by Joel Rich
Aliens (R’ Aviner)
Q: Is it permissible to believe that aliens exist?
A: It is permissible, since it is not sanctioned or opposed by the Torah. There has yet to be any scientific proof, however, that they exist. (Me- Obviously R’ Aviner has never visited midtown!)
Hmmmmm-Sounds familiar to me (Kach mkublani mbeit avi abba and from The Rav I never studied with)
Doing God’s Work—At the Office
We are called to be co-creators of a flourishing life on Earth.
Christian business professionals have long had an uneasy relationship with the church. Not only does the church tend to privilege church and missionary service over business, but it often condemns business practices and implies the guilt of any participants. Yet there are signs that this dynamic is changing—not least because churches rely on the donations of business professionals.
Many pastors now visit their congregants at work to better understand their professional lives. Justin Buzzard, pastor of the Garden City Church in San Jose, Calif., wrote last year about ministering to professionals in his congregation. “It shows them that I care about their callings, how they spend 50-plus hours of their week.”
Organizations such as Corporate Chaplains of America and Marketplace Ministries have sprung up in the last 20 years to offer chaplaincy services and Bible studies to offices. And among a younger generation of Christians in business, working as financial analysts and engineers is itself Christian service.
Their mindset is captured by Dave Evans, co-founder of the videogame giant Electronic Arts and a design professor at Stanford. Mr. Evans talks more like a theologian than a former Apple engineer. He points out that Genesis says that humans were created in the image of God, so all of our work—not just church work—is holy. We are called to be co-creators, with God, of a flourishing life on Earth. “It is really a profound act of engaging the kingdom of God,” says Mr. Evans.
When he began work in the 1970s, integrating faith and business amounted to little more than being ethical and trying to make converts. Much has changed, he says, as a younger generation seeks to sanctify the corporate world. “The glory of God,” Mr. Evans says, “is humans fully alive. Work itself has value. It’s a huge countercultural behavior to train yourself to value work for its own sake and to see it as a service to God.”
Mr. Evans will be speaking this weekend at a conference of 250 MBA students from the country’s top schools. Organized for the past six years by Yale’s MBA Christian fellowship, the conference marks a transformation in how Christians and other religious professionals seek to integrate their faith and their work.
The so-called faith-at-work movement has more than a century-long presence in American business, says David Miller, a former finance executive and now the director of Princeton University’s Faith at Work Initiative. Mr. Miller, who helped start the conference when he advised Yale’s MBA Christian fellowship, says that it attracts people from a variety of religious traditions who are looking for meaning in what they do. “The good life isn’t accumulation of things, but it’s what you do with your gifts and talents,” he says. “People are asking these big questions.”
For many religious professionals, this means making their beliefs relevant to ethical dilemmas at work. Bob Doll, the chief equity strategist for fundamental equities at BlackRock, says he’ll be encouraging students at the Yale conference to pursue excellence in family life, church life, and career alike. On-the-job pressure provides an opportunity to “live out your faith in front of colleagues.” he says. “How do you treat employees? Do you lose your temper?”
Jeremy Foster, a Yale MBA student who helped organize the conference, says that “Young people today see business differently. They want to know how their values play out in their career.” They’re attracted by social entrepreneurship and other paths that embrace the market but allow the faithful to do well by doing good.
“I believe God has called me to the business world,” says Brian Myhre, who will graduate from Harvard Business School in May and return to work at the Boston Consulting Group. At last year’s conference, says Mr. Myhre, “I appreciated the speakers who have led organizations and are able to treat employees as Jesus would and distribute profits as Jesus would. It made me think differently about the purpose of business and how we can be co-creators with God, reflecting the divine character at work.”
Quick review of the level of requirement for male head coverings as a function of time, place and activity. [Can’t help but wonder what psak a YU guy interviewing at Mutual Benefit Life (where Judaism was only admitted to in furtive whispers in the hallway) would have gotten in 1973?]
