Fall 

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January ‘11

Amud

Columbia/Barnard Undergraduate Journal of Torah

Volume 1 Issue 1

Table of Contents
INTRODUCTION  KOL  BY MIRIAM BORDEN  MOSAIC ARCHETYPES FOR RABBINIC LEADERSHIP  BY DAN MARGULIES  THE FASHION STATEMENTS OF TEFLILIN AND TZITZIT: SYMBOLS OF JEWISH  IDENTITY, EXPRESSION, CONSCIOUSNESS AND ACTION  BY JONAH RANK  NEVER‐ENDING CONNECTION  BY NINA KRETZMER  AUTHENTIC HALACHA  BY DOV FIELDS  GLOSSARY  3  4  4  8  8  11  11  24  24  27  27  32 

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Introduction
What does it mean to live as a Jew in the modern world? With so many other priorities, such as sports or academics, where does being committed to Judaism fit in? Is learning about Judaism something that one should care about? Is it something there is time for? Is it even meaningful? In the first Mishnah of the first chapter of Masechet (Tractate) Peah, the Rabbis write, “These are the things that a person eats of their fruits in this world and the foundation exists for him in the world to come: respecting one’s parents, deed of loving kindness, and making peace between a person and his friend; But the study of Torah is equivalent (‫ )כנגד‬to all of them.” This rabbinic text presents a model of priorities that the rabbis consider fruitful, with the climax being that Torah study is equal to all of them. It is clear that the rabbis intend to say that Torah study should be considered a top priority. Into the busy life of classes, homework, clubs, friends, and publishing journals, the Rabbis suggest that we should not only include the study of Torah but also make it a prominent feature. How is one supposed to fit learning Torah into one’s busy schedule? More importantly, what makes Torah so important that it should be such a focus in one’s life? Our goal for this issue is not to present an answer to this question, but to start a conversation. We hope for these articles to be insights into different parts of Jewish learning, as well as beginnings of other struggles and conversations about what it means to study Torah. Through starting these conversations and through these articles, we strive to engage and challenge all who read this journal. Sincerely, Amud Board Managing Editor: Dov Fields (JTS/GS ’13) Editor In-Chief Sandy Johnston (JTS/GS ’12) Weekly Word Coordinator Gabriel Seed (JTS/GS ’10)

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Kol
By Miriam Borden
It's somewhat of a surprise to open a Bible and find that one of the most ancient texts in history reads like a soap opera. It tells of honor, shame, revenge, glory, love, passion, life, and death among giants, dwarves, and gods - like everything you'd expect from a particularly good season of daytime TV. Amid the floods, earthquakes, plagues, fires, wars, battles, triumphs, and failures, live and die paragons and scions and the most celebrated and tragic of heroes, all bound to divine purpose - and, in some cases, fleeing from it. Even God has a few lines. And by the end, we don't know whether to laugh or cry; the thing is, we're doing both. Call it the Pentateuch, the Five Books of Moses, the Old Testament, the Tanakh, the Chumash, the Torah; the Bible is a set of fables that makes Aesop's look like the funnies from yesterday's daily. And yet, for something so widely disseminated, studied, and worshipped, the Bible is consistently vague and near incomprehensible. It seems to not only be aware of its own mystique, but to relish it: reiterating the most nebulous points, constantly alluding to the haziest images, and slipping in and out of the realm of the poetic and the mythical, it's as if the pages wink at us every time a covenant is referenced or a name is invoked. There's the constant feeling that the text doesn't want us to understand it - that a spoon full of mystery makes the medicine goes down. Of these ubiquitous moments of total obscurity, three small words in I Kings 19:12 are perhaps the most obscure and intriguing: “Kol D’mamah Dakah.” We follow the prophet Elijah as he flees for his life from Queen Jezebel, and leads us to the desert mountaintop a cave where he seeks shelter from a great wind, an earthquake, a fire - and then, a “Kol D’mamah Dakah.” And of these three small words, “Kol” is, perhaps, the most incomprehensible - not for lack of meaning, but for abundance of it. "Kol" carries four distinct definitions throughout the Bible: the sound of a human voice, as in, ”Ha Kol Kol Ya’akov, v’HaYadayim Y’dei Esav” – “The voice is the voice of Jacob, yet the hands are the hands of Esau” (Genesis 27:22); an unspecified sound that is heard, as in, “VaYishma et Kol YHWH Elohim MitHalech BaGan L’Ruach HaYom” – “They heard the sound of the LORD God moving about in the garden at the breezy time of day” (Genesis 3:8); the sound of a shofar blast, as in, “V’Kol Shofar Holekh V’Chazak M’Od” – “The blare of the horn grew louder and louder” (Exodus 19:19); and the anthropomorphic sound of God speaking, as in “V’Hinei Alav Kol VaYomer Mah L’kha Poh Eliyahu” – “Then a voice addressed him: ‘Why are you here, Elijah?’” (I Kings 19:12). To shed some light on I Kings 19:12, I consult the Book of Exodus. Exodus 19:19 in its entirety reads: “V’Kol Shofar Holekh V’Chazak M’Od, Moshe Y’Daber V’YHWH Ya’anenu B’Kol.” The medieval commentator Rashi, whose exegetical methodology relies on text-based questions with Midrashic answers, takes great pains to find coherence in the narrative. For Rashi, the phrase “Moshe Y’Daber V’YHWH Ya’anenu B’Kol” is utterly bewildering. Referring to Deuteronomy’s account of the revelation at Sinai, Rashi 4

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treats the narrative like a puzzle and pieces together bits of each account. What emerges is an imagined scenario in which the Israelites demand to speak to God directly, dismissing Moses as their intermediary; “We desire to see our king!” they cry. But when the might of God’s voice proves intolerable and life threatening for them, they entreat Moses to intervene and relay God’s message to them through him. Thus is the problem of narrative coherence in “As Moses spoke, God answered B’Kol” solved: according to Rashi, Moses speaks and God answers in a liturgical call-and-response format. With all due respect to Rashi and his purpose, he does not answer the question. I cannot agree that God speaks with a voice not unlike Moses’. But the translation of Exodus 19:19 by the Jewish Publication Society is particularly astute: “The blare of the horn grew louder and louder. As Moses spoke, God answered him in thunder.” Looking to the definition of the first “Kol” to determine the definition of the second, JPS understands the passage to suggest that as Moses called out, God’s answer came in the sound of the thunder. This interpretation carries weighty theological baggage: if God does not speak, what is the nature of revelation? What is the reality of the events at Sinai? Did God speak, or was it revelation of a subtler kind? Typically in Bible study, the meaning of a particular word that appears multiple times in a single verse is understood to be consistent each time it appears. I therefore take JPS’ translation one step further: “The Kol grew louder and louder. As Moses spoke, God answered him in the Kol,” implying that the “Kol” with which God answers Moses is the continuing “Kol” of the shofar at the beginning of the verse, increasing in volume as it blares in the background (“Holech V’Chazak M’Od” – “grew louder and louder”). The books of Isaiah and Ezekiel contain similarly ambiguous descriptions of a divine “Kol.” Isaiah’s famous call-narrative describes God wondering aloud: “VaEshma et Kol Adonai Omer et Mi Eshlach” – “I heard the voice of my Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send?”” (Isaiah 6:8) What follows is a dialogue between God and Isaiah; a dialogue, presumably, requires God to have a voice. But the setting of Isaiah’s vision, with smoke and “Ra’ash,” alludes to the smoke and “Ra’ash” of the revelation Mount Sinai – where I argue the divine “Kol” was decidedly not a voice. Ezekiel’s vision, too, blurs the already hazy definition of “Kol.” “VaTisaEni Ruakh VaEshma Akharei Kol Ra’ash Gadol” – “Then a spirit carried me away, and behind me I heard a great roaring sound” (Ezekiel 3:12). It is safe to assume that the “Kol” here is distinct from the “Kol” in I Kings 19:12: there, “Ra’ash” was clearly a separate phenomenon from “Kol,” whereas here in Ezekiel both seem to be unified as one phenomenon. Perhaps, then, this “Kol Ra’ash” in Ezekiel is more akin to the larger-thanlife, awe-inspiring natural and supernatural phenomena at Sinai. The “U’Netaneh Tokef” passage in the liturgy of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, famous for its raw and harrowing message with “Who by fire, who by water…” tears our attention away from the first section of the passage. Seldom do we notice a short sentence in the first paragraph of the prayer: “U’BaShofar Gadol Yitaka, V’Kol D’mamah Yishama” – “The great shofar will be sounded, and a still, thin sound will be

