by Joel Rich
I’ve always wondered about the underlying seeming discontinuity in treating a safeik in a kavua (doubt generated in its original location) as 50/50, whereas any other safeik gets adjudicated based on statistical majority (the whole 10 stores thing). I’m wondering if this might have anything to do with behavioral economics heuristics (Kahnemann/Tversky, et al). I have some thoughts on the matter and would be interested in hearing from others.
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Has any shul announced that one should not get up and walk to the pushke during Vayivrech but only set aside money for tzedakah then? (or have the gabbai walk around then)
- Rabbi Jonathan Ziring -Halachic Issues in Jewish Music
Discusses reasons why the seeming prohibition against singing any religious verse isn’t really observed. As a minimum, one should try to ensure that the mood of the music matches the content of the verses and that the verses, as included, make sense. Includes similar discussion concerning the prohibition of breaking up a verse (or is it that you must finish the verse?) Bottom line – its always been done! [Me – so has lashon hara?]
- Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Sukkah 633-2 and 634-1
What are the minimum dimensions for a sukkah, including “intrusions” of decorations into the inner space?
- Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Sukkah 635-1
What are the requirements for the sukkah to be initially made for shade and that the schach be the final step?
- Rabbi Shay Schachter-Hanging a Plaque for One Who Gives Charity
It must be OK to put names on donations because it’s always been done. [Me – very effective approach, except when we don’t like the result, i.e., seeing my prior lashon hara note.]
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Kissing (Children) In Shul
What is the reason for not kissing children in shul? Is it a lack of formality/reverence, or the need to only channel love for HKB”H? What are the possible exceptions? (Me – a Kahnemann moment – did the logic come first or the exceptions required us to come up with logic?)
- Rabbi Yoni Levin -The Mitzvah to Lend Money
Is it a mitzvah to loan money? If so, to whom? Is it considered charity or a general act of loving kindness?
- Rabbi Moshe Taragin -3 Sichot of Rav Amital for Shemot: Non-Geographic Redemption; Spirit or Water; Names and Numbers
The land of Israel is one part of the process of redemption, but the people of Israel is a greater one. (i.e., In context of how to view tradeoffs) between the two priorities.
We need palpable spirituality (it’s not just emotion!)
We are impacted by the society around us but we need some individuality as well.
- Rabbi Yitzchak Blau -A Blind Persons Obligatin In Mitzvot
Discussion of the level of the obligation in mitzvoth for those who cannot (now or ever?) see.
- Rav Asher Weiss-Fathers obligation in circumcision of son
Who does the mitzvah of brit really “belong” to? Is the focus of the mitzvah on it being done or who does it? (This will have implications concerning the applicability of shlichut [agency] and requirement for proper intention). May a non ben brit perform a kosher brit?
- Rabbi Beinish Ginsburg -The March of Centuries and Mesorah- the Rav ztz”l’s approach to Women Rabbis as explained by some of his leading talmidim
Symposium of generations, chiddush (innovation) vs. shinui(change) and the importance of mesorah [me – again, it’s who gets to make the call as to whether it’s shinui or chiddush).
- Rabbi Jonathan Ziring-אלות בעניני גרות 2
Further analysis of the requirement (and definition) of accepting mitzvoth as part of the conversion process.
- Rabbi Azarya Berzon -Derech Halimud: חובת יחיד חובת ציבור
Mitzvot can be incumbent both on the individual and on the community. Some examples provided, plus R’YBS on Sfirah and Kiddush Hachodesh as having individual and community elements.
- Rabbi Dr. Jacob J Schacter -The Methodology of Rashi
Rashi’s goal was to provide a basic, foundational understanding of the text. (Me – so why so many “unforced” medrashic interpretations?)
- Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky-When to Say Krias Shema For the First Time
Discusses the general issue of an individual who did a mitzvah while not being commanded and later came into a condition of commandedness. Does he have to do the mitzvah again? Specific issue of a bar mitzvah boy and maariv on his bar mitzvah “day.” (Is the bar mitzvah day controlling or the exact number of hours since birth? What if he’s now in a different time zone than when he was born?)
