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Rabbi Google: the Internet Responsa of Rabbi Yuval Cherlow

Mon, December 17, 1:15 to 2:45pm, Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, Federal 2 Complex

Abstract

In the past few decades a number of websites designed to educate the public about Orthodox/Haredi Judaism have arisen and a number of them present public halakhic guidance, including rabbinic responses to halakhic queries by individuals. This innovation means an important change in the halakhic process such that ordinary Jews motivated by a desire to ascertain the stance of Judaic law on a given issue can get a direct written response from a rabbi or rabbis living often at a considerable distance whereas previously these questions might well have elicited an oral response from a local rabbi.
Following up on my previous work on the internet responsa of Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, I consider in this presentation the internet responsa of Rabbi Yuval Cherlow. Rabbi Cherlow (b. 1957) is an Israeli Orthodox rabbi and Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat Hesder Amit Orot Shaul in Kfar Batya, Raanana, Israel. He started answering halakhic and other questions related to Judaism on the internet on the website http://shut.moreshet.co.il in 2001. To date, Cherlow has responded to 38,367 such questions and has published five books based on his internet responsa:
• Reshut ha-Rabbim (2002)
• Reshut ha-Yaḥid (2003)
• Reshut ha-Tsibbur (2005)
• Reshut le-Haḥmir (2007)
• Reshut ha-Dibbur (2015)
An analysis of the contents of this website will lead to a consideration of the following questions:
• How has the medium of the internet affected presentation of the halakhic message?
• What does it mean for the relationship of halakha-observant Jews to have prominent rabbis ready and willing to respond to and publicize their halakhic queries in a timely and public way?

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