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heard.” This short statement is groundbreaking in terms of understanding Exodus 19:19 and I Kings 19:12: I’d like to suggest, along with the author of “U’Netaneh Tokef,” that the “Kol D’mamah Dakah” is a constant presence in the “Kol” of the shofar. Perhaps a more thorough investigation of the nature of the shofar blast is in order. The K’Ta’ei Midrashim explains the significance of the horn of a ram, as opposed to another animal: rams are used for seven Mitzvot, including the creation of a Torah scroll, flute, violin, and shofar. But the true significance of the ram lies in the subtext of the K’Ta’ei Midrashim: the primary function of a Torah scroll, flute, violin, and shofar is to communicate a message to a large group of people; in so doing, the essence of the sacrificial animal radiates out to the people. As to what exactly this essence is, see the Binding of Isaac in Genesis 22, an event culminating in the appearance of a ram whose horns are caught in the thicket. It’s the fact that the ram’s horns catch him so dolefully in the thicket that is particularly intriguing here: that which affords him strength, beauty, pride, and glory doubles as his downfall. At that moment, Abraham glances up and sees the animal whose greatest strength is its greatest weakness – and he identifies with it. Abraham’s willingness to offer up his son would’ve broken most men – and maybe Abe is no exception; he and Isaac never exchange another word after this ordeal. Rams in Psalms 42 and Psalms 114 are described as creatures of yearning and of freedom, respectively – an odd juxtaposition considering the paradox of being bound and yet unbound. And yet, this is a concept belonging to Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik’s seminal work The Lonely Man of Faith: the man of faith is constantly yearning, but constantly confined – in the case of the ram in the thicket, and by proxy Abraham, confined by the very attributes that give him transcendence. In summary, the essence of the ram is in the yearning it conveys. And rams, inhabitants of mountains – which are constant Biblical places of holiness – are the indigenous animals of sacred places. How appropriate, then, for the “Kol” answering Moses in Exodus 19:19, as he stands upon a mountaintop declaring the Ten Commandments before the Israelites, to be understood as the blaring “Kol” of a shofar blast. It is a typically Soloveitchikian religious experience: one wrought with all the yearning evoked by the sound of a shofar blast. The sound of the shofar is itself a description of the nature of revelation at the moment they experience that revelation, and every shofar sounded since is a recreation of that moment. The same thread runs through Elijah’s “Kol D’mamah Dakah” in I Kings 19:12: Elijah, the quintessential lonely man of faith, flees to the solitude of the desert – and there finds the essence of revelation on a rocky mountain precipice. And though he had no ram’s horn to convey the message, he didn’t need the shofar blast to remind him of the lonely yearning of the religious experience. In conclusion, let us consult Spider-Man – specifically, The Amazing Spider-Man #36, an issue by writer J. Michael Straczynski that eulogizes the victims of the September 11 World Trade Center attacks. Straczynski writes: “You wanted to send a message. And

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in so doing you awakened us from our self-involvement. Message received. Look for your reply in the thunder.” I find this remarkably apt here, particularly in consideration of JPS’ translation of Exodus 19:19 as, “As Moses spoke, God answered him in thunder.” The images in Spider-Man #36 are of Captain America, Spider-Man, the Norse god of thunder Thor, and other superheroes blending into the greater picture of New York police officers, firefighters, and paramedics. For a moment, they are not super; for a moment they live among us. For a moment Straczynski brings the idea of superheroes – and even gods – into the realm of the possible, the real, the tangible, and the mundane. But it’s not always cataclysm that transports us there. Sometimes it’s as simple as the hollow horn of a ram.

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Mosaic Archetypes for Rabbinic Leadership
By Dan Margulies
In Numbers 11, Moses questions God as to why the responsibility for the entire nation has been placed on him. God tells Moses to bring 70 elders to the Tent of Meeting and that He would transfer some of Moses’ spirit (ruah) to them, to help him in leading the people. When God transfers the spirit to the elders, they begin to prophesy. Problematically, Eldad and Meidad remain in the camp and prophesy in public. Joshua asks Moses to stop them. Moses responds, “…Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!”1 It is clear that this spirit can be categorized as a God-given ability originally unique to Moses, and that it causes prophetic experiences. We know from Exodus that Moses is a reluctant leader who sees his appointment as unwarranted. Moses desires a community where he is not unique among the people, but that everyone has equal ability to engage with the Divine. In contradistinction, the elders (and presumably the entire nation) do not want to engage with God in the same way as Moses. In Deuteronomy 5, Moses retells the events of the Revelation at Sinai, including the leaders’ fearful plea that Moses should intercede for them in the transmission of God’s word. “And now why should we die? … Go near, and hear all that the Lord our God shall say; and speak to us all that the Lord our God shall speak to you; and we will hear it, and do it.”2 At one of the greatest prophetic experiences in history, where even the lowest of citizens beheld more than the great prophets of later generations,3 the people reject Moses’ plan entirely and propose the opposite—that Moses himself return to being the only communicator with God. It seems that Moses and the people disagree as to the proper role of Jewish leadership. Moses wants people to have the same experiences as he does, although prophetic, his role is mainly as an educator, as we can see from how we refer to Moses as “our teacher” (rabbeinu). The prophecy of Moses is characterized as for the purpose of transmitting Torah to the people. The people as represented by the elders do not see Moses’ job as for them, his prophecy enables him to give rulings, not to instruct. It would therefore be antithetical to allow that prophecy to spread to the people en masse. This totalitarian attitude toward Torah seems to affect even Joshua, who complained about Eldad and Meidad. Only Moses and the Rabbis of later generations were able to see him for the teacher he hoped to be. We can see Moses as the archetype for Jewish leadership today—specifically in examining the roles of Rabbis. We can understand the communal role of a Rabbi as following the two paths presented above: that of Moses and that of the elders. A Rabbi can be a teacher or a judge, and this is how many would classify the two major Rabbinic approaches to torah study. One can seek to understand the texts from many different
1 2

Num. 11:29 Deut. 5:21-23

3

cf. Mekhilta de-Rabbi Ishmael: Shirah: 3; Syria-Palæstina, Roman Empire, 2nd c. 8

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angles, and to preserve those diverse opinions simultaneously. Alternatively, one can rule on cases and decide between authorities. These represent the analytical school, and the practical school of legal adjudication. Through Moses’ goal of spreading his leadership among the people, we can see that Moses wanted to enable each person to think for himself and be involved in Torah at a personal level, something sadly that many cannot achieve frequently and consistently. The elders we concerned more with the common man’s daily issues and wanted simply to know the rulings and conclusions—they did not want to engage with God and to hear Torah personally, rather they wanted Moses to bring down the final rulings for them to read and follow, without the hard work of study. Moses saw himself as a teacher and the elders saw him as a decisor. Both are essential and balanced roles of today’s Rabbis, and their approaches to Torah study are necessary and non-exclusive. These two approaches can be further compared to the two Torahs given at Sinai, as understood in the rabbinic tradition. One, the Written Torah, appears to be a guide to Jewish life with all the laws spelled out clearly and precisely. This is what the elders wanted from God—an instruction book. But also given at Sinai was the Oral Torah, a more complex system of analysis and proof based on non-literal readings of the Written Torah, which was later recorded in the over 4500 folios of the two Talmuds.4 This Oral Torah demands thorough study to grasp the depth and breadth of its proofs and logic. This is what Moses wanted for the people—a lifeline that through passion and dedication would connect the people to God; an almost prophetic experience where everyday the Torah is revealed again to the Jewish people through continuing study. Maimonides expresses a similar concept concerning the dual nature of Rabbis in his Mishneh Torah.5 We do not appoint a king from the community of converts … and it is superfluous to say that a judge or a head of the supreme court must be Israelite, as it says ‘From the midst of your brothers you shall appoint for yourself a king.’6 All appointments that you appoint for yourselves should only be from your brothers.7 However, Maimonides, in recounting the transmission of the Oral Law from Moses and his supreme court through the prophetic period into the rabbinic period includes a point that seems to contradict this ruling. Sh’maya and Abtalion, who were converts, and their court received [the Oral Law] from Judah [ben Tabbai] and Simeon [ben Shetach] and their court. And Hillel and Shammai

4

Palestinian Talmud; Byzantine Empire, 4th c. Babylonian Talmud; Sassanid Empire, 6th c.

5 6 7

This interpretation is due to Rabbi Simcha Krauss; USA/Israel, 2009. Deut. 17.15 Mishneh Torah, Judges, Laws of Kings and their Wars 1:4; Fatimid Caliphate, 1170’s.

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and their court received [the Oral Law] from Sh’maya and Abtalion and their court.8 How can it be that Sh’maya and Abtalion, converts, could be appointed as judges and heads of the supreme court, when according to Maimonides’ ruling this is forbidden by biblical law? A possible explanation is that in the Sanhedrin there are two roles that Rabbis fill. One is as decisors of the theoretical law, and the other is as enforcers of the practical law. It is only the political power associated with their role as enforcers that is forbidden to converts, but study and debate theoretical Torah law is allowed for everyone. Thus, Sh’maya and Abtalion served as heads of the supreme court, only in as much as they presented their ideas in the scholarly debate, which was Moses goal for Rabbinic leadership; however, they avoided the realm of practical rulings in law, which was the goal of the elders. Clearly, these two roles have always been separable and adjustable according to the abilities of each Rabbi and the particular circumstances, letting a leader fine tune his leadership style to the needs of his community. Therefore, each model of leadership still has a place in determining the correct form of rabbinic leadership for modern day Jews.

8

Mishneh Torah, Introduction §8; Fatimid Caliphate, 1170’s.

