• July 3, 2022
  • 4 5782, Tammuz
  • פרשת בלק

Rabbanit Shira Mirvis Interview

Rabbanit Shira Mirvis will be giving two special free, live, and interactive online shiurim on the Sundays prior to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

They include Fear & Happiness: The Complexity of Rosh Hashanah and The 10 Martyrs: What do we really need to atone for?

WebYeshiva spoke with her about her journey, her teaching and her thoughts for the new year:

 

Learning Torah

What would you say has been the most fulfilling part of your journey learning Torah?

The privilege to have been able to clear my schedule and actually sit and learn full time for five full years. Not just doing it but thinking it, living it day and night. It brought me to where I am today and was a huge privilege not everyone is allowed, and I am very grateful. It will always be very meaningful to me.

What do you like learning most?
I love to learn halacha, specifically Hishtalshut halacha, -how it developed from the time of the Chumash down through our days. It is so fascinating to see its path from the times of the Tanach, through after the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash, through the times of the Gemara, through the various galuyot, diasporas, etc, and see what happened to Torah Sheh B’al Peh and how it was modified throughout the years.

The Importance in Remembering the Past

You gave a special shiur for WebYeshiva on Tisha B’Av. Why is Tisha B’Av still relevant today?
I think it is relevant every year, every generation and I see Tisha B’av as a kind of stop sign. Some 3000 years ago Yirmiyahu the Prophet was crying about the Beit Hamikdash. Today, we live in a society which is so polarized, full of unfortunate arguments, and people disrespecting one another in very painful ways.

Like a stop sign Tisha B’av gives us the opportunity to put on the brakes and think: how did we arrive at such a place? How is this similar to the time leading up to the destruction and what can we learn from this, to not repeat such things in our generation.
Part of what I think we will discover is changing the language and the way we act together as a Jewish community both in Israel and the diaspora is the key. We must recognize there is a lot of work to be done, always.

Thoughts for the New Year

You will be giving two special upcoming shiurim, one on the Sunday before Rosh Hashanah and one on the Sunday before Yom Kippur. What are some of your thoughts on the coming year and what we need to be doing as a People?

I think the beauty of Rosh Hashana this year, like every year, is the ability to start from the beginning.
I believe that this year, we need to take advantage of all that is in our power to really do a  -“restart,” to allow ourselves, in our private lives as well, a clean slate. We need to reflect, fix our mistakes, and think about what we do with a new set of eyes.

We need to enter this year with true intentions in our hearts of how we can create a better existence and experience for our community.

Surprising as it may be, the pandemic, which is not going away so quickly, is demanding from us a certain level of social responsibility. It’s an existence of “שויתי ה׳ לנגדי תמיד” -I have set HaShem always before me.

On an individual level it means to always live with the knowledge that God is with me, and to therefore think about how I am living and creating a just society, a moral society, a truthful society, a society which sees the people that dwell within it.

Each person needs to think about the way they care for the people around them.

Sometimes, we have to do things that aren’t comfortable for us, such as wearing masks. But we need to do so with mindfulness, and with the understanding that our actions have an effect on the people surrounding us. Whether it’s in our family, our congregation, and especially for all of Am Yisrael, the message is : “כל ישראל ערבים זה לזה – All of Israel is responsible for one another”

Rabbi Dovid Fink Interview: The Moadim Course

This Fall the Halacha Mastery Program will be launching two new courses: Kitchen & Shabbat taught by Rabbi David Brofsky and The Moadim with Rabbi Dovid Fink which will cover the various halachot of the Jewish holidays throughout the year.

WebYeshiva spoke with Rabbi Fink about why learning the major practical halachic points of the Moadim is important.

1. The Halacha Mastery Program is about teaching students how to make their own practical halachic decisions. Why do you think studying the sources for the practical mitzvot of the Moadim is valuable?

Torah observant Jews must make many halachic decisions each Yom Tov. For example:

  • If you are ill, which are the most important elements of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to follow?
  • How do we choose a kosher etrog and lulav?
  • When is the best time to light Chanukah candles and where is the best place?
  • What is the minimum requirement for hearing the Megilla on Purim?

A solid grasp of the underlying principles of halacha governing the Moadim will have broad application in many other areas of halacha.

2. There are many aspects to the Moadim and halacha. What will a course like this look like?

For each holiday we will study the primary sources and opinions of the leading poskim with an aim towards drawing practical conclusions. It’s all part of learning to make your own decisions.

3. What aspects of the Moadim do you think are most difficult to understand halachically?

When it comes to the holiday cycle, there are many things which Jews do which are not strictly halachic requirements but are treated as such. I think the most difficult aspect of the Moadim is distinguishing between obligatory halacha and common practices or minhagm, which is not always easy.

 

For more information about the Halacha Mastery Program please visit our program overview page.

 

Rabbi David Brofsky: Kitchen & Shabbat Course Interview

This fall WebYeshiva’s Halacha Mastery Program will again offer its popular Kitchen & Shabbat course, this year taught by Rabbi David Brofsky.

WebYeshiva spoke with Rabbi Brofsky about the course and his goals for the upcoming academic year.

1. The Halacha Mastery Program is about teaching students how to make their own practical halachic decisions. Why do you think that is important today?

I strongly believe that it is important for students to be sufficiently aware of the halachot in order to properly observe them, and in order to know when and what questions to ask. Those who invest enough time learning and gaining an understanding of halachic application and decision making will make many of their own practical halachic decisions. Those who reach this depth of understanding and mastery most often feel more connected and committed and halachic discourse and observance becomes a central part of their Avodat Hashem. Additionally, those who attain a mastery of halachic material are able to teach and help others and the Torah becomes a Torat Chesed (a Torah of kindness) because it enables them to share their learning with others as well.

2. There are many aspects to Hilchot Shabbat. Why is a course specifically dealing with the kitchen important?

The laws of Shabbat are numerous and complex. I believe that the halachot related to the kitchen, i.e., food preparation, cooking, and reheating, are so central to our weekly Shabbat experience that they deserve special attention and study.

 

3. What topics regarding kitchen and Shabbat do you think are most challenging to master?

While the laws and prohibitions of cooking and heating food for and on shabbat are among the larger topics, I think various aspects of other melachot related to food preparations are both complex and challenging. I look forward to studying them with the Halacha Mastery Program participants and arrive at clear, practical halachic guidelines.

4. What have you enjoyed most about teaching in the Halacha Mastery Program?

I have thoroughly enjoyed the various classes I have taught on WebYeshiva in general, and the Halacha Mastery Program in particular. I am continually amazed to see students from around the world, logging in at all hours of the day, to learn Torah. I am truly inspired by the participants’ motivation and thirst for Torah knowledge.

For more information about the Halacha Mastery Program please visit our program overview page.