By Joel Rich / Question: As “braingate” technology evolves (chip implant which allows thought to be turned into mechanical action – this exists in experimental stage), will actions caused by thought alone be considered halachically as actions or thoughts? (Example 1 – thought to donate $100 and computer transferred $ – is this a reversible transaction? Example 2 – thought to shoot someone – is it murder on a torah basis?) Rabbi Dani Rapp -Covering...

Audio Roundup CVI

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by Joel Rich

As “braingate” technology evolves (chip implant which allows thought to be turned into mechanical action – this exists in experimental stage), will actions caused by thought alone be considered halachically as actions or thoughts? (Example 1 – thought to donate $100 and computer transferred $ – is this a reversible transaction? Example 2 – thought to shoot someone – is it murder on a torah basis?)

  • Rabbi Dani Rapp -Covering the Challah: link

    Why do we cover the challah on Shabbat?
    1) Not to embarrass the challah (and I thought my mom was a daat yechida on being concerned about the feelings of inanimate objects).
    2) Zecher l’man (manna)
    3) To not have an issue of making a blessing on the wine before the challah.
    If (this is a consistent theme to me) these reasons are prescriptive and not descriptive, differences in practical issues (cover bottom, when take off cover….)
    Harold Z! Your question on Yom Tov issues (did the manna fall?) covered.

  • Rabbi Avishai David -Tzadik V’ra Lo: link

    Why do bad things happen to good people? (Good question). Here focus on “Kol d’avad rachmana” (everything HKB”H does is for the best), pure emunah (faith?) and R’YBS’s take on Brit Yeud (covenant of destiny) vs. Brit Goral (covenant of faith) as a (partial) answer.

  • Rabbi Shalom Rosner -Mamlechet Kohanim v’Goy Kadosh: link

    What is mamlechet Kohanim (Kingdom of Priests)? We are Princes or servants or teachers – R’N Alpert ZT”L – we create kiddush hashem by living a torah life (not by saying let’s go do a kiddush hashem)!
    If we focus on torah, avodah and gmilut chasadim we will be such a nation!

  • Rabbi Eric Levy –“Whoever Says that David Sinned is Mistaken” (TIM): link

    Fascinating contextual analysis of David/Bat Sheva. Why did Chazal (well IIRC it was one member of chazal) say David didn’t sin? It’s a theological issue. R’Levy (another ex West Orangite – there must be an underground railway to Toronto?) posits the “sin” was not an erotic one but a political one (David’s feeling of personal military impotence/possible rebellion).

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Case Studies in Lying: link

    Mdvar sheker tirchak (distance yourself from lies) – is it just judges (that’s the context of the original pasuk) or everyone (as expanded in oral law)? [R’AL – see R’Asher Weiss on ratzon hatorah – this could be in his extrapolation category.] The fact that traditional language of prohibition isn’t used (but only “distance yourself” – some view it as implying a greater level of severity, others a lesser. Is the focus on the act or the result? When allowed, is it hutrah (lying is bad but allowed in this case) or dchuya (this isn’t considered a lie)? Some practical applications discussed.
    Current state of orthodoxy – be very, very afraid (i.e. it doesn’t depend on how you define sex.) [me – we should aspire to the protagonist in the one story I have in common with R’YBS – when wanting to drive home that something is emet – “it’s true, I heard it from my father”. (end of discussion!!!)]

  • Rabbi Dani Rapp -Assisted Reproduction in Halacha: link

    Does the mitzvah of pru u’rvu (be fruitful) require/permit “extraordinary” measures where natural conception can’t occur? Answer may impact how interact with laws of Shabbat, etc.
    AI, IVH, surrogate moms, stem cells……discussed as well as who is the parent et al.

  • Rabbi Dr. Judah Goldberg -Judaism and Contemporary Bioethics at the End of Life: Facts and Myths: link

    Interesting take on religious/secular medical ethics from one who started in the ivory tower and then moved into the trenches (me – generally a good argument for exposure to the real world). Specific cases discussed (e.g. pain/where can you withhold care).

  • Rabbi Lawrence Hajioff -What Happens When We Die: link

    What is olam haba like? Answers here seem pretty certain (see my question last week here: link).

  • Rabbi Zvi Ralbag -Bais Shamai Bais Hillel: link

    Hillel, Shammai, Bet Hill, Bet Shammai, Herod, Chasmonaim….how they all fit together (caution – not to be listened to in the beit medrash as it may lead one to think about historical personalities).

  • Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner -Dress-Up Judaism: link

    Oliver Stone where are you?
    Historical reasons for Jews going into particular trades (allowability, market niches) and clothes sending a message as well as playing a functional role (me – e.g. a mismatched davening jacket or wearing tight full body dress or gym shorts to shul).