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The Fashion Statements of Teflilin9 and Tzitzit:10 Symbols of Jewish Identity, Expression, Consciousness and Action
By Jonah Rank
Just One Kid It was probably in the summer of 2009 on some weekday when I was commuting home after a morning of summer classes at Columbia. As far as rush hour goes, the Long Island Rail Road was not particularly packed, but it was tight enough that the most comfortable seat I could find was maybe 2 feet away from one woman who sat facing me while she juggled several boxes of American Girl dolls and the granddaughter for whom she made these purchases. I admit that I know very little about American Girl dolls, but, that little girl in front of me apparently strived to compensate for my lack of knowledge. She asked question after question to her grandmother about each of these dolls (“What’s her name?” “What’s her favorite color?” “Does she like dressing up?” “Does she speak Spanish?” and so on…). About 15 minutes into this (there were still 38 minutes of this Q & A session until I’d exit the train at the Hicksville station), the little girl looked at one particular doll and asked something that absolutely shocked me: “Why is she wearing a necklace? Is she Jewish?” I was stunned. I wasn’t talking out loud, but my brain was speechless for a
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Although this Hebrew term, ‫ ,תפילין‬is often translated as “phylacteries,” the word “phylacteries,” which means “amulets,” is, in most English-speaking circles, an even more incoherent term than the Hebrew itself. Tefillin are traditionally a combination of a ‫( תפילה של יד‬Tefillah Shel Yad), a piece of Tefillin designated for one’s hand; and a ‫( תפילה של ראש‬Tefillah Shel Rosh), a piece of Tefillin designated for one’s head. The Tefillah Shel Yad comes in the form of a box, containing various Biblical verses, and attached to this box is a long strap of leather that is intended to be wrapped around the left (or, for righties, the left) arm of the person donning the Tefillin and then wrapped around the hand; the designs that are created by and the formulae for wrapping a Tefillah Shel Yad vary in different Jewish communities. The Tefillah Shel Rosh is, similarly, a box containing various Biblical verses, and attached to this box is a strap of leather that wraps around one’s head and then separates into two separate strands of leather, each of which descend from the back of the head, down across the left and right sides of the front of the person donning the Tefillin (“Tefillin” being a plural form of the word “‫“[ ”תפילה‬Tefillah”]). Whereas a Tefillah Shel Yad is wrapped directly onto the skin of the wearer, the Tefillah Shel Rosh, excepting the part that is actually located on the head, is traditionally worn over one’s clothes. The box of a Tefillah Shel Yad is worn on the arm in such a direction that the box faces inward, and the Tefillah Shel Rosh is worn in the center of the hairline, above the area between one’s eyes.
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The term "‫ "ציצית‬refers to “fringes” that, in contemporary, traditional Jewish practice, are generally attached to the corners of either a ‫( טלית קטן‬Tallit Katan) or a ‫( טלית גדול‬Tallit Gadol), fourcornered garments—the former of which is often worn as an undershirt throughout the day whereas the latter is often worn as a cloak-like shawl for during prayer (almost exclusively during morning prayer services). Although the term "‫“( "טלית‬Tallit”) usually refers to a Tallit Gadol, the term can refer to either a Tallit Gadol or a Tallit Katan.

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moment. After computing this string of questions, my mind immediately asked “Why would a necklace make someone Jewish?” The only reason I could think of was the commonality among Jewish women to wear a necklace that holds a Star of David, some Hebrew letters, a Chamsa,11 or some other “Jewish” image. “This kid,” I thought to myself, “must be growing up in a house where someone wears some necklace that tells the world ‘I’m Jewish.’ And not only that, but she has come to see this fashion statement as a statement of identity.” Now, I have never met anybody who has ever told me that they wear their Chai12 necklace because it’s a Mitzvah.13 That being said, I know Jews who feel naked if they can’t find some piece of Jewish jewelry they normally wear. Truth be told, if someone walks outside wearing shoes, pants and a shirt but no necklace, that person is not naked— physically anyway. But, ethnically, emotionally, spiritually, ritually, personally—that’s another story. They just might be naked. Some Biblical Context for Requirements of Tefillin & Tzitzit Whatever the reason, ever since at least my early teen years (which has only been only about a decade), I always imagined that the commands in the Torah that have led people to wear Tzitzit and Tefillin were equally binding (no pun intended) on both men and women. I knew that the number of women I knew who wore a Tallit was far fewer than the number of men I knew who wore a Tallit. And I knew that the ratio of women to men I knew who wore traditional boxes and straps of Tefillin was an even smaller fraction. Still, something convinced me that women were as obligated as men to wear all of these items. When I read laws in the Torah, it always sounds to me like these Divine laws are relegated to all of Israel—regardless of age, gender and whatnot. Just for the sake of clarity, it would be worthwhile to review the Hebrew verses from the Torah that have led to the wearing of Tefillin and Tzitzit in contemporary Judaism. The Chiyyuv14 related to wearing Tefillin is derived mainly from four verses )Exodus 13:9 and 13:16, and Deuteronomy 6:8 and 11:18), and the Chiyyuv related to wearing Tzitzit is derived from four other verses (Numbers 15:38-40 and Deuteronomy 22:12). First, Exodus 13:9, reads “!‫וְהָיָה לְ( לְאוֹת עַל יָדְ' וּלְזִכָּרוֹן בֵּין עֵינֶי' לְמַעַן תִּהְיֶה תּוֹרַת ה' בְּפִי‬ ‫“( ”כִּי בְּיָד חֲזָקָה הוֹצִאֲ! ה' מִמִּצְרָיִם‬For you, there shall be as a sign on your hand, and as a remembrance between your eyes, so that the Torah of God shall be in your mouth, for with a strong hand God took you out of Egypt”). Several items of interest arise in this verse, and among them are the following: (1) the word Le’ot (“as a sign”) is an
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According to superstitions, this symbol, a symmetrical hand with an eye in the center, protects those who wear it from “the evil eye” (ill speech about them). This symbol is named after ‫( ﺧﻤﺴﺔ‬khamsa), the Arabic word for “five,” like the five fingers of this protective hand.
12 13 14

"‫ "חי‬is Hebrew for “life.” "‫ "מצוה‬is Hebrew for “commandment,” the singular form of Mitzvot. ‫ חיוב‬is Hebrew for “obligation,” the sense of duty to perform Divine commandments.

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ambiguous term that does not inherently and necessarily call for any particular sign (let alone a physical sign), and the “Le” (“as”) part of that phrase may even indicate that this should not be a particular sign or a physical sign, rather that there should be something that functions as a sign of the “hand;” (2) the word Yadekha (“your hand”) is transcribed in the Samaritan text of this verse as ‫“( ידיך‬your hands”),15 causing one to wonder if this is something that should function as a sign on one’s hand or as signs on one’s hands, realizing also that the word “hands” is also a term that is also used figuratively in Biblical and Rabbinic Hebrew to refer to actions, spirit, creativity, ownership, and nearly an infinite number of other abstract terms; (3) the difficulty of translating what a ‫( יד‬Yad) is (as in the term “Yadekha”) since, though “Yad” is literally “a hand,” it becomes theologically problematic to believe that a non-human God has any hands whatsoever (with which, God can apparently free us from servitude); (4) what a Zikkaron (“remembrance”) actually means is unclear; (5) the phrase “Beyn Eynekha” (“between your eyes”) should indicate that whatever ritual item would be designed from this verse should be placed directly between one’s eyes, yet the contemporary Tefillah Shel Rosh is—deviating from the textual origin of the practice—placed above the space directly between one’s eyes;16 and (6) no contemporary, widespread and traditional Rabbinic interpretation is followed today that leads to the practice of wearing any sort of physical symbol in one’s mouth “so that the Torah of God shall be in [our] mouth[s].” Moving right along to the next relevant verse, Exodus 13:16, reads: “ ‫וְהָיָה לְאוֹת עַל‬ ‫“( ”יָדְכָה וּלְטוֹטָפֹת בֵּין עֵינֶי! כִּי בְּחֹזֶק יָד הוֹצִיאָנוּ ה' מִמִּצְרָיִם‬There shall be as a sign on your hand and as Totafot17 between your eyes for, in the strength of hand, God took us out of Egypt”). Aside from those difficulties that arise both here and in Exodus 13:9,18 at least one further thought arises: (1) the previous verse had commanded that there be a “Zikkaron” between our eyes whereas this one asks for “Totafot,” which is also an obscure and ambiguous term. The third verse on the subject, Deuteronomy 6:8, reads: “ ‫וּקְשַׁרְתָּם לְאוֹת עַל יָדֶ/ וְהָיוּ לְטֹטָפֹת בֵּין‬ !‫“( ”עֵינֶי‬You shall bind them [these words which I command to you this day] as a sign upon your hand, and there shall be as Totafot between your eyes”). This verse simply poses questions posed by the two previous verses,19 and still others—most significantly,
15

This is a tidbit noted in Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, published in Stuttgart, Germany by the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft (the German Bible Society) in 1997.
16

Jeffrey H. Tigay, in his article “On the Meaning of Ṭ(W)ṬPT,” published on pages 321-331 of Volume 101 (no. 3, September 1982) of the Journal of Biblical Literature, lists several studies that cover the difficulty of translating this phrase that seemingly, instead of meaning something like “between one’s eyes,” evidently means something more akin to “on one’s forehead” (326).
17

The difficulty in translating this term is covered in Tigay’s aforementioned article. "‫ "טוטפת‬apparently refers to something akin to a headband, a sign, a memorial, an amulet, a circlet, an adornment, or some combination of these (322).
18

Although it might not be obvious again, Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia again indicates that the Samaritan text here renders the word Yadekha in the plural again—and so does a text from among the Dead Sea Scrolls of Qumran (108).
19

Among these difficulties again is the plural form of Yadekha appearing in the Samaritan text and among

