● Home
  ● Submit Article
  ● Subscribe
  ● Buy Back-issues
  ● View Current Issue
  ● View All Issues
  ● View All Articles
  Pay for Hakirah
  ● Media Kit
  ● Our Advertisers
  ● Rav Soloveitchik Archive
  ● Soloveitchik Seminar 2020
  ● Soloveitchik Seminars 2024
  ● Jewish Religious Experience
  HaAdmor me-Gur, z"tzl
  Mission Statement
  ● Filing
  ● Privacy
  ● Contact



Ḥakirah Vol. 35 has been mailed to all subscribers. It is also available from Amazon.

Read now Shmuel Lesher, “Pour out your wrath or your love?” and Zvi Ron, “The Origin and Development of Schlissel Ḥallah

The tragic beginning to 5784 came even earlier for the Ḥakirah community with the sudden petirah on motzaei Yom Kippur of Rabbi Dr. Sender Epstein, z”l, one of the founding members of our journal. His contributions to our effort were manifold and his loss is deeply felt both on a personal and professional level. This volume is dedicated to his memory and contains several tributes from leaders of organizations of which he was an essential part. We also include his first essay originally published in Ḥakirah vol. 1, “Truth: Elusive or Illusive? An Historical Example,” where he demonstrates how the knowledge of history can help decipher a passage in the Talmud. His approach is emblematic of what Ḥakirah has come to represent. Also included is an essay from a Rosh Yeshivah with whom he was especially close, recounting his final conversation with Reb Sender, bemoaning the loss of “truth” in present-day society.

The Simḥat Torah massacre and its aftermath have made clear to our community that the Jewish people stand alone in a world that has not changed much since the Holocaust. Our opening essay, “Halakhic Man in Gaza,” looks to the road ahead. The nation of Israel and the people of Israel must be unified and strong not only to survive but to lead us to yemot ha-Mashiaḥ. It is the blossoming of Rav Joseph Dov Soloveitchik’s vision of the Jew who combines mankind’s desire to dominate nature with the man who wishes to know G-d that will unify the divided factions in Israel and lead eventually to the enlightenment of the entire world. In the other essay in the Jewish Thought section, titled “Same-Sex Attraction and the Responsibility of the Community,” the author refutes an essay by a prominent Modern Orthodox leader that calls for “welcoming” into our community those who openly flaunt their rejection of one of the seven Noachide laws. The author of the Ḥakirah essay notes that the present revelations about the moral compass of today’s “intellectuals” show us that we must do nothing to accommodate their sense of morality.

In honor of Reb Sender, who was a professor of Applied Mathematics, this edition has a major focus on Torah and science, especially on kiddush ha-ḥodesh, on which he frequently wrote.

In a special section devoted to the Hebrew Calendar, the essay titled “History of the Jewish Calendar During the Talmudic Period” claims that even in the early years, when the new month was determined by visual sighting, there was gradual movement towards using calculations in setting the calendar. The second article in the section, “The Enduring Usefulness of the Tur’s 247-Year Calendar Cycle,” shows that though this table is flawed, it nevertheless gives insight into the lunar/solar difference and points the way to perfecting our present calendar. In our Torah and Science section, “Jewish Perspectives on Artificial Intelligence and Synthetic Biology” covers a wide range of issues with which halakhah will soon be dealing, such as creating human-like life and programming moral driverless cars. In a completely different type of article, “Ramban’s Anatomic Description of the Visual Pathway for the Placement of Tefillin of the Head,” a psychiatrist makes the startling claim that Ramban “used his knowledge of the visual pathway in the brain in his explanation of the word totafot.” In our Halakhah section as well, we deal with an issue raised by modern science and technology in the article titled “The Use of Hearing Aids on Shabbos and Yom Tov: Issues Relating to Changing Batteries and Recharging.”

Our Talmud Torah section deals primarily with issues of methodology in studying the primary texts of Ḥazal. “Talmud Oversimplified? A Partial Review of Talmud Reclaimed: An Ancient Text in the Modern Era demonstrates, contrary to the claim of many, that the methodologies of talmudic analysis of Rambam and the Ba‘alei Tosafot were, in fact, not far apart. Similarly, “Targum D-Rabbanan: On the Commentators’ Onkelos” argues that, unlike the position taken in modern scholarship, the evidence suggests that Onkelos’ translation was firmly rooted in rabbinic tradition. “Understanding Unicorns in Talmudic Literature Through the Lens of the Night Sky” posits that Ḥazal’s knowledge of astronomy that was so vital in establishing the calendar was used by them in expressing ideas as well. The concluding article in this section “Geulah—Calculating the Ketz” deals with a subject that has been on the minds of many due to recent events. The author uses the calculation endorsed by the Vilna Gaon which predicted the year of the reestablishment of the Jewish state to also predict an imminent geulah.

In the section titled History of the Sefer, two very different works with different fates are discussed. “Yalkut Re’uveni: Abraham Reuben ben Hoeshke’s Popular Kabbalistic Midrashic Collection” describes the history of this popular work first published in 1660 that was an “extensive and comprehensive anthology of kabbalistic and aggadic sayings, organized alphabetically.” In contrast, “Dr. Philip Birnbaum’s Forgotten Ḥumash” explains why the man who produced classic works on prayer produced a commentary on Ḥumash that had no impact and was quickly forgotten.

In our Minhag section, both articles deal with Pesaḥ and show how minhagim change. “Pour Out Your Wrath or Your Love? Establishing the Authentic Text and Message of the Haggadah” explores the meaning of one of the highlights of the seder and shows how it came to mean different things in different communities. In “The Origin and Development of Schlissel Ḥallah,” the author claims that the original ḥassidic custom has been distorted over the years, and that the original intent was unrelated to parnassah.

In our Hebrew section, the lead article returns us to Gaza. An IDF officer discusses the halakhah of saying a berakhah in the place where one experienced a miracle and applies it to the many miracles occurring in the present war. The two other articles deal with studying Sefer Bereishit. “Ha-Im Rashi Melamed Dikduk” studies a passage from Yaakov’s preparation to meet Esav to better understand Rashi’s methodology. The other article deals with Yitzḥak’s wells giving insight into the language of the Torah.

As we opened with mention of our personal loss, we close with the mention of another loss that followed soon after. On Tu b-Shvat Reb Shmuel Reiser, Ḥakirah’s lawyer, was niftar. He worked for us pro bono as he did for many others. He was a member of the Shabbos ḥavurah that gave birth to Ḥakirah and was involved in reviewing many of the articles, although he was never given credit. We include his bio at the end of Reb Sender’s tribute. They were close in life and leave behind a joint legacy of accomplishment for klal Yisrael. Despite the present struggles and the dark clouds on the horizon, we are well aware that many of our youth are already following in the footsteps of these role models. We are confident that the younger generation will triumph over our external enemies and resolve our internal differences, and so are hopeful that this will lead us soon to the fulfillment of Rav Soloveichick’s vision and yemot ha-Mashiaḥ.

Hakirah: The Flatbush Journal of Jewish Law and Thought is a publication of Hakirah, Inc. a non-profit private foundation exempt under section 501 (c) (3).

Web design by Henry Lam