The internet obviously has tremendous potential and drawbacks (obviously inappropriate material). It also has tremendous magnification propensities. Thus:
1) Remember true tziniut isn’t about dress lengths but about being private about what should be private
2) Respect others privacy
3) Anonymity seems to encourage lashon hara
4) Addictive nature can result in tremendous bittul zman (time wasting) and stealing (of time from employer)
5) Respect intellectual property rights
6) Remember the more indirect the communication, the more likely miscommunication becomes
7) You must master technology, don’t let it master you.
We should focus on our needs as a key to making our prayer meaningful. The challenge for modern man is the feeling he has of control over his life makes prayer less meaningful to him .
One should be talking to HKB”H (me – tata zisa help me) throughout the day.
Some stories of successful prayer (me – leaves me cold – those folks certainly should be happy but as “proof”?, don’t get me started J)
Science and halacha as seen through the lens of the microscope (i.e. how does halacha relate to microscopic organisms – famous Aruch Hashulchan on bacteria). Examples include cocopods, lice and spontaneous generation.
Varying approaches (the usual suspects) to seeming discrepancies between science and chazal.
Varying approaches to taamei (reasons for) mitzvot. When is it appropriate to provide “rational” reasons (if ever) and what should we be looking for (e.g. message to us).
The details of mitzvot add sanctity to our lives and concrete details instill concrete values/morals/ethics into our lives. But, if we don’t see these, view are subservience to a command we don’t understand as a sacrifice for our relationship with HKB”H.
Tracing Talmudic sources on the halachic nature of remote communications (e.g. microphone, Skype….) on Tziruf (being part of a group) for purposes of being counted for a minyan (not), being yotzeih a mitzvah (unlikely) or answering amein (maybe). That big shul in Alexandria has always been an issue!
A history of changes in the hebrew alphabet (Yes, Virginia!). Rashi script (font) probably post-dated Rashi. Why would this different font be used for commentaries? (i) used less space; (ii) easy to read and to differentiate commentary from main text; (iii) show holiness of main text; (iv) torment generations of school children (ok – I made that one up, but doesn’t it seem inefficient to require time to be spent on this instead of using already known font?).
Nature of chiyuv of Havdalah on Motzai Shabbat and Yom Tov (may not be the same) and implications for women’s need to participate. Interesting psak from R’Moshe – you don’t say amain to a bracha from an atheist or one who rejects torah but accepts HKB”H (latter is not generally agreed to).
Looking for models of HKB”H communicating indirectly (non-prophecy). Yosef’s dreams (his own and Pharoh’s) patterns as an example – we must try to read between the lines to understand what HKB”H wants of us.
First in a series on “The Steipler”. Great discussion of the different approaches within the chareidi world and the eventual “winners”. The personal histories of Chazon Ish, R’Schach, etc. are also of interest.
1) Need both form (formal prayer) and substance (spirituality) – it’s a chicken and egg thing.
2) Personal histories of connection to something greater.
3) Note technology can reduce ability to focus for spirituality.
Analysis of Chasdei Kreska’s opinion on bechira chofshit (free will) – there isn’t any really, but you’re not forced to do anything! It’s who you are because of nature and nurture. [Baby, I’m only society’s child] So how does that work with schar v’onesh? Answer – it’s intrinsic (i.e. that’s the natural way the system works). Cuts off before end.
Review of general rules of conversion – Issues include how much “Kabbalat mitzvot” vs. agreeing to the rules of the “army” you’re enlisting in. Also mentions that it’s a davar pashut that gestational mother is mother and recent pronouncements by poskim reversing this to DNA mother were inappropriate.
Videographer at the Versailles wedding who captured the collapse. Who owns the rights to the video? Depends on contract but also what happens in unusual circumstances not covered by contract. Discussion of subleasing rights of both parties. Detailed discussions of sources.
Discussion of “Jewish Indentity” – Point is it’s really not genetic. Ends with call for benign genetic testing (privacy issues et al).
Kiddushin is not a monetary acquisition but a symbolic one. The bracha of “shelo asani isha” is not anti isha, neither is their inability to testify or their exemption from time bound commandments. (surprise!) Discussion of Tzniut in a broad sense and why sometimes men are exempted due to need. Issues of srarah, women rabbis, Kiddush, havdalah…potpourri!
Parsha shiