Audio Roundup LVI

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by Joel Rich

Discuss amongst yourselves: The writing down of the oral law was required because ______________. This change was allowed because _________________ and is not reversible because _____________________.

  • Rabbi Hershel Schachter – History of the Torah She’be’al Peh: link 1, link 2, link 3, link 4, link 5, link 6, link 7

    TSBP #1
    Volozhin closed because Russian government would only let them learn Torah 3 hours a day.
    Gaonim were fund raisers for their Yeshivot, not all were highly learned.
    Review of Rambam’s categories of torah Shebal peh (TSBP) and rules for inclusion sefer hamitzvot.
    Horaah only applies to TSBP, studying TSBP is not bittol torah on a duraita basis because it is a “cheftza shel torah”.

    Click here for moreTSBP #2
    R’HS’s Theory of Everything – Kol dtakun rabanem kein duraita (all Rabbinic ordinances follow model of Torah) and we can use them to better understand how Chazal understood torah. RHS’s universal conservation of rules – rules are considered consistent in different areas unless reason not to (e.g. derech gidulatan – how use agricultural items for all mitzvot).
    Very “modernish” understanding of “left is right” if told so by Rabbi (see Talmud Horiyot) R’Elchanan says pasuk really applies to horaat shah (listening to Rabbinic emergency decree).

    TSBP #3
    Discussion of “Yesh Koach” (rabbinic authority to set aside torah commands). Specific example of prosbul. No gzeirot if it’s to protect another gezeirah (me – except when we do, then we call it all “one big gzeirah”). No gzeirot for infrequent occurrences. Rabbis make promulgations based on “Zkeinecha Vyomru lach” – they have a sense of what makes HKB”H happy when we “volunteer” to do it. Gzeirot – permanent, takanot – reversible by greater beit din, torah derivations – each generation beit din decides.

    TSBP #4
    Explicating from torah – was this just a convenient way to remember laws but no creative development (paging Rabbi Weider)? Some say yes, Rambam no! Whenever this tape was made, R’HS didn’t know that R’Steinsaltz had smicha!!

    TSBP #5
    Every generation’s Rabbis can reinterpret Torah (Nissuch hayayin changed from Bayit Rishon to Sheni). Are such changes retroactive? Not if that’s how you understand Elu V’Elu. R’Chaim Volozhin quoting Vilna Gaon – if you (my guess – not you or me) know Shulchan Aruch is wrong, it is a violation of Lo tisa panim to rule like Shulchan Aruch! Midat chassidut to be stringent – only do so when your whole game is at that level. (Me – like Marukva waiting between meat and dairy)

    TSBP #6
    Rabbi Akiva did not have the tradition of 2,000 years of Tohu, 2,000 years of Torah and 2,000 years of ymot hamashiach or else he wouldn’t have thought Bar Kochba could be mashiach (me – then Moshe couldn’t have been moshiach?!).
    What does 2,000 years of torah mean – Moshiach couldn’t come then? Or it’s about time of Talmud – that’s why can’t argue with Talmud? Chazon Ish says all “new” concepts by then after that can only disagree on details. Example – treifot “fixed” then even if nature changed (me – interesting that no one before him articulates this).
    Vilna Gaon – Ravina and Rav Ashi were “sof horaah” the change from oral to written transmission of Torah meant a degradation in level and therefore authorities after this point can’t argue with prior authorities.

    TSBP #7
    Dor Revi (David Glasner where are you?) asked why did chazal “tie the hands” of later generations by writing down the oral torah? They were afraid that Rabbis going into galut would be affected by other cultures!
    R’YBS talked of communicating more than just technical halacha (but rabbinic personality as well).
    R’Kook and Satmer Rabbi on shmita – if you say it is political, gemara says you should be in cherem (me – did not say apikores).
    HKB”H directs which halachic opinions will be accepted!
    OK – I lost track somewhere! A few other points. A beit din gadol bchochma ubiminyan (greater in wisdom and number) really means that (i.e. bet din with more people!?!?)
    Discussion of when Bet Din Hagadol ceased. Discussion of midot shehatorah nidreshet – doesn’t include gematria’s and fancy roshei teivot.
    Only 1% to 2% of gzeirot had reasons given with them – Mishkenot Yaskov says only these can be changed with time (me – does data support??).

