by Joel Rich
A recent article in the New Jersey Jewish News had a call out box stating that orthodoxy and feminism were not mutually exclusive. I agree, but that doesn’t address the real issue—what do you do in specific cases where they are mutually exclusive and perhaps more importantly, what do you do in specific cases where their priorities differ?
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At a shiur I recently gave on Prayer and OCD, a question was raised as to how one should relate to a poseik who one perceived as being on the OCD spectrum. This led to a discussion of personalities and what draws one into certain professions (e.g., extroverts becoming actuaries). Any thoughts on this topic,would be appreciate especially on how this impacts psak.(e.g. if a poseik was always stringent due to a desire to limit uncertainty (which is what ocd really is about)might later poskim take this into account when weighing his opinion)
- Rabbi Shmuel Braun-Hashkafa Shiur #1- Having the Courage To Connect- Reb Mendel Vitebsk on VaYigash
Sounds like R’Braun and I share some musical as well as philosophical (R’YBS) roots. Here he discusses raising the sparks of every human interaction.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Sukkah 629-6
More on allowable schach for sukkah and rules regarding hanging object below the schach (me – many seem unaware of the possible issues involved).
- Rabbi Ezra Schwartz-Calculating Maaser Kesafim with taxes
Primarily a discussion of how taxes are treated for purposes of a maser ksafing (tithe)calculation(There’s a lot of practicality reflected in psak IMHO.) I’ve always wondered about the lack of deductibility of expenses for the actual maser (crops) calculation. It implies that a farmer could have a money losing year but still owe maser (e.g. spent $1,000 on seed grew $900 crop and still owes $90 maaser). Also BTW, there is a recursive formula to calculate how much maser to give, given the fact that maser is tax deductible.
- Rabbi Moshe Taragin-Blending Universalism and Nationalism
Universalism vs. particularism within the actions of the Avot and throughout historical Jewish philosophy. We don’t reject all outside wisdom but the elements we focus on differ from theirs in important ways. Finding the right balance between universalism and particularism is the key. If those outside world understood our role in universal destiny, they would support our particularism rather than oppose it.
- Rabbi Allen Schwartz-History of Mikraot Gedolot
Fascinating history of the Mikraot Gdolot (originally choices of included commentaries was made by Christian printer D. Bromberg). Which commentaries have been included over time and why, plus a description of the individual commentaries’ (and super commentaries) approaches to understanding text.
- Rabbi Zvi Ralbag-JH 178-the Development of Sefarim outside of the Talmud in the Geonic Period
Discussion of the evolution of Gaonic halachic study literature (Bahag, Sheiltot et al).
- Rabbi Dr. Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff -(11) Rav Hutner: Inside and Outside
Starts with a complaint about intellectual dishonesty concerning a new book on Russian Jewry. Continues with R’Hutner’s bio and his relationship to the Soloveitchik family: The Yeshiva (Chaim Berlin) became centralized around R’ Hutner who was in the box outwardly but out of the box on the inside (exact opposite of R’YBS per R’ARR).
- Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner-Tefilat Shav: The Wasted Prayer in Jewish Law
This shiur attempts to reconcile sources on praying “for a miracle.” Perhaps key issue is do you believe it can happen and it won’t be a challenge to your faith if it doesn’t (me – not so easy to generalize this individual rule for larger groups of people). We need to be careful not to question HKB”H’s judgment.
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Using a Smartphone in Shul
There are plusses and minuses to using a smart phone as a siddur. The real issue seems to be the public perception (both as to your character and the general acceptability of “off label” uses during davening). Perhaps it’s a function of the community you are in?
- Rabbi Nosson Rich- Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Sukkah 630-1
Rules on what the walls of the sukkah may, or may not, be made of. How to make a two-walled sukkah described.
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter-Highlights of Hilchos Tefillah: The Mitzvah, Bakashos, Coming Late, Nishmas, Sof Zman
Prayer-related issues including (R’HS’s spin on):
• Main point of prayer is to make requests of HKB”H
• Which way to face during prayer
• Nature of psukei d’zimra
• Catching up rules if late for prayer
• Saying krait shma w/brachot on time vs. without brachot with minyan (relative priority)
• Praying with minyan vs. being able to pray at a reasonable pace (relative priority)
• Mincha and maariv between plag and tzeit (is it an issue?)
• When to stand/when to keep your head covered with tallit
• Is saying karbanot a Torah requirement?
• When do prayers really end?
- Rabbi Yoni Levin-When Two Worlds Collide: A Sefardi Eating in an Ashkenazi Home
Can an ashkenazi serve a sfardi food which for an ashkenazi wouldn’t be prohibited as bishul akum but is for a sfardi? This is a subset of a more general question which may turn on whether the reason for the “prohibition” is “simply “stringency” or clear (to him) law. (IMHO an interesting question is even if you may, should you?)
