by Joel Rich
Great quote from R’YBS in the new “Halachic Morality” essay “That is why there was no pesak halakhah, no authoritative halakhic ruling, in matters of morality, and why no controversy on moral issues was resolved by the masorah in accordance with the rule of the majority, in the same manner as all disagreements pertaining to halakhic law were terminated. For pesak halakhah would imply standardization of practices, a thing which would contradict the very essence of morality. [Me – still being debated today, especially what are the boundaries of acceptable halachik morality.]
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Fascinating presentation of some early study work, perhaps explaining the medrash of Pharoh trying a blood transfer to cure himself.
- Yael Leibowitz -Identity and Nation Building
Our generation has available to it archeological literary and historical insights that help us understand Tanach better (e.g., cylinder seal = chotem). We can see parallels to ancient gods’ stories, our message is it’s not gods doing all these things but HKB”H inviting man to partner with him.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Rosh Chodesh 418-1 and 419-1
Rosh Chodesh’s general rule is there is no fasting, one should actually eat more.
- Rabbi Shay Schachter -The “Style of Travel” on the Derech Hashem – the “Highway of God”
Last in the series (focuses here on egalitarianism) R’Schachter quotes liberally from the recently published Halachic Morality “by” R’YBS (I highly recommend the book). Main point is R’YBS’s position on the importance of chachmei hamesorah (and the mesorah) in setting policy for orthodoxy.
My guess is that these shiurim reinforced those already convinced and hopefully buttressed some waiverers, I doubt the opposition will hear it (see Jonathan Haidt!)
- Rabbi Aryeh Klapper,Dr. Daniel Rynhold -Challenges to Faith: Law and Morality
How do you respond to any seeming divergence between a Torah command and your ethical sense? Approaches plus challenges to them discussed, including: 1) Humility relative to HKB”H, 2) Humility relative to traditional thinkers, 3) Humility relative to tradition,
4) Chokification (thus no extrapolation to other cases), 5) (both are true, even if contradictory, 6) Believe halacha is wrong even if blinding, 7) Believe HKB”H is wrong and try to change his mind, 8) Believe in future, it will be viewed as hava amina (non-final position), even if it’s not viewed as such now.
- Rabbi Netanel Wiederblank-Bechira Chofshis
Primary focus on the Rambam and the interaction between man’s free will and divine foreknowledge. The general rule is that HKB”H could always intervene but often chooses not to. How HKB”H foreknowledge does not limit man’s free will is answered with a technical differentiation between how we know things and how HKB”H does. Other approaches are also mentioned.
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter-Inheritance and Wills
Wide ranging discussion of issues related to inheritance including: daughters vs. sons, status of muchzak (in your possession) vs. raui (will get in future), secular wills status and workarounds, giving to tzedaka (before and after death) and writing someone out of the will.
- Dr. Yael Ziegler -The Plague of Darkness and the Light of Redemption
Analysis of symbolism of darkness and light to Egyptians and Jews. Egypt was obsessed with death (darkness), the symbolism of light is the recreation of the world to be led by Israel’s ideals.
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter -Vayikra 5777 – Kodshei Kodshim vs. Kalim, Korbanot BaZeman HaZeh, Semichah, Oleh veYored
Lots of karbanot related (details) including: kadshei kadshim vs. kalim, sitting in the mikdash, kdushat mikdash, kdushat Yerushalayim, could karban pesach be brought today? Zrika, who can do smicha—women to give them nachat ruach?
- Rabbi Jonathan Ziring -בעיות עם הפתרון של גיור קטנים 1
Why R’Rabinovitch’s position on accepting ger katan (underage converts) where they/their family are not frum might be opposed. Do they have to agree to accept mitzvoth when they reach 13?
- Rabbi Mordechai I. Willig-Pre Pesach Q and A at BKNW
Pesach Q&A including:
• Chametz sale (how stores stay open over Pesach, why do we do so many kinyanim [acquisition methods])?
• Hotel chametz search (must you?)
• Seder focus (build emunah)
• Matzah, wine, and marror issues
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Kitniyos Questions
Discussion of why kitniyot are prohibited and why that shouldn’t change. Specific kitniyot applications discussed.
- Shani Taragin -Pesach: Pathway to Prayer
Why do we require geulah(redemption) and tefila(amida) together (someich geula ltfila)? Why do we frequently see the pattern of creation, revelation, and then redemption? How do pain and suffering differ and how is that related to the differences between a slave and a free man?
- Rabbi Moshe Sokoloff -What to say at time of divorce
Technical discussion of what must be said/communicated to a wife when a get is being given to her.