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Kavanah b’Tefilah – Part 1: <a href=””Tefilah_-_Part_1″>link

    Discussion of kavanah. My summation – think about preparing and what works for you. R’Aryeh – why didn’t you want to talk about learning during davening?

  • Rabbi N Kaplan – Shmitat Kesafim and Pruzbol: link

    Detailed discussion of the laws of shmitat ksafim. Is it duraita or drabbanan – today? Specifics of how it works and what one must do – Including issues of beit din chashuv and the practical psak of R’Elyashiv.

  • Rabbi A Klapper – Marit Ayin: Eating Kosher in Non-Kosher Restaurants: link

    Is there a moral obligation not to give people a reason to suspect you.
    Classic nut cases – then some contemporary examples. Interesting discussion of “Shabbosdik” and eating in non-kosher restaurants.

  • Rabbi Y Frand – Children Being Thankful: link

    We want our children to be happy. The way to be happy is to feel gratitude to those who do for you. Manage expectations and be a good example! [sounds simple – no?]

  • Rabbi Reuven Taragin – Chodesh Elul Facing Teshuva
  • link

    Elul Mussar. Discussion of why we blow the shofar daily and its relationship to the chet haegel (golden calf). Tshuvah (repentance) comes in different flavors – some work on surface issues, others come to terms with deeper identity issues (root causes).

  • Rabbi A Mintz – The Role of Precedent in Halakhic Decision-Making: link

    The role of precedent – is it binding or just another consideration? Talmud discusses dictum of Rabbah – If you disagree with my psak and I’m around, come see me. If I’m not, keep it but don’t necessarily follow it – since Ein Idayan ela ma sheenav root (who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?). Rashbam extends this concept to svara (lo plug as well – follow your own opinion vs. precedent).
    General rule (see R’Avraham ben ha Rambam 97) – weigh all data/sources and apply them (limitations to be discussed – e.g. post Talmudic sealing).

  • Rabbi Dr. Jacob J Schacter – Tisha B’av Kinnos 5769: link

    Intro to Kinot. R’YBS set the mold for him regarding the tisha b’av experience – thinking and learning to experience and internalize the aveilut yeshanah (ancient mourning – of beit hamikdash). Interesting thoughts on rabbinical abdication of responsibility from the incident of Kamtza and bar Kamtza.

  • R’ Yehoshua Grunstein – Halachot of vacation – How “crazy” must I go to attend a Minyan?: link

    Is having/going to a minyan an individual responsibility or a community one? (differing opinions) Halachic parameters of how far (separate question – time or distance?) do you have to travel for a minyan (or is it for water to wash before prayer?). [me – be selfish, daven with a minyan! – see Rambam Hilchot Tfila]

  • Rabbi Baruch Simon – Parshas Re’eh 5769 – Yerushalayim and Yiras Shamayim: link

    Perhaps it is ok to do a mitzvah for reward if the intended reward is Yirat Shamayim (fear of heaven).

  • Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff – Teaching Torah in Russia: link

    Tales of intrigue from his days as a Mossad agent in the USSR. Some aliyah mussar as well.

  • Rabbi Baruch Simon – Parshas V’eschanan 5769 – The true reward for mitzvos: link

    Taamei Mitzvot – problem is people think if they “know” the reason for a mitzvah, they don’t need to do the mitzvah since it doesn’t apply to them (wrong!)

  • Rabbi Gershon Yankelewitz – Sichos Mussar – Elul in Mir, Europe: link

    A little history of what Elul was like in the Mir in Europe, a lot of Elul Mussar.

  • About Gil Student

    Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link of New Jersey, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and as Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He also serves on the Editorial Board of Jewish Action magazine and the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

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