Audio Roundup


by Joel Rich

The torah has basic rules about inheritance. For all those who say halacha determines ethics, how does one justify arranging their will to bypass the halachic default rules?

How does “malach hamavet ma li hacha , ma li hatam” (bava metzia 36b) fit in with hashgacha klalit vs. pratit for animals?

  • Rabbi Moshe Taragin -Monday Night Mussar @ the Gush : Why Worry!!

    My impression of the underlying theme – many Yeshiva High Schools must tell their smart kids that they walk on water (BTW – we sometimes get these kind of kids at work too and have to break it to them that they don’t and that even a note from their parents saying they do won’t help). R’MT’s bottom line is one needs to maintain a healthy balance between self-confidence and self-doubt. A similar balance is required between insulating oneself from negative influence and the ability to positively impact others (me – it’s a dynamic balance throughout life).
    Sure you’re different and can withstand temptations, but don’t bet against statistics of what’s happened to prior superstars like you (me – unless you have objective reasons validated by your local actuary). Example of tactics – marry young for stability, don’t think that because R’Lichtenstein went to Harvard (after years in the Beit Medrash) you can do it successfully after a year in a Yeshiva finishing school.
    Memo to M.O. – don’t think you can filter all of outside society’s influences (“baby, you’re only society’s child”), sometimes you need to run (“Nowhere to run baby, nowhere to hide”!)

  • Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 242-1

    First in a series of brief reviews series of Mishna Berura amud yomi. Here discussion of kavod and oneg Shabbat – specifically the Mishna Berura defining (limiting) the statement that one should make their Shabbat somewhat “profane” rather than rely on others for sustenance.
    My favorite question – are meat and wine required on Shabbat or is it whatever turns you on that makes Shabbat special?

  • Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 242-2

    What is included in “guarantee” that dollars you spend on Shabbat items don’t come out of your “account” determined at the beginning of the year?
    Doing laundry on Friday (here’s honesty – it’s unclear exactly when we say batal taam, batal takanah! [if the reason disappears, the rabbinic enactment does as well]). Challah making reasons – why is Friday special?

  • Rabbi Daniel Hartstein -Baby Naming In Halacha: It’s Not Childs Play

    Importance of picking names – it impacts one’s life. Should you be picking names only from Tanach? Using secular names? What is the connection between the namee to the one being named after? What about naming after someone who died young?
    Who gets naming rights and when? Timing of naming? Best advice – try not to fight about it. (My advice – it’s all how you think about it IMHO – worry more about them acting like someone you admired, not so much about naming them that way)

  • Rabbi Asher Weiss -The Jewish World Coming Together

    Divrei chizuk (positive reinforcement) to a Yeshiva in the Five Towns hit by Sandy at the same time as the Gaza war was going on. Main thing to do at a time of war/trial is to show unity and learn Torah (more than saying Tehilim!). For R’AW fans, you’ll find an interesting libi omer li (my heart tells me) interpretation of a story in Yehoshua and the angel and it won’t surprise you that the proper response/lesson from/to anything/everything is learn more Torah! (Kdarko bakodesh)

  • Rabbi Yosef Blau -Obamacare: The Enigma Unveiled

    Three part session – 1st a summary of medical practice and payment systems from inception of US to current date. Then a paen to Obamacare from someone who makes Rachel Maddow look middle of the road. Last up is Rabbi Blau who notes the paucity of traditional/halachic literature on the topic and draws on related issues. Bottom line – society needs to have a system which deals with the issue, there are some general halachic parameters.

  • Rabbi Hershel Schachter -Inyonei Rosh Chodesh, Parsha Shiur – Toldos 5773

    Parsha Potpourri:
    *Each of the Avot got an additional mitzvah. R’YBS – their status was somewhere between ben noach and full yehudi.
    *Importance of fulfilling your potential (as Moshe did).
    *Tithing $
    *Not all “quotes” in Torah are direct, HKB”H may have reformulated the “quote” to give us a message.
    *Jacob marrying 2 sisters issue
    *Lavan as the source of milaveh malkah! (I mean it!)

  • Rabbi Netanel Wiederblank -Moshiach, Olam Haba and Gan Eden: Understanding the Torah’s Perspective on the Afterlife

    Expansive discussion on “the world(s) to come”. It’s important to believe in a world to come if you believe in ultimate justice. It will be an intrinsic result of our actions in this world (you build your own through your actions) – then discussion of how a number of commentaries define it(them).
    Why isn’t the world to come specifically mentioned in the Torah? 1) It’s obvious; 2) The Torah only tells us things that are verifiable; 3) The Torah only tells us things that can be understood; 4) and 5) a combination of a “kach mkublani mbeit avi abba” that avi mori v’rabbi used to tell me in many ways “just focus on your job and let the big boss upstairs worry about how big and what color your paycheck will be”.

  • Rabbi Hershel Schachter-Parshas Vayeitzei

    Including but not limited to:
    *There may be a mitzvah kiyumit (don’t have to do it, but get credit if you do) of aliyah “l’regel” (going to Yerushalayim/beit mikdash) on Rosh Chodesh.
    *”Musafin K’sidran” may mean we’ll bring karban mussaf according to oral law (somewhat different than what the written law seems to require).
    *Rules concerning forgetting to say yaaleh v’yavo in shmoneh esrai on Rosh Chodesh (more complex since we no longer allow tfilat nedavah [extra, voluntary shmoneh esrai])
    *What do we require today for someone to be a Jewish leader (Torah knowledge nice but not required )
    *”Avraham holid” means raised the child (and implications of the differentiation between physical parentage and spiritual for parents and teachers).
    *why is there anti-Semitism (am segulah jealousy)
    *Baruch Shepatrani
    *Why didn’t Rivkah tell Yitzchak of the prophecy she received about Yaakov and Eisav? (apparently don’t tell over a prophecy you got unless instructed to).
    *Metzitzah bpeh – we follow our forefathers by following latest scientific/medical knowledge.

