Rabbi Noah Gradofsky

Rabbinic Writings and Source Material

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Divrei Torah (sermons) for Holidays

Rosh Hashanah

- Devar Torah for 1st Day of Rosh Hashanah 5765/2004 (9/16/04) "A God of Justice and Mercy"
- Devar Torah for 2nd Day of Rosh Hashanah 5765/2004 (9/16/04) "God Doesn't Ask the Impossible."
- Devar Torah for 1st Day of Rosh Hashanah 5766/2005 (10/4/2005)  "When I Grow Up"
- Devar Torah for 2nd Day of Rosh Hashanah 5766/2005 (10/4/2005)  "As We Are"
- Devar Torah for 1st Day of Rosh Hashanah 5767/2006 (9/23/06) "Wrestling With the Angels" 
- Devar Torah for 2nd Day of Rosh Hashanah 5767/2006 (9/24/06) "The Two Walked Together" 
- Devar Torah for 1st Day of Rosh Hashnah 5768/2007 (9/13/07) "The Wandering Parent"
- Devar Torah for the 2nd Day of Rosh Hashanah 5768/2007 (9/14/07) "Homecoming"
- Devar Torah for 1st Day of Rosh Hashnah 5769/2008 (9/30/08) "Restoring Your Faith In Humanity"
- Devar Torah for the 2nd Day of Rosh Hashanah 5769/2008 (10/1/08) "Man Can Hear God and Live"
- Devar Torah for the 1st Day of Rosh Hashanah 5770/2009 (9/19/09) "The Value of Disaster"
- Devar Torah for the 2nd Day of Rosh Hashanah 5770/2009 (9/20/09) "Today is the Creation of the World"
- Devar Torah for 1st Day of Rosh Hashanah 5777/2016 (10/3/16) "A Healthy Dose of Criticism."
- Devar Torah for 2nd Day of Rosh Hashanah 5777/2016 (10/4/16) "A Little Cheating"
- Devar Torah for 1st Day of Rosh Hashanah 5778/2017 (9/21/17) "Hakarat Hatov (Being Thankful)"
- Devar Torah for 2nd Day of Rosh Hashanah 5778/2017 (9/21/17) "Flawed Heroes"

Yom Kippur

- Devar Torah For Yom Kippur Day 5765/2004 "Why We Ask God to Remember Our Loved Ones."
- Devar Torah for Kol Nidre 5766/2005 (10/4/2005) "The Opportunity Inherent in Sin"
- Devar Torah for Yom Kippur Day 5766/2005 (10/4/2005) "You're Not Chopped Liver."
- Devar Torah for Kol Nidre 5767/2006 (10/1/06) "Were Last Year's Prayers Answered?"
- Devar Torah for Yom Kippur Day 5767/2006 (10/2/06) "Plastic Surgery for the Soul" 
- Devar Torah for Kol Nidre 5768/2007 (9/14/07) "The Easiest Day to be a Jew"
- Devar Torah for Yom Kippur Day 5768/2007 (9/15/07) "Forgiveness" 
- Devar Torah for Kol Nidre 5769/2008 (10/8/08) "Not A Panacea: Domestic Abuse and Substance Abuse in the Jewish Community" 
- Devar Torah for Yom Kippur Day 5769/2008 (10/9/08) "In My Daughter's Eyes"
- Devar Torah for Kol Nidre 5770/2009 (9/27/09) "What Kind of King Is God?"
- Devar Torah for Yom Kippur 5770/2009 (9/28/09) "Holding On To the Past and Present, While Moving Into the Future"
- Yom Kippur 5777/2016 (10/11-10/12/16) "Images of God in Judaism" and "Cultivating our Divine Image" (link also includes a source sheet on the subject).
- Devar Torah for Kol Nidre 5778/2017 (9/29/17) "Committing to Torah" **NEW** POSTED 2/4/18
- Devar Torah for Yom Kippur Day 5778/2017 (9/30/17) "To Be A Kid Again" **NEW** POSTED 2/4/18