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Mussar and Q and A at Yeshivat Hakotel
Channel your will to excel to learning and not to material goods. Then Q&A on what to learn, the importance of a good chavruta, chazarah, knowing your limitations (Clint Eastwood?), who to go to for a psak and picking sides in a halachic machloket (you can’t unless you are a conversant with all the issues)
- Rabbi Jeremy Wieder-KJ’s Dr. William Major Memorial Advanced Shiur in Talmud with Rabbi Dr. Jeremy Wieder
Regular Talmud shiur takes a break to deal with basic koshering issues including hagala, tvilat keilim, kbolo kach polto and notein taam lfgam. Interesting discussion of the realia of taste absorption in today’s metals (not)
- Noach Goldstein -וך כדי דיבור כדיבור דמי
How do we understand the sources and scope of toch kdei dibbur (time period to undo/take back a statement/action)? Is it a Rabbinic gzeirah, pure logic, or does it have a Torah source? Does it apply to speech actions as well?
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-More Kitniyos and Gebrucks
Interesting discussion concerning when you can change a “minhag” (personal vs. communal) and, if you can, is hatarat nedarim (vow nullification) required? Who follows whom when married couples come from different minhag streams (# of opinions)?
There are number of reasons given for gebrochts, none of which are overly convincing. Does it include not using the same utensils as someone who does eat gebrochts use? What if you only juice and not water—is it gebrochts?
- Rabbi Jonathan Ziring -Why was Slavery Part of the Plan?
Slavery helps us learn how to treat others on the margins of society.
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Ten Minute Halacha – Reading Menus on Shabbos and Yom Tov
What’s the reason for the Talmudic prohibition against menu reading on Shabbat? Is it fear of erasure or the general prohibition of not reading “shtarei hegyotot”? Why is it generally ignored today? Unclear, but there are several workarounds—two people read it, don’t read it aloud or don’t let the baal halayit read it.
- Rabbi Michael Rosensweig-The Role of Mikra Bikkurim and the Special Character of Sippur Yetziat Mitzrayim
A review of the Rambam on sippur yetziat mitzraim shows us that the focus of the mitzvah is HKB”H’s hashgacha, our hakarat hatov for it and our deep emunah.
- Rabbi Baruch Simon-Inyanei D’yoma – Pesach: Doing Things Yourself on Shabbos and Yom Tov
One should be involved in Shabbat preparations, perhaps the same is true for matzah. Perhaps, when something must be done l’shma(with proper intent) there is a somewhat chovat haguf (personal requirement) implied. Mitzvah bo yoter mshlucho (it’s more of a mitzvah to do a mitzvah yourself rather than through an agent) may also be a consideration.
- Rabbi Netanel Wiederblank-Practical Hilchos Pesach
Practical Pesach preparation guidance for sinks, refrigerators, counters, tables et al. Discusses what really is chametz and where do you really have to look?
- Rabbi Jonathan Ziring-Ashkenazim and Soft Matzah
Clearly original matzah was soft, hard matzah has been around awhile, if not as long. Text and historical evidence for these assertions provided. There’s some debate as to whether Ashkenazim eating hard matzah rises to a level of minhag which excludes them from eating soft matzah.
- Rabbi Menachem Penner -Raising a Child with Special Needs in the Jewish Community: One Family’s Journey
R’Penner speaks as a parent of a special needs child concerning what those children need from the communities around them.
- Rabbi Shay Schachter -Davening Mincha or Shachris Within 30 Minutes After Chatzos
Is 6 ½ hours really the earliest time for mincha, or is it really 6 hours with a ½ hour safety net?
- Rabbi Moshe Taragin -Defining Kiddush Hashem in an Age of Religious Terror
We believe that divine will and human interest are congruent and life affirming (v’chai bahem). What we live for informs on what we die for and the olam haba we build for ourselves.
- Rabbi Evan Hoffman-The Life of Albert Einstein
Biography of Einstein and his Jewish (not really) identity and his wishy washy Zionism.
- Eli Weber -Halachic Development of Selling Chametz before Pesach
History of the workaround sale of chametz for Pesach from a real sale in which the buyer actually used the items through the Bach’s chiddush allowing the “sale” to include property (you couldn’t move whiskey vats) to our current practice. We probably should scale it back (there’s really no b’al taschit when you destroy based on a mitzvah).
- Rabbi Ari Kahn -The Vicissitudes of a Minhag; the Story of Kitniot.
Evolution of the definition of kitniyot and the possible reasons for the prohibitions Positions of R’Moshe, R’Y Elchamn, et al. lead to “lenient” position for quinoa, canola, and mixtures and oils in general.
- Rabbi Ezra Schwartz -Kitniot: Local Practice, Controversy, and Quinoa
Halachic history of kitniyot—it was more a German minhag than French! Perhaps the number of reasons given for kitniyot informs on it being a very strong minhag!(me-or is the opposite true?)
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