articles, etc.

The main thing I wish for my writings is for them to be useful.


"An Oral Torah," Conversations, Autumn 2016/5777

This article examines the oral learning culture of aza"l. When people talk about oral literature in the days of Ḥaza"l, too often their thinking is based on what that would "probably" be like. Unfortunately, people in textual cultures have little experiential basis on which to develop an instinct for what is a probable or reasonable statement about oral culture in the first place. Therefore it is important to pay close attention to what the sages themselves say as well as to scholars and citizens of oral learning cultures.


"A Snag in the Tradition of Checking Knives,"  Zeramim, Vol. 2, No. 1 (2017)

Rabbinic literature, from Sha"s up to the Simlah Ḥadashah, explicitly mandates that shoḥetim check their knives not only using a fingernail, but also their flesh (e.g. of their fingers). Yet the near-universal practice these days is only to check on fingernails. In the observant world, we expect that robust paper trails will accompany radical changes, yet nothing like that exists here. This paper examines two possible reasons for the anomaly: changes in the way we make knives, and changes in the way we relate to animals and the act of slaughter.

As one facet of researching this paper, I personally tested the Amoraic methods of knife-checking described in M. Ḥullin.


"Explaining Surprises in Talmudic Descriptions Of Menstruation," Women in Judaism: A Multidisciplinary Journal, Vol. 13, No.1 (2016)

One finds in Sha"s descriptions of וסת שע״י אונס which seem surprising (e.g. eating an onion and menstruating). I aim to provide historical, medical etc. information which suggests that these are thoughtful descriptions of biological and social realities, rather than passages which can be read simplistically as misguided oddities.


"Ki Tisa"

Devar Torah written for my alma mater, the Conservative Yeshivah. Please note the title was assigned without consultation.

"On Stretching Letters"

Letters which have been stretched beyond intuitive recognition are something of a plague, in mezuzoth especially, and there really is no excuse for this.

לרמות ההנחה של הרבה אנשים היום שרק זכרים הם הכוהנים האמיתיים, מפורש בש"ס ובראשונים שיש לכוהנות (בנות כוהנים) זכויות וחיובים שקשורים לכהונה שאינם מתבטלים בנישואין לזר. אם כן מהי ההלכה לגבי כוהנות וברכת כוהנים?

On what sort of footwear is prohibited on major fast days.

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