- Rabbi Shay Schachter -Praying on Behalf of a Sick Person
There’s no magic formula for prayer for one who is ill. Using the Hebrew name is important even if you don’t know who the person is. (I don’t get this. I thought the importance was to feel the pain and need of that individual.) Why do we use the mother’s name? Can you give an ill baby a name before the brit? When do we give a new name? Can you pray for someone to die in an end of life situation? When not to use titles (misheberach’s) and when to use them (aliyot) and why. I agree there’s way too much calling of parents by first names! Interesting that R’HS says we can use DNA as a primary identifier? (Me – what about in contested inheritance cases? Must a DNA test be done?)
- Rabbi Jonathan Ziring -New Direction in Israeli Political Thought
Halacha would seek a balance between pure capitalism and pure socialism.
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Ten Minute Halacha – The Kashrus of Styrofoam Cups
Given that the release agent for producing Styrofoam has a non-kosher ingredient, can you use Styrofoam cups? (Yes)
- Rav Asher Weiss-Not to perform Mitzvos Chavilos Chavilos
The primary reason that we don’t do mitzvot chavilot (in bundles) is that “it appears” as a burden. R’Weiss defines this as how it would appear to spectators (i.e., if it doesn’t seem apparent, it won’t be considered chavilot).
- Rabbi Michael Taubes-The Ne’emanus of a Father Concerning His Son’s Age
When do we trust a father to say his son has reached the age of bar mitzvah (e.g., nedarim) and where not (punishment) and what about other cases? When do we trust the son to say he’s bar mitzvah?
- Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky-Halacha Shiur #7 – פסולי ספר תורה
What to do in terms of continuing the reading when mistakes are found in the sefer Torah? It depends a lot on the type of mistake! Basic rules outlined (including bracha issues).
- Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky-Halacha Shiur #8 – דיני מחיצות בית הכנסת
Deciding to add a balcony to the Beit Mikdash to enforce separation of the sexes was no simple matter, as the architect of the Beit Mikdash required a resume including prophecy. Focus on R’Moshe’s opinions on parallels for mechitza in shul—is it to cut off communication or to prevent frivolity? Some discussion of the age cut off for separation and halachic appropriateness of setting up a mechitza on shabbat.
- Rabbi Jonathan Ziring -רות בזמן הזה 3
Continuation of the series focusing on conversion for the wrong reasons and how sure must we be that what the potential convert says is what he means.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Sukkah 636-1 and 637-1
Physical sukkah details including when it can, must be, or must not be built (really schach) and what intent is required. Special focus on structure that are permanent but whose tops (schach) can quality for sukkah status.
- Rabbi Azarya Berzon -Derech HaLimud: חובת יחיד וחובת הציבור בכיבוש מלחמה בקריאת שאר המגילות ובתקנת עזרא לתרגם את התורה
What is the difference between national (communal) and individual conquest?
There’s a communal requirement to learn Torah—both written and oral.
Also covered—some communal shofar blowing and synagogue topic
- Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Sukkah 636-1 and 637-1
The sukkah materials are muktzeh to the extent that they can’t be used for another purpose during sukkot.
- Rabbi Dr. Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff -(13) Third Person Speech – Rabbi Jerry Blau & The Rav!
R’Hutner was extremely makpid (pedantic) about getting his proper kavod (respect) and having his policy directives heeded. R’ARR explains why (even though this is the opposite of R’YBS). R’Hutner evolved into more of a philosopher, R’YBS more of a Rosh Yeshiva (if you only went to his regular shiur, you wouldn’t know he thought philosophically).
- Rabbi Allen Schwartz -Why doesn’t the Rambam Count Zecher Yetzias Mitzrayim as one of the 613 Mitzvos?
Why didn’t Rambam include zechira of yetziat mitzraim in 613 Mitzvot? It’s subsumed elsewhere.
- Rabbi Azarya Berzon-Would a Jew enter a church or a mosque?
Discussion concerning sources on entry into a city with a center of idol worship, into the courtyard of a center and into a center itself. How does this apply today in terms of Mosques, churches, and non-orthodox synagogues?
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -From The Rabbi’s Desk – Spending Money to Save Others (Physically and Spiritually)
Why don’t you have to use all your assets to save the life of a person who presents himself in need? Do you have to pay so someone else doesn’t sin? It’s an especially difficult issue when a negative commandment is involved? The general answer IMHO (especially from R’Asher Weiss) is that this is not how normal life is lived!
- Rabbi Daniel Z. Feldman-Divorce by Force – Principles
Beginning of discussion of kofin oto ad sheyomer rotzeh ani (releasing the pintele yid in a recalcitrant husband).
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