Now Accepting Book Submissions

MJR Press

הוֹצָאָה לְאוֹר

MJR has just launched our own publishing house: MJR Press.  We will be publishing works in the following areas of Jewish culture:

  • Bible (includes Parashot & Haftorot studies, commentaries, & original midrash)
  • Rabbinical Literature (introductions, commentaries, monographs, tutorials, etc.)
  • Halakha
  • Prayer/Liturgy
  • History/Biography
  • Hebrew & Cognate Languages
  • Classic Reprint Series: Judaica & Hebraica

Our first Classic Reprint, Granville Sharp’s A Letter respecting Some Particularities of Hebrew Syntax (London, 1803), will be available by the end of April 2017, and Brian Tice’s Reflecting on the Rabbis: Sage Insight into First-Century Jewish Thought will be out in May 2017.

Granville Sharps cover
Available Now!

Granville Sharp was the very definition of a Renaissance Man: self-taught in Law, Hebrew, Greek, and Music – and highly accomplished in all of them. In this formerly out-of-print work, Sharp dissects all of the available grammars for any inkling of data on the function of the waw-hahipuch and proceeds to formulate the most comprehensive set of rules with regard thereto, complete with examples from Scripture. This edition includes a new biographical introduction and an annotated bibliographical survey of the grammars with which Sharp interacted. As an added bonus, Granville Sharp’s rather impressive family is presented in a family tree in the inside back cover.


Reflecting on the Rabbis cover
Available Now!

We used to know a lot about First-Century Judaism… until we realized we didn’t. The First Century CE was what is known as Judaism’s “creative phase.” There were Sadducees, Pharisees, Zealots, Essenes, Therapeutae… just to name a few of the Jewish sects and movements. And, most of these had sub-sects or sub-movements of their own as well. The Pharisaic sect was certainly no exception. In this volume, Jewish Studies professor Brian Tice presents the six most prominent and influential Sages of this period, drawing from the Bible, both Talmuds, the Midrashic literature, the Targums, and other scholarly sources to set the scene of a First-Century Judaism which is likely more diverse than you realized. What were the essential beliefs? Who were the main players? Where did their worldviews differ? What were the religious politics? What was considered out of bounds? The author takes readers on a pilgrimage through the rabbinical schools of some of the greatest Jewish minds of the time period to offer some “Sage insights into First-Century Jewish thought.” <b>Recipient of the 5777 Yiddishkeit 101 College-Level Literature Award!</b> Order in June, and get free enrollment in the MJR course which corresponds to the book! https://mjrabbinate.teachable.com/p/fjt-120/


Your Jewish literature proposals or submissions can be sent to us at publishing@mjrabbinate.org.

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עֲשׂ֤וֹת מִשְׁפָּט: Balancing the Scales against Injustice

Micah 6:8 commands us to “עֲשׂ֤וֹת מִשְׁפָּט֙” — do justice.

scaleAs we embark on the month of Kislev, the month of Chanukah/Hanukkah, MJR is directing all donations received this month to its new Mishpat Fund. This fund is designated to aid Messianic Jewish persons who have been targeted with unjust assaults, whether physical, legal, or by any other means which meets the definition of a hate crime under Title 18 US Code section 245.

The first recipient will be a person who was forced into a guilty plea on a charge of which he was innocent due to threats from the State to charge his child with harboring a runaway if he did not. The “runaway” was a 16-year-old who meth-addled mother beat her severely enough to leave bruises all over her back. She fled to a domestic violence safehouse run by the man we are helping this month.

He was not present and did not know the child was there, as it was a Shabbat and he was at synagogue. When the police discovered that this was a Jewish home, they went after the man, who was crippled in a Neo-Nazi assault years ago, with seven police officers arriving at the synagogue to make a big show of arresting him in front of his congregation.

The plea deal that was offered resulted in 12 months of probation, 56 hours of work crew, and $1125 in fines. It is the fines that we hope to help with here. No one, one of our own or not, should be punished by the legal system for obeying Isaiah 58’s instruction to free the bound, such as those trapped in domestic violence contexts. Please consider contributing to the Mishpat Fund as you plan your end-of-year giving.

Donate via paypal: https://www.paypal.me/mjrabbinate

וַיְקַ֤ו לְמִשְׁפָּט֙ וְהִנֵּ֣ה מִשְׂפָּ֔ח לִצְדָקָ֖ה וְהִנֵּ֥ה צְעָקָֽה׃…

…He looked for mishpat (justice), but behold: mishpach (oppression);
for tzedaqah (righteousness), but behold: tze’aqah (nonsense, a counterfeit).
~ Isaiah 5:7b ~


*Submit other cases to us in the comments. Comments will not be made public, as the cases must be vetted and verified before being aided by the Mishpat Fund. We will summarize cases selected for aid omitting personal data.

 

How to address a Rabbi

kavodThe norms of civilized society require certain things with regard to addressing others in discourse. For example, it is considered improper to address an adult by his or her first name unless and until invited to do so. In Yiddish, granting this permission is called dutzening.  If you have not been dutzened to use a person’s first name, you use the civil convention of calling the person by title, for example: Miss, Ms., Mrs., Madame, Mr., Master, Professor, Dr., etc. There are some titles which require address by circumlocution. These traditionally include royalty (His/Her/Your Majesty), non-royal rulers of countries (Your Excellence), judges (Your Honor),* and Rabbis (Rabbi; Rabbeinu, i.e. “Our Great One;” or l’kavod haRav, i.e. “for the honor of the Rav”).

The Chakhmim (Sages) give explanation on why a rabbi is to be so addressed.

