by Joel Rich
I’ve heard a number of shiurim on why it’s ok for donors to have their names up in lights. I wonder if anyone ever mentions this gemara to the prospective donors?
תלמוד בבלי מסכת בבא בתרא דף י עמוד ב
נענה רבי יהושע ואמר: צדקה תרומם גוי – אלו ישראל, דכתיב: ומי כעמך ישראל גוי אחד, וחסד לאומים חטאת – כל צדקה וחסד שאומות עובדי כוכבים עושין חטא הוא להן, שאין עושין אלא כדי שתמשך מלכותן, שנאמר: להן מלכא מלכי ישפר עליך וחטיך בצדקה פרוק ועויתך במיחן עניין הן תהוי ארכא לשלותיך וגו’. נענה רבן גמליאל ואמר: צדקה תרומם גוי – אלו ישראל, דכתיב: ומי כעמך ישראל [וגו’], וחסד לאומים חטאת – כל צדקה וחסד שעכו”ם עושין חטא הוא להן, שאין עושין אלא להתיהר בו, וכל המתיהר נופל בגיהנם, שנאמר: זד יהיר לץ שמו עושה בעברת זדון, ואין עברה אלא גיהנם, שנאמר: יום עברה היום ההוא.
Rabban Gamaliel answered Saying: ‘Righteousness exalteth a nation’: this refers to Israel of whom it is written, Who is like thy people Israel etc. ‘And the kindness of the peoples is sin:’ all the charity and kindness that the heathen do is counted as sin to them, because they only do it to display haughtiness, and whoever displays haughtiness is cast into Gehinnom, as it says, The proud and haughty man, scorner is his name, he worketh in the wrath [‘ebrah] of pride, and ‘wrath’ connotes Gehinnom, as it is written, A day of wrath is that day.
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The Bid D taught us “I must be cruel only to be kind” (Shakespeare – Hamlet 3:4) on a most personal level. (IMHO it worked.) Is this a mainstream Jewish thought?
- Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Chanuka Siman 670-2 and 671-1
Who lights the Chanukah candles, especially when there is more than one member of the household? Make sure candles (and Menorahs) can be seen as separate units.
- Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner -Is Conversion a Mitzvah?
Wide range of opinions (and sources) on whether conversion is a mitzvah and why we might (or might not) encourage it. [Me – didn’t address one of my favorite questions—what do we tell a potential convert if he asks what does HKB”H want of him?]
- Rav Nissan Kaplan–working_on_tefila
Getting one bracha can block out a better one! Praying always has an ROI, probably there’s an increasing marginal rate of return! (My summary .)
- Senator Joseph Lieberman -Address to Students – Judaism, Shabbat and a Life of Public Service
Senator Lieberman’s personal history and thoughts about orthodoxy in the modern world. Some interesting insights on how halacha/hashkafa impacted (or didn’t) his positions.
- Rabbi Jonathan Ziring -Superior Information and Insider Trading in Jewish Law
What would halacha say (notwithstanding local law) about profiting based on superior and/or insider information? Applicable rules in these cases may include gneivat data (positive false impression) and onaah (excess profit). General rule may be that superior information that anyone could get is OK to use but you can’t lie and you can’t withhold information if “no reasonable man” would do the deal if they were aware of this information.
- Rabbi Allen Schwartz -Jewish Encounters with Contemporary Society – 01
First in a series concerning our interaction with the outside world. Focus here on defining Tora, mada, and derech eretz.
- Rabbi Ari Lamm -Jew, Gentiles and Arguments Over What the Christian “Origin Story” Should Be (Fall 2016: 1)
Analysis of the beginning of the separation between Christianity for gentiles as separate from for Jews. We must carefully develop our philosophy and approach from our traditional sources.
- Rabbi Jonathan Ziring -Women and Prayer
Whether you follow the Rambam or Ramban, prayer is not a time bound mitzvah. When the Rabbis set up the 3-per-day prayer system, what did they have in mind for women? There are a wide range of opinions; in practice meta values and practical circumstances make a big difference.
- Rav Nissan Kaplan-Chalav Yisrael
What is the nature of the prohibition of chalav akum? Is it concern for mixing in of non-Kosher milk, of leaving liquid uncovered or reducing interactions with outsiders? Is it considered a “davar shebiminyan” which can’t be reversed even if the reason doesn’t apply? Includes technical discussion of the original prohibition, R’Moshe’s position and whether powdered milk is included.
- Rabbi Dr. Jeffrey Woolf -Judaism, Christianity and Islam Part V
The evolution of Muslim/Jewish relationship from Mohammed to current times.
- Rabbi Michael Bleicher -Appreciating the Seder of the Siddur – Shiur #3
Part of a series. Focus on the advantage (even though there is a trade off) of a fixed prayer text to unite nefesh (soul) and guf (body) [me – keep you in the game?]. Then insights into modeh ani and hand washing brachot.
