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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 Ki Tisa

In this Torah portion, Moses stays with God on Mount Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights. There, he is given the 10 Commandments on stone tablets. Fearing Moses will never return, the Israelites turn to Aaron, who demands that everyone bring him their gold, so he can make a golden calf. When Moses comes down the mountain and sees the people dancing around this idol, he smashes the tablets on the ground. God punishes with a plague all the Israelites who were involved. Moses builds a tent to be his meeting place with God.

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