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how one can bind spoken words20 to a physical hand (since that sort of thing is not physically possible—providing that all of these words are to be taken literally). The final verse related to the contemporary practices related to Tefillin, Deuteronomy 11:18, reads: “ ‫וְשַׂמְתֶּם אֶת דְּבָרַי אֵלֶּה עַל לְבַבְכֶם וְעַל נַפְשְׁכֶם וּקְשַׁרְתֶּם אֹתָם לְאוֹת עַל יֶדְכֶם וְהָיוּ לְטוֹטָפֹת‬ ‫“( ”בֵּין עֵינֵיכֶם‬Place these words of Mine on your consciousness21 and your Nefesh,22 and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as Totafot between your eyes”). Again, so many of the previous difficulties arise all over again23 and more: (1) it sounds like the symbols that should be placed on the consciousness and the hand should come to function as (rather than separately from) Totafot; (2) it is impossible to place spoken words (which are abstract, intangible objects) on either one’s consciousness or soul (both of which are abstract, intangible objects); and (3) even if the word Nefesh in this situation had its literal meaning of “throat”24 rather than “spirit,” “soul,” “emotional being,” or some other common translation that refers to an abstract non-tangible object, it would be nearly impossible to fulfill this literally and to place spoken words on a Nefesh. Regarding Tzitzit, three of the four most prominent verses on this subject all appear in Numbers 15, verses 38-40: “ ‫דַּבֵּר אֶל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם וְעָשׂוּ לָהֶם צִיצִת עַל כַּנְפֵי בִגְדֵיהֶם‬ ‫לְדֹרֹתָם וְנָתְנוּ עַל צִיצִת הַכָּנָף פְּתִיל תְּכֵלֶת: וְהָיָה לָכֶם לְצִיצִת וּרְאִיתֶם אֹתוֹ וּזְכַרְתֶּם אֶת כָּל מִצְוֹת ה' וַעֲשִׂיתֶם‬ ‫אֹתָם וְ"א תָתוּרוּ אַחֲרֵי לְבַבְכֶם וְאַחֲרֵי עֵינֵיכֶם אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם זֹנִים אַחֲרֵיהֶם: לְמַעַן תִּזְכְּרוּ וַעֲשִׂיתֶם אֶת כָּל מִצְוֹתָי‬ ‫“( ”וִהְיִיתֶם קְדֹשִׁים לֵא 'הֵיכֶם‬Speak to the Children of Israel, and say to them, ‘Make for them Tzitzit upon the corners of their clothes throughout their generations, and give the Tzitzit a Kanaf [corner] of a Petil [thread] of Tekhelet.25 There shall be for you Tzitzit so that, when you see its Ot, you will do their Ot, and you will not run after your heart and your eyes after which you lust; through this, you will remember and you will perform all of
fragments from the Cairo Genizah, according to Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (297).
20

The word used for “words” here comes from the Hebrew root for speech (‫.).ד.ב.ר‬

21

In all forms of Hebrew prior to the Middle Ages (and often during the Middle Ages as well), the term "‫( "לב‬Lev) was often understood to refer to the consciousness or the mind, rather than an emotional “heart” as “Lev” is understood in contemporary Hebrew.)
22

It is possible that the word "‫( "נפש‬Nefesh) could mean “throat” rather than “soul” here as it often does; however, no predominant Rabbinic practice related to the wearing of Tefillin would obviate that it is preferable to translate “Nefesh” as a “throat” rather than a “soul.” If the term refers to the soul, then this command discusses something that is not possible physically, and if the term refers to the throat, then contemporary practices of wearing Tefillin generally ignore the requirement of placing words on the throat.
23

And, again, Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia notes that the “hand” appears as a plural noun in, not only the Samaritan text, but manuscripts of the Septuagint (the earliest translation of the Old Testament into Greek), in the Vulgate (the earliest known Latin text of the Old Testament), in later Latin translation, and in Syriac translation (306).
24

For example, the literal usage of the term appears in “ ‫“( ”הוֹשִׁיעֵנִי אֱ %הִים כִּי בָאוּ מַיִם עַד נָפֶשׁ‬Save me, God, for waters have come up to my throat”), in Psalm 69:2.
25

"‫ "תכלת‬is often translated as a color ranging from blue to purple to green. What Tekhelet once looked like is, as far as contemporary academia is concerned, uncertain.

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My Mitzvot,26 and you will be holy to God’”). Aside from the ambiguous definition of what color exactly Tekhelet is, several other problems arise from this verse. Among these difficulties are: (1) how to deal with the broad pronoun references (“Make for them Tzitzit,” “when you see its Ot,” “you will do their Ot,” and other instances); (2) whether Ot here means a “sign” or a “self” (and whether the definition is consistent during both appearances of this root); and (3) whether the command to see the Tzitzit invalidates the common practice among many contemporary Jews who do wear a Tallit Katan in such a way that the fringes are not visible to others. Finally, Deuteronomy 22:12 reads, “‫”גְּדִלִים תַּעֲשֶׂה לָּ$ עַל אַרְבַּע כַּנְפוֹת כְּסוּתְ, אֲשֶׁר תְּכַסֶּה בָּהּ‬ (“Make for yourself cords on four corners of your garment which you will cover with it27”). Aside from aforementioned problems (such as broad pronoun reference), other problems arise: (1) the difference between the components of Gedilim (cords)28 and each Kanaf of Tzitzit; (2) if there is a sort of garment that has four corners; and (3) if this garment is therefore something that Israel is commanded to wear. In light of all of these aforementioned ambiguities and others, to take these 8 verses literally would be impossible. The Rabbinic approach to this problem is—not to take these verses literally—but to take them metaphorically: reading these verses through the interpretive lenses of Midrash.29 What It Looks Like When Rabbis Solve Tefillin and Tzitzit Problems The predominant Rabbinic tradition very carefully designed Tefillin and Tzitzit to fulfill all of the Biblical commandments mentioned before. The Tefillah Shel Yad is wrapped around the arm with a box (containing, in writing, verses of the words of God’s commandments) facing the heart of the person wearing the leather strap itself as an Ot, and the box of the Tefillah Shel Rosh (on the head, a home for consciousness) is placed as some sort of symbol above the area between one’s eyes, with the left (of two straps) coming down over the heart of the person wearing the Tefillin. As far as Tzitzit goes, strands of Tzitzit are attached to a Tallit. These results respond to a good number of questions, but they still leave a lot of answers to be desired:
26

"‫ "מצוות‬are “commandments,” the plural of ‫. מצווה‬

27

According to Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, ancient Aramaic and Syriac translations of this verse render the phrase “which you will cover with it” as “with which you will be covered,” which may make more sense in this context (325).
28

According to F. Brown, S. Driver, and C. Briggs’ The Brown-Driver-Briggsz Hebrew and English Lexicon published by Hendrickson Publishers (the tenth printing, from 2006, from Peabody, MA), the Hebrew term "‫ "גדילים‬is related to the Babylonian “gidlu” (“cord” or “string”) on which onions (apparently) were once strung (152).
29

The term "‫ "מדרש‬literally means “source of explanation” in Hebrew and refers to the predominant, traditional Rabbinic system of interpreting Biblical verses.

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If Yadekha is so often read in the plural, then why is the Tefillah Shel Yad something worn on only one hand? What does one do with the conflicting commands of placing a Zikkaron and Totafot between one’s eyes? Why is the end result of a Tefillah Shel Rosh not something that is placed directly between one’s eyes? What happened to those words about “the Torah of God be[ing] in [our] mouth[s]?” Mostly everything else seems to have been turned into a physical symbol, right? Is a Yad really and necessarily a hand? If not, then why is the Tefillah Shel Yad a physical thing? Does the placing of written words into a box that is then placed onto the body truly a way of binding spoken words? What happened to those words about placing these spoken words upon the Nefesh? That also got left behind, eh? Are Totafot and the signs placed upon the consciousness and the hand separate things from each other? In what ways are Tzitzit representative of anything different from Tefillin? Must these signs all be physically, regularly and readily visible? What’s the difference between the strands of Tzitzit and Gedilim? Who’s supposed to wear this stuff? When should this stuff be worn?

The answers to these questions, as far as I can tell, read something along the lines of: (1) One tradition won. Why didn’t the other? Who knows? (2) Ignore this? Or, maybe, try to understand Totafot as functioning here as a Zikkaron? Who knows? (3) Perhaps fashion? Perhaps ease of wearing? Perhaps the rabbis couldn’t find anything that could go directly between people’s eyes that wouldn’t obscure or endanger one’s line of vision? Not so clear. (4) Maybe it would be too gross to do this sort of thing? Making sure that we just speak words of Torah would probably be more comfortable for all of us, y’know? (5) The Tefillah Shel Yad can be understood as a conveniently tactilely, visually, and poetically beautiful Mitzvah the way it was interpreted. Why wasn’t it interpreted otherwise? Perhaps this was just the most popular interpretation? (6) Of course not, but it’s the closest we can get to a literal observance of this commandment. Is there an alternative? Maybe. (7) Maybe the wish is that everyone’s Nefesh be, figuratively, immersed in the words of Torah. It’s hard to take this one literally… (8) Somewhat. (9) From this much alone, it is unclear.30
30

Coming up though will be a brief discussion on the necessary distinction between Tzitzit and Tefillin, based off of Biblical verses in which similar items are discussed outside of the realm of commandedness.

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(10) Sort of. (11) Who knows?31 (12) Although ancient and Medieval cases of women wearing these things are known, the loudest voices of the Rabbinate—until the late 20th Century—downplayed or negated the appropriateness of women wearing these ritual items. So, these items were designated only to men—and, especially with regards to Tefillin, only Jewish men in a certain elite religious social circle who desired and could afford the regular wearing of Tefillin. (13) The answer to this question of how often is somewhat complex and has implications that could be a real game-changer in understanding the potential relevance of Tefillin and Tzitzit in contemporary Jewish life.32 We can’t take these verses literally. Not only that, but several centuries of Rabbis were unable to come up with answers that all Jews could ever find completely satisfactory to the problems posed by those same Biblical commandments that led to Tefillin and Tzitzit. This article also can’t provide those ideal answers, but I hope to offer some answers that I’ve never seen in writing or heard anyone else suggest. Finding these answers will require a little bit of talk about theology. Say Yes To The Symbolic Dress The God I believe in commanded all of Israel—without regards to gender—in all of the same commandments.33 I have always believed that the idea that certain Mitzvot could be allocated to only one gender was an idea that came after the people Israel accepted God’s commands. So, on one summer day, when one little girl asked if one American Girl wore a necklace because she was Jewish, I wondered if the notion of Chiyyuv to wear Jewish identity outwardly never died away from a gender for whom the acceptability of wearing traditional Tefillin faded away. As far as we know, Tefillin used to be worn all day long. It is conceivable that this fashion became outmoded when two realizations were made: (1) walking around all day with a box on one’s head and a box on one’s arm is really hard, so (2) this was probably a little too much. Wearing Tefillin, previously understood to be Something That Jews Do All Day, then turned into Something That Jews Do Every Day, and then turned into Something That Jews Do Almost Every Day. The difference between wearing Tefillin every day and almost every day came in the recognition that Tefillin’s primary purpose
31

Somehow the Rabbis might have not cared too much about these two different words meaning nearly the same thing. The fact that one word appears in Numbers and the other in Deuteronomy also points to the fact that these books, theorized by modern scholars of Bible to have been written during different time periods, use different language to refer to the same concepts.
32

Discussion regarding this will occur shortly in this article.

