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Mendel Kaplan

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Intermediate Talmud: Tractate Shabbat, Lesson 36
Seeking to better clarify the rhyme and reason of particular fuels banned by Jewish law, we encounter strange overlap of ritual proscription and the prevention of injury. Cracking the code to understand this Talmudic juxtaposition, a telling and compellin...
A weekly course unleashing the positivity in your life
From the snoozed alarm clock to the big promotion, life is full of opportunities to watch the mundane turn sublime. This course invites you to tap into the spiritual wisdom of the most ancient religious text in the world: the Torah. Our weekly series will...
The Talmud on the Sukkah’s minimum height
In sourcing the Sukkah’s minimum Halachik height, we surprisingly reach for the biblical narratives detailing the heavenly ascendances of Moses and Elijah, as well as the anthropomorphic terminology used to describe G-d's past descent onto Mount Sinai, an...
The Talmud on inadequate walls of a sukkah
The practical application of ritualistic legal theory to establish the Sukkah’s outer parameters, as per the strictures of Halacha, is now brought to resolution. Building on previous elucidation of differing dimensions of related Halachik jurisprudence, w...
Verses to Stop the Satan Before Sounding the Shofar
Seeking to gratify G-d, King David pleads that his freewill offerings be reciprocated with Torah teachings. To appreciate Rashi's take, we frame his words with the classic commentaries, yet still come up short. Reaching across Scripture for kindred “give-...
Although surprising to some, we not only believe Satan exists – we even do things to confuse him! This is perhaps truest in the days leading up to, and on our Jewish New Year. With copious Torah-true sources establishing his existence, we go on to careful...
The Talmud on inadequate walls of a sukkah
In our previous lesson we learned about opposing schools of thought regarding the application of the halachik maxim “Gud Asik” (the theoretical extension of an incomplete partition into a fully walled area) thereby creating an “enclosure” that satisfies S...
Verses to Stop the Satan Before Sounding the Shofar
King David rejoiced in “G-d's word,” the meaning of which incorporates three possibilities: guarantee, wisdom or covenant. A range of commentary is employed to better understand what these ideals represent, and why this particular verse was selected to he...
The origin of Rosh Hashanah greeting cards and wishes
Although sharing good wishes with family and friends in the lead up to Rosh Hashanah – in word and writing – seems so natural to this season; it isn't actually legislated in primary Halachik codes—although a 14th century book of customs, instructs to also...
The Talmud on fixing a sukkah of inadequate walls
As evidenced in previous classes, to remedy excessive heights of a Sukkah one may marshal creative legal solutions. The Talmud now records one such particularly creative attempt to harness a Halachik maxim known as “Gud Asik” e.g. the theoretical extensio...
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