Audio Roundup CXXVIII

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by Joel Rich

R. Y. Eisenman (Rav-Congregation Ahavas Israel – Passaic, NJ)
The other day I purchased a sefer which I was looking to acquire for a number of years.
The sefer is titled “Toras HaNazir” by Rav Yitzchok Hutner Zt”l–Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Chaim Berlin in Brooklyn, NY.
As I opened the Sefer- which was originally printed in Kovna (Kaunas), Lithuania in 1932- I noticed something which caught my eye.
The first page says: Michtavei HaGeonim (The (approbation) letters (plural) of the Great Ones (literally: geniuses). I immediately began to look for the letters (plural). However, to my surprise there was only one letter from Rav Chaim Ozer Grozensky of Vilna. Even stranger was the fact that although the sefer I bought seemed to be just a modern photo-offset of the original 1932 edition, the flip side of the page which contained the letter from Rav Chaim Ozer was blank.
Something was wrong and I was determined to find out what it was.
After doing some not too difficult research, I discovered that the ‘other’ letter from a Gaon- was a letter which Rav Hutner had requested and received from Rav Kook.
(me-Some would do well to go “Back to the Future” and read “1984” – Who would have thunk that we would actualize Orwell’s concept of an Unperson?)

Question:  What percentage of R’YBS’s students (or others)  believe he meant “Tan Du” (a woman would rather be married to a poor husband than to none at all) is literally inherent in the briah (creation) and not subject to societal change?  Of that percentage, what percentage agrees this is true? {See, I don’t always resonate with everything from R’YBS and yes, I realize that I am not entitled to an opinion}

Question:  Would R’Aviner be better served by creating a network of rabbis to respond to texts with his guidance rather than responding to all comers himself?
(Ha-Rav answers hundreds of text messages questions a day! Here’s a sample:)
Q: We have a nanny for our baby. She is an Orthodox woman, but she puts on Talit and Tefillin.  (Me-hopefully not while watching the kids – same goes for saying tehillim)
A: This does not invalidate her from being a nanny. The essence is that she is motherly.
Shaking a Woman’s Hand
Q: If a secular woman puts out her hand, can I shake it?
A: No. Politely apologize: “Forgive me, this is saved for my wife” (Shut She’eilat Shlomo 4:298).{Me-See, I don’t always resonate with everything from R’Aviner and yes, I realize that I am not entitled to an opinion}
Q: Is the ideal of Judaism capitalism or socialism?
A: Future ideal – socialism. Current ideal – capitalism. (me-Whoa-real daat torah here?)
Big Bang Theory (me- Paging R’ Slifkin-maybe a haskamah for your next book?)
Q: Is the Big Bang Theory possible?
A: It is possible. And in the Beginning, G-d created heaven and earth through the Big Bang.
Q: And what about evolution?
A: Same. Hashem created man through evolution.
Q: But the simple meaning of the verses do not seem to imply so.
A: They are a parable, or have hidden meaning (Igrot Ha-Re’eiyah 1, 91).

  • Mrs. Yael Leibowitz -Heroines, Victims and Tanakh’s Deafening Silence

    An epic study of the story of women in sefer shoftim – Be the first to recognize tanach as both a product of its time and its eternal message.  “Only a philosophy, only a corpus of literature whose philosophy is founded on assumptions of the inherent value of women and the idea that women need to be valued can present a sefer that shows the deterioration and pattern a series of stories of women in such a way that the women themselves are the barometer of society”. (Paging Don Lafontaine)
    Okay – I wasn’t sold on the all specifics here but I certainly agree that we need to be careful and responsible readers of tanach – and which elements are historical and which are transcendent.


  • Rabbi Dani Rapp -Sheidim

    Did/Do Sheidim (spirits) exist?  Depends which Rishon you ask.  Examples of halachic implications.  Yam Shel Shlomo says they existed but ceased (nishtaneh hateva). Perhaps keeping balance of ruach hatumah and ruach kedusha required them in the past but they are not needed now (me – so what was Jim Morrison?)


