for celebration and reflection. Much of the observances, some well known, others less so, can add resonance to the Holidays if we know a little bit more about what they symbolize.  Make this Yom Tov special by enhancing your understanding of the rituals and customs associated with this season of awe.

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Halachot of Eating Non-Jewish Bread?

According to the Shulchan Aruch, we should not eat bread baked by non-Jews from Rosh Hashana until Yom Kippur. In this mini-course we will examine the writings of the great poskim regarding the importance of pat Yisrael, bread baked by Jews, during Elul and the rest of the year. Our primary sources are in Hebrew. In class we will translate and explain them.
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Halachot of Electricity on Shabbat

Modernity brought a number of questions up in Jewish law, in particular surrounding the use of electricity on Shabbat. How does Jewish law view use of electricity on shabbat? In this course we will look at some of the earlier sources, such as the Chazon Ish zt"l and Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt"l, as well as some more current poskim including Rav Asher Weiss and Rav Nachum Rabinowitz of Ma'aleh Adumim.
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Halachot of Microwave Ovens

Microwave ovens raise a number of problems at home and in the work place: Can a microwave oven be used for both meat and milk? Can kosher food be heated in a non-kosher microwave oven in the work place? Can we permit food heated by a non-Jew in a microwave oven. Can a microwave oven be kashered for use on Passover?
We will survey the opinions of the great contemporary poskim on these and related issues.
Sources are in Hebrew. In class we will translate and explain them.
   
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Halachot of Purim and Pesach

Purim and Pesach are busy holidays, full of excitement, joy, and memories. In this course we'll take a look at some of the detailed laws to better understand these holidays.
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Halachot of Reflecting on the Positive

All year long, and especially during Elul and Tishrei, it is important to judge people favorably - הוי דן כל אדם לכף זכות. We will study the opinions of the great rabbis defining when we should accept that others are guilty of sin and when we should judge them favorably. Sources are in Hebrew. In class we will translate and explain them.
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Hilchot Geirut: The Laws of Conversion

What is the Halachic approach to converting to Judaism? We will start with the Gemara as background and then learn the teshuvot and discuss the various approaches the Rabbis hold with regard to conversion.

This class is dedicated to a Refuah Shelaima (full recovery) for Stella Frankl, Tzuriya Kochevet Bat Sarah.

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Hilchot Kashrut

Important issues in kashrut: when do vegetables require examination for insect infestation; what determines the parve status of food; how does wine or grape juice become prohibited; use of microwave and regular ovens for milchig and fleishig or for kosher and treif; who is trustworthy in kashrut; and other topics. Course based on examining the published opinions of great authorities.
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Hilchot Shabbat: Benfiting from Others’ Work

Among the topics to be covered: benefiting from the violation of Shabbat and profiting from legitimate work on Shabbat; asking non-Jews to do work; use of solar or chemical heaters for cooking; and brushing teeth on Shabbat.

 

Participants are encouraged to suggest other topics of interest to them.  For each topic we will focus on the opinions of the leading authorities.

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Hilchot Shabbat: Kiddush, Hunting and Cooking

The halachic process is a deliberate and exacting one. Virtually every ritual we perform is the result of a conscious dialectic process that reflects thousands of years of discussion. We will use the most common rituals of Shabbat--Kiddush, Havdalah and the Three Meals-- as a gateway to understanding the way these rituals originated and evolved to their present form. Studies will also cover a more in-depth introduction to the laws of Shabbat, such as bishul (cooking), borer (separating) and muktzah with additional commentaries of Rishonim  (medieval commentaries),  Achronim (latter commentaries) and modern day Poskim (Halachic experts).  Please note that this class requires a minimum of 7 paying students in order to proceed. If this number is not reached, the class may be discontinued.
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Hilchot Shabbat: Mukzah

The halachic process is a deliberate and exacting one. Virtually every ritual we perform is the result of a conscious dialectic process that reflects thousands of years of discussion. We will use the most common rituals of Shabbat--Kiddush, Havdalah and the Three Meals-- as a gateway to understanding the way these rituals originated and evolved to their present form. Studies will also cover a more in-depth introduction to the laws of Shabbat, such as bishul (cooking), borer (separating) and muktzah with additional commentaries of Rishonim (medieval commentaries), Achronim (latter commentaries) and modern day Poskim (Halachic experts). PLEASE NOTE: This class requires a minimum of 10 paying students in order to ensure its continuation this zman.

