Virtual Talmud

Virtual Talmud

January 1970 Archives

Appreciation, not Exploitation

Rabbi Grossman and Rabbi Stern make several excellent and practical suggestions for cutting down pollution and lowering demand for non-renewable sources of energy. In addition to these important measures, I also encourage us to strive to cultivate a relationship of […]


No New Year Celebration for SUVs

posted by mkress

For starters this Tu B’Shevat, we should all take notice of how many of our elected officials run around busy city streets in massive SUVs built for the Rocky Mountins. The only reason I can think of as to why […]


It’s Not Just Hot Air: This Tu B’Shevat, Fight Global Warming

posted by mkress

Winter has finally come to the East Coast. I must admit I did not mind the sunny January days that reached into the 70s. There are benefits to global warming if you, like me, prefer sun to snow. However, there […]


For Interfaith Couples, Nondenominational Cemeteries

posted by mkress

In response to Rabbi Waxman: I am not at all suggesting we separate couples at death. That would be heartless. Rather, I am saying the appropriate place for such couples is in a non-denominational cemetery. Someone who did not become […]

Grave Matters

I am surprised and disturbed by the tone of Rabbi Grossman’s post stating her opposition to allowing non-Jews to be buried with their Jewish spouses in a Jewish cemetery. She writes: “Let us… not undermine the final resting places of […]

Thinking Outside the Blog

posted by mkress

What should Pres. Bush learn from Pharaoh? Virtual Talmud’s Susan Grossman explores this question in this article on Beliefnet, written in response to the president’s State of the Union address earlier this week. Click here to read and respond to […]

Burial Grounds as Battle Grounds

So burial grounds have now become the new battle grounds for American Jewish identity. In a responsa regarding the permissibility of burying Jews and non-Jews together, Rabbi David Golikin, whom I have enormous respect for, closes his ruling that both […]

Rest in Peace

posted by mkress

In his piece on whether non-Jews should be buried in Jewish cemeteries, Rabbi Waxman goes too far, in my book, by suggesting that a Jewish cemetery fully retains its Jewish character if non-Jews are buried within it. Is a cemetery […]

Till Death Do Us Part?

One of the issues that has been gaining prominence recently on the American Jewish scene is whether non-Jews–typically the non-Jewish partner in an intermarriage–may be buried in Jewish cemeteries. Traditionally, Jewish law has forbidden non-Jews to be buried together with […]

Whose Best Interest?

Rabbi Stern raises an interesting point in distinguishing between making a general rule and judging each case on its own particular merits. The problem with a complicated situation like the one Rabbi Grossman writes about–a 9-year-old girl named Ashley with […]

A Redemptive Nose Job?

Rabbi Grossman gets it just right on the issue of Judaism’s relationship to bio-ethical issues. Here Judaism radically differs with certain elements of the Christian tradition. Instead of looking for an all-embracing universal theory that runs through every situation–such as […]

Don’t Mess With Mother Nature?

posted by mkress

As with most science, medical technology can be both a blessing and a curse. Our charge is to use such technology for good and not ill. The problem, of course, is that choosing a course that does “good” and not […]

Saddam: Punished with Justice?

The ancient rabbis who wrote the Talmud (in modern-day Falluja, incidentally) understood something very important about capital punishment that we in this country–to say nothing of those in Iraq–seem to have forgotten. It’s not that capital punishment is philosophically indefensible, […]

Hussein and Eichmann: Two Hangings, Big Differences

posted by mkress

The entire war in Iraq has been one big tragedy deceptively perpetrated by President Bush. The American people should hold him accountable. That said, Rabbi Stern is missing the point when he thinks the issue surrounding Hussein’s execution is an […]

Have We Stooped to Saddam’s Level?

posted by mkress

Dear Thomas Freidman, In the spirit of the many letters you have written over the years I have decided to write one special to you. I have always enjoyed your pieces in the Times (especially after 9/11) and find myself […]

C’mon–Take Off Your Blinders

Rabbi Grossman, if you read my posts, you would see that I have no problem condemning Orthodox violence. I have done so many times before on this blog and in other publications. Nor am I, nor have I ever been […]

The Problem is Not Protesting

posted by mkress

My problem with Rabbi Stern’s comments is that, while acknowledging the propensity for violence among the ultra-Orthodox, he dismisses it as a relatively minor phenomena in comparison to extremist violence by Muslims and Christians (though I am not sure of […]

Orthodox Jews Lifting Their Fists?

posted by mkress

Point well taken, Rabbi Waxman. I pretty much agree with everything you are saying about certainty. I just think that by focusing on this aspect of Orthodoxy we end up missing more than we uncover. The miniscule rise in Orthodox […]

The Dangers of Certainty

Rabbi Stern, it strikes me, doth protest too much. It is true that the vast majority of Orthodox Jews are not extremists who will take matters into their own hands to enforce their own social and religious agenda. It is […]

Orthodoxy: American Jewry’s China

Reading Rabbi Waxman’s post, I thought to myself “I could easily have written the exact same piece…10 years ago when I was freshman at Yeshiva University.” Much of what Rabbi Waxman says is correct. The problem is that it’s too […]

Does Religion Breed Hate?

posted by mkress

Rabbi Waxman is correct to be worried about the rise of religious extremism in the Jewish community. He should be equally worried that the Israeli government continues to pander to the extortion of the religious right, enabling the ultra-Orthodox haredim […]

A New Year for Religious Extremism?

The vast majority of American Jews would take no offense were I to take this opportunity to wish them a “Happy New Year. ” Although the new Jewish year of 5767 began several months ago with Rosh Hashanah, the Gregorian […]

Previous Posts

The Task Is Never Finished
It has been heartwarming to read the warm responses to Rabbi Waxman's post asking Beliefnet to reconsider its decision to cancel Virtual Talmud. Virtual Talmud offered an alternative model for internet communications: civil discourse pursued in ...

posted 12:31:46pm Apr. 03, 2008 | read full post »

Some Parting Reflections
Well, loyal readers, all good things must come to an end and we’ve been informed that this particular experiment in blogging as a forum for creating wide-ranging discussion on topics of interest to contemporary Jews has run its course. Maybe ...

posted 1:00:29pm Mar. 31, 2008 | read full post »

Obama's Lesson and The Jewish Community
There are few times in this blog’s history when I have felt that Rabbi Grossman was one hundred percent correct in her criticisms of my ideas. However, a few weeks ago she called me out for citing a few crack websites on Barak Obama’s ...

posted 12:09:08pm Mar. 31, 2008 | read full post »

The Future of Race Relations
As a post-baby boomer, it is interesting to me to see how much of today’s conversation about racial relations is still rooted in the 1960s experience and rhetoric of the civil rights struggle, and the disenchantment that followed. Many in the ...

posted 4:04:41pm Mar. 25, 2008 | read full post »

Wright and Wrong of Race and Jews
Years ago, as a rabbinical student, I was one of a group of rabbinical students who visited an African American seminary in Atlanta. My fellow rabbinical students and I expected an uplifting weekend of interfaith sharing like we had experienced ...

posted 12:50:11pm Mar. 24, 2008 | read full post »


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