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Rabbi Dovid Fink

In addition to being one of Rabbi Brovender's first students, Rabbi Dovid Fink is an outstanding expertᅠand teacher of Halacha. Rabbi Fink received his Rabbinic ordination from ITRI and the Mir and was awarded his Ph.D in Semitic Languages and Linguistics from Yale University. Rav Fink has taught thousands of students from all over the world for over 35 years.
Dwelling in the Land of Israel

Dwelling in the Land of Israel

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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Hilchot Yichud

Hilchot Yichud

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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Halachot of Microwave Ovens

Halachot of Microwave Ovens

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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.
   
To find out more about dedication opportunities with WebYeshiva.org please contact office@webyeshiva.org.

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Oaths and Pledges

Oaths and Pledges

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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Trustworthiness: Whom Can You Trust?

Trustworthiness: Whom Can You Trust?

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

The foundation of kashrut is trust. How do you decide whether to believe a merchant regarding his merchandise? Can you trust a non-Jew who says that food is kosher? Can you rely on children? We will study the opinions of the great rabbis in defining trustworthiness. Sources are in Hebrew. In class we will translate and explain them.

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Muktseh: Prohibited Objects on Shabbat

Muktseh: Prohibited Objects on Shabbat

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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Laws of Kindness Towards Animals

Laws of Kindness Towards Animals

Halacha Mastery Program
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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 Honoring Parents

Laws of Honoring Parents

Halacha Mastery Program
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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Halachot of Eating Non-Jewish Bread?

Halachot of Eating Non-Jewish Bread?

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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 Reflecting on the Positive

Halachot of Reflecting on the Positive

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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Aramaic for Gemara (June 26 – July 17)

NEW! Aramaic for Gemara (June 26 – July 17)

Mishna/Gemara (Talmud)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

This course is a practical workshop with the goal of sharpening Aramaic language skills to improve Talmud study. We will survey the principle elements of Aramaic grammar, concentrating on texts from the Babylonian Talmud.   Language of instruction: English. This mini-course presumes that the participants can read elementary Hebrew.   A link to source materials will be provided to all participants. Although the sources will be displayed on screen during class, participants are encouraged to print them on paper to facilitate taking notes during class.   The course is free-of-charge with a suggested donation of $36.

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Marit Ayin (the Appearance of Sin)

NEW! Marit Ayin (the Appearance of Sin)

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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Treating the Sick on Shabbat and Yom Tov

NEW! Treating the Sick on Shabbat and Yom Tov

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

What leniencies are acceptable for treating the sick on Shabbat and Yom Tov? We will define the various categories of illness and the opinions of the principle poskim governing their treatment. Primary sources are in Hebrew. In class we will translate and explain them.

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Mourning During the Omer, March 30, April 6

Mourning During the Omer, March 30, April 6

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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Medication on Passover, March 28 & April 4

Medication on Passover, March 28 & April 4

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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Women Reading the Megilla, March 16

Women Reading the Megilla, March 16

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

We will survey the sources and opinions of the poskim regarding women reading the megilla both in private and in public contexts.
The sources will be in Hebrew. In class we will translate and explain them.

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Drunkenness on Purim, March 14 & 21

Drunkenness on Purim, March 14 & 21

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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Astrology: Is it Kosher?

NEW! Astrology: Is it Kosher?

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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Charity: To Whom Should We Give Tsekadah?

NEW! Charity: To Whom Should We Give Tsekadah?

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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NEW! Truth & Falsehood in Jewish Law

Rabbi Dovid Fink

Torah insists on telling the truth, except when it doesn't. We will discuss several situations throught this semester in which the obligation to tell the truth becomes a bit fuzzy.
(a) Lying: When is it permissible to lie? May one lie in order to encourage people to perform more mitsvot? Should one lie in order to spare someone embarassment?

(b) Flattery: Flattery often straddles the boarder of falsehood. When is flattery prohibited.

(c) Bal Tosif: There are 613 commandments in the Torah. Adding to them is a perversion of the truth of the Torah. We will investigate the limits of this prohibition.

(d) Using a Stolen Shofar: Using any stolen item to fulfill a mitsva creates a contradiction between that mitsva and the sin of stealing. When, if ever, can a mitsva be fulfilled on the basis of falsehood and perversity?