Other Holidays

- Thanksgiving sermon at Long Beach Interfaith Thanksgiving Celebration (11/22/04).
- Passover #1 "Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained" (4/25/05)
- Passover #2  "Became a Nation" (4/26/05)
- Passover #3"What is this Worship to You" (4/10/07)  
Yizkor: (Shavuot 6/15/05) "Live Like You Were Dying."
- Yizkor: (Shavuot 5766/2006) (Yizkor and Aufruf)

Selected Weekly Divrei Torah (sermons)

Bereshith (Genesis)

Noach 10/16/04 "Perfect in His Generation" 
Lech Lecha 10/23/04 "Taking a Step"

Shemoth (Exodus)

Shemoth 1/1/05 "The Potential for Good and Evil" (Discussion of tsunami).
Shemoth 1/17/09 "The True Nature of a Hero" Re: Barack Obama Inauguration
Vaera 1/8/05 "Getting in the Habit."
Vaera 1/24/09 "Experiencing God Through Human Kindness"

Bo 1/28/12 "With What We Shall Worship the LORD."
Mishpatim 1/24/14 - on the place of justice and righteousness in halakhah.
Tetzaveh: See this Devar Torah for Ki Tisa.
Ki Tisa 2/26/05 "Changing God's Mind"
Ki Tisa 3/10/07 "Birthday Sermon"  
Ki Tisa 2/19/11 "Just Forty Days Later"

Vayikra (Leveticus)

Emor 5/19/04 "Interview" Shabbat

Bamidbar (Numbers)

Naso 6/12/05 "Relating to Yourself and Others."
Korach 7/2/05 "The Value of Dissent."
Korach 5777/2017 "The Opportunity to Serve"**NEW** POSTED 6/21/17

Devarim (Deuteronomy)

Ekev 8/8/09 "Renewing Classic Debates in Judaism". This d'var Torah was prepared for the Parashat Hashavua series offered by Morashah, the rabbinic fellowship if the UTJ.
Reeh 8/14/04 First Shabbat with Temple Israel
Ki Tavo 9/4/04 "Hayom"

Holiday Instructions

- Prayer services for Yom Ha'atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) and Yom Hazikaron (Israel Memorial Day). This service follows the order in the Rinat Yisrael siddur. Rather than reproducing all of the prayers, only psalms and prayers not found in regular siddurim and chumashim are included in this pdf. Reference is made to page numbers in the Art Scroll siddur and Hertz Chumash as to where other texts may be found. This service can be easily integrated for synagogues using other siddurim and chumashim.
- Passover Mailing: Passover and Seder preparation guide, the chametz sale formMa'ot Chittim information, (5770/2010, passover preparation guide has one additional note added in 2012).
Contract of sale for chametz. Please note that many people prefer an option contract where the value of the chametz, and hence the sale price, would be determined at a later date. I prefer setting a fixed price for the chametz.
- How to Light Chanukah Candles (5770/2009).  UPDATED FOR 2009.
- Laws of the 9 days and Tisha B'av (includes discussion of the 3 weeks). 
- Textual Study Following Birkat HaTorah (The Blessing of Torah Study) On Tisha b'Av **NEW** POSTED 7/30/17
- An overview of the laws of sitting in the Sukkah
- Does One Wear Tefillin On Chol Hamoed?
- Living in the Sukkah on Shemini Atseret
- Songs for Simchat Torah (or other occasions). 13 simple and familiar songs with translation and transliteration, designed for printing on a single page (front and back).
- Shabbat Evening At Home

Other Writings

- Being a Halachic Jew: Why the Old Labels Just Don't Fit (Shavuot discussion 5767/2007)
- Invocation at 2004 Kristallnacht commemoration sponsored by the Holocaust Memorial Committee of Long Island.
- Invocation at 2005 Kristallnacht commemoration sponsored by the Holocaust Memorial Committee of Long Island. Posted.
- Invocation at 2009 Kristallnacht commemoration sponsored by the Holocaust Memorial Committee of Long Island. Posted
- Opened letter regarding women's roles in Temple Israel
- Response to Rabbi Herschel Schachter's Article on Women as Rabbis
- Basic Judaism Course Materials (Work in progress.  This PDF includes the syllabus, the "Guided Tour to the Siddur," and the beginning of "Jewish Literature, from Torah to Today" (covering Genesis-Job plus Lamentations (Aycha) and Esther).
Temple Israel's Junior Congregation and Hebrew School Siddur
Information and prayers for an unveiling ceremony.  

