Audio Roundup CXXIX

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by Joel Rich

Question: According to those who do not accept brain death as a definition of death, and thus would consider harvesting organs as murder, but accept those poskim who say nonetheless it is permitted to receive organs harvested using such methodology; would such an individual who refuses to accept such organs due to halachic/ethical considerations be considered as one who commits suicide? a kiddush hashem?

Pension and Investments: 1/10/2011
Sid Bowne resigned as chief investment officer of the (deleted by me – a significant amount) consolidated investment pool of Yeshiva University, (Me- R’ Moshe has an interesting tshuva on brothers putting away tzedaka funds for use by another brother when, in a few years, he gets married and wants to continue learning. Question: if the brother decides not to continue learning, do the brothers retroactively lose the mitzvah? can they redirect the money and keep the mitzvah? Etc. ?If one gives money to the YU endowment, do they get a mitzvah now or when the money is spent or a proportion of the mitzvah based on actual year disbursements from the trust (YU bashers, substitute aveirah for mitzvah :-))

  • Rabbi Mosheh Lichtenstein – Rethinking Contemporary Modern Orthodoxy

    M.O. in the U.S. has lost its vibrancy and appears apologetic and subject to a movement to the right.  R’YBS recognized the dialectical nature of life (e.g. when emet and shalom come into conflict) and that when you choose to experience life this way (me – if you think this is what HKB”H wants of you) you pay a price (me – that’s worthwhile).
    In early years in the U.S., modernity was a given so many (Rabbis) viewed it as an accommodation – a practical movement to keep people somewhat frum.  Unfortunately, if this is your mindset, it’s from a position of weakness rather from an ideology of strength.
    Most people are practical “lifestylists”, not ideologically driven.  Now American chareidism lets you enjoy both the modern world and still claim ideological purity (me – but will this last?).  Thus M.O. has to regain its MOjo (ok, that was me) as an ideology that produces the “best” avodat hashem (and to that I say Amen).


  • Rabbi Hershel Schachter -Snow in Halacha

    Lots of issues related to snow discussed here.  (R’Zevin has an excellent essay on the topic.) 
    It’s used as a description of color.
    How many people know that the black (or blue) stripes on their  tallit is zeicher (reminder) of tcheilet [and if you wear tcheilet, a pure white tallit (based on Daniel related medrash) would make sense] Is snow muktzeh?  Nice summary of muktzeh issues (probably no)
    Shabbat – Ice cube production (not the rapper) – Must be OK per R’Moshe since everyone did it in Europe (hmmm – Joel’s dual mesorah theory?)
    Shabbat Salting ok (it’s causation), shoveling OK if danger
    Use of melted snow or snow itself for mikveh (if emergency), hand washing (no go in snow)
    No reserving parking spots that you dug out! (me – obviously in many cities dina dmalchuta must be overriding this psak)


  • Dr. Ronnie Perelis -Climbing God’s Mountain, Finding Shelter Under the Shechina’s Wings: A Convert’s Story from 17th Century Amsterdam

    Interesting history of a convert in 17th century Amsterdam – especially given the different historical circumstances (remember we live in a medinah shel chesed in the U.S. which is unusual in our history)


  • Rabbi Josh Blass -Rabbinic Responses to Reform and Haskala

    50,000 foot review of 4 great figures battling haskalah – R’Sofer, R’Hirsch, R’Salanter and R’Hildisheimer


  • Professor Aaron Koller -Improving on Joseph: Revision of Esther and Daniel in the Second Temple Period

    Persia was the first stable host to a Jewish exile  and so there was a special challenge of how to relate to this exile.  Daniel (and Esther) as “super Joseph’s” – role models (parallels from all their stories in Tunach).


  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Ten Minute Halacha – Waiting Six Hours After Eating Hard Cheese

    Did you know the OU has a “cheese head” (go Packers!)  R’Aryeh covers the major kashrut agencies approaches to defining hard cheese requiring a 6 hour wait (surprise – 3 agencies and 3 approaches).  What is the status of melted cheese?  Fresh parmesan cheese is an issue, all else CLOR!


  • Rabbi Eliyahu W. Ferrell – IS There Something FISHY about MEAT?

    I guess OU must have a fish head too!  (Must come in handy on Rosh Hashanah!)  Brief discussion of the “danger” of eating fish and meat together and do we treat it similarly to “regular” kashrut issues (e.g. batel bshishim)
    Explanation of OU fish, OU dairy fish and OU Arthur Treacher’s fish and chips labels.  (OK – I made up the last one).  No discussion of the lamented (by me) demise of the OU DE label.


  • Rabbi Ari Kahn -Netilat Yadim in the Morning

    Review of different occasions requiring handwashing (e.g. wakening, eating…).  Is it because of cleanliness or godliness?  Discussion of Sheidim (spirits) as well.