- Rabbi Moshe Taragin-Mussar sicha for Vayigash
Sometimes you need to just run (not walk) away from trouble! (More machmir than Kenny Rogers’ “Coward of the County.) Then insights on the differing personalities and leadership styles of Yehuda and Yosef
- Rabbi Mordechai I. Willig-Conversions for Marriage in America and Eretz Yisrael
Review of all the basic issues concerning conversion for the sake of marriage. How do changing cultural norms impact the halacha? Is articulation of acceptance of mitzvoth enough or must we measure true intent? (I’m still working on my frummometer patent!) Analyzes the positions of R’Moshe and Chacham Ovadya as well as current practices in the U.S. and Israel.
- Rabbi Yona Reiss-From the Dayan’s Desk: Beis Din Jurisdiction Part 5 Bankruptcy and Dina Demalchusa Dina
D’na D’malchuta in galut will have an impact on beit din’s practical jurisdiction where the government cares about how certain transactions are adjudicated (vs. them saying here’s what we set as a standard practice, but two parties can agree to something else). In bankruptcy law the government cares so beit din must tread lightly.
- Dr. Leah Knapp -Lonely Man of Faith: Opportunities and Limitations in the Quest to Connectf
Therapist discusses therapeutic case histories which show that an individual must balance relationships with self-preservation. This balance is similar to that seen in R’YBS’s Adam I and Adam II. While one may not reach stasis, therapy allows one to explore the tension and get validation
- Rabbi Shay Schachter-Prayer & Redeeming the Contemporary Jew
R’Shay discovers a beautiful piece from R’YBS (great to hear a new generation discovering for themselves the brilliance and sui generisness of R’YBS). One redeems (i.e., geulah) oneself through prayer (tfila). Shmoneh Esrai articulates what our priorities should be and encourages us to reexamine them (instead of accepting society’s priorities).
- Rabbi Nosson Rich- Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Sukkah 639-1
What to do and not to do in the sukkah (mostly same as in house but at a higher level).
- Rav Asher Weiss-(5777) Arvus” regarding loans and Mitzvos”
While we may use the same term (arvut) in relation to ritual mitzvoth and monetary cosigning, they are really not the same concepts (arghh—This is worth some discussion IMHO – is there some lesson or just practical ease of usage with no hashkafic or halachic import). With regard to mitzvot, does our co-responsibility constitute a separate mitzvah or is it simply part of the mitzvah at hand?
- Rabbi Yonatan Shai Freedman-Sports on Shabbat
Can you play ball on Shabbat? No—details follow.
- Rabbi Efrem Goldberg-BRS Men’s Afternoon Kollel: Kiddushin 29b Marriage vs. Learning
Gemara shiur. Discusses miraculous events, age to marry, and learning vs. marrying priorities.
- Rabbi Assaf Bednarsh-Who Owns Yerushalyim?
Was Jerusalem split amongst the tribes? Views range from total yes to total no with in-between positions based on differentiating ownership, sovereignty, and ownership with national reserved rights. Mussar message based on these various approaches.
- Rabbi Jonathan Ziring-ר’ אשר וויס על “המתג הכושר”
The “Kosher Switch” for Shabbat; not! Do we focus on technical definition of malacha or whether it appears in the perceived world that one I did something? Defining grama is not so easy (me – nor is leidat hasafek?)
- Michael TaubesParshas Vayigash and Asarah B’Teves: The Night Before a Fast Day
Analysis of Tisha B’av vs. other fasts. R’YBS on the status of the eve of the fast.
- Rav Nissan Kaplan-10th Tevet
Asarah B’tevet and other fast day issues. How is Asarah B’tevet different (are the others really grounded in their month rather than the day?) How does one determine the end of the fast when in flight? (Is this a matter of understanding Chazal’s original enactment of fasts in times not of pressure and not of peace?) Is there a difference between sha charit and mincha aliyot eligibility dependent on whether you are fasting?
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Sukkah 639-3
What eating must be done in the sukkah versus what’s nice to do? Sleeping in the sukkah—you should but there are reasons not to (how valid they are in theory vs. practice is an interesting question).
- Rabbi Jeremy Wieder-KJ’s Dr. William Major Memorial Advanced Shiur in Talmud with Rabbi Dr. Jeremy Wieder
Shiur here focused on how the rishonim (Rambam, Rif, Shulchan Aruch) read and understand the passage in the Talmud at hand.
- Rabbi Chayim Soloveichik -The Beit Hamikdash: A Place of Intelect and Passion
The importance of the Beit Hamikdash and Karbanot and the lesson of the need for both passion and intellect/discipline.
- Rabbi Azarya Berzon-Ethics and Halacha: How to respond to adversity
Learn from R’Akiva—all that HKB”H does is for the good.
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Ten Minute Halacha – May a Chosson and Kallah do Nichum Aveilim During Sheva Berachos?
It’s okay for the chatan and kallah to visit the bereaved, just not on the first day of mourning. Slight riff on the chatan needing to look like a king at his wedding (don’t put on a clown suit).
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