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Hilchot Shabbat: Rituals and Laws

The halachic process is a deliberate and exacting one. Virtually every ritual we perform is the result of a conscious dialectic process that reflects thousands of years of discussion. We will use the most common rituals of Shabbat--Kiddush, Havdalah and the Three Meals-- as a gateway to understanding the way these rituals originated and evolved to their present form. Studies will also cover a more in-depth introduction to the laws of Shabbat, such as bishul (cooking), borer (separating) and muktzah with additional commentaries of Rishonim (medieval commentaries), Achronim (latter commentaries) and modern day Poskim (Halachic experts).
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Hilchot Shabbat: Topics of Interest Part 1

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Participants are encouraged to suggest other topics of interest to them.

For each topic we will focus on the opinions of the leading authorities.

             

 

     

   

 

   

 

   

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Hilchot Shabbat: Topics of Interest Part 2

Among the topics to be covered: Preparing for Shabbat, the use of video moniters, timers, and diapers/nappies. Participants are encouraged to suggest other topics of interest to them. For each topic we will focus on the opinions of the leading authorities. PLEASE NOTE: This class needs a minimum of 10 registered and paying students in order to ensure its continuation.
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Hilchot Yeshivat Sukka

We will be delving into the complex halachot of dwelling in the Sukka, using the Shulchan Aruch and Mishna Berura as our foundation.  Amongst the topics we'll be covering: The Mitzvah and its Origins; Appropriate, inappropriate and mandatory activities within the confines of the Sukka - and which of these uses trigger the Bracha;  Exemptions from the mitzva and the special status of the first night of the Chag.
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Hilchot Yichud

There is a halachic prohibition for a man and a woman to be alone together. When does this prohibition apply? Can a married couple invite a female house guest when she will at times be alone in the house with the husband? Can a male taxi driver accept a woman as a passenger? What about a man and woman who find themselves together in an elevator (lift)?
We will survey the principles sources from Talmudic through contemporary times.
Sources are in Hebrew. In class we will translate and explain them.
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How do Jews have Fun?

Some may say the world is your "oyster" but does Judaism put limits on fun? What is the role of leisure time and activities according to classical Torah sources? ​​Where is the room for fun in a spiritual life? ​How does the tension between spirituality and "enjoyment" (popularly defined) play out in the synagogue vs. home, or on Shabbat vs. weekdays? ​We will study the opinions of the great poskim about​ leisure activities, games, sports, ​vacation travel, ​secular literature​, and more​.
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How to Spot a Heretic

Belief in God and the fundamental principles of Torah is essential in the performance of any mitzva. How, according to our Torah sources, can we identify Jewish heresy and who is disqualified from writing a Sefer Torah, performing ritual slaughter, circumcision, etc.?

This class is dedicated to a Refuah Shelaima (full recovery) for Stella Frankl, Tzuriya Kochevet Bat Sarah.

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Illness and Fasting on Yom Kippur

What do the halachic sources say about illness and fasting on Yom Kippur? How do we define illness? When and to what extent can fasting be set aside in cases of illness, pregnancy, child-birth, and nursing?

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Inside Mezuza and Tefillin

What is written on the scroll of the Mezuza and Tefillin? Who writes it and how is it written? Take an in depth look at the laws of Mezuza and Tefillin with a Sofer Stam.
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Interpersonal Halachot of Tishrei

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Is Your Chicken Kosher?