Hebrew sources surveying the principle opinions of the great rabbis will be provided to the participants. In class we will translate and analyze these sources.

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NEW! The Way of Peace: Darkhei Shalom

Rabbi Dovid Fink

“All its paths are paths of peace (Proverbs 3:17).”

Halacha (Darkhei Shalom) demands that an atmosphere of peace in all our interactions with others. In this series we will explore the limits of this principle. When is it correct to set aside other Torah considerations in favor of maintaining peaceful relationships with others?

Our primary texts are in Hebrew; in class we will translate and explain them.

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NEW! The Mitzva of Living in Israel (April 10, 17, 24, May 1)

Rabbi Dovid Fink

To what extent does Jewish law require us to live in the Land of Israel? We will survey the opinions of some of the leading poskim of our generation. Texts will be in Hebrew and will be translated and explained in class.

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NEW! Mini-Series: Mysticism & Kashrut

Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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NEW! Vidduy: Confession

Rabbi Dovid Fink

Confession is an essential element in the process of repentance. In this series we will survey the opinions of the great authorities defining exactly how and when to confess your sins.

Our primary texts are in Hebrew; in class we will translate and explain them.

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How do Jews have Fun?

NEW! How do Jews have Fun?

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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The Two Shabbat Loaves

NEW! The Two Shabbat Loaves

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

Meals on Shabbat and Yom Tom begin with two whole loaves of bread yet we often don't consider the depths and vast reasoning behind it. For instance, understanding the nature of Shabbat meals depends on whether the two loaves are required for the blessing on the bread, or the cutting of the bread, or whether their simple presence on the table is required. Investigating this issue will lead to an understanding of how to conduct a mitzva-meal properly. Furthermore, the halachic definition "wholeness" or "completeness" for the two loaves has implications throughout the length and breadth of Torah. Do women also require two loaves? This question itself opens a window to the approach of the poskim regarding the role of women in the spiritual life of the family and the community.   This course is dedicated in honor of Efrat Chana bat Yasmin. May her parents merit to raise her in Torah, Chupa and Maasim Tovim.

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NEW! Isn’t that Superstitious? (September 1, 11, 15)

Special: Other Topics in Judaism
Rabbi Dovid Fink

On Rosh ha-Shana and Yom Kippur there are a number of practices that appear to be superstitions. Many eat some apple with honey to bring a sweet year, light a special candle on Yom Kippur to have an auspicious year, etc. 
 
In this series we will closely examine the opinions of the greatest Rabbis defining exactly what is prohibited as superstition in these and other situations. 
 
We will study the original Hebrew texts dealing with superstition, translate them into English in class, and analyze them.

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NEW! Trading in Prohibited Merchandise

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

Is it permitted to buy and sell pork? To own, manage, or work in a non-kosher restaurant? To own shares in McDonald's or Walmart?
We will study the sources and opinions of the leading authorities on these matters.

Texts are in Hebrew; they will be translated and explained in class.

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NEW! Jews and Tattoos

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

Survey of the opinions of the leading poskim defining the prohibition of aping gentile ways (Lev. 18:3). After clarifying the halacha in general, we will deal with specific examples including tattoos (body art and medical tattoos).
Texts are in Hebrew; they will be translated and explained in class.

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NEW! Jewish Medical Ethics

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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NEW! Examining the Shabbos App (Nov 20, 27, Dec 4)

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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NEW! Contemporary Issues of Kashrut

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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NEW! Modesty: Intermingling

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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Pluralistic Judaism

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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NEW! HALACHA MASTERY: Laws of the Land

Halacha Mastery Summer Course
Rabbi Dovid Fink

This course is an optional part of the WebYeshiva.org Halacha Mastery Program, open to all WebYeshiva.org students.

In this course we will learn the laws of the Land of Israel, including the laws of Truma, Ma’aser and Shmita.

The course is free for members of the Halacha Mastery Program (click here to apply), or costs $25 for those who have not yet joined the program.

Choose One of the Options Below
Laws of the Land $25.00 USDIntensive Gemara $25.00 USDBoth Courses $40.00 USD

To view the Laws of the Land forum please visit the group at�http://groups.google.com/group/lawsofthelandforum.