  • Rabbi Josh Yuter – Statement of Priciples on Homosexuality
    R’Josh Yuter has posted a series of  podcasts on his YUTOPIA site.  Here a discussion of the recent manifesto on mishkav zachor, he’s generally in favor (of the statement).


  • Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner -Yonah-Introduction

    First in a series.  Historical context of Yonah (also mentioned in Mlachim Bet).  Symbolism of the name Yonah (Knesset Yisrael symbol) and message of the entire story relating to needing to find our way back to HKB”H.  Yonah wanted to avoid prophecy so as not to cause punishment to the Jewish people, even if it meant giving up his life.
    Then beginning of line by line analysis (e.g. he ran from “mlifnai Hashem” – away from the relationship)


  • Rabbi Yonah Gross -Shulchan Aruch Shiur – Yom Tov – Eating Meat on Yom Tov (529:1)

    Ein Simcha ela b’bassar (joyous occasions requires meat) – was this only at time of Temple sacrifices or today as well (subjective vs. objective requirement).  Probably subjective so if you enjoy dairy more, go for it.


  • Rabbi Assaf Bednarsh -Machshava 06 – beInyan bitachon – histadlut, Rav Dessler and the middle approach

    Next in series – R’Dessler views hishtadlut (effort) as an illusion – so why do more than buy a lottery ticket?  1) fool others so they still have free will; 2) so if you slip (and don’t have full bitachon) you won’t go off the derech [me – I didn’t get this] R’Bachaya and others (including me) – hishtadlut and hashgacha are a series circuit – HKB”H operates  hasgacha primarily through nature (me – that’s why he created probability theory!)


  • Rabbi Eli Gersten – I’LL Drink to THAT

    Discussion of sports drinks and iced teas production techniques and ingredients.  While flavor component may be less than 2% of the drink, it’s usually not batel (deemed immaterial) due to davar d’avida l’tama (flavor ingredients) and chanan (initial concentrated mix all becomes problematic) therefore no 1/60 rule.  Many flavors have problematic wine and/or grape juice components.  Insect extracts, dairy proteins and vitamins all can have their own issues.  Bottom line – need hechsher.


  • Rabbi Mayer E. Twersky – Divrei Chizuk for Times of Crisis

    Chizuk for the community (North Woodmere? – not clear why). Yissurin (painful events) are real – Chazal seem to have a dialectic approach – OTOH they show HKB”H’s love/care, OTOH R’Yochanan asked for neither them nor their reward.
    HKB”H doesn’t give anyone anything they can’t handle so great yissurin implies an individual with great reserves.
    R’MT’s take – they are precious only when HKB”H deems them absolutely necessary, (Tzedaka, etc. that we do are to avoid them being “absolutely necessary”).
    One approach to prayer – sharing in other’s pain implies you’re really praying for yourself, not for the other who is in pain.
    R’MT emphasizes the importance of both continuing to pray (all prayers count at some level) and continuing healthy cheshbon hanefosh (introspection).
    [me – I suppose “we don’t really understand how HKB”H runs the world so just keep putting one foot in front of the other” is not particularly comforting and was one of the reasons pulpit rabbinate wasn’t for me]


  • Rabbi Mordechai I. Willig -Q & A Session

    Sounds like a Yeshiva in Israel Q&A.
    1)      He sees men wearing wedding rings as an outgrowth of the feminist equality movement.
    2)      Making aliyah – nice but it’s only a mitzvah kiyumit (no requirement but yes credit) (didn’t sound to me like a strong preference)
    3)      Classical music is ok, “modern” culture – no good
    4)      Secular college – forbidden –  OTD and immorality issues
    5)      Intermarriage – attending is a chillul hashem, some allow some ongoing contact.
    6)      Kissing a woman on the cheek after shul as a casual greeting “Avoid at all costs”.  Non linear relatives  – there is room to discuss.
    7)      Handshake – avoid but room to discuss if its only a “greeting”
    8)      Adoption – “it’s difficult” (sounded like he didn’t want to discuss)
    9)      Copying CDs – differing opinions
    10)     His shul – minhag is women don’t say kaddish (no one stops them from whispering it)
    11)     Mamzeirut – Is it “fair”? No but maybe a deterrent to parents’ escapades?
    12)     TUM – only in service in Torah (me – not sure philosophically what this means)
    13)     Women – Time bound commandments exemption related to duty to raise children


  • Harav Aharon Lichtenstein – Press Conference

    1)      Prayer – Understanding dynamic tension (and history) of fixed text vs. individual prayer.  Remember you can inject the personal even now.
    2)      Study of psychology is the study of the soul and the world around us (TUM at its best).  Just remember it’s not a mechanical science and you need to be aware of traps of academic biases.
    3)      Women’s roles – It’s not a power struggle, deal honestly with the issues.