- Rabbinic perspectives on intellectual property. published on Jewish Values Online.
- Fixed prayer in Judaism. published on Jewish Values Online.
- The permissibility of using scientific data from Nazi experimentation published on Jewish Values Online.
- Instructions on how to make a shiva visit (a visit to a Jewish house of morning).
- Preparation and Order of a Wedding Ceremony. I use this document to help prepare for a wedding. It includes the basic texsts, forms for the couple to fill out to help identify how the ceremony runs, who will receive honors, helpful tips and checklists, etc. It also includes some suggestions on how to improve the gender-balance in weddings, particualrly borrowing many suggestions from Rabbi Dov Linzer in his articles Toward a More Balanced Wedding Ceremony and Double Ringe Ceremonies.


Other Resources

- Printable megillah texts with Hebrew and 1917 JPS translation:
  -Shir Hashirim (Song of Songs)
  -Koheleth (Ecclesiastes)


Source Material & Classes

- Maimonides' Seder: Mishneh Torah Laws of Chametz and Matzah Chapter 8, translated and annotated.  
"Omer Observances: Appropriate Abstinence or Excessive Restraint?"  
- What Haftorah Should Be Recited for Shabbat Rosh Chodesh Av? Note: This source sheet is not translated, though there are some English notes.  
- It Really Is a Sin: Waste in Jewish Law  
- Listening to music/live music after the destruction of the Temple and the ceasing of the Sanhedrin.
- The Command of God: The meaning and Application of Blessings that State "Who Has Sanctified Us By Your Commandment and Commanded Us To . . ."  Particular attention to the blessing on reciting Hallel on Rosh Chodesh.  (Posted 1/8/06)
- May additional aliyahs (hosafot) be added on Yom Tov or Yom Kippur?  Note: This source sheet is not translated, though there are some English notes.  (Posted 1/26/06)
- Jewish Law on Abortion and its Implications for Stem Cell Research (Summer Shabbat Study 2007/5767, posted 8/24/07).  Should be read along with Dr. Daniel Eisenberg's "Stem Cell Research and Jewish Law" found on jlaw.com.

- May a non-Kohen Receive the First Aliya?.
- Women and Talit and Tefillin.
- BT Yevamoth 45-47 and Immersion of a Convert.
- Birkat Kohanim (The Priestly Blessing), Nigunim (tunes), and Reciting the Ribon Shel Olam for Disturbing Dreams.
- What If the Only Kohen Available To Do Birkat Kohanim (the Priestly Blessing) is the Shaliah Tzibur (Cantor)?.
- On the Ashkenazi Practice of Limiting Birkat Kohanim (the Priestly Blessing) to Holidays. Please comment (and view further discussions) on the UTJ Facebook Group

- VIDEO AND SOURCE SHEETAn Open and Shut Case? Opening and Closing the Torah scroll during the Blessings for an Aliyah. This is a compendium of sources addressing some points of conduct during the blessings before and after an aliyah. I present the following primary conclusions: (a) one should hold the Torah scroll open while reciting the blessing before the Torah is read and close the Torah scroll prior to reciting the blessing after the Torah is read; (b) while reciting the blessing prior to the reading of the Torah, one should look at the place in the Torah where the reading will begin or, if one does not know the blessing by heart, look at the text of the blessing; (c) after the aliyah, anything that is customarily done out of respect for the Torah during the interim between aliyot, for example, covering the Torah scroll, should be done immediately after the reader has concluded reading from the Torah, rather than waiting until after the closing blessing has been recited. In addition to these halakhic conclusions, I argue that: (a) where Tosafot rule that it is preferable for one to hold the Torah scroll closed during the blessing prior to the reading from the Torah, they are ruling in accordance with Rabbi Meir, rather than saying that Rabbi Yehudah agrees with Rabbi Meir on this point; and (b) Rashba and Mordechai's argument that the Torah should be closed between aliyot is convincing, but the argument that the Talmud implies this is anachronistic. In concluding this study, I note that the rules discussed revolve around according proper honor to the Torah, and I pray that study of these sources and proper practice during an aliyah sensitizes us to the many opportunities for bringing honor to the Torah in every aspect of our lives.

