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by Joel Rich

Chatam Sofer’s Position Below : Prescriptive (i.e. CS would say cheridim in Israel today are on the wrong track) or descriptive (i.e. CS would find another explanation given current reality)?


Bein Adam Le-chavero: Ethics of Interpersonal Conduct

By Rav Binyamin Zimmerman (Me-product of West Orange,NJ)

The first avenue is the knowledge that physical building is a fulfillment of the mitzva of settling the Land of Israel, and therefore actually a spiritual pursuit (as explained in Shiur #15). This idea is vividly expressed by the Chatam Sofer, whose writings evince great love of the Land, even though he was not a political Zionist.

In discussing the absence of secular studies from the European Jewish educational curriculum, he is bothered by a dispute cited by the Gemara (Berakhot 35a) regarding whether one ideally should spend all his time studying Torah and rely on external sources of sustenance, as is the opinion of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, or should also be involved in planting and gathering crops, as Rabbi Yishma’el argues. The Gemara’s conclusion appears to be in accordance with the view of Rabbi Yishma’el. The Chatam Sofer, then, wonders why the chadarim of his day did not provide their students with occupational training. His answer is fascinating:

It seems to me that even Rabbi Yishma’el stated his opinion that one should “gather one’s grain” only with regard to the Land of Israel, when a majority of Jews are settled there, as then the work of the field is a mitzva in its own right, viz. that of settling the Land of Israel and bringing forth its holy fruit. It is regarding this that the Torah said, “You shall gather your grain” … [and] it would be comparable to saying, “I will not wear tefillin because I am involved in other mitzvot,” if one were to say, “I will not gather my grain because I am studying Torah.” It is possible that the same holds true for any other occupation that has a role in settling the Land of Israel, as any such thing is included in the mitzva … (Chatam Sofer on Sukka 36a, s.v. domeh)

The Chatam Sofer concludes that the chadarim focus only on teaching their students Torah because one’s work in Europe has no spiritual aspect
Interesting – I wonder how this plays out for Jews in Northern climates

Skiing on Shabbat
Q: Is it permissible to ski on Shabbat?
A: It is forbidden on account of various problems: 1. The ski lift, even if it is activated by non-Jews for Jews. 2. According to some opinions, making slits in the snow violates the prohibition of plowing. 3. Leaving the Techum Shabbat. 4. Carry the skis on one’s feet from a snowy area to a non-snowy area. 5. Carrying the ski poles. 6. It is a weekday activity (Ha-Rav Chaim Kanieski was asked this same question, and responded: I do not know what it [skiing] is. They showed him pictures of people skiing, and he said that it is the same as the prohibition of sailing on Shabbat. In general, Rav Kanievski holds that the Halachah regards snow in a manner similar to water. The book “Ha-Noten Sheleg” p. 333).


  • Jonathan Ziring -Hekfer Beit Din Hekfer

    Hefker Beit Din (court’s power to expropriate) is used to propound Halachic general rule enactments, as well as for specific case applications. Does it flow from the rabbinic right in extraordinary circumstances to “uproot” Torah law (akirah) [which would imply limited application] or something else [unwritten underlying broad governmental authority]? Is it both power to take and give property? Which courts does this authority reside in?

  • Jonathan Ziring -Chillul Hashem as a Factor in Psak

    Defines Chillul Hashem (profaning HKB”H name) and Kiddush Hashem (glorifying HKB”H name), how important they are, and their application in halacha for both “stringency” and “leniency”.

  • Rabbi Michael Taubes -Parshas Tetzaveh Shehecheyanu for a Kallah Lighting Shabbos Candles for the First Time

    Does one say a shechiyanu the first time they light Shabbat candles? Possible sources in the Talmud and categorizing mitzvoth in order to analyze which mitzvot might or might not qualify for a shechiyanu. Is this a shechiyanu of joy?

  • Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 331-2

    Mila on Shabbat – some details of the sub cuts (my pun) of what constitutes mila and when does Shabbat prevail against doing mila on Shabbat?

  • Rabbi Mordechai Becher -Like a Candle in the Wind: Historical, Halachic and Mystical Aspects of Shokeling

    Some interesting comments concerning sanctifying other cultures’ practices/music (me – darshening Stairway to Heaven?). Some history of Jewish (and non) sources on why shokel (sway). Most sources discussed were regarding learning, not prayer. Ideas included: comparison to flame or tree, a soul that can’t stay still, people needing to bob and weave to share a siddur….others say it’s more important to be internally focused and ignore outer trappings like shokeling.

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -By Way of Introduction – Likutei Halachos

    The Chofetz Chaim wrote this sefer due to his focus on Kodshim in anticipation of the new beit hamikdash as well as a number of other reasons (e.g. general background to psak).

  • Rabbi Ari Kahn -can you be a sandak twice?

    Sources concerning the parallel between (and implications of) the ketoret making a Cohen wealthy and being a Sandak doing the same. In general, R’Kahn isn’t a fan of this derivation.

  • הלכות צבא #18, הצטרפות לנסיעת היתר, מאת הרב אביהוד שורץ

    If a large vehicle is permissibly being driven on Shabbat (e.g. troop carrier for life endangering issues, a train by a non ben-brit), can you go on it to get somewhere for a mitzvah purpose? Possible issues include making sure no prohibited action is done specifically for you, tchum, maarit ayin (how it looks) and ziluta (profaning Shabbat atmosphere). Arguments both ways.

  • Professor Smadar Rosensweig-The Hidden and the Revealed in the Destiny and the Initiative of Esther and Mordechai

    Tanach wide themes that destiny must be earned and one can be mitakein (fix) predecessors’ errors to redeem their destiny.