  • Rabbi Dani Rapp -The Agunah Crisis: link

    Halachic history, samples cases and approaches to dealing with the Agunah issue.
    Question – is it coincidental that the here oft referred to “you’ve lost that lovin’ feeling” was recorded by “The Righteous Brothers”. (I think not)

  • Rav N Kaplan-bein hazmanim preparation for life: link

    There’s no vacation from torah! Tips for effective utilization of bein hazmanim and thereafter. (me – I thought Torah was not given to the heavenly angels)

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Ten Minute Halacha – Wearing Tefillin for Mincha (and All Day): link

    Wearing them all day? At mincha?
    For a minute I thought R’AL was saying Hirhurim was antithetical to tfillin, but more careful listening yielded that he was talking about hirhure taavah (lusting in Jimmy Carter’s heart?).
    Historical opinions and current psak (R’HS – it doesn’t look like Yhurah, it is!). For a number of reasons it isn’t/hasn’t been minhag Yisrael for a long time. (me – so if you want to do it based on “logic”, then reevaluate everything you do in that light).

  • Rabbi Ari Kahn -Inviting non-shomer shabbat on Shabbat part one: link

    Inviting for Kiruv purposes on Shabbat even though invitee will violate Shabbat – strict opinion of R’M Feinstein (lifnei Iver, misayeah) and lenient opinion of R’Sternbuch. R’Kahn wrestles with how much influence external conditions have on psak (IMHO the answer is fairly clear, just how self aware we are of it is in question).

  • Rabbi Ari Kahn -Inviting non-shomer shabbat on Shabbat part two: link

    Maybe R’MF’s opinion isn’t so far afield?! R’SZ Auerbach was very lenient (and didn’t want it in print) for those with a proven record of kiruv (me – catch 22?). Worthwhile just to hear R’Kahn discuss macro vs. micro halacha (hmmm – sounds familiar but I still like meta over macro).

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Ten Minute Halacha – Davening in a Shul with a Different Nusach: link

    Really needs more than 10 minutes. R’Aryeh – 1) is there any historical record of each shevet having its own nusach? What’s the earliest reference? 2) what’s a sfardi to do in an ashkenaz shul if the shul Rabbi tells him to say ashkenaz kaddish?
    Good intro to whose minhagim control in a marriage, temporary vs. permanent residence situations and practical issues (mothers don’t let your children grow up to be different).

  • Rabbi Michael Taubes -Parshas Eikev Mezuzos Can You Take it With You: link

    So you’re moving! Can you take your mezuzah with you? Ask the new guy to pay for it? Just switch it for a less expensive one? Ask if painting is coming up and take it in advance?

  • Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner -Pirkei Avot: Is Originality a Sin?: link

    Explaining how to understand Talmudic sources on not saying anything you didn’t hear from rebbi. Question – Does the writing down of the oral law (and everything else) change the balance of Sinai (facts) vs. mountain movement (intellect) in a winner take all match.

  • 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, 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. He also 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.


    1. What is the cause of action if not thought? You see someone you hate and the thought comes into your head “I’m going to kill this guy” this thought is translated by the nervous system into action the result being that you break his neck. However we Jews have a fail safe system that comes between the thought and the action;
      thought 1-I want to kill him
      thought 2-the Torah forbids this.
      result- He lives until you see him again and the process is repeated.As for your question about the new technology make one less responsible for his actions? Maybe this would be considered mit’asek in hilchot shabbat but saying that he would be anoos and obsolved of responsibility in dinei nezikin? I think not. For a fascinating idea on how the physiological processes of the brain are really part of the nefesh habeheimi whereas the neshama elokit is a spirit that must control it (IMHO a major league chiddush) see RAYaH Kook Chavash Pe’er drush 3
      BTW yasher koach on some very interesting audios this week. Little by little I am overcoming my problem (prejudice?)with listening to divrei torah in English.

    2. One should be resonsible for all actions that one causes, independent of how one causes said action.

      I don’t believe that this is a case of Grama.

    3. R’DT,
      I wish I had better hebrew listening skills.
      The link between thought and action is fascinating and I was really thinking along the lines of dvarim shebelev einam dvarim – I can think that I want to move my arm but not move it (obviously there is some deep process that knows when I “really” want to move my arm vs. not) – what if the machine can’t tell the difference (think also about what level of blev obligates you to give tzedaka to a particular group in a particular amount versus just a stray thought to do it, which doesn’t)

    4. דלמא מהרהר בעבירה הוה מחשבה רעה אין הקב”×” מצרפה למעשה ודלמא מהרהר בעבודת כוכבים הוה וכתיב (יחזקאל יד, ×”) למען תפוש את בית ישראל בלבם איהו נמי ×”×›×™ קאמר אי סלקא דעתך שכר מצוה בהאי עלמא אמאי לא אגין מצות עליה ×›×™ ×”×™×›×™ דלא ליתי לידי הרהור

      Kiddushin 39b

      Also, it would have application to Terumah – which you can separate bemachshava.

    5. R’JR- Dvarim she balev einam dvarim in dinei nezikin. But there are places where “hirhurei halev” count as in hirhurei torah in an unclean place. Also there are questions of kavvana and ratzon. Nafka mina l’kiddushei isha see SA 32 and nosei kelim who compare da’at koneh and makneh to mekudeshet b’ratzon o b’kfiya. In these cases the thought cannot be separated from the action that follows it.
      Another thought-Can there be kiddushin al yidei shaliach were the shaliach is a robot who could identify the intended kalla and give her a ring. ccan we say that artificial intelligence=da’at?

    6. אבן העזר לב ×—”מ ב”ש שם

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