  • Rabbi Yehoshua Grunstein -Lyrics or Law- Which is more vital at the Shabbat table?

    Sources on which is more important – intellect or emotion? Answer – today need both – more taste and more filling!

  • Rabbi Josh Strulowitz -Intellectual Property and the Internet

    Quick intro to halachic sources on intellectual property/copyright issues. Interesting issue introduced but not explored – how do business model changes (e.g. giving content away on the internet as a part of new marketing strategies) impact halacha.

  • Rabbi Beni Krohn -Can You Please Get Dinner Ready for the Kids-Halachot of Live-in Help

    A review of the basics of two issues which play a key role in having non-bnai brit household help- bishul akum (cooking by non-ben brit) and yichud (prohibited seclusions) and some exceptions.

  • Rabbi Aryeh Cohen -Monday Mussar: Amilus b’Torah During Difficult Times

    Do chesed now (Sandy)because it can’t be done by others, keep learning even though there are adverse conditions.

  • Rabbi Yosef Carmel -Insider Trading and Halacha

    Importance of knowledgeable batei denim (courts) in areas of specialty (e.g. commerce). Discussion of insider trading and halachic sources on how to define and deal with it.

  • Rabbi Mordechai I. Willig -Hashavas Aveidah-Halacha L’maaseh

    Technical details on yeush (giving up hope), tviat ayin (recognizing object), simanim (defining elements of an object), return object of non-ben brit, non-frum.

  • Rabbi Ari Marcus -Life After Death Part I

    First in a series. Very introductory shiur discussing different opinions on Jewish philosophy regarding world to come. Opinions of Rambam, Ramban et al. Major issue – do body and soul stay together? What is the purpose of the body? (me – do we really get all the candy we want?)

  • Rav Asher Weiss- Bar Mitzvah

    R’AW believes the true source of age 13 as bar mitzvah is either halacha moshe misinai or an example of a Torah concept given over to the Rabbis to quantify.
    Is 13 a siman or sibah (prescriptive or descriptive)? R’AW thinks it’s clearly descriptive. Then discussion of some specific issues – e.g. born in leap month, baruch shepetarani…..

  • Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky -Aufruf Roast: On the Grill or in the Furnace

    Strong mussar against the roasting that goes on at aufrufs et al. Does the chatan ever really mocheil (waive his rights)? The parents certainly don’t!

  • Charlie Rose Brain Series 2 Episode 11: Pain

    Inflammatory (ouch – that’s hot) vs. neuropathic (ouch – it hurts in a non-protective way). There’s no objective way to measure pain! Very technical discussion of biology et al.

  • Rabbi Dani Schreiber-Sanhedrin – Lo Taamod

    Do we focus on “saving” the rodeif (pursuer) [from himself] or the nirdaf (pursued). Are we required to try to “save” a suicide from committing suicide? If you can stop a pursuer without killing him, must you not kill him? Technical discussion.


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    About the author

    Joel Rich

    Joel Rich is a frequent local lecturer on various Torah topics in West Orange, NJ and supports his Torah listening habits by working as a consulting actuary.

    The opinions and facts here are presented solely by the author. Torah Musings assumes no responsibility for them. Please address religious questions to your rabbi.

    5 Responses

    1. David Tzohar says:

      There is a source in the Torah for circumventing the halachic rules of inheritance. Avraaham avinu alav hashalom gave all of his possesions to Yitzchak and the children of Ketura in his lifetime. Yishmael as the firstborn should have received a double portion of inheritance. This is of course according to the view that the avot performed all of the mitzvot. I think that there is a message here that a tzava’a meichayim is lechatchila the best way to take care of inheritance.

    2. shmuel says:

      The Torah/halachah allows one to arrange their will by using the available techniques so its not really outside the ethics established by the Torah. Its no different than other types of sanctioned legal fictions and “work arounds” (eg selling chametz before Pesach). The Torah wants us to think about what we do and have our actions conform with technical halachah as interpreted by chazal so that “kol maasechah yihu lshem shamyaim”.

      That being said many of the poskim do say that one should leave a portion of their assets to be distributed as the Torah would mandate without a “work around”

    3. joel rich says:

      True, although as R’ Asher Weiss is fond of saying, we can’t really know the calculation of the avot etc. (yet of course we do sometimes follow their examples-e.g. zrizin makdimim)

    4. joel rich says:

      R’ Shmuel,
      No doubt we can work around, my question is based on the theory I’ve heard espoused that “ethics is defined by halacha”, from which I would extrapolate that workarounds work but are not lchatchila.


    5. Shmuel says:

      That was my point Unless chazal legislated against a work around , it remains OK even l’ chatchila and woul be considered ethical (eg making less than a shiur of dough and thus being exempt from challah) The Torah and chazal are more concerned with us thinking about the issues than anything else
      I will grant you that others disagree and feel that work around is not l’chatchila hence the opposition to selling chametz or the recommendation to leave some assets to be divided according to nachlos


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