Menachem Mendel

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Video of Sessions from the WCJS 2017

The WUJS has posted to Youtube a number of sessions from this past summer’s WCJS in Jerusalem. In the video below (8:00) you can see that I am not a Russian bot.

Shivti as a Resource for Sources

Shivti is a very good web site for sourcebooks on topics in Jewish law from the BMG in Lakewood. They can be purchased either in print or downloadable PDF editions and have material from the Talmud to recent authorities.

Self-Driving Cars in Halakhah

There is an article in the new issue of Ha-Ma’ayan on self-driving cars in Jewish law. (Hebrew) Some interesting discussion about questions related to liability for damages and use on Shabbat. HT Seforimviews

Who Wrote the Prayer for the State of Israel

Much has been written over the years trying to answer the question who wrote the prayer for the State of Israel. The two main figures in this bibliographic drama have been Rabbi Isaac Halevy Herzog and Shai Agnon. Did Herzog write it and Agnon edit it? Did Agnon write it? Yoel Rappel has researched this issue more than anyone else and he has finally found the “smoking gun.” In the Agnon archive located at the NLI he has found a letter from Rabbi Herzog to Agnon mentioning the prayer for the State of Israel that he composed. Rappel says that there are still a few unknowns about the prayer but it is now clear that Rabbi Herzog wrote it.

Rappel’s post can be found here. (Hebrew) The post has images of all the relevant material.

A Lubavitch Nigun from a Sufi Imam


The National Library of Israel has been posting some excellent blog posts recently. They just posted one (Hebrew) on how a musical composition from a Sufi Imam became a Lubavitcher nigun.

Kibbutz and Secular Haggadot Online

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The past few years have been revolutionary in the access that people have to the thousands of haggadot that have been published over the centuries. First Hebrew Books published online a very large number of haggadot, and now I have become aware of a large collection of secular and kibbutz haggadah. The latter is a treasure trove of one of the most creative outgrowths of recent Jewish culture in pre-state Palestine and present day Israel. The Druck Collection of Kibbutz and Secular Haggadot can be viewed here.

(HT Michelle Chesner on Twitter)

Shaul Stampfer on the Myth of the Khazar Conversion


The other day I went to see the exhibit 500 Years of Treasures from Oxford at the Yeshiva University Museum. While I was there I was also able to listen to a lecture by Shaul Stampfer on The Myth of the Khazar Conversion and the Origin of the Ashkenazi Jews. Stampfer has spoken about this issue before and has also published an academic article on the subject. The audio of his talk can be found below.

This is an earlier lecture by Stampfer on the subject.

New Book on Amram Blau and Neturei Karta

A few months ago I wrote a post about Amram Blau, Ruth Blau, and Neturei Karta, as a follow up to this post I’m happy to say that Prof. Kimmy Kaplan has just published an entire book on Amram Blau and Neturei Karta.

A tweet by Elli Fischer has renewed discussion into the affair and Amram Blau, Ruth Blau, and Neturei Karta are almost trending on social media.


Demographics of American Clergy

The New York Times has an article about an interesting study about the demographics of American clergy. I don’t think that the political affiliation of non-Orthodox clergy is much of a surprise, nor that Jewish clergy are very educated and live in the most wealthy and white areas. The numbers that are worrying for the future of non-Orthodox Judaism are the median age of clergy. The average age of Conservative Jewish rabbis is the third highest among all religious denominations in America. Reform Judaism is closer to the bottom of the list, but in reality not much better. The split between male-female clergy can probably be explained by the number of years that denominations have been ordaining women.

Intro Video to Gemara Sedura

I am a big supporter of using Gemara Sedura and now there’s a short video about it.

You can download PDFs of certain chapters in the Gemara Sedura format here and here.




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