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Ask Rabbi Stein

There is an ancient tradition in Jewish law of tshuvot (responsa in English).  Essentially, Jewish law and Jewish practice are defined and continually refined by rabbis and scholars answering questions.  These answers are rooted in a survey of Jewish texts and teachings, and then applying that literature to the current situation.

Sometimes, these responsa speak to basic questions of ritual practice, but often they deal with the nuances of ethical dilemnas. 

Our Reform movement has a long and proud tradition of carrying on the work of responsa.  The Central Conference of American Rabbis has a Responsa Committee.  The chair for many years was one of my most important mentors, the brilliant and sensitive Rabbi Dr. Walter Jacob.  It is fascinating to read the breadth and depth of what this committee considers.  You can access the bank of responsa by clicking here.  

In addition to these significant resources, we are introducing our own “TBK Ask the Rabbi” through the website.  Feel free to post a question of any sort, regarding ethics, religious practice, or other concerns.  My hope is that this will lead to lively discussion on issues of importance.  Your questions can be anything from “Why do we do ABC” to something more complex. 

I look forward to this new avenue for learning together!

Rabbi Stein


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Parashat

Parashat Vayishlach
December 14, 2019

In this Torah portion, God tells Jacob to return home. Worried that his brother Esau will kill him, Jacob divides his clan into two camps, so at least some will survive in case of a fight. Jacob sleeps alone in the desert and is awoken by an angel who wrestles him through the night. Jacob survives and is blessed by the angel and renamed Israel. Jacob meets his brother and, surprisingly, they embrace. Dinah, Jacob’s daughter, is raped by Shekhem, who then proposes to Jacob that he marry her. Shimeon and Levi brutally murder Shekhem and his clan. Rachel has another child, whom she and Jacob name Benjamin

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