  • Rabbi Reuven Taragin -Avodat Hashem in the Modern World

    Extensive discussion of a vision for modern orthodoxy.  Bottom line (my take) – do we view this world as a distraction to be avoided to the extent possible or as a place where HKB”H invites us to be his junior partner in creation.  (My take #2) – MO can’t be viewed a compromise for leniencies but as orthodoxy plus.  Our kids must see us (me – and our communities) as (me – vibrant) role models centered on avodat hashem in all its facets (me – chatati, aviti, pashati)


  • Rabbi Moshe Taragin -Avot Drebbi Natan 5 – Idealism and pragmatism

    Realize that we live in an imperfect world, have a fallback if chinuch isn’t for you (so you don’t  ruin other peoples’ lives) and understand there are multiple approaches to avodat hashem.


  • Rabbi Yisroel Kaminetsky -Hashkafa Schmooze – Choosing a Community to Live In

    What to look for in a community (to post HS boys?)?
    1)      Rabbinic leadership that will elevate you (most important)
    2)      schools
    3)      values (spiritual and material) of people in community.  Surround yourself with bnai aliyah (people seeking growth)
    Me – 1) fallacy of composition?  Can everyone do this (are there enough Rabbis/communities?  Will they be overwhelmed? lose their “special sauce”?)  2) And what of all the other communities – every man for himself?


  • Rabbi Jesse Horn -More Questions and Answers

    Questions (from midreshet girls?) on topics including:
    1)      why people choose a religion
    2)      repentance
    3)      facing Jerusalem for prayer
    4)      mayim achronim for females
    5)      agricultural gifts in our day
    6)      tvilat keilim
    7)      message of medrash (vs. literal interpretation)


  • Rabbi Shalom Rosner – Introduction to Sefer Hamitzvot

    Intro to OU series on sefer hamitzvot – sefer hachinuch
    Why should we study this literature?
    1)      get complete picture of dvar hashem
    2)      learning = doing for mitzvot we can’t currently fulfill (me – actually IIRC it’s a machloket if this applies outside of Karbanot)
    3)      We’ll get a deeper appreciation


  • Rabbi Jesse Horn -Moshe, the Sneh and the value of curiosoty

    Mussar – Be ambitious, make a plan, break out of the box.


  • Rabbi Aryeh Leibowitz -Hakdamat haRambam – Purpose of Mankind – Part 1

    Focus on the intellect, the importance of all wisdoms.


  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Ten Minute Halacha – M’dvar Sheker Tirchak

    Primarily based on R’D Feldman’s sefer.  Does the language “rmdvar sheker tirchak” (keep your distance from untruths) imply a greater or lesser prohibition (rather than just saying “don’t lie”)?
    Is the concern one of the impact on the liar or those around him?   When one is permitted to lie, should he?  A number of possible practical implications.


  • HaRav Bodner – Other People’s Money

    I wonder if the author of the title remembers the OPM scandal? 
    Practical applications in the realm of hashavat aveidah (returning lost objects).  What is the minimum?  (25¢); when can you assume owner lost hope? (depends – maybe 1 year); defining signs of identification (simanim); do you have to pick up a lost object ?(maybe not)….


  • Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff -2010 Responsa 13 – The bsamim rosh challenges the creed of Maimonides

    His usual wide ranging discussion, some relating to the Bsamim Rosh (real or Memorex?) and the Rambam’s   13 ikkarim – were they, and he, reacting to the times?
    Other issues include Litvak’s becoming Chassidim and where did “Melech” Shapiro sit in R’Rakeffet’s classroom?


  • Rabbi Eli Belizon -The Nature of Sheva Brachos

    Why so focused on creation?  HKB”H creates shidduchim which is as hard as splitting the sea (like creation).


  • Rabbi Yona Reiss -Relating to Jews of different Ideologies: Halachos and Hashkafos

    9/11 Beit Din of America serviced all streams of Judaism and it worked well without the hard sell.  Dynamic tension between Yisrael af al pi Shechata Yisrael hu vs. Mumar treated like Akum.  (Great quote on sneeches!)
    How do we balance internal (frum community) vs. external (still bnai brit) considerations?  Approaches of R’YBS, R’Moshe and R’Kook.  In a time where orthodoxy is not feeling as threatened, we may be better positioned to interact and influence (me – good example of times change, halachic application changes?)


  • Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner -Medical Halachah: Double Effect – Treatments which help and harm

    Philosophy (non-Jewish) of double effect – Only allowed if benefit exceeds cost and goal is the only benefit, then you can do it.  Implications – 1) Inevitable harm is ok if that’s not your intent; 2) if harm is intent, no go even if beneficial.
    Halacha generally disagrees but there are multiple approaches (ex’s given as well)


  • Rabbi Yehoshua Grunstein -The Gemara is disorganized…on purpose!
    Mishnah was literature meant to be studied as such, gemara was a “transcript” inviting you to be part of the process/discussion (but not studied” as literature – e.g. academic approach).  [me – I thought that the baal hasugya in fact did piece the voices together to be studied?]

  • Rabbi Mordechai I. Willig -Secular Values vs. Torah Values

    How to view/interact with secular culture/values?  We must be careful even in a makom torah like West Hempstead.
    1)       Be careful what you look at in the street and on the computer
    2)      Balancing secular and Jewish values is a challenge
    3)      Secular pursuits (job) is primarily a means to an end (hmmm – TUM?)
    4)      Torah is a timeless value vs. secular values which change

  • About Joel Rich

    Joel Rich is a frequent wannabee cyberspace lecturer on various Torah topics. A Yerushalmi formerly temporarily living in West Orange, NJ, his former employer and the Social Security administration support his Torah listening habits. He is a recovering consulting actuary.


    1. Rabbi Kaminetsky’s weekly hashkafa schmooze is delivered to college aged beis medrash boys and, like my ten minute halacha shiurim, is given on topics that are chosen by the boys themselves.
      For what its worth, I thought he left out one of the most important elements of choosing a community – a sense of actual community – not just a collection of individuals living in proximity to each other.

    2. R’ Aryeh,
      My thought was an actual community is best defined by a shared consistent vision and common purpose – but I’m not sure this is attainable without a critical mass and other options (e.g. you go to eish kodesh because you like that brand but can go elsewhere if you don’t vs. out of town shuls where it almost has to be a big tent). Your thoughts as a practicing pulpit Rabbi (vs. me as a practicing dilettante) would be appreciated.

    3. I define “community” more by care for each other and being friendly with everybody regardless of shared vision. Noticing when there are new faces in shul, your simcha is my simcha and the opposite. It is much more common in smaller communities and is one of the building blocks of North Woodmere where at every simcha the ba’al simcha thanks not just their friends, but the community, for all of their help (and they mean it). Mori v’Rabi Rabbi Kaminetsky did not speak about this most likely because he’s never seen it as most people from the major Orthodox centers of NY-NJ haven’t seen it.

    4. 1-My charedi co-learners tell me that the relation to R’Kooks torah is slowly changing. At present this is only on lomdische halachic subjects. Anything relating to EY or hashkafa is still considered treyf. I recently bought the new Schottenstein edition of Yerushalmi Ma’asrot. Mishpat Kohen and Shabbat Ha’aretz are nowhere to be found among the sources of acharonim, even though the Rav paskened on questions of mitzvot teluyot ba’aretz more than anyone with the possible exception of the Chazon Ish.
      2-All of Kabbalah and Chassidut would point to “Tandu” reflecting the existential impossibility of either gender being alone. This is true on the level of the prat as well as the clal (Achdut haKollelet as posited by Harav Kook ZTZL) I have no idea where RYBS would relate to this. IMHO it has nothing to do with sociology,or societal issues.
      3-WADR to MVR R’Aviner, I wish he would stop with the SMS responsa.The telegraphic teshuvot are often difficult to understand and sometimes downright misleading.
      4-Why are you not entitled to an opinion?. This anava is getting on my nerves!

    5. Why are you not entitled to an opinion?. This anava is getting on my nerves!
      So I have been told numerous times when discussing issues such as brain death – only a “bar hachi” is entitled to a vote or to question the opinion of a bar hachi.

    6. R’ Aryeh,
      Much to discuss about that but it would require imho discussing specific communities (e.g. yours, mine) which I’d rather not do in public, it would also require a follow up longitudinal study.

