Author: Avi Shafran

Parshas Tazria – Pity the Habitual Accuser

It’s bad enough that the person whose divisive sins caused him to contract tzora’as (a physical condition conferring tum’ah and sometimes mistakenly identified with leprosy) has to sit apart from society, but he is...

My Father’s Passover and Ours

An essay of mine about what the experiences of two Jews during the Holocaust on Pesach might have to teach us about the present appeared in the Wall Street Journal on erev Shabbos. It...

The Karpas Conundrum

The essay below was originally published in The Jewish Observer in 1988. Questions, questions everywhere.  At the Seder, that is. There are the proverbial Four, of course, but they lead to a torrent of...

Parshas Tzav – The Illness That Was Egypt

The korban todah, or “thanksgiving” offering described in the parsha (Vayikra 7:12), according to the Gemara (Brachos 54b), citing Tehillim 107, is the proper response to one of four categories of danger (though other...

A Most Meaningful Mineral

The word “sacrifices” used for korbanos, the mainstay topic of parshas Vayikra, is a misnomer. Korban doesn’t carry the meaning of “giving up something.” Its most accurate, if awkward, translation would be “bringer of...

“Bloc”-Headedness

An article I wrote for Forward about how chareidi Jews are vilified by some for simply exercising their democratic right to vote appears here.

Parshas Vayakhel – Not All Donations Welcome

Sometimes money amassed through questionable means is donated to good causes like charities or educational institutions. Perhaps the donors’ subconscious, or even conscious, intent is to somehow render their ill-gotten gains “kosher” in some...

NBC-Think about the Equality Act

A column  I wrote for NBC-Think about the Equality Act, a piece of legislation that could have dire consequences for religious institutions, can be read here.  

Of Idols and Ideals – parshas Ki Sisa

Describing our ancestors’ worshipping of the egel hazahav, the golden calf, the Torah relates that “Early next day, the people offered up olos [burnt offerings] and shelamim [peace sacrifices], they sat down to eat...

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