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A Difference of Opinion:
Halachic Disputes in Jewish History
5 Lectures

Item #: S363

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Halacha, or law, is the basis of Jewish life, so everything imaginable falls under its purview. Since life necessarily means change, new Halachic rulings are a constant – as are differences in opinion and interpretation. The development of Torah Law is therefore a dynamic and often contentious process, and Rabbi Wein leads us through it by examining the works and decisions of the greatest Halachic authorities in all Jewish history.

Individual Lectures:

Rambam and Ravad - The Rambam is known for his independent streak – he couldn’t have made such an impact without one – but he had his critics, the harshest of whom was the Ravad of Provence. Rabbi Wein examines their different views on a wide range of issues: science and philosophy, allegory in the Torah, and the right to challenge sages of previous generations. Neither man minced any words in this famous dispute, and Rabbi Wein brings out all their fire in this fascinating lecture.

Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam - Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam were grandfather and grandson, but they were radically different in personality. While Rashi was serenity itself, Rabbeinu Tam was a volcano, and their temperaments shone through in their rulings of Jewish Law. With this authoritative lecture, Rabbi Wein gives us not just a taste of the characters of these great men, he shows how the issues they grappled with clue us in to the world in which they lived.

Rav Caro and the Rema - The origin of Rav Yosef Caro’s Shulchan Aruch is one of the most dynamic episodes of Jewish history; it gave new life to the Jewish people after the traumas of Spain. But when this monumental work crossed the desk of the Rema of Cracow, he saw a way he could improve on it – by adding rulings for Ashkenazim. Thus began the unlikely union that created the Code of Jewish Law as we know it. And though the two great rabbis disagreed on a number of issues, they chose to be partners, not rivals, for the betterment of the Jewish people.

The Vilna Gaon and The Baal Ha Tanya - The great historic dispute between Chassidus and its opponents is a topic Rabbi Wein has explored in numerous lectures, but in this one, the conflict is the backdrop for the Halachic opinions of these two great men. From the debate over shechita knives to when Shabbos begins and ends, Rabbi Wein shows us not just where these two men stood on the practical issues of Jewish life but where they stand in Jewish history.

The Aruch Ha Shulchan and the Mishnah Brurah - 19th century Eastern Europe was a terrible time for the Jewish people, but it saw an outpouring of new books on Halacha – mainly in response to the challenges of the times. The two reigning giants were the Aruch Ha Shulchan and the Mishnah Brurah, and Rabbi Wein explores the different ways they tried to keep the average Jew from falling to assimilation.

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