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Ethan Tucker

Rabbi Ethan Tucker is co-founder and rosh yeshiva at Mechon Hadar and chair in Jewish Law. Ethan was a faculty member at the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education, where he taught Talmud and Halakhah in the Scholars' Circle. Ethan was ordained by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and earned a PhD in Talmud and Rabbinics from the Jewish Theological Seminary and a B.A. from Harvard College. A Wexner Graduate Fellow, he was a co-founder of Kehilat Hadar and a winner of the first Grinspoon Foundation Social Entrepreneur Fellowship. He was named one of America’s Top 50 Rabbis by Newsweek in 2011 and 2012.


ברכת השנים | On December 4th (or 5th) and the Birkat Hashanim

Contributed on: 04 Dec 2012 by Ethan Tucker |

Rain is important in every society, but particularly so in places like Eretz Yisrael, where rain only falls during a defined portion of the year. It is critical, then, that the “rainy season” in fact be rainy, since no rain can be expected for the remainder of the year. Accordingly, prayers, liturgies, and fast days relating to rain (or the lack thereof) played, and continue to play, a prominent role in Jewish tradition. Our tefillot today contain two major references to rain: “hazkarat geshamim” (better known as “mashiv haruaḥ umorid hagashem“) and “she’eilat geshamim“, found in the weekday Amidah in the 9th berakhah, “birkat hashanim“. There, an alternating liturgy was established: during the dry months, we say “v’tein berakhah“, whereas during the rainy season, we say “v’tein tal umatar livrakhah“, an explicit request for the rain to fall. Consensus emerged around the opinion of Rabban Gamliel in Mishnah Ta’anit 1:3 that “she’eilat geshamim” should begin on the 7th of Marḥeshvan (15 days after Shmini Atzeret, the 22nd of Tishrei). This would give pilgrims from as far away as the Euphrates (a 15-day journey) sufficient time to return home in dry weather. This is current practice in Eretz Yisrael to this day. . . .

The Limits of Liturgical Change: selections of halakhic discourse with translations by Rav Ethan Tucker (sourcesheet)

Contributed on: 29 Jun 2010 by Ethan Tucker |

A sourcesheet on the halakhic opinions and attitudes towards praying in languages besides Hebrew. . . .

It’s All Greek To Me–Praying in Languages Other than Hebrew (sourcesheet) by R’ Ethan Tucker

Contributed on: 25 Mar 2011 by Ethan Tucker |

Language is simultaneously a portal and a barrier to prayer. Jews have prayed in Hebrew for millennia, yet our oldest sources also speak of prayer in other languages. Come explore the history of the language of prayer, how our linguistic preferences define what prayer is about, and how we might approach this issue today. . . .

עשרה בטבת | The Tenth of Tevet on a Friday: Can one fast half a day? by Rabbi Ethan Tucker (Mechon Hadar, Center for Jewish Law and Values)

Contributed on: 10 Dec 2013 by Ethan Tucker |

Asarah B’Tevet (10th of Tevet) is one of the minor fast days in the Jewish calendar. Mechon Hadar’s Rabbi Ethan Tucker provides an overview of the various halakhic issues that are raised by a fasting on a Friday due to the upcoming Shabbat – how do we balance the tragedy of the fall of Jerusalem in 6th century BCE, which our fasting commemorates, with the joy of Shabbat? . . .