Audio Roundup LXV

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by Joel Rich

The current issue of The Harvard Business review includes the following 3 approaches to “The New Landscape of Decision Making”.

MethodDescriptionBenefitsCautionary Message
AnalyticsUsing data and quantitative analysis to support decision makingDecisions are more likely to be correct.

The scientific method adds rigor

Gathering enough data may be difficult and time-consuming

Correct assumptions are crucial

AutomationUsing decision rules and algorithms to automate decision processesSpeed and accuracy

Criteria for decisions are clear

Difficult to develop

Decision criteria may change

IntuitionRelying on one’s gut and experience to make decisionsEasy and requires no data

The subconscious can be effective at weighing options

Typically the least accurate of decision approaches

Decision makers are easily swayed by context

Which of these best describe the halachic decision making process now? Pre-now?
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  • Justice-Micheal Sandel: link

    While I found the series so far to be a bit to canned, the philosophical issues raised are of great interest (coincidence that my Shabbat chaburah was studying the Chazon Ish’s (#69) responsum on deflecting an arrow to save 5 by killing 1 the week that the WS Journal printed a story on this series?) I’ve suggested to some “shiur channels” that they take this series and assemble halachic thought thereon. We’ll see if anyone takes on the challenge.

  • Rabbi Mayer E. Twersky-Halachic Parameters of bitachon: link

    Requirement and meaning of bitachon. Parnassah related examples and that one should believe that one won’t be adversely affected by giving up certain profit related activity (e.g. not cheating in business). It’s a weltanschang which covers everything from choosing a profession (which isn’t all consuming) to making “reasonable” hishtadlut efforts (me – sounds like the Supreme Court’s definition of pornography?)
    Question – why wasn’t the transition to paid rabbinical positions considered a lack of bitachon?

  • Rabbi Dr. Aharon Lichtenstein – Q and A #1 5770 (Low Audio): link

    Not a lot of Q’s for an hour:
    1. teaching torah – to non bnai brit, to women – what’s relevant (long discussion)
    2. YU’s role in Israel. How, if at all, it should enter; a lot will depend on who would lead.
    R’YBS wasn’t “interested” in EY (IIUC as far as being involved in “local” decisions?) – Centrality of EY wasn’t recognized.
    Generally supportive of YU but some parts/people not consistent with what he’d want and some internal fixing needed.
    Some in OJ don’t think integration/TUM/secular studies have any value, others think the price isn’t worth the pain. Even some of those who see some value don’t think should be under same roof (R’Hutner – let them study with me full time for 6 years, then study science [me – very practical solution for the masses The proof would be in the pudding, but of course no one does any formal surveys. That being said, my anecdotal experience is that it is much harder to stay the course outside of YU than inside. Of course, it’s possible those who do are stronger for it and everyone makes their own decisions. For the group as a whole, I’d go with YU as having the better outcome.]).
    3. No bechira chofshit other than for man (Breishit aside – the trees making decisions is a mystical thing). How do we understand HKB”H “changing his mind”? Better to have a good question than a bad answer. R’AL opts towards HKB”H having flexibility for change.

  • Rabbi Hershel Schachter – Halachos of Bikur Cholim: link

    A classic R’HS shiur filled with lots of goodies like minimum shiur for bikkur cholim is 3.6 (halachic?) minutes.
    Goal is to do the maximum you can to help the person get better – so in addition to helping to the extent you can (including putting them in a good mood), you must pray for them. [me – Does this include mumbling [the gabbai (or you)] the person’s name?] The Netziv in his commentary on the Shiltot says you can only offer a prayer in shmoneh esrai or tehillim (not a misheberach!) [me – mpi hashmuah R’YBS held this way; no wonder I resonate to his wavelength].
    Most mitzvot between man and man are covered under Vahvta lreacha kamocha (love your neighbor as you love yourself) and thus subject to reciprocity [thus no coverage for non-bnaibrit. However there is a torah commandment of imitato dei which does cover our relationship with them!] [Hmmmm!]
    Putting oneself into Safek (doubtful) danger to save one in definite danger – Must, May or Can’t? R’Chaim says must.
    Talmud Nedarim – Tosfos there is weak!
    Can you pray for someone to die? Yes, depending on the situation.
    Bit of discussion of when prayer must be in Hebrew and what it means that angels don’t understand Aramaic (don’t ask me what it means).
    Interesting history of nicht on shabbos geret.
    When can or can’t an individual refuse treatment? Extremes are obvious, tripwires not so clear.

  • Rabbi Daniel Stein – Eiruvin Chazarah 5770 (on shiurim 1-4): link

    Very detailed review (first in a series)of various types of physical areas for purposes of carrying (or not) and building eruvim.
    Interesting (to an actuary) point that R’Moshe ball parked an estimate of what % of people who live in an area would actually be on the street at any one time. I’d love to know what data was examined or experts consulted.