When we check food for the "kosher" label, what are we really looking at? In this course we will learn about what factors go in to determining whether chickens are kosher and why some people might label something as kosher that others would say is not.
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Jewish Issues in Modern Society

A series of 2-session mini-courses:

a. The Law of the Land
When does halacha demand that we obey the law of the land?

b. Imitating non-Jewish Conduct
When are we prohibited from dressing like non-Jews or imitating any other form of non-Jewish behavior?

c. Smoking
What do the great poskim write about smoking (tobacco and other leaves)?

d. Euthanasia
Is there room in halacha to permit certain forms of euthanasia for terminally ill patients who are suffering? We will examine the opinions of the Shulchan Aruch and major contemporary authorities.

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Jewish Medical Ethics

Birth control, abortion, and life-saving. In this course we will examine Talmudic, medieval and modern rabbinic sources dealing with medical ethics, surveying the spectrum of thought on these issues. Our texts are all primary sources in Hebrew. In class we will translate and analyse them. This course is dedicated in honor of Shira Chaya bat Yasmin. May her parents merit to raise her in Torah, Chupa, and Ma'asim Tovim.
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Jewish Tradition and Non-Tradtional Jews

Our classical sources have harsh words for Jews who do not conform to halachic standards. They are excluded from Jewish communities and not counted in minyanim; they prohibit any wine they handle like idolaters; they are considered untrustworthy; and they cannot participate in community eiruvim. Unlike in classical times, today many Jews are not Torah observant. In this course we will study the opinions of the great poskim from the beginning of modern times ‘till today regarding the status of secular Jews. Our primary sources are in Hebrew. In class we will translate and explain them.
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Jews & Non-Jews in the Kitchen

Judaism includes many special laws about foods cooked or prepared by non-Jews. In this class, we will focus on food cooked by non-Jews (Bishul Akum), bread baked by non-Jews (Pat Akum) and dairy products farmed by non-Jews (Chalav Akum).
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Jews and Non-Jews in the Kitchen

Judaism includes many special laws about foods cooked or prepared by non-Jews. In this class, we will focus on food cooked by non-Jews (Bishul Akum), bread baked by non-Jews (Pat Akum) and dairy products farmed by non-Jews (Chalav Akum).

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Jews in the Workplace (Jan 8, 15, 22 & 29)

(a) Professional Scholarship: is it proper to spend one's entire life studying Torah while being supported by the community?
(b) Marketing Prohibited Items: is it permitted to sell non-Kosher products to non-Jews?
January 8, 15, 22 and 29

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Laws of Charity

Topics to be covered: Non-Jews as recipients of tsedaka or as givers of tsedaka; Ma'aser; Limited Resources (to whom does one give tsedaka?); Publicizing Donors
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Laws of Employment (Spring 2014)

In this course we will learn about employee/employer laws and ethics on issues such as striking, spying on workers, paying wages on time, and more. Please click here for previous classes.
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Laws of Honesty and Fraud

Jewish law informs all parts of our day to day lives, including how we run our businesses. In this course, we will talk about the laws surrounding commerce. What is considered fraud? How can we ensure we are being as honest and ethical as possible?
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Laws of Honoring Parents

How far must you exert yourself to honor your parents? When is it correct to refrain from honoring your parents? We will survey the principle Talmudic sources, medieval authorities, and modern rabbis. Sources will be in the original Hebrew. In class we will translate and explain them.
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Laws of Kindness Towards Animals

Jewish law prohibits causing animals to suffer. We will survey the sources of this prohibition and its application today. Halachic sources will be in the original Hebrew. In class we will translate and explain them.
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Laws of Teshuva (Repentance)

We will prepare for the high holidays by studying Hilchot Tshuva- the Laws of Repentance.

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Laws of the Passover Seder

In this 3-part series with Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Brovender, we will learn the laws of leaning at the Seder. We will start with an introduction to the concept that in each generation we are to see ourselves as though we left Egypt. We will discuss leaning during the four cups, and the idea of leaning while telling the story of the Exodus. We will conclude in the third session by connecting the four cups with ideas of the Redemption.