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NEW! Tzedaka: Supporting Torah Learning (June 9-July 7)

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

Is it proper for yeshiva or kolel students to accept financial support to enable them to study Torah? We will survey the opinions of the great authorities on this controversial subject.

Sources for this course will be presented in Hebrew and then translated and analyzed during the classes.

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NEW! Vows and Oaths

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

The Torah requires us to fulfull any vows or oaths we make. In this course we will learn what consitutes a binding vow or oath. We will survey the opinions of the great rabbis and draw practical conclusions.

Sources are in Hebrew and will be translated and analyzed in class.

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NEW! Tzedaka: How to Choose Your Charities (May 5-June 2)

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

Everyone wants to perform the mitzva of tzedaka (charity) correctly. This requires deciding whom we should support. We will survey the approaches of the great rabbis and draw practical conclusions.

Sources for this course will be presented in Hebrew and then translated and analyzed in class.

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NEW! Measurements: How Much to Eat at the Seder

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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Why Can’t I Eat Kitniyot? Or Can I?

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

Ashkenazim do not eat rice and certain other legumes (kitniyot) on Pesach. We will examine the opinions of the leading poskim regarding the definition of kitniyot, its origin, and application in our times. Is quinoa permitted on Pesach? Peanut oil? And what about canola oil? Sources are in Hebrew. In class we will translate and explain the sources.

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Engaging the Mind in the Sukka

NEW! Engaging the Mind in the Sukka

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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Who is Exempt from the Mitzvah of Sukka?

NEW! Who is Exempt from the Mitzvah of Sukka?

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

Performing any other mitzva exempts you from the obligation to sit in a Sukka. This is the rule throughout the length and breadth of Torah: Engagement in one mitzva exempts you from fulfilling all other mitzvot. In this series we will examine this rule and learn how to apply it to everyday situations. We will study the primary sources in Hebrew and translate and explain them in class.

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NEW! Mourning in Jewish Law

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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NEW! Jewish Tradition and Non-Tradtional Jews

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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NEW! The Obligation to Hear the Shofar: How much must one extend oneself to do a Mitzva?

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

How much effort must you make to fulfill the mitzva of Shofar? If there is no Shofar available in your neighborhood, must you travel before Rosh Hashana to be near a synagogue? If you are sick at home or hospitalized, must arrangements be made to bring you a shofar? Conclusions based on principle halachic sources will define how much effort must in general be made to fulfill the commandments of the Torah.

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NEW! Jewish Issues in Modern Society

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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Mysticism

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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Religious Coercion

NEW! Religious Coercion

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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Modesty and Halacha

NEW! Modesty and Halacha

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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Aramaic Grammar

Aramaic Grammar

Special: Other Topics in Judaism
Rabbi Dovid Fink

Aramaic was the language of the Talmud. We will survey the principle elements of Aramaic grammar, concentrating on texts from the Babylonian Talmud. Language of instruction: English. This mini-course presumes that the participants can read elementary Hebrew. A link to source materials will be provided to all participants. Although the sources will be displayed on screen during class, participants are encouraged to print them on paper to facilitate taking notes during class. This 5-part series will run from January 8 through February 5. The course is free-of-charge with a suggested donation of $36. To make a donation please click here.

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Can a Non-Jew Sin for You?

NEW! Can a Non-Jew Sin for You?

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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Blessings on Bread and Cake

Blessings on Bread and Cake

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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NEW! Some Manly Halachot

Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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NEW! Some Womanly Halachot

Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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NEW! Marriage and Procreation

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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NEW! Principles of Jewish Law

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

There are important principles underlying the halachic decision making process. What to do when mystical, kabbalistic sources contradict halachic sources, when the Zohar and the writings of the great mystics contradict the Talmud and Rambam? What to do in doubtful situations (safek), when the facts are unclear or when the great rabbis are divided and no final decision can be reached? What to do when the fulfillment of one commandment interferes with the fulfillment of another?

Source materials are in Hebrew and will be translated and analyzed in class.

