Shabbat Parashat Eikev| 5766
Ask the Rabbi
There is no question this week, just an announcement and an invitation, which we hope will interest our readers. We have been sharing “Ask the Rabbi” questions for more than five years (along with the rest of Hemdat Yamim) and have received very positive reactions from our readers. The questions we have been asked have included many varied and interesting ones. We have tried not only to give answers that instruct people what to do but also to explain the background and give perspective on the halachic process.
We have decided to take the opportunity to gather and re-edit some 250 questions and answers into a book. For one, this will make our existing literature more readily accessible. However, we would like to do more than that. We want the sefer to serve as a significant learning tool. We hope that this can be done on different levels and with different styles to broaden the opportunity for readers to gain according to their needs. Of course, in the learning process, the teacher, the student, and the subject matter all contribute to determining the style of teaching. Since our readership differs in orientation, background, and Torah experience but shares intellectual maturity, we now take the opportunity to ask your advice. How can we re-edit our Ask the Rabbi columns into book form and add to it in order to make it a better educational tool for you and your peers?
In order to give you a point of reference, we will share some of our own existing ideas. One is to help the relative beginner in the world of halachic scholarship in the following manner. We propose including a simple but significant introduction to the development of halachic literature over the centuries. This can highlight the place of the Talmud, Rishonim, Acharonim, etc. We plan to include a glossary, which highlights key terms. Footnotes in the text of the responses can alert the reader to certain noteworthy phenomena. An extensive bibliography, similar to the one found in our Hebrew series, Bemareh Habazak, can be of service to beginner and advanced learner alike.
We have another idea for the more advanced learner, which is a unique idea that modern technology affords us. In order for such a reader/learner to more fully appreciate the topics discussed, it is worthwhile to be able to study the key sources upon which the conclusions are based. This enables the learner to understand the matter better and to draw his own conclusions and compare and contrast them with ours. This writer used this system to study several of these topics with semicha students, and they found the experience very rewarding.
How do we do bring whole texts in the context of a book without making it monstrous? The answer is simple. We hope to transcribe several sources per response on an accompanying CD that will be attached. An index system will connect source sheets to a given response. These source sheets cannot only be of value to the individual learner but can be a wonderful resource for group learning. A rabbi can use it for an adult education class, downloading and photocopying for participants. A school-teacher for various ages and levels of students can choose a topic appropriate for his forum. These are a few of our ideas. We invite your reaction to them and your own ideas, as well. You can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.We invite your input in the following matters as well. If you recall an answer with which you had an issue but thought it would not be of value to point it out, you are now invited to do so. This could be a learned comment by those with learning experience. It could also be a report of a custom or a local ruling, to which we did not refer. (Of course, we cannot refer to every, even legitimate, opinion and custom, but we would be happy to hear your reports.) We also would like to hear examples where you feel we did not deal
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