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Ten Minute Halacha – The Placement of the Rabbi’s Derasha in Davening

    Real question in determining issue of forbidden interposition (hefsek) is whether Kaddish before musaf is attached to shacharit or musaf. May be best for chazzan to say a few psukim after the Rabbi’s speech before Kaddish so it’s not an orphan!

  • Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 331-2

    Discussion of circumstances where we won’t do a brit on Shabbat even if it seems to be the 8th day (e.g. C-section). Any preparation that can be done before Shabbat should be!

  • Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 331-3

    Clothes and washing for newborn baby on Shabbat. Interesting remark on nature changing today compared to the time of Talmud. Also notes if not 8th day bris, some moalim won’t do brit on Thursday or Friday so as to avoid chillul Shabbat for “sick” baby.

  • Rabbi Ya’akov Trump -Origins of the Siddur

    Introductory series on prayer discussing authorship of various sections and why a set form was needed as well as the dialectic between set and free form prayer.

  • Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 331-5 and 332-1

    First time Moel shouldn’t do his first mila on Shabbat. Then onto rules of assisting animals on Shabbat. There is no prohibition of giving animals medicine on Shabbat.

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Ten Minute Halacha – Honoring Stepparents

    Force of requirements re: relationship with step parents during life of natural parent and after death. Respect vs. Fear is one issue, is the requirement to respect a step parent a derivative of your mitzvah vis-à-vis your natural parent?

  • psyc 110: Introduction to Psychology-Lecture 9 – Evolution, Emotion, and Reason: Love (Guest Lecture by Professor Peter Salovey)

    What is love? Intimacy, passion and commitment. Why do we love? Similarity, proximity, familiarity and many other reasons and hashgacha (OK , I added the last one).

  • Rabbi Hershel Schachter -Shabbos; Starting and Finishing a Melacha

    Mlacha Drabanan can’t be violated passively, a gzeirah drabannan can be.

  • Ari Lamm -Did Hadrian Ban Milah & Does It Matter?

    Bar Kochba rebellion was caused by continued Roman political anti-Semitism, not banning of brit. There were trends among Jews to give up brit in order to fit in.

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Ten Minute Halacha – Piling Sefarim on Top of Each Other

    We should be more careful of which sefer we put on top of another even though the Aruch Hashulchan doesn’t think the prohibition (against putting “more holy” books under ones of lower holiness) applies to today’s printing methods.

  • Rabbi Michael Taubes -Parshas Tetzaveh Looking at the Kohanim During Duchening

    Why not look at the Cohanim’s hands during duchening? Distraction or much worse – an analysis of sources.

  • Rabbi Hershel Schachter -Da’as Torah – What Are Its Halachic Parameters In Non Halachic Issues

    Is it possible for Sanhedrin to be wrong? Must you follow them if they are? What about your Rabbi?
    You have to pick a Rabbi who is knowledgeable in all Torah, has seichel and is yrei shamayim (God fearing/good ethical attributes). It’s also important that he be on the same hashkafic wavelength as you (my problem according to some – I’m on a unique wavelength) and they should be totally familiar with the people, the facts and issues at hand.
    Everything is a shailah (e.g. who to marry voting). Raises one of my favorite issues – quoting Yesodot Shoresh Havodah by R’A Diskin – there is no area of life which is reshut (up to you?), it’s all black and white! (This approach supports that everything is a shailah).
    If you don’t know the facts, you can’t give an opinion! (Me – the challenge is knowing you don’t know).
    Unclear to me how this maintains any personal autonomy (other than picking the Rabbi) and how a pulpit Rabbi could function getting all these questions.
    It all comes down to who is worthy of having an opinion on what?! (And how does the person themselves know if he himself is worth?)

  • Professor Paul Bloom-PSYC 110: Introduction to Psychology-Lecture 10 -Evolution, Emotion, and Reason: Evolution and Rationality

    Dr. Bloom is an evolutionary psychologist (EP) but first briefly presents the alternative approaches (e.g. Tzelem Elokim/dualist approach).
    Simply put, the EP believes brain/mind evolved – adapted – to solve “long term” problems. Question is what are adaptations and what are side effects? (e.g. sweet tooth was for healthy foods, chocolate overeating is a side effect). He believes EP can help explain group differences in the brain.
    Most interesting study – morning sickness as an evolutionary protector of mother and baby.
    Then onto Kahneman: 1) framing (put in terms of gain vs. loss asymmetry); 2) base rates (test results for small probability are overrated); 3) availability (we overestimate effects which have gotten greater PR or we easily think of them); 4) confirmatory bias (we emphasize facts which support what we already thought).

  • Rabbi Hershel Schachter -Question and Answer Session

    1) Are passive business transactions allowed on Shabbat?
    2) Halachic position on homosexuality (Jewish and Non-Jewish)
    3) Women should say Tachanun (vs. Artscroll)
    4) Does Tanach always have to be taken literally? (no but sometimes yes)
    5) How do we know HKB”H didn’t leave us alone? (he told us so)
    6) Tcheilet – of course wear it, if in doubt we are strict!
    7) Rabbeinu tam Tfillin (midat chassidut)
    8) Why isn’t world to come mentioned in Torah (good question, maybe need for oral law?)
    9) Science and Talmud – no contradictions (Talmud doesn’t mean what we think)
    10) Waiting between meat and milk
    11) Sources concerning shomer negiah (it’s not about pure ritual impurity)
    12) Cheit Haegel – If it wasn’t idol worship, why was it so serious?

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About 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.

One comment

  1. MiMedinat HaYam

    there was no concept of “political zionism” vs other forms of zionism in the chatam sofer’s day.

    as for vocational education, he instituted such a program for students in pressburg.

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