      Let me just quote one of my favorite movie soliloquies and leave it at that: (Nick-in The Big Chill)-Wrong, a long time ago we knew each other for a short period of time; you don’t know anything about me. It was easy back then. No one had a cushier berth than we did. It’s not surprising our friendship could survive that. It’s only out there in the real world that it gets tough.


    7. Joel,

      Please keep the Q and A sessions intelligent and conducted by super qualified individuals.

      However, i would like to hear more of R’ Belizon

    8. Shalom Rosenfeld

      > Secular pursuits (job) is primarily a means to an end (hmmm – TUM?)

      While I’m sure Rabbi Willig didn’t mean it as such, this attitude leads to a slippery slope. College/job was seen a few years ago as just plain necessary, then more recently as necessary evil, and now as just plain evil.

      To tell the shomer-shabbos baalabus that he needs to groan and make a “baruch dayan emes” every day when he goes to work is a.) unsustainable/unhealthy b.) violates “smach zevulun b’tzeisecha” c.) prevents him from seeing the opportunities for good he can do at his job, as it’s all fungible. (I believe R’ Aaron Soloveichik’s quote is “would you want to be treated by a doctor who gets nothing more out of his profession than a way to pay the bills?”)

    9. To tell the shomer-shabbos baalabus that he needs to groan and make a “baruch dayan emes” every day when he goes to work…

      I’ve listened to many shiurim by R. Willig and have never, ever gotten that impression. Of all the maggidei shiurim, he seems to have the most realistic idea of corporate life and gives the best practical advice.

    10. Shalom Rosenfeld

      R’ Gil,

      Agreed wholeheartedly. That’s why I was shocked to hear a quote like this from him. (B’n should listen to the mp3 to hear exactly what he’d said, in context.)

      (But I suspect you and I know plenty of rabbis who are described by the above.)

      Looking back at it, he probably meant to have perspective and not get too caught up in the rat race. “Means to an end” — if that end is nothing but “earn lots of money fast so you can spend all day in yeshiva and send the yeshiva more money”, that’s one thing. If that end is “serve Hashem however you can”, that’s another.

      I apologize profusely if I’ve dishonored Rabbi Willig shlit’a or misconstrued his viewpoint; should have thought before firing off the keyboard. I think I have an allergic reaction to the “baruch dayan emes” hashkafa, and overreacted when I heard anything sounding remotely similar.

      Once heard a “baruch dayan emes” rabbi state that a baalabos is “kedushas damim”, whereas a full-time-learner is a “kedushas haguf/mizbeach”, which is so much holier. A few months later was RYBS’ tenth yahrtzeit gathering, where the speaker (don’t recall which one) quoted him that the Gemara says “gelilah” (supporting the Torah) is more rewarded than “aliyah” (reading it). How to reconcile that with the above? Easy. Kedushas damim is 100% fungible. Could be a car, screwdriver, avocado, house, donkey — it’s just money. If you view baalabatim’s jobs that way, well same idea. If you view what they’re doing as serving a religious role, then that’s gelilah.

    11. R’SR,
      Please do listen and let me know how you take it.

    12. I remember OPM, though I was but a lad at the time.

    13. R’Moshe,
      Then you remember how proud we all were 🙁

    14. RE Rav Aviner question:

      I saw in the NY Times this morning that Apple Inc. has a “deep bench.” Maybe RZ or MO doesn’t.

    15. Re work:

      The main sugya about occupations is at the end of Kiddushin, p. 82. I’ve always found it disappointing.

      The impression one gets is that work is indeed a means to end. In selecting a profession, Rabbi Meir advises finding one that isn’t too difficult and doesn’t lead to temptations (omanut kalah u’nekiah).

      Also recorded is the opinion of Rabbi Nehorai that one should eschew worldly occupations and labor only in Torah. He is given the final word (in the tractate, indeed in all of Seder Nashim).

      Absent is any sense that work can be fulfilling, or that it can be a way of contributing to society. Perhaps our conceptions of work have changed. We seek fulfillment, but realistically, how many find it?

    16. “All of Kabbalah and Chassidut would point to ‘Tandu’ reflecting the existential impossibility of either gender being alone.”

      That isn’t what Tandu means. It means that women can’t get along without men, not vice versa.

      The facts are the opposite. Women without men do fine. Men without women fall apart (poor health, shorter life span).

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