  • Rabbi Hershel Schachter – Chazzara Shiur #1 – Inyonei Chullin/Y”D: link

    First in a series of a very detailed review of basic kashrut issues; Here includes bittul, rov, ein mvatlin issur lchatchila, davar sheyesh lo mattirin.
    Of course, kdarko bkodesh, many opinions quoted.
    Interesting discussion about safek drabbanan l’kula and when to ignore (i.e. be strict anyway)

  • Rabbi Josh Strulowitz – Pru U’rvu: Why do we need a Mitzvah commanding us to do something we would naturally be inclined to do: link

    Psychological explanation of why the mitzvah is for men and why it needs to be a

  • Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff – Saving lives, Shalit, Triage: link 1, link 2

    Hostage issue. Halacha and Hashkafa – it’s not a simple question.

  • Rabbi Michael Taubes – Parshas Bereishis Making Early Shabbos: link

    The usual suspects – including davening mincha and maariv in the same halachic time period, are you really turning Friday afternoon into Shabbat or just accepting some restrictions earlier on Friday.

  • Rabbi Yehoshua Grunstein – Noach- the Tzelem Elohim when traveling or waiting for luggage: link

    Mussar – Be a mentch in the airport (and everywhere else).

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz – Ona’as Devarim Part I – Overview and Possible Exceptions: link

    Talmudic sources of different types of Onaat dvarim – some specifics and exceptions (to be continued).

  • Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner – Cosmetic Surgery: link

    Sometimes beauty matters (see hilchot aveilut for women, “competencies” for Kohain Gadol [this bears further discussion]). Deal with possible issue of self wounding as long as “reasonable” risk.

  • Rav Ezra Bick – Aggadot Avraham #01 – Vayomer Hashem el Avraham: link

    Beginning of a series on interpretation of Medrashim. Here Avraham/Lech Lcha and leaving an old life behind, asking questions and the burning/lit up house medrash.

  • Rabbi N Vilner – Halacha and Refua 1: link

    Balancing professional confidence (HIPPAA?)/privileged information and when it can/must be broken from an halachic standpoint. What is the source (lo telech rachil?) and what is the counter (Hashavat Aveidah, Lo Taamod)? Shut Tzitz Eliezer on the general issue and child abuse in particular.

  • Rabbi Hanan Balk – Hamakom Y’nacheim: A New Explanation: link

    R’YBS – Hamakom is used (e.g. hamakom yinachem) when we feel distanced from HKB”H. R’X adds it may refer to the bet hamikdash.

  • Rabbi Allen Schwartz – Bible Commentators 01 – Rashi (1): link

    Why did Rashi move away from the standard medrash approach which preceded him to a more pshat basis? Perhaps due to the disputations with non-bnai brit in Europe. In sfard they were more scientific and thus more prone to a pshat approach. Rashbam was very critical of Rashi as pshat; but Rashi was an important transition.

  • Rabbi Ally Ehrman – Will The Real Tefillah Bi’tzibbur Please Stand Up!: <a href=””tzibbur_Please_Stand_Up!”>link

    Discussion of various opinions on what exactly is tfila btzibur and tfilat hatzibbur. Rambam as source of practices, opinions of R’M Feinstein and R’YBS. Some practical differences.

  • Rabbi Ezra Schwartz – Yichud: A matter of life and death (part 1): link

    Answering the age old question – who jumps off the ski lift (if anyone) if you’re “stuck” in a yichud situation. Is it a Torah or rabbinic prohibition? Is it Yehareg V’al Yaavor?

  • Rabbi Jeffrey Saks – Rambam, Introduction to Perek Helek – Part 1: link

    Beginning of series – Here biography and major works; begin discussion of principles of faith (paging Dr. Shapiro!)

  • Rav Binyamin Tabory – She’elot uTeshuvot #01, Mishpat Kohen – Rav Kook: link

    Beginning of a series of sh”ut and the historic and geographic context. Here R’Kook and his love of Eretz Yisrael.

  • Rabbi A Klapper – May One Pray for Others to Repent?: link

    A question to the meil tzedakah – can you pray for someone to repent; is this a prayer to remove free will? Various Talmudic stories brought as proofs. Bottom line yes but better not (my general question – what does it mean that HKB”H prefers but doesn’t demand?). R’Klapper sees this as an example of letting halacha operate within his philosophical context (don’t really want to take away free will).

  • About Gil Student

    Rabbi Gil Student is the Editor 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, 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 has served two terms on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and currently serves as the Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as 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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