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Laws of Vows

Sound familiar: "I swear to God I will never do it again!" How many times have you said this and more importantly -can you 'swear to God?'
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Lost & Found

In Jewish law we have the concept of "Hashavat Aveida", returning a lost object. To what lengths must one go to find an object's owner and return the lost item? What should one do if the owner cannot be found? Are the rules different for something of greater value? Join Rabbi Dr. Stuart Fischman to discuss these and other fascinating topics regarding lost and found items.
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Maaser: Giving one tenth of your income for charity

Is tithing income an obligation or a good custom? How should maaser be calculated? To what purposes should the money be used? We will study the principle sources and opinions. Texts are in Hebrew and will be fully translated during class.

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Marit Ayin (the Appearance of Sin)

Some things are prohibited because of the appearance of sin. For example, it is prohibited to eat meat together with almond milk. On the other hand, many things are permitted despite their similarity to Torah prohibitions. For example, it is permitted to drink red wine even though it might look like blood. In this course we will examine the principle sources to determine when the prohibition of mar'it ayin applies and when it does not apply.   Primary sources are in Hebrew. In class we will translate and explain them.
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Marriage and Procreation

We will examine the principle rabbinic sources defining the mitsva of marriage and procreation. Does the value of marriage and procreation supersede other mitsvot of the Torah? What are the halachic sources regarding adoption, artificial insemination, and other forms of assisted fertility? Source materials are in Hebrew and will be translated and analysed in class.
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Matzah at the Seder

One of the main components of the mitzvot of Passover is the consumption of Matzah at the Seder. Learn more about what is required and what it all means.

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Measurements: How Much to Eat at the Seder

How much matsa must be eaten to fulfill the mitsva on Seder night?
How big must the cup for Seder night be and how much wine must you drink?

We will survey the opinions of the great authorities and draw conclusions based on their writings.  

Sources are in Hebrew. In class we will translate and explain the sources.

 
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Medication on Passover, March 28 & April 4

The halachot of medicines that contain chamets. Must they be sold to a non-Jew? Can they be swallowed or applied to the skin on Pesach? Can they be purchased and used on Pesach?
The sources will be in Hebrew. In class we will translate and explain them.
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Minhagim: The Nature of the Obligation

It’s Tradition!

Minhag is one of the cornerstones of our religious practice. We will study the principle rabbinic sources dealing with the obligation to conform to minhag. How and when does a minhag become mandatory? Can minhagim be dropped? What happens when minhag leads to tension and strife?

 

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Mini Series: Remembering the Temple

This 3-part mini-series will take place: Thursdays, July 21, 28 and August 4. The three week period from the 17th of Tamuz and culminating in the 9th of Av when we commemorate the destruction of the Jewish Temple twice in Jerusalem, is a period of muted joy for the Jewish people. There are many, known customs during this time period that manifest our national mourning, increasing in quantity and in magnitude until the 9th of Av itself.  There are many other customs, as well, though, that are less known and that Jews are commanded to observe year-round.  These customs are known as Zecher l'Churban (remembrance of the destruction of the Jewish Temple) and Zecher l'Mikdash (remembrance of the Temple in all it's glory).  We will examine some of these customs in three sessions leading up to the 9th of Av. This class is dedicated to a Refuah Shelaima (full recovery) for Stella Frankl, Tzuriya Kochevet Bat Sarah.
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Mini-Series: Mysticism & Kashrut

Many kashrut issues revolve around mystical concepts in the rules of kosher eating rather than prohibitions of the Torah. In this series of classes we will discuss a number of such issues with an aim to understanding the relationship between mystical or spiritual injury on the one hand and halachic violation on the other.
During this course, we will cover the following topics:
Leaving Water Uncovered over Night – 2 sessions
Mixing Fish and Meat – 2 sessions
Mixing Fish and Milk – 2 sessions
Peeled Onions, Garlic, and Eggs Left Uncovered over Night – 2 sessions
Eating Organs: Heart, Brains, and Liver – 2 sessions This course will be divided into five 2-week sessions, with differen tissues being focused on separately. While this couse is complimentary, there is a suggested donation of $5 for each session.

This class is dedicated to a Refuah Shelaima (full recovery) for Stella Frankl, Tzuriya Kochevet Bat Sarah.

