A new book tackles complicated topics in halakhic astronomy, targeting laypeople who are familiar with the traditional rabbinic sources but who lack a background in the science. In attempting to clarify the many positions for calculating tzet ha-kokhavim, so important for many religious observances, the author (with a distinguished Haredi pedigree) demonstrates his willingness to embrace scientific inquiry and worldly wisdom in the service of halakhic observance. Tom Rosenfeld reviews “The Great Z’manim Debate.”
What does a discredited theory of evolutionary biology teach us about Jacob’s attempt to influence the character of his flock’s offspring – and how did it play into a Cold War-era debate? Dive back into the TRADITION Archives to explore “Genetics and Jacob’s Goats” for this week’s reading of Vayetze (Gen. 30).
Yakov Nagen discusses his recent TRADITION essay, “Sharing Torah with the World: The Jewish People’s Responsibility to Non-Jews,” arguing that teaching Torah to non-Jews is the most effective way to fulfill our Jewish spiritual mission. This is a provocative thesis, since it must account for longstanding contrary attitudes and approaches, and must justify the endeavor in the face of readings of tradition and halakha which (at best) looks at such activity with suspicion, or (at worst) outright forbids it. Listen to the newest episode of the TRADITION Podcast…
Chaim Strauchler initiates the Tradition Questions Project with a reflection on the physical dimensions of Torah scrolls. They’re getting smaller. He suggests that this may be a problem: This change, while facilitating admirable popular contact with Torah scrolls, is not without halakhic problems. For our purposes it opens an array of questions, including: Who counts as an “important person”? Can such an idea persist in contemporary society? How does this trend relate to privatization of what were once communal objects (and norms)?