Rabbi Akiva ben Yosef taught: “Et Hashem Elokecha Tira (you shall respect HaShem your G-d – D’varim 6:13); l’Rabot Talmidei Chachamim (respect Torah scholars as well)” (b. Pesachim 22b).

Rashi taught: “You shall respect your rabbi as you respect Heaven” (Commentary on b. Pesachim 22b).

The Rambam taught: “One should not greet his Rabbi, or return greetings to him, in the same way that people greet friends and return greetings to each other, but one should bow slightly in front of him and say in reverence, ‘Shalom to you… Rabbeinu.’” (Hilchot Talmud Torah 5, Halakha 5).

In a letter, direct address is acceptable, in the form: “Dear Rabbi (surname),” though “l’kavod haRav” is preferred. Use of the first name, however, is perceived as contempt… unless that particular rabbi has dutzened you. In any formal setting, e.g. worship, though — l’kavod haRav should be used regardless of any dutzening that might define address in private conversation.

It used to be that the title of Rabbi was reserved for use in Eretz-Israel, while the diaspora Torah-teachers were given the title Rav; but today those two terms are interchangeable in most contexts. Some yeshivot will call those who have received shemikha by rabbi and those who are in the process leading up to shemikha by the title rav, treating it as lesser. In Yiddish, especially among the Ashkenaz, the title of rebbe  is often preferred (as used in “Fiddler on the Roof), and in Sephardic communities, both rabbi and chakham  are used, with the latter being a bit higher in rank (on par with rabban in ancient times).

If in doubt: address everyone by title unless or until directed otherwise.


*Note that “Your is the respectful form; “thy, thine is the familiar, and thus is deprecated as insulting.

MJR Yeshiva is Live!

MJR has launched eleven courses for the summer with more in development! Enroll now in any of the following at just $140/12-week course:

  • ARAM-101 Biblical (OT) Aramaic
  • BIB-101 Tanakh (OT) Survey
  • BIB-110 Bible Exegesis – Torah
  • BIB-201 Bible Exegesis – Early Prophets
  • BIB-220 Bible Exegesis – Wisdom & Poetry
  • BIB-420 Bible Exegesis – Romans
  • HEB-101 Biblical Hebrew I
  • HEB-310 Advanced Hebrew Exegesis – Torah
  • LAN-101 Sociolinguistics
  • LAN-230 Ancient Ugaritic
  • RAB-490 Semikha Examination

Also, for those new to Messianic Judaism, we are offering for free:

And, coming very soon…

  • BIB-105 Messianic Apologetics
  • BIB-210 Bible Exegesis – Latter Prophets
  • BIB-401 Paul in Proper Perspective
  • BIB-410 Bible Exegesis – Hebrews
  • BIB-420 Bible Exegesis – Romans
  • GRK-101 Koine Greek I
  • GRK-201 Koine Greek II
  • GRK-301 Greek Semantic Analysis I
  • GRK-401 Greek Semantic Analysis II
  • HEB-201 Biblical Hebrew II
  • HEB-301 Intermediate Hebrew (coming in September 2016)
  • IMJ-091 Intro to Messianic Judaism
  • RAB-230 Counseling Strategies for the Spiritual Battlefront

What is semikha l’rabbanut?

semikhahSemikha l’rabbanut, or סמיכה לרבנות, is the process through which a person becomes ordained as a rabbi.

The root of semikha (סמך  — (סמיכה — means “to be authorized,” thus סמיכה לרבנות means “to be authorized for rabbinic office,” or more simply “rabbinic ordination.”

The practice finds Scriptural imprimatur in Torah, i.e. B’midbar 27:15-23 and D’varim 34:9.  These passages reflect the סמיכה of Yehoshua bar Nun by Moshe via the laying on of hands.  Note that “laying on” is also within the semantic range of “סמיכה.”  This practice is conveyed through the Sanhedrin in Second Temple Times, and some suggest continued beyond the destruction of the Second Temple.

The process involves an examination of beliefs in order to qualify only those who prove not to be heretical in their beliefs and teachings.  The belief criteria for ordination are listed and expounded on a separate page on this site.  Candidates must be able to articulate their beliefs and defend them, as well as discern heresy or false teachings/teachers and defend against such.

The process concludes with the proclamation (if the candidate successfully passes), carried over from the ancient formula: “Yoreh? Yoreh! Yaddin? Yaddin!” (“May he decide? He may decide! May he judge? He may judge!”).1  Today, some rabbinical seminaries and yeshivot grant סמיכה לרבנות using this same ancient pronouncement.

Once having received this decree, the candidate (initiate) is certified for the issuing of halakhic judgments (yoreh), ruling in monetary and property disputes (yaddin), and presiding over the training of congregational leaders (zaqenim, morehim, and shammashim).  Some congregations require סמיכה לרבנות for those who lead the congregation as well.  Prior to סמיכה לרבנות, the candidate is referred to as “Rav;” afterward, he may use the title of “Rabbi.”2

Those candidates who successfully complete the סמיכה לרבנות we offer will receive a plastic ID card (necessary to gain entry into jails, prisons, and some mental institutions for ministerial service) which includes the ordination date, the ordaining authority, and a personal ID number.


References


  1. s.v. “Semikhah;” In Lavinia Cohn-Sherbok & DanielCohn-Sherbok, A Popular Dictionary of Judaism (New York, Ny.: Routledge, 2013), 131. 
  2. Some have raised the question as to whether the title of “Rabbi” is permissible in light of Matityahu (Matthew) 23:8.  What the passage conveys is that those under Yeshua’s rabbinate are not to simultaneously come under the rabbinate of any other teacher.