• September 21, 2019
  • 21 5779, Elul
  • פרשת כי־תבוא

World Of Responsa

World Of Responsa
One way to halachic mastery is by studying codes and their sources in the Gemara and its commentators. Jews have also long written letters to experts, their responses gathered and published in books of she’elot u-teshuvot (questions and answers, acronymed to shu”t, in English, responsa).
In this course, Rabbi Gidon Rothstein introduces some of the most well-known respondents of Jewish history, figures such as Rambam, Rashba, Radvaz, R. Yosef Karo, Noda Bi-Yehudah, Chatam Sofer, R. Moshe Feinstein, R. Ovadya Yosef, and more. Through well-chosen dips into their responsa, we will learn about encouraging converts to feel they are full members of the Jewish people; deciding the Ethiopians were always Jewish (or not–Radvaz and others); keeping two days of Yom Tov in Israel (R. Karo); when a woman’s affair must end a marriage (Noda Bi-Yehudah, Binyan Tziyyon, and others); how bad a rabbi has to be to lose his job (Chatam Sofer); how to keep Shabbat when under siege in Gush Etzion (R. Herzog); and more.
Through our survey, we hope to understand more about the sources respondents relied on to reach their decisions, the kinds of logic they found convincing, and the process of bringing halachah from the Beit Midrash to real life.

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Rabbi Dr. Gidon Rothstein has semicha from YU (RIETS) and a PhD from Harvard. He has worked in shul rabbinate, high school and adult education. He is the author of both fiction and non-fiction, most recently "As If We Were There: Readings for a Transformative Passover Experience". He lives in Riverdale, NY.