- On Women and Reading Megillah. Please comment (and view further discussions) on the UTJ Facebook Group.
- VIDEO AND SOURCE SHEETWomen and Tsitsit/Tallit **NEW - Updated 8/14/17**. Please comment (and view further discussions) on the UTJ Facebook group. A discussion of women and the mitzvah of Tsitsit (originally presented to Lechu Neranena, the Partnership Minyan of Bala Cynwyd (outside Philadelphia)). Conclusions: (a) It seems that at least early on in the rabbinic period, probably extending at least into the early Amoraic period, Rabbi Shimon's opinion to the effect that women were exempt from tsitsit was considered a minority opinion. However, moving forward it apparently became a fairly universal opinion (it is unclear if this transition happened during the Amoraic period). The sources of this ruling are not clear and there is an argument to be made that the halakhah "should" have been decided otherwise. (b) The position in favor of women making a blessing on wearing tsitsit may be strengthened by the fact that there is an argument that the ruling that women are exempt from tsitsit may have been based on false pretenses. (c) There is general agreement that (big H) Halakhically, women may wear tsitsit, though the Ashkenazi voice in the Shulchan Arukh says that it is haughty for them to do so and thus recommends against it (Rabbi Karo seems to have consciously declined to mention this line of thought in the Shulchan Arukh). There is significant debate as to whether a woman may say a blessing upon putting on tsitsit. (d) Women who chose to put on a tallit receive reward for doing so. (e) To the extent that a woman's motivations for wearing a tallit are criticized as being improper (an argument that is in no way adopted), this criticism seems contrary to Rav's aphorism that a person should always do mitzvot even if the person is doing so for personal reasons. (f) For purposes of Lechu Neranena, I consulted with our halakhic advisor, Rabbi Martin Lockshin. He wrote (in part), "I have no problem with women wearing tsitsit if they wish. I know that it bothers some people. I see that simply as a sociological problem that can be overcome, I hope, with sensitivity and a gentle approach." He feels that a woman may say a blessing on wearing a tallit. Regarding whether a woman should wear a tallit that is more clearly feminine, he wrote that it might be best, but he doesn't see it as a deal-breaker.; (f) In footnote 12 I introduce some preliminary thoughts on why the halakhah was decided in favor of Rabbi Shimon's minority view which requires further study.
    A video of a shiur (class) on this subject can be viewed from the link above (which includes a source sheet, best viewed from the pdf found on the linked page). The video is also embedded here

Biblical Studies
- Blind Faith or Rational Practice: Do Mitzvot Have Reasons, and Should We Investigate Them? (Shavuot Class 2008 on Ta'amei Hamitzvot) 
Reversal of Fortune: How the Course of History Was Changed by the Garden of Eden. A study of the text and the chiastic structure of Genesis 2:4-4:1

- A survival guide to the Jewish New Year (outline of Chovot Halevavot on repentance).
- Desire: Temptation Toward Evil or Inspiration For Good (Slichot Discussion 9/8/07)
- Blind Faith or Rational Practice: Do Mitzvot Have Reasons, and Should We Investigate Them? (Shavuot Discussion 2008 re: Ta'amei Hamitzvot).  (posted 2/10/09)
- Images of God in Judaism (pre-slichot discussion 2016, link also includes Yom Kippur sermons for 2016)

Rabbinic Literature
- The Seder in Rabbinic Literature Updated March 2012 (particularly additions concerning the biblical sources for the story of the four children, pages 17-21, also some notes on the four children on pages 14-16).
- Selected Rabbinic Midrash on the Book of Ruth (Shavuot class 2006, posted 6/11/06)
- "At the Foot of Sinai: Midrashim on the Giving of the Torah".
- Pirke Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) 5:7 and Avot d'Rabbi Nattan, Text A, 1:37.
- "With All Due Respect:" Selected Midrashim and Ethics of the Fathers on Proper Respect for Superiors, Colleagues, and Subordinates.
Introduction to Judaism lecture at the Long Beach Public Library, May 21, 2009. 