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Modesty and Halacha

Modesty is a great value in Torah life. We will study the opinions of the great poskim on a number of issues, for example: head covering for married women; women’s singing voice; standards of dress; and the tension between modesty and personal dignity. Although discussions of modesty often center on women, we will also learn how these principles apply to men.   We will survey the writings of the greatest authorities (פוסקים) on these issues. Sources are in Hebrew. In class we will translate and analyze the sources.
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Modesty: Intermingling

Torah prohibits the intermingling of men and women in certain situations. Is it permitted travel in a bus or a train where some passengers of the opposite sex are not dressed according to our standards of modesty? Is it permitted to supervise children at a swimming pool where members of the opposite sex are immodestly dressed according to our standards? May a physician, dentist, physiotherapist, lawyer, or any other professional be alone with a member of the opposite sex in a private room? We will examine the opinions of major, contemporary poskim on these issues. Sources will be in Hebrew. In class we will translate and analyze them.
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Mourning During the Omer, March 30, April 6

On the second day of Pesach we begin counting the Omer. In this mini-series we will study the sources governing various aspects of mourning that apply between Pesach and Shavu'ot.
The sources will be in Hebrew. In class we will translate and explain them.
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Mourning in Jewish Law

In this period of mourning for the death of Rabbi Akiva’s disciples, we will study aspects of aveilut (mourning): Establishing the time of death and the onset of mourning; speedy burial; tearing clothing (kriʽah); the mourners’ first meal (havra’ah); and the mourners’ avoidance of simcha (joyful activities). Our primary sources are in Hebrew. In class we will translate and explain them.
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Mourning in Jewish Tradition

During the period between Passover and Shavuot we mourn the deaths of Rabbi Akiva's disciples. In this series we will study the following elements of mourning: (a) The Cadaver: How does Torah instruct us to relate to the body of the deceased? How do we treat it? Is it permitted to donate organs or bodily tissues after death? (b) Eulogy: To what extent must one tell the truth in eulogizing the dead? Is any exaggeration permitted? (c) Informing the Patient: Must the patient be told the truth of his or her condition? (d) Comforting Mourners: What are the Torah requirements for the mitsva of comforting mourners? Can this mitsva be done by email or telephone? How must one act while comforting mourners?
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Muktseh: Prohibited Objects on Shabbat

Can you handle a pet or other animal on Shabbat? How do you handle medical devices on Shabbat? Are cookbooks muktseh? Can you move an electric fan or light on Shabbat? What do you do if a prohibited object is sitting on your dining room table? We will study the opinions of the great rabbis on these and other matters related to muktseh. Sources are in Hebrew. In class we will translate and explain them.
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Mysticism

Halacha dominates our religious practice. There are elements of halacha which are clearly of mystical or supernatural nature. Does halacha demand that we conform to such mystical or supernatural practices? What should one do when halacha conflicts with the instructions of the Zohar or related mystical works? We will examine the opinions of the great authorities regarding specific issues, such as: heavenly voices (bat kol); drinking uncovered water; the interpretation of dreams; communicating with the dead (doresh el ha-meitim); the danger of even numbers (zugot); and astrology. PLEASE NOTE: This class needs a minimum of 10 registered and paying students in order to ensure its continuation.
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Oaths and Pledges

On Shavu’ot the Jewish people took an oath to faithfully observe the commandments of the Torah. When is it proper for us today to make an oath or a pledge (שבועה or נדר)? What is the value of an oath or a pledge made when you feel your life is in danger and you need heavenly assistance? What is the status of an oath to fulfill the Torah?   Sources for this course are in Hebrew. In class we will translate and explain the sources.   Torah learning on WebYeshiva.org in Spring Semester 2017 is dedicated in the memory of Yehezkel and Sarah Lemel z”l by their loving family.     יחזקאל בן אשר למל ושאשא יוכבד ז”ל ושרה מניה פייגע בת יום טוב וטשארנה רבקה ז”ל Click here to learn about their inspiring stories and passion for Torah education and Israel.      To find out more about dedication opportunities with WebYeshiva.org please contact office@webyeshiva.org.
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Obligations of Tishrei

How far must one exert oneself to hear the shofar on Rosh HaShana? How far must one travel before Rosh HaShanah to be in a community where the shofar will be sounded? If one is ill, must one nonetheless go to hear the shofar?