33

The only exceptions to this general principle of my beliefs are commandments that relate to anatomical structures or biological functions that are exclusive to only men or women, such as laws regarding circumcision or menstruation.

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was to serve symbolically as an Ot;34 the understanding was that the observance of Shabbat35and Yom Tov36 was enough of an Ot for the Jewish people to wear. No need to wear another Ot.37 As far as prayer shawls go, what may be more telling about the origins of Tzitzit than what we read in the Shema are the numerous instances in Biblical literature when the Petil or the Kanaf of a person’s garment becomes part of the hierarchical, tribal, spiritual, or personal identity of whoever is wearing it. We read of Tamar revealing to Judah their incestuous relationship when she presents him with evidence of his Petil, in which he sees a piece of himself.38 We see David remove a Kanaf from Saul’s dress, thus snatching away a piece of Saul’s sovereignty.39 We hear God command the High Priest to wear a Petil of Tekhelet, a color that thematically is connected to ancient Israel’s sacrificial cult or to the elite of society.40 And we meet ten allegorical foreigners who, upon seeing the Kanaf of a Jew, determine that the Jews are a people who walk in the ways of the Divine.41 These are signs of a certain people: a people of God.42 The truth is that both Tzitzit and Tefillin are each an Ot of sorts.43 When
34

An ‫“ ,אות‬a sign” (in Hebrew), is used in Exodus 13:9 and 13:16, and Deuteronomy 6:8 and 11:18, seemingly in reference to a symbol of Divine devotion.
35

"‫ "שבת‬is the Hebrew term for referring to the Sabbath day.

36

A " ‫ "יום טוב‬is, in Hebrew, a Festival day, during which most laws that apply to the observance of Shabbat also apply.
37

The Talmudic arguments that supposedly led to this transformation in the frequency of wearing Tefillin is recorded in the Babylonian Talmud, Menachot 36b.
38 39

Genesis 38:13-26. I Samuel 24.

40

This command comes about in Exodus 28:36. Tekhelet is mentioned 49 times in the Tanakh, almost always in connection with the concepts of royalty or the sacrificial cult itself; the one most significant exception to this rule comes in the mention of Tekhelet in the passages of the Shema. That being said, God also commands that the people Israel be a “kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:6). Tekhelet, as a color that is chosen for all of Israel to wear on the garments of their clothes, is therefore a perfect thematic combination of both royalty and the ancient religion that priests once governed.
41

Zechariah 8:23.

42

For further thoughts on the original role of Tzitzit, John V. Coyller’s article “Fringes and Snails” online at http://www.bibletopics.com/BIBLESTUDY/14.htm (at least, as of October 3, 2010) is a very good introduction.
43

Even though the word Ot appears in some form in each of the four verses related to the commands of wearing Tefillin and definitely not in 3 out of the 4 verses related to the commandments related to Tzitzit, Numbers 15:39’s words include, “‫“( ”'וראיתם  אתו וזכרתם את כל מצות ה‬When you see Oto, you will remember all of the Mitzvot of the Lord”). The word Oto may mean here—rather than “it,” as in “itself”—“its symbol.”

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commanding all of Israel to wear the Tzitzit, on a Kanaf with a Petil of Tekhelet, God explains that, upon seeing this symbol, Israel should come to remember the Mitzvot. Tzitzit, though developed from ancient dress, is the result of God’s commanding Israel to wear a visual symbol of its relationship with God’s Sovereignty as Israel’s Commander and Source of Sanctity and Justice. That Tefillin is an Ot that is literally worn in contemporary Judaism is more surprising. The passages that introduce the obligation to have God’s words and signs on one’s hand, in one’s mouth, with one’s Nefesh, upon one’s heart and amidst one’s eyes do not necessarily imply that these should be physical signs. From these passages alone, it sounds like God might be asking Israel to perform Godly actions through their hands, to be comfortable speaking of and for sacred matters, to breathe and to live a sacred lifestyle, to keep God in one’s heartfelt consciousness, and to view the world with a Divinely-focused vision.44 Regardless of the intentions of those verses, the predominant Rabbinic imagination of the first millennium CE ultimately agreed with those members of the ancient Dead Sea sect whose straps and boxes of Tefillin archaeologists found and dated to times before the canonization of Rabbinic legal literature. It’s not clear exactly when or why, but Tefillin came to be commonly understood and used for about 2 millennia as physical embodiments of observing God’s Mitzvot. Curiously, Tefillin have not been deemed superfluous objects even though Tzitzit have played a remarkably similar function in Jewish ritual life. And, with the exceptions of individuals who wear Tzitzit on a Tallit Katan, the wearing of both Tzitzit and Tefillin occurs in most communities only during select moments of Tefillah45 during the year. Putting aside what the majority of male Orthodox Jews wear as Tefillin and Tzitzit, I think back to when I sat on the train and tried to imagine the form of Judaism that is familiar to that little girl who questioned the stories of each American Girl doll that her grandmother had bought for her. What are Tefillin in this girl’s life? What is a Tallit in her mind? Chances are that, if anyone had asked these questions directly to her, she either would have given a cute and slightly inaccurate explanation of Tefillin and Tallit (or at least Tallit), or she would not have known. Whatever her answer would be, I believe that this would be the moment to explain that, for some people, Tefillin do not need to be straps and boxes, and, for some people, a Tallit does not need to be a fourcornered garment with fringes. If Tefillin of the hand and the head just need to be something that connects one’s daily actions to a consciousness of God, sanctity, Judaism, ethics, human responsibility, or some combination of these concepts, then there certainly must be some symbol other than boxes and straps that can articulate these core elements of Jewish responsibility. And, if Tzitzit must be some small but clear symbol that tells our identity to those around
44

Regarding the Tefillah Shel Rosh as a symbol emphasizing the necessity of viewing the world with a Divinely-focused vision, it is worth noting the similarity of this imagery to the mystical “third eye” status often attributed to a Bindi worn by traditional Hindu women on their forehead, above the area directly between their eyes. That this part of the forehead is a place where disparate spiritual cultures have placed ritual objects may or may not affect our appreciation of the traditional placement of a Tefillah Shel Rosh in a location closer to where a Bindi may be placed than to a place that is literally “between [the] eyes.”
45

The word "‫ "תפילה‬is independently, in its most common usage, Hebrew for “prayer.”

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us and to ourselves, then there must be some symbol other than fringes that can articulate the identity of a Jew. And, to the little girl on the train, there was, and it was some sort of necklace. Not long before I rode on the LIRR with that little girl, a friend of mine who was converting to Judaism asked to go over with me how to understand her responsibilities she would soon have when it came to fulfilling the Mitzvot of Tefillah. During the course of our conversations, she said she was comfortable with wearing a Tallit but was uncomfortable with wearing Tefillin because Tefillin looked to her like something only men should wear. I told her that, as a man, and as a fashion non-aficionado, I really had no idea whether or not boxes and straps of Tefillin qualify as appropriate women’s clothing. Having said that, I added that I still have always sensed that women are also obligated to fulfill those same commandments that lead men to wear Tefillin. I suggested to her that she might want to consider if there is anything else that she could wear that would covers that same symbolism of Tefillin in her life. Was there a Jewish-star necklace she likes? Was there a bracelet she likes that has some meaningful Hebrew name or word or phrase on it? Was there something else? Could any of these adornments feel comfortable and fulfilling to her as a way of placing the words of God’s commands on her hands, her heart, her mouth, her eyes, and her soul? I don’t think there are easy answers to these questions, and I think that these questions are very personal; her answers may have come slowly, and they may have changed over time. I do not know what her answers to these questions were when I first asked her, and I do not know what her answers to these questions are today.46 Thinking Outside the Boxes, Straps, and Fringes Even when boxes and straps of Tefillin are uncomfortable to wear (for whatever reason), it is my belief that many Jews who do not bind themselves in leather Tefillin every morning still do own and still do adorn themselves with Tefillin. And the same goes for Tzitzit. Whether it is from wearing these actual ancient symbolic adornments, whether it is from wearing other decorative symbols that speak to modern fashion sensibilities, or whether it is from taking hold of the sense of duty to make a positive impact on the people in the world around them, many Jews who don’t wear traditional Tallit and Tefillin do in fact put on Tallit and Tefilin in some fashion (literally) mostly every day. When I see people wrapped in a prayer shawl with Tzitzit hanging at the edges, I know that these are people who have chosen to express that, not only are they Members
46

The situation of my friend could just as easily have been that she felt comfortable with Tefillin but not Tallit. Having said that, it is worth noting that, at least within communities I have seen, more women claim to be comfortable wearing Tallit but not Tefillin than those who claim to be comfortable wearing Tefillin but not Tallit. I imagine that this is a phenomenon most directly related to the commonality of synagogue attendance on days when people wear Tallit and no Tefillin versus the commonality of synagogue attendance on days when people wear both Tallit and Tefillin. Liberal Tefillah communities tend to stress participation in Shabbat and Yom Tov services (when Tefillin are not traditionally worn) over weekday Tefillah (when Tefillin are more consistently worn).