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NEW! Rebuke

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

"You shall rebuke your fellow and not bear a sin because of him (Lev. 19:17)." Repentance requires squaring ourselves with others. An essential element of this process is rebuking where rebuking is due. We will survey the sources in Hebrew, translate them into English, and draw conclusions about fulfilling the commandment to rebuke.

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NEW! Who is Obligated to Sit in a Sukka?

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

When are we obligated to sit a sukka? When are the sick exempt? Is there any obligation for women? What defines a meal which requires sitting in a sukka? We will examine the primary rabbinic sources in Hebrew, translate them into English and explain them.

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NEW! Mourning in Jewish Tradition

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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NEW! Truth & Falsehood in Jewish Law

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

Torah insists on telling the truth, except when it doesn't. We will discuss several situations throught this semester in which the obligation to tell the truth becomes a bit fuzzy.
(a) Lying: When is it permissible to lie? May one lie in order to encourage people to perform more mitsvot? Should one lie in order to spare someone embarassment?

(b) Flattery: Flattery often straddles the boarder of falsehood. When is flattery prohibited.

(c) Bal Tosif: There are 613 commandments in the Torah. Adding to them is a perversion of the truth of the Torah. We will investigate the limits of this prohibition.

(d) Using a Stolen Shofar: Using any stolen item to fulfill a mitsva creates a contradiction between that mitsva and the sin of stealing. When, if ever, can a mitsva be fulfilled on the basis of falsehood and perversity?

Hebrew sources surveying the principle opinions of the great rabbis will be provided to the participants. In class we will translate and analyze these sources.

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NEW! Medicine and Cosmetics on Passover

Rabbi Dovid Fink

What do the great rabbis say about inedible medicines and cosmetics which contain chamets? Is there a distinction between pills, tablets, capsules, creams, and lotions?
The principles we will learn have vast ramifications for kashrut, medicines, and cosmetics all year long.

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NEW! Chametz After Pesach

Rabbi Dovid Fink

The Rabbis prohibited eating chametz even after Pesach if that chametz had been in Jewish possession during Pesach. How can we know whether pasta, beer, or any other chametz product is permitted after Pesach?

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

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

(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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NEW! Laws of Charity

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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NEW! How to Spot a Heretic

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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NEW! Mini-Series: Mysticism & Kashrut

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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NEW! The Halachot of Shabbat: Reading, Playing and Applying Creams

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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NEW! The Halachot of Chametz

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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NEW! Minhagim: The Nature of the Obligation

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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NEW! Chinuch: The Halachot Governing the Raising of Children

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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NEW! Viduy: A Commandment of Confessions of Sins

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

Repentance (teshuva) is a return to God for those who have become estranged from Him by sin. Private, personal confession (vidduy) is an important element of reestablishing a connection with God. We will examine the principle sources defining the nature and characteristics of confession

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NEW! Bal Tashchit: Judaism, Halacha and the Environment

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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Hilchot Shabbat: Topics of Interest Part 2

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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 Shabbat: Benfiting from Others’ Work

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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Bein Adam l’Chavero: Interpersonal Mitzvot

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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NEW! Interpersonal Halachot of Tishrei

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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Hilchot Shabbat: Topics of Interest Part 1

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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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NEW! Obligations of Tishrei

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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Hilchot Kashrut

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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NEW! Principles of Psak: Determining Halacha

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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NEW! Medical Ethics

Special: Other Topics in Judaism
Rabbi Dovid Fink

Abortion, Visiting the Sick, Medical Treatment on Shabbat and Yom Tov,Euthanasia, Suicide, Smoking, Alternative Medicine, Post-mortem dissection, Defining Death and Transplantation Issues, or other topics suggested by the participants.

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NEW! The Limits of Tolerance

Machshava (Jewish Thought)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

If I hold that a certain food is prohibited, may I serve it to you if you hold that it is permitted? If I hold that something is prohibited on Shabbat, may I ask you to do it if you hold that it is permitted? May I benefit from your doing what you hold to be permitted even though I hold that you are in violation of Shabbat?
We will examine the primary halachic sources defining the limits of tolerance in these and other areas.

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NEW! Maaser: Giving one tenth of your income for charity

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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NEW! Illness and Fasting on Yom Kippur

Halacha (Jewish Law)
Rabbi Dovid Fink

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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