  • Rabbi Azarya Berzon – Practical Halacha in Monetary Law: Am I Responsible When You Didn’t Tell Me?

    A somewhat detailed analysis of responsibility of trustees and one who does damage.  Issues include whether one needs to know true $ value as a trustee in order to be considered responsible?  If one is a complete anus (beyond their control), do they still bear financial responsibility for damages?


  • Rabbi Yehoshua Grunstein -Can I set my Coffee machine to work on Shabbat?

    Can you use an automatic coffee maker on Shabbat?  It depends!
    Issues of shvitat keilim (letting your property rest), hashmaat kol (noise) and Shabbat timers discussed (answer – probably yes).


  • Rabbi Ari Kahn -Have the Rabbis Ruined Judaism

    No.  Wide ranging discussion of rabbinic authority, judgment and need for public support/empowerment.  Interesting sidebar comments on mixed seating at weddings (good).  English halacha books (always stricter) and knowing when to ask questions and when not to (me – good luck with that one!).

  • Rabbi Elon Soniker – Does the Torah Tell Us to Daven?

    Review of the range of force of prayer – Torah, Rabbinic or it’s like faith in HKB”H which, according to some, is so fundamental, it is a perquisite to mitzvot.  Interesting position of the Kuzari – Tfilat Hatzibbur is a Torah mitzvah (me – a’la R’YBS?)


    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. Rav Twersky was in North Woodmere to give chizuk. One of our members is battling a difficult illness and in a community like ours (very young and sixty families where everybody knows not only each other but the names of all of each other’s children) people have been really shaken up. Needless to say Rav Twersky provided exactly the kind of chizzuk, guidance and direction that we all needed.

    2. Oh,so ‘saying’ kaddish is different than ‘whispering’. I don’t know, that sounds like a slippery slope to me…
      Also, American-Jewish men wore wedding rings way before ‘feminism’ was born. I’d say it’s more copying the you-know-whos.

    3. Risa,
      The thought did occur to me 🙂

    4. R’Aryeh,
      Just curious, obviously there are a bunch of (imho incomplete) “reasons” one can give for yissurin – do you vary your response by the individual you are helping work through their feelings? (feel free to answer offline if you don’t want to discuss in public)

    5. “Also, American-Jewish men wore wedding rings way before ‘feminism’ was born. I’d say it’s more copying the you-know-whos”

      Agreed-exchange of rings is a standard Western wedding ceremony-classical Orthodox didn’t do it because of haish koneh-and not to be even in the avak of halipin which would pasul the kiddushin. It predates modern feminism by centuries.

    6. “Classical music is ok, “modern” culture – no good”
      To the extent that I listen to music at my age it tends to be classical-but what makes classical music OK and modern culture good?
      The age of the speaker?

      “Intermarriage – attending is a chillul hashem,”
      Probably general opinion-but at least the Sreidei Eish permitted it-The Orthodox Forum book on “The Relationship of Orthodox Jews with Believing Jews of Other Religious Ideologies andNon Believing Jews. In Chapter 5 written by Mark Dratch at the end of the first full paragraph on page 141 Rabbi Dratch writes “And in the
      case of exceptional circumstances, R. Yehiel Yaakov Weinberg allowed a father to attend the marriage ceremony of his son who was marrying a non-Jew” Footnote 20 on page 149 states Eizik Sher,”Talks with Harav Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg zt”l, author of the
      Sereidei Eish,” yated Ne’eeman, November 5, 1999, pp.43-44. I thankProf Marc Shapiro
      for this reference.”

    7. FWIW IMHO the use of rings for kiddushin is likely not indeginous to Jewish practice either (e.g.

    8. Not accepting organ transplants=suicide? I dont think you can say suicide/murder where it is shev v’al ta’aseh. It is over v’nishmartem meod lenafshoteichem. This is like those chassidim shotim who refuse to vaccinate their children against diseases. IMHO those who refuse to take advantage of the wisdom Hashem has given men in order to reduce pain, and suffering are guilty of the worst form of ingratitude. Colossal kfiyut tovah klapei HKBH.

    9. “joel rich on January 21, 2011 at 10:29 am
      FWIW IMHO the use of rings for kiddushin is likely not indeginous to Jewish practice either (e.g.
      Obviously one can do kiddushin with any shaveh keseph but I believe by the time of Tosafot-it was common to use a ring as a permanent reminder of the kiddushin.

    10. I think you should use a different transliteration for אנוס.

    11. Gosh, I wish I would have had that infomairton earlier!

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