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Of the Tribe, they are M.O.T.s who are aware of their special responsibilities towards this world. When I see straps of Tefillin descending from the forehead of a fellow Jew, then crossing below an arm and hand enwrapped in this leather, I see the symbol of a Jew who connects a personal Jewish consciousness of Divine responsibility to hands that will work towards a Godly vision of the universe. In my eyes though, these are just a few of many more images of the conscious and active Jew. I take pride in my Judaism when I see a Chai necklace dangling beneath a smile. I am proud to be Jewish when I see a Hebrew-lettered ring on the finger of a hand that feeds the hungry. And, though I barely speak Yiddish, I begin schepn nachas47 when I see a dress worn two generations ago in another continent now being worn on a young adult Jewish grandchild who studies biochemistry in order to protect the world from the next epidemic. To me, what the symbol looks like matters less than what the symbol represents, and what matters even more is that the symbol’s meaning is ultimately fulfilled. True Tefillin and true Tzitzit are symbols of Jewish membership and social responsibility that may be explicitly something that only a Jew would wear (like phylacteries) or something that, though it might fly in a secular crowd, gives its wearer meaningful memories of Jews of the past, exudes an identity that resonates with the Jews of today, and turns one’s consciousness towards the Jews of the future. Jews’ dissatisfaction with only Tefillin and Tzitzit as the dress that identifies us is nothing new. Wearing no necklace might not make you naked, but wearing only a necklace will. For millennia, Jews have agreed that Jewish fashion must be expressed in ways that go beyond Tefillin and Tzitzit. Had authentic signs of Jewish dress ever been limited solely to traditional Tefillin and Tzitzit, then the broad genre of Jewish dress would have never come to encompass Tzeni’ut,48 the Kippah,49 the Gartel,50 the Kitel,51 the Streimel,52 the Sheitl,53 or any other non-Biblical piece of Jewish fashion. These were not necessarily developed as substitutes for Tefillin and Tzitzit. Generally these were seen as supplementary, or complementary to Tefillin and Tzitzit; however, the question that must be asked now is: what exactly is being supplemented? Two centuries ago, what void did a
47

" ‫ "שעפן נחת‬is a Yiddish phrase that means “to take pleasure” or “to take pride.”

48

"‫( "צניעות‬literally, “coveredness”) is the Hebrew Jewish legal term used to refer to “modesty” in dress. It also refers to modesty and appropriateness in general public behavior.
49

A "‫ "כיפה‬is, in Hebrew, a “covering,” as in a traditional Jewish head-covering.

50

A "‫ "גארטעל‬is a “belt” in Yiddish, generally in reference to a belt that is worn with the intention of separating the upper inclinations of the body and the lower inclinations of the body.
51

“‫ ”קיטל‬is the Yiddish term referring to a white robe-like garment worn often in Ashkenazic Jewish communities on High Holidays and certain liminal moments, most frequently during weddings, or as burial shrouds.
52

A "‫ "שטריימל‬is, in Yiddish, a sort of fur hat often worn on special occasions in certain Chasidic circles.

53

A "‫ "שייטל‬is, in Yiddish, something akin to a “wig,” covering one’s hair, generally for the purposes of Tzeni’ut.

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Kitel fill that a Tallit did not? What does a Kippah say today that Tefillin cannot? Can Tzeni’ut alone be an embodiment of God’s Mitzvot along the hands, mouths, hearts, souls, and eyes of Jews for whom leather straps and boxes of Tefillin seem inappropriate or uncomfortable? Can being a charitable philanthropist be our way of, like Tefillin, putting the riches of our hands where our mouths and minds are? Again, there is no easy answer to any of these questions. The people who can answer these questions best are the individuals who ask themselves every morning, not only what shirt to wear, but how they will wear Judaism on their sleeves on that day.54 When I get up in the morning, I must determine the order in which I put on my clothes. When do I put on my Kippah? When do I put on my Tallit Katan? When do I put on my Tefillin Shel Yad? When do I put on my Tefillin Shel Rosh? When do I complete my morning meditations, take off my Tefillin, and go out into the world to put the words of my mouth into the actions of my hands? Among the numerous blessings I say every morning, I reflect on God as ‫( עוטר ישראל בתפארה‬Oter Yisra’el Betif’arah), the One Who Wraps Israel In Glory, and I focus on God as ‫( ברוך שאמר והיה העולם‬Barukh She’amar Vehayah Ha’olam), the Blessed One Who Spoke And The World Came To Be. It is my prayer that, in donning symbolic sacred dress every day, I can remind myself of the necessity of attaining that Divine quality of saying Good and Godly things and seeing them happen. Thinking back to that train ride, I don’t wonder if the American Girl doll was Jewish. (Just for the record, my vote is that the doll wasn’t Jewish.) I wonder though if the symbol that that girl saw in the doll’s necklace meant something good—something positive—to the girl. Did the doll’s necklace translate to the young girl as a sign that this doll was Jewish and, therefore, a good citizen of God’s world, respectful both to her human neighbors and to God? What does the physical dress of Judaism mean outside of the Jewish community? Does the Streimel on a rabbi in a Woody Allen film indicate a man who contemplates both the meaningful practice of rituals and the ethical treatment of
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How normative Jewish law would respond to the question of whether or not any of these forms of Jewish dress may replace the wearing of traditional Tefillin or Tallit and still fulfill the Mitzvot of wearing Tefillin and Tallit is a question whose relevance can be evaluated solely by one’s personal beliefs about the priority of Jewish law in authentic expressions of Judaism. The tone of this article is somewhat in the vein of a Teshuvah (‫ ,)תשובה‬or responsum, responding to the often unspoken questions of the value of wearing Tefillin and Tzitzit, the meaning of these rituals, whether these rituals have become outdated, and if there are possible alternatives to daily (or nearly-daily) donning of traditional Tefillin and Tzitzit; however, I do not write this article with absolute deference to the historiography of Jewish legal sources’ views on Tefillin and Tzitzit. I am theologically hesitant to give relevance here to Rabbinic legal sources whose theologies presume that the winning opinions of the Talmud were necessarily correct even when not necessarily in agreement with broader and other interpretations of Biblical texts that intend to understand the original intentions of these texts—rather than the understandings later imposed upon them by Midrash. For the sake of this article, I am interested mostly in early Rabbinic and ancient understandings of the Biblical commands related to Tefillin and Tzitzit. Additionally, each of the forms of Jewish dress mentioned above have rich histories of their symbolic and legal significance in Jewish life, and each is a form that almost certainly can be reclaimed and redefined in this era when Jews seek both to reconcile modern values and to find new and fulfilling meaning in some of Judaism’s oldest rituals. How each can be most effectively revitalized through traditional or creative observance is a complicated subject worth examining in a venue outside of this article.

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humans and animals? Is a Kippah the sign of an unenlightened follow, or of a pensive and pious activist Jew? Can a Jew ever find Jewish fashion old-fashioned? Do the traditional straps and boxes of Tefillin mean the same thing on the first-time-wearer as they do to the retired regular at services who has worn Tefillin for over 60 years now? None of these questions can be answered with clear Yeses or Nos. We live in a world that is not black and white. There is a lot of gray, and there is a lot of color. Whether it’s the black of a Tefillin box, the white that dominates the fringes of Tzitzit, the Tekhelet of that classic Petil, the gray of a silvery Chai necklace, or the yellow of a golden ring engraved with a Hebrew verse from Psalms or what-have-you, we have the resources to express Judaism very colorfully. We have been blessed with the many colors of Judaism we wear in different shapes, and, through them, we have been blessed with the capacity to remind ourselves of our identities and responsibilities as Jews. We have been granted the ability to renew ourselves each day as humans who always strive to make a Divine impact on the lives of those around us. This—Judaism—is something worth showing to those around us. It’s something that we can be proud of. It’s elegant and, at the same time, something simple we can wear when we’re on the street, when we’re home, when we’re at shows, and, of course, when we’re at synagogue. As far as I can tell, wearing Judaism works for all sorts of occasions. Judaism is what I wear when I don my Kippah and Tzitzit for when I’m out and about. Judaism is what I wear when I put on my Tallit and Tefillin. Judaism is also what I wore that time that I smiled, looking for inspiration in a mundane conversation about an American Girl doll. And, of course, it’s what I wore when I exited the train at the Hicksville station.