Similar questions arise in connection with sukka and all other commandments during the year.

We will examine the approaches of the great posekim to the commandments of Tishrei. These approaches have vast implications for Torah observance the whole year.

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Obscure Halachot from Parshat Kedoshim

Parshat Kedoshim, the 19th Chapter of Vayikra contains over 30 mitzvot. We will aim to look at one mitzva each week, the verse from the Torah, the Mishna, Gemara, and other sources. This is an opportunity to learn about mitzvot that are generally considered obscure or are harder to understand in practice. Our ultimate goal will be to understand the connecting thread in the list of all these mitzvot. Some examples include sacrifices, agricultural laws such as Peah, Leket, Kilayim, and forbidden mixtures, mitzvot bein adam l'chavero (interpersonal laws), and more.

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Pluralistic Judaism

Are we permitted to work on a tsedaka project, an educational project, a political agenda, or anything else together with Jews whose goals and aspirations are contrary to our Torah principles? May we maintain active membership in a synagogue or any community organization even though we disagree with some or many of its values? May a Rabbi give his approval to food that is prepared according to an opinion that he rejects? When does halacha demand that we actively oppose those with whom we disagree, and when does halacha call for tolerance despite our disagreement? We will examine the opinions of major, contemporary poskim on these issues. Sources will be in Hebrew. In class we will translate and analyze them.
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Principles of Psak: Determining Halacha

Among the topics we can examine are: When should you be strict and when lenient? When does pain or suffering exempt you from mitsvot? When do the rules of be-di-avad apply? What is the role of Kabbala in the halachic process? What is the halachic status of minhag? Participants are encouraged to suggest other topics which interest them.
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Purim and its Mitzvot

​What are the ​Mitzvot (and the​ir​ meanings​) of the holiday of Purim? What does it mean to be commanded to eradicate Amalek - the Jewish people's nemesis in history and ideology? ​   As we explore the roots of the laws themselves in the Book of Esther, we'll analyze the multi-level meaning of the Megillah and the holiday itself. If you liked the classes on Chanuka, you'll love our Purim series (which follows the same model).
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Purim: Preparing to Read the Megilla

In this course we will focus on the trop Megillat Esther in anticipation of the upcoming Purim.  How do the notes influence the meaning of the text? What can we learn from them? We will look at the verses that repeat and discuss their significance.   We will also take a look at the halachot of the Ba'al Koreh (reader) of Megillat Esther. What if the reader makes a mistake? What are the rules of the brachot? What is considered a "hefsek" (break) and does it invalidate the blessing or the reading?   The class will meet Thursdays February 23 and March 2, 2017.
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Rambam’s Laws of Teshuva

In this course Rabbi Brovender will look at selections from the Rambam's Hilchot Teshuva, Laws of Repentance. How do we repent? What are the mechanics of Teshuva? What mindset is required? How do we set things right with God and with fellow man?
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Religious Coercion

Is there room in an ideal, religious world to coerce Jews to obey the commandments of the Torah? Can force be employed to guarantee that everyone fulfill the mitzvot and refrain from the prohibitions of the Torah? If a person is forced to sit in a sukka or eat matzah against his will, is his performance of the mitzva of any value? These questions are especially important in medical cases. Can a patient be forced, against his or her will, to accept medical treatment?   We will survey the writings of the greatest authorities (פוסקים) on these issues. Sources are in Hebrew. In class we will translate and analyze the sources.
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Selected Responsa in Hilchot Bishul – Cooking on Shabbat

What qualifies as wet food or dry food?

When is food considered fully cooked?

What’s the deal with knobs? Shabbos settings? Electric platas? Chicken bones?

These are the kinds of questions I will be exploring in this shiur via selected responsa from R’ Moshe Feinstein, R’ Shlomo Zalman Aurbach, R’ Ovadia Yosef, and others. Though the topics covered may overlap with my other shiur on Hilchot Bishul, this is an independent shiur with different source material and might require a bit more previous technical knowledge from the talmidim.