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Ten Minute Halacha – Seudas Rosh Chodesh
Sources of requirement for Rosh Chodesh meal and why it’s best that it be a daytime one.
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -From The Rabbi’s Desk – Shadchan for Nochrim
Range of opinions (and underlying reasons) on why setting up shidduchim among non-bnai brit may (or may not) be appropriate. (R’Lebowitz sounds OK with it.)
- Rabbi Ezra Schwartz-Aino Metzuveh Voseh
Looking at the commanded status of the Avot as viewed by Chazal. Are negative commandments thought of differently than positive commandments in this regard?
- Rabbi Yona Reiss -From the Dayan’s Desk – Cases and Analysis regarding Beth Din Jurisdiction part 2
Review of 4 specific cases in the context of whether secular law can be followed when 2 Jewish parties are involved. It may turn on whether secular law is specifically referred to in an agreement or are just its principles employed. Also an issue-which individuals/institutions are involved may also be a factor.
- Rabbi Jonathan Ziring -The Purpose of Korbanot
Rambam (weaning from idol worship to HKB”H) vs. Ramban (it should’ve beenme) on Karbanot. It’s a vehicle towards closeness with HKB”H (as R’YBS might say—as part of a prayerful life).
- Rabbi Mordechai I. Willig -Bar Mitzvah shiur – Baruch Shepetrani
R’Willig posits a chiddush based on the difference between the requirement pre- and post-bar mitzvah to teach a son Torah. It’s this difference that triggers baruch sheptarani and why bar mitzvah gets a big celebration (vs. bat mitzvah).
- Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Chanuka Siman 671-2
Chanukah menorah placement issues—Apartment building and dorms included.
- Rabbi Mordechai Becher -Mitzvot: Why do we do what we do? Reasons, Effects, Causes and Guesses
Mitzvot are given to improve us—some examples of messages included in the mitzvoth and where halacha may be impacted.
- Rabbi Aryeh Leibowitz-Tefilah Basics: Ashrei
Part of a series concerning prayer. Deals with Ashrei as being preparatory for the honor of being able to pray. We should live our life as explained in Ashrei. Includes close analysis of the messages of the verses.
- Rabbi Michael Rosensweig-Bereshit – Fundamental Beginnings
Why does the Bible start with Breishit? Perhaps there’s more to it than Rashi’s explanation. Based on the Ramban (and the Zohar) yirah and ahavah lends to emunah. It’s the blue print, agenda and design for the world by HKB”H.
- Rabbi Yoni Levin -Changing into Rabeinu Tefilin During the Repetition of Shmoneh Esreh
Rules of when to switch if you also wear Rabbeinu Tam Tfillin. Strict halacha would imply not to switch them during chazarat hashatz but seems like it’s common practice. Perhaps sayshma with them on.
- Rabbi Michael Taubes -Parshas Toldos The Mitzvah of Chinuch – Some General Aspects
Standards shiur on different ages for chinuch.
- Rabbi Jonathan Ziring-ב מלמד – הכשרת כלים בימינו 2
A middle position on requirement to kasher vessels recognizing that modern materials may not really absorb taste. Perhaps be lenient only in after the fact situations. Requires analysis of whether taam kikar (tastes like the original substance) is a Torah or rabbinic concept and whether the requirement to kasher is only to remove taste or also to infuse holiness.
- Rabbi Azarya Berzon -Ramban on Parshas Toldos: the concept of Ruach HaKodesh then & now
Different understandings of prophecy (nevuah) and ruach hakodesh (divine spiritual influence).
- Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Chanuka Siman 671-3
More on where light menorah so there is a heker (clarity of purpose). Rules concerning saying brachot in shul (yes) or other public gatherings (no). A mourner shouldn’t light menorah in shul (shechiyanu issue) nor lead shacharit (due to hallel issues).
- Rabbi Shay Schachter-Individuality in the Context of the Greater Community
Each individual brings his own unique contribution to the collective (R’YBS on aveilut) but that contribution must be used towards a united goal (not an egocentric).
- Rabbi Yosef Blau -Commeration of HARAV HAGAON R. MOSHE AARON POLEYEFF ZT”L 50th Yarhzeit
Brief biography of one of the early Rosh Yeshivot of RIETS followed by a memorial shiur. Raises some interesting issues including the nature of hiddur mitzvah (beautification) on Chanukah vs. other occasions and whether one can (should/must) reduce this hiddur so that others can discharge their responsibility at the most basic level. Message of the Avot on Torah, chesed and focusing on the other.
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Ten Minute Halacha – Couples Living Together After Their Kesubos Were Lost in The Fires in Israel
All the reasons why in a pinch it’s OK to live together if your ketubah was destroyed (especially in Israel).
- Rav Nissan Kaplan-chalav_yisrael2-cheese
Discussion of cheese hashgacha in Israel starting with basics of chalav and gvinat akum and the evolution of cheese technology. Were cottage cheese and yogurt included in the original promulgation?
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