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Never-ending Connection
By Nina Kretzmer
The new mahzor of the Conservative Movement, Mahzor Lev Shalem, is not the mahzor with which I grew up. It is the mahzor that brought back things that some of our teachers before us took away. As I learned this past Yom Kippur as I returned home for the first time in three weeks, the big black Mahzor Hadash had taken out too many of the little things that counted. Ironically, my new mahzor did justice to the “old” ways. Mahzor Lev Shalem is, on the whole, a mahzor shalem55. One thing that my rabbi and cantor pointed out to me was the small paragraph that introduces the viddui, or the confessional. In Mahzor Hadash, we read tzadikim anachu v’lo chatanu, aval anachu chatanu - “we are neither so insolent or so obstinate as to claim in Your presence that we are righteous, without sin; for we...have sinned”. It worked very nicely in our choir’s rendition. We discovered - or perhaps my cantor, who confessed to bringing his copy with him to the beach over the summer, discovered - that one word had been added: v’avoteinu. It now read: aval anachu v’avoteinu chatanu - “for we, like our ancestors who came before us, have sinned” (Mahzor 234). At first, we didn’t quite get why the word had been added. Thankfully - and this is one of the things I love about Mahzor Lev Shalem - there was a clear explanation for it: “In the Babylonian Talmud, Mar Zutra remarked that anyone who says ‘we have sinned’ has understood the meaning of confession (Yoma 87b). Every human being is imperfect. Even previous generations - whom we may idealize - contained sinners. As the Rabbis taught: no one has walked the earth and not sinned” (234). The commentator also references the psalms: “Chatanu im avoteinu he’evinu hirshanu - We have sinned like our forefathers; we have gone astray, done evil” (106:6). We recognize the last two words in Hebrew from the viddui itself. There is another dimension to the addition of the word v’avoteinu that the commentator does not even mention: if every human being is imperfect and everyone has sinned, it must be that God forgave them in the past too. We are confident in our imperfections and we, like our ancestors before us, show a faith in the one true God Who is ready to forgive and pardon, as the Thirteen Attributes so eloquently show. As we remind ourselves of God’s mercy, we remind God of our history as a people and of God’s benevolence in our relationship with God as a people. Even before we get to the preface to the viddui, we pray:
55

Literally, a “complete mahzor”.

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Eloheinu v’elohei avoteinu, s’lah lanu, m’hal lanu, kaper lanu. Ki anu amecha v’atah eloheinu; anu vanecha v’atah avinu... We ask God to “forgive us, pardon us, grant us atonement” because we are God’s people and God is our God, we are God’s children and God is our parent. This is one of my favorite piyyutim for two reasons. One, it is full of metaphors for the divine-human relationship that touch us; there is a certain security in affirming that we are God’s flock and God is our shepherd or that we are God’s vineyard and God is our guardian. Perhaps the most touching for me is that we are the ones who God cherishes, and that God is close to us. Two, we sing this piyyut together loudly - in my shul, joyously - to God, asking for the ultimate blessing in a relationship as close as ours with God: forgiveness. I imagine that as we have sinned and ask for forgiveness from a kind God, so too did our ancestors, perhaps raising their voices high in song as we do. We show our passion for our relationship with God and hope to see God’s kindness in the next year. I imagine across the generations that we look to a relationship with God that is consistently close, one as close as children to parent or spouse to beloved, one that can never be broken. Talmud Torah begins with a special connection to the One Who started the story that we share with our ancestors. As the Yamim Nora’im end, I feel that special connection to God and begin my new year ready to study and learn. There’s a special aura around the classrooms where I learn; I walk down the halls of the Jewish Theological Seminary knowing that once upon a time, a young man named Louis Finkelstein studied here with “great men,” as his teacher Solomon Schechter told him he would (Gillman 2). Later, that student would become the longest-serving chancellor of JTS and a teacher to generations. The people who have walked through those halls and sat in those classrooms - our ancestors - share a communal story, a story of eagerness and passion for Talmud Torah. I feel that passion and sense that story as I sit down and learn the language that our story uses and discover the history that came before the continuation of our story here in Morningside Heights. But what exactly is Talmud Torah? For me, Talmud Torah is many things, but it is especially the bridge between the two institutions that I attend. It is the study I undertake in my Ancient Jewish History class and my ability to make a timeline of both Jewish and non-Jewish ancient texts thanks to my study of ancient texts in Legacy of the Mediterranean. It is the ability to take general pride in my gender identity that I have cultivated at Barnard and use it to increase my kavannah and my pride as I pray and speak with God, wrapped in my tefillin and tallit. It is the time when I realize that as I learn Hebrew, there are complex electrochemical processes in my brain helping me to do so, as my professor of psychology reminds me. It is a rigorous engagement with scholarship at both schools. My ancestors at Barnard surely intended me to engage in Talmud Torah, to engage in study and thus connect with the world. But did they intend it to begin with a special

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connection to God? They may not have intended my engagement with study to begin with a special connection to the being that I know as God, but they certainly intended that engagement to start with divinity. At Convocation, I received an envelope containing a card and a pin. An excerpt from the card follows: “For generations of Barnard students and alumnae, Athena, Greek goddess of wisdom, has held shared symbolic value. She is the centerpiece of the College seal; she is at the center of the Barnard College ring. “According to tradition, Athena is the goddess of the city, and the protector of civilized life. She is the incarnation of wisdom, reason and purity, the warrior-goddess of the arts of peace and goddess of prudent intelligence. “May this Athena pin serve as your permanent memento of these values as you embark upon your Barnard experience.” It is clear that the Barnard community has intended for study to start with a special connection to divinity. A goddess is the source of the story that all Barnard alumnae and students share. Our success at Barnard is influenced by our close relationship to the divine values above. Athena may not be the being that I know as God, but the values that she embodies are values that I want to embody when I engage in Talmud Torah no matter where I am. As a Barnard student, I am better able to engage in Talmud Torah, and thus I still find that unbreakable connection to my God, the God of my ancestors. The women who came before me at Barnard may not have intended this, and the mahzor surely did not intend me to join with those women to celebrate Athena, yet it seems that in my pursuits at both JTS and Barnard, I will pursue and celebrate my close relationship with God. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Gillman, Neil. Conservative Judaism: The New Century. West Orange, NJ: Behrman House, 1993. 2. Print. Mahzor Lev Shalem for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. 1st ed. New York: Rabbinical Assembly, 2010. 234. Print.

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Authentic Halacha
By Dov Fields
In Bamidbar Rabbah56, a book of rabbinical exegesis on the biblical book of Numbers, Korach57 approaches Moses and asks, "In the case of a house full of holy books, what is the law in regard to it having a Mezuzah (case holding a scroll traditionally put on the doorpost of Jewish homes)?" Moses responds, "it is still obligated in Mezuzah (one still has the legal obligation to put the Mezuzah on the door post). " Korach retaliates, "All the Torah scrolls, all 285 sections, do not exempt the house [from needing to contain words of Torah], but one small section of the Torah that is in the Mezuzah should exempt the entire house?!"58 Korach, in this story seems to make a logical argument. If the point of a Mezuzah, Korach argues, is so that there will be some Torah within a household, why should a house full of Torah scrolls still need a Mezuzah? However, Korach later in the biblical story comes to an infamous end - God opens up the earth, and he and his followers get swallowed up. Thus, the Rabbis, by putting these arguments into Korach's mouth, seem to imply that there was something wrong with them, that they were somehow unacceptable. If Korach is simply swallowed up by the ground, it stands to reason that his argument is so flawed that it does not even merit a refutation. What made these arguments untenable? If halacha, the Jewish legal system, is one that is based around various opinions and practices, what line can be drawn to exclude practices as being inherently "not legally valid"? The idea of halachic pluralism59 resonates strongly in rabbinic texts as well as communal practice. "‫" "אלו ואלו דברי אלוקים חיים‬These and these are the words of the living God"60 is a principal that is said in reference to the disputes between two famous preexile rabbis, Hillel and Shammai. In their disputes they held opposing opinions, and yet the Talmud61 records that both of these opinions are "words of the living god", ideas that ring true within the halachic system. Even if only one of these opinions is followed, both

56 57 58

18:3 The leader of a rebellion in a chapter in the book of Numbers

This can be potentially be understood within the discussion of whether a sanctuary or place of study needs a mezuzah (as “houses full of books”). The Shulchan Aruch says, “A house of study is exempt from mezuzah... and there are those who say that it is obligated (Yoreh Deah, 286, 10)” (translation mine). For a more indepth analysis of this claim see http://www.mechonhadar.org/yomiyyun under the heading of “Mezuzah: Defining Jewish Space, Miriam-Simma Walfish”
59

Halachic pluralism refers to the concept that there are multiple correct ways to rule legally according to the halachic system.
60 61

Eruvin 13b A compilation of Rabbinic discussions, stories, exegesis, etc.

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opinions are considered valid opinions.62 Throughout the entire corpus of Talmud, there are very few issues about which there are no disagreements. In most cases, there is at least one, if not more, dissenting opinion. This plethora of legal claims does not end with the Rabbis of the Talmud, but continues until the modern period. Even in the Modern Era there are still many issues, such as the question of permissibility of eating swordfish, on which there are multiple issue. On top of this, even when there is one accepted opinion, sometimes a previously rejected opinion will be accepted instead of the normative practice63. Thus, the halachic system is clearly one that is pluralistic – it allows for disagreement and different opinions. After determining that there can be multiple correct opinions within Halacha, the question of untenable halachic arguments becomes more crucial. If there is room for dispute and disagreement, then there must be a way for the halachic system to decide what types of rulings are wholly unacceptable. Rabbi Joel Roth, a prominent figure in the Conservative Movement, argues for the existence of what he terms as "‫,"גופי תורה‬ "essences of the Torah". In his article, "Gufei Torah: The Limit to Halakhic Pluralism", Rabbi Roth asks, "Is there a limit to halakhic pluralism?" As an answer to this question, Roth provides a text from Mishnah Masechet Hagigah which he translates, " ‫הלכות שבת‬ ‫["”חגיגות ...להן על מה שיסמכו, והן הן גופי תורה‬The laws of] Shabbat, festival offerings...They are the essence of Torah (210)."64 This mishnah enumerates a list of laws that are well rooted in the biblical text, and calls them "essences of Torah". Bringing up various other texts, Rabbi Roth explores what "gufei torah" (essences of torah) means and concludes,"In other words, when it comes to gufei Torah, there can be no legitimate difference of opinion.(216)" Rabbi Roth's conclusion is that these "essences of torah," these laws that are directly based on biblical versus in an incontestable fashion, are laws that cannot be disputed. One cannot, according to Roth's paradigm, deny the validity of the Sabbath, nor could one argue as Korach did and deny the necessity of Mezuzah. Mezuzah being rooted in a biblical verse would be, in Roth's conception, indisputable. Mezuzah, being clearly rooted in a biblical verse, would make it an "essence of Torah," and thus there could be no valid opinion which denies the necessity of Mezuzah. In essence, Roth would argue that the reason that the Midrash rejects Korach's argument is because Mezuzah is a “guf Torah,” and thus is necessary. Rabbi Roth's proposal makes sense, that Halacha should never directly be able to invalidate anything written in the torah. However, further investigation into the topic is prudent. In his article "Creativity and Innovation in Halakha,"65 Rabbi Sir Jonathan
62

In order for there to be unity in the halachic community, only one of the opinions can be followed, but both opinions are seen as valid interpretations and as reasonable opinions
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Mishnah Eiduyot (1:5) discusses this possibility: “Why do we recount the opinions of the minority among the opinions of the majority, if the law only follows the majority. So that a [later] court of law can see the words of the minority and rely on it.” (Translation mine)
64

Hagigah chapter 1 mishnah 8

65

Sacks, Jonathan."Creativity and Innovation In Halakhah." Rabbinic Authority and Personal Autonomy, Moshe Sokol. Jason Aronson, 1992.

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Sacks provides a model of halakha that conflicts with Rabbi Roth's conception of Halakhic plurality. In Rabbi Roth's model, the only unacceptable laws are those that directly oppose the Torah. In contrast, Sacks would argue that there are many laws that do not oppose the bible, but would still be outside the boundaries of “Halakha”. "Halakhic innovation," according to Sacks,"is essentially conservative and preservative. It aims, in the first place, at ensuring a strict identity of Torah through time (125)." For Sacks, "Halakha is the translation of the metahistorical word of god....it changes not merely despite the fact the Torah changes, but in order to ensure that the Torah does not change. (140)" Sacks believes in a metahistoric truth that is innate within the torah and Jewish law, and that is to be preserved. Changes in halacha, according to Sacks, only occur to preserve this reality. Thus a Mezuzah would not be replaced by house full of holy books because having a Mezuzah is not only about having a house that contains holy texts. Rather, Mezuza has a deeper principle, i.e. representing a jewish home, than just having torah in one's house. A third approach to the same question comes from Dr. Tamar Ross's article, "Can the Demand for change in the Status of Women Be Halakhically Legitimated?" In her article, Ross approaches the question of acceptable halacha in a unique fashion. Ross admits that, "Jewish traditional opinions are not totally divorced from the concrete context in which they were formulated (481)," but yet staunchly states that halacha resists change and attempts to seal itself in a "hermeneutical bubble"66. Ross sees this tension between change and tradition as essential to the legal process, as she writes: ... the dialectical relationship between the fixed nature of Halakhah and the vicissitudes of life produces, inherently and inevitably, a gradual evolution, which one might easily justify as a safety valve in distinguishing between passing fads and more permanent changes which demand taking into account. Therefore, for those interested in preserving the integrity of Halakhah and legitimizing changes in a manner authentic to the system, the question of the exact mechanics of the dialectic is crucial.(482) Thus, for Ross, change is something that is possible within the halachic system, though it is not forced, rather reached in an organic fashion. Thus, in the case of women, Ross argues that "the path open to would-be orthodox feminists either way lies not in pressuring for, but in genuinely being a new type of woman who is so inextricable entrenched in the change." Ross believes not in having halacha change to match society but having society change to define halacha. Thus, in the case of Korach, Ross would argue that it is not that Korach's arguments were inconceivable, but that they did not match the surrounding society.67
66

Hermeneutics refers to the ways in which one reads a text. Thus, if halacha is in a hermeneutical bubble, this means that any legal halachic statement can only be posed if it is stated using the legal rhetoric that is accepted by halakhists.
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There are a few commentators who suggest that Korach's word's arguments themselves (from the biblical narrative) were not incorrect. The Kli Yakar comments on the section in the biblical story when Moses falls on his face because of Korah's accusation that he is taking on too much authority saying (from the perspective of Moses), “My words will not be justified in this matter until it is clarified whether they come from me or from God (Numbers 16, 4, “‫ .)"וישמע משה ויפול‬This commentary shows Moses considering the possibility that Korah is in the right.

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These three different approaches, which attempt to define what is acceptable within the range of halachic pluralism, raise more questions than they answer. There seem to be no common ground between these three perspectives. Roth sees halacha as essentially open to any opinion, so long as it does not directly contradict what is written in the Torah; Sacks understands halacha as a tool to protect a meta-historical truth defined by the Torah; and Ross views halacha as an organic balance of tradition and change. The fact that none of these three theories of halacha agree combined with the fact that these are only three out of many views on halacha is frightening, If these great scholars of Halacha can not agree on what makes a halachic opinion halachic, how is one supposed to know what halachic positions one should follow? While a much more in depth paper is need fully discuss halachic theory, one underlying theme can be found to connect all three of the presented ideas. The essential question of the three of these thinkers is what makes Halacha authentic? What about Korach's argument is foreign, not faithful to the tradition, reprehensible? This question, of what is an authentic practice drives all discussions on halachic theory. Roth understands that for halacha to be authentic it can not disagree with the most basic text the bible, Sacks believes that there is some underlying value that connects all halachic opinions that connects them, and Ross proposes that the next generation must feel connected to the previous generation. All three of these thinkers are in essence discussing what an authentic halachic system looks like. The implications of what it means to question what is authentically halachic needs to be explored. This insight that these three thinkers are discussing the authenticity of halacha seems trivial. There does not seem to be much of a difference between asking “what makes Korach’s opinion untenable” and questioning “what makes Korach’s opinion inauthentic”. However, the leap between the former and the latter is a gigantic paradigm shift. In the first question, the question assumes that Halacha is a system in which one, as Rabbi Roth would say, is playing a game of chess. In this perspective, there are moves that can be made and moves that cannot be made and the question is to figure out which moves are which. The second question is phrased in a slightly different way. A system in which halacha is based on authenticity is one in which, to continue the chess analogy, the question becomes, “does this move make the game no longer chess”. This question recognizes that there are multiple ways to play a game of chess68 and that different cultures could see different variations as an the “authentic” way of playing chess; thus the emphasis is not placed on the true way of playing chess, but rather playing chess in a way that would be recognizable as chess in the current society. The midrash about Korach is one that reshapes the vision of how learning halacha should work. Korach’s opinion is not wrong because it is impossible to argue within the realm of a “legal game of halacha”, rather it is wrong because it is an opinion that does not meet the criteria of being authentic. Even though it may be valid to assume that mezuzah is only necessary to ensure that a house has some torah, a house without a
68

For instance, bug house or Japanese chess

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mezuzah does not fit into the rabbinic view of a Jewish home. Roth would argue that since the torah says one should put a sign on his/her doorpost, a home without this sign seems to contradict the Torah, even if the Torah could potentially be read otherwise. Sacks would add that that the mezuzah is not only to make sure that a home has holy books but also to symbolize the presence of an observant Jewish home. Ross would offer the idea that the mezuzah is an act that is authentic because it is what the generation before has practiced, and thus the only way for it to disappear would be for society as a whole to change it’s conception that mezuzah is a necessary Jewish ritual object. These three thinkers have different approaches to what makes a law seem authentic, but none of these three thinkers imply that not having a Mezuzah is simply illegal. If the question were only “is this law legally acceptable”, then there would only be one right way for all times. By allowing one to ask, “is this law authentic” allows for reinterpretation and reevaluation. Illegal laws can never become legal, but inauthentic laws can be seen as authentic under different circumstances. Thus, for the halachic system to be truly pluralistic and relevant to all times, halacha must not be a question of “authenticity”, not “legal truth”. Ross, Tamar. "Can the Demand for Change In the Status of Women Be Halakhically Legitimated?."Judaism, 42:4, 1993, 478-491. Sacks, Jonathan."Creativity and Innovation In Halakhah." Rabbinic Authority and Personal Autonomy, Moshe Sokol. Jason Aronson, 1992. Tiferet Leyisrael: Jubilee Volume in Honor of Israel Francus, Joel Roth, Menahem Schmelzer and Yaacov Francus, eds. (New York: The Jewish Theological Seminary, 2010), pp. 207-220

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Glossary
Exegetical - A method of textual interpretation that relies on extrapolating meaning and coherence from within a text. Jewish Publication Society - one of the most popular, critical English translations of the Hebrew Bible edited by scholars from across the different religious movements. It was first published in 1917, thoroughly revised in the 1960s and lsast updated in 1985. Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (1903-1993) - Eastern European born rabbi, philosopher and scholar descended from a prominent rabbinic dynasty. He was a prominent leader in the Modern Orthodox movement of Judaism in the United States, establishing the Maimonides Day School in Boston and serving as the Rosh Yeshiva (dean) of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University from 1941-1986, and ordaining over 2,000 rabbis. Lomdus – A style of learning that attempts to understand and systematize the various positions of the Rabbis. Mahzor – A prayer book that is centered around prayers for a specific holiday. This usually refers to a prayer book for the Jewish High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Midrash - A specifically Jewish method of exegesis that dissects the Biblical text to derive lessons, stories and laws. Posek - A person who is qualified to rule on matters of Jewish Law. P’sak halacha - The legal decision in Jewish Law made by a qualified legal decision maker. Rashi - Rabbi Solomon ben Isaac (1040-1105), a medieval French rabbi and scholar who wrote what became one of the most popular commentaries on the Hebrew Bible and Babylonian Talmud.

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