Synagogue Skills

- Learn Haftorah trope.

Newspaper Clippings

Letters to the Editor:

- 2/23/07 Letter to the Editor of The Jewish Week re: Changing the Rules - Why Halacha should not change to match common practice.
- 10/12/07 Letter to the Editor of The Jewish Star re: Matching strict ritual halachic standards with strict ethical standards (avoiding sales tax on a Sukkah).
- 7/13/07 Letter to the Editor of The Jewish Week  re: The individual rabbi versus the cult of gedolim (deferring to the "rabbinic heavyweight").
- 8/31/07 Letter to the Editor of The Jewish Star re: Understanding the differences between Science and Religion.
- 12/26/08 Letter to the Editor of The Jewish Star re: Ethical standards and kashruth supervision.
- 2/5/09 Letter to the Editor of the Long Beach Herald, "We have not overcome - yet" re: President Obama's election and the continuing struggle for civil rights.
- 9/11/09 Letter to the Editor of The Jewish Star re: Shiluach Haken (sending away the mother bird before taking the eggs/young).  (Original article 8/28/09)
- 3/27/14 Rabbi Schachter's Troubling Tone By Rabbis Ronald Price and Noah Gradofsky on belahf of the Union for Traditional Judaism in response to Rabbi Herschel Schachter's responsum about allowing young women to wear tefillin in yeshiva high schools. Rabbi Schachter's teshuvah can be found here in Hebrew and an unofficial translation is here. An article on the teshuva can be found here. If any of these links do not work, please let me know as I have pdf backups.
- 8/22/14 Letter to the Editor of the Jewish Press regarding competition within marriage. Follow this link and go to page 82 (if the link does not work, please let me know). For the original article, follow this link and go to page 105 (note after going to the page it is helpful to click the two arrows pointing outward (on the bottom right) to expand the paper to full screen

Articles including Rabbi Gradofsky:

- 10/1/04 Article in the The Jewish Star: Temple Israel Installs Rabbi Gradofsky
- 4/12/06 Article in the Record (Bergen County edition): Divine Advice for Passover Chefs.
- 12/2/06 Article in Newsday: Faith Q&A: Are Religious Student Groups wrong for Public Schools?
- 6/9/07 Article in Newsday: Faith Q&A: Should Faith Groups Be Involved In Immigration Issues?
- 10/27/07 Article in Newsday: Faith Q&A: Do You Believe People Can See The Future?
- 12/16/07 Picture and Caption in the Long Beach HeraldRabbi and kids shoot dreidel @ the Chanukah party.
- 10/28/08 Article in Newsday: Faith, Hope and Charity (re: religious responses to the economic downturn).
- 1/15/09 Article in the Long Beach Herald: Religious Leaders React to Israel-Hamas War: Scan of Newspaper (includes pictures)  / Pdf from website (cleaner text).

- 2/13/18 'Orthodox' Is Not A Trademark Of The OU The Jewish Week Online Edition, February 13, 2018. **NEW POSTED 2/15/18** Argues that the Orthodox Union should include the "Open Orthodox" camp within its organization, and further that Open Orthodoxy has a legitimate claim on the term "Orthodox."
- 6/14/18 Why Don't More Women Weart Tsitsit **NEW POSTED 6/17/18**JOFA Blog article arguing discussing the history of women being exempt from the mitzvah of tsitsit and arguing that perhaps this exemption stemmed from a misinterpretation of certain Talmudic sources. Discussion that this argument may raise new considerations when a woman decides whether to exercise her right to wear tsitsit.