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Some Manly Halachot

Tsitsit, Kippa (head covering) and prayer in a minyan are issues that primarily interest men. We will survey the rabbinic sources dealing with the obligation behind these issues. The underlying principles will be of interest to women as well. Their participation is welcome. The Hebrew sources will be translated and analyzed in class.
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Some Womanly Halachot

Marriage of older sisters before their younger siblings, head covering, women singing, and women reciting zimmun before birkat ha-mazon are issues that primarily interest women. We will survey the rabbinic sources dealing with the obligation behind these issues. The underlying principles will be of interest to men as well. Their participation is welcome. The Hebrew sources will be translated and analyzed in class.
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Tekiat Shofar: Halacha v’Agada

For many of us the shofar signifies the New Year but can it be used at weddings, concerts, and other occasions too? The 'ram's horn' doesn't just have to be from a ram but it does have to make the proper sounds on Rosh Hashana. This four-part two week course will cover the practical Halacha of the shofar and highlight it's use in Aggada,  non-legal Rabbinic literature from the Talmud, Midrash, and elsewhere.
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The Halachot of Chametz

We are prohibited from owning chametz on Pesach. What about being a partner in a concern which owns chametz or owning shares in a corporation which in turn owns chametz? What about owning chametz which is located in a time zone where it is not yet Pesach or where Pesach has already ended? What about chametz which is needed for medical reasons? All these questions and more will be covered. Sources are in Hebrew and will be fully translated during class.

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The Halachot of Shabbat: Cooking – Heating and Reheating Food

Exploring the intersection between the halachot of Shabbat and the art of food preparation. Included will be discussions of cooking before Shabbat with an eye towards reheating and service on Shabbat, and the aspects of food prep that take place on Shabbat itself. Don't be surprised if there are a few cooking tips and recipes thrown in as well!

Elul Zman: We only meet three times during this zman, so we will narrow the focus of the shiur to what kinds of food can be reheated on Shabbat.

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The Halachot of Shabbat: Cooking on Shabbat

Exploring the intersection between the halachos of Shabbos and the art of food preparation. Included will be discussions of cooking before Shabbos with an eye towards reheating and service on Shabbos, and the aspects of food prep that take place on Shabbos itself. Don't be surprised if there are a few cooking tips and recipes thrown in as well.

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The Halachot of Shabbat: Cooking, Heating and Reheating

Exploring the intersection between the halachos of Shabbos and the art of food preparation. Included will be discussions of cooking before Shabbos with an eye towards reheating and service on Shabbos, and the aspects of food prep that take place on Shabbos itself. Don’t be surprised if there are a few cooking tips and recipes thrown in as well.

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The Halachot of Shabbat: Reading, Playing and Applying Creams

We will cover the following topics with regards to the Halachot of Shabbat: Reading newspapers and secular literature on Shabbat; asking or allowing non-Jews to do work for us on Shabbat; using creams and lotions; playing ballgames. Sources are in Hebrew and will be fully translated during class. In addition, the participants are requested to suggest topics.

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The Halakhic System

This course will explore different aspects of the halakhic system. What are the limitations for rabbinic enactments? How do rabbinic decrees avoid the prohibition against adding to the Torah? Does pesak halakha reflect a commitment to absolute truth? What is the relationship between sage and prophet? We will explore these and other questions relating to the philosophy of halkha.
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The Jewish Moneylender

The Torah prohibits the charging of interest. Learn the laws of Jewish moneylending and interest.
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The Laws of Inheritance

What can be inherited (property, positions in the community such as Rabbi)? Who can inherit (sons, daughters)? What allowances are made to leave property to non-relatives and institutions and what enactments have been made to allow daughters a share in their parents' estates?
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The Laws of Judges

In this class, we will discuss the significance of a Jewish judicial system, its rules and powers.
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The Laws of Marriage and Divorce

In this course we will discuss some aspects of the laws of marriage and divorce, as well as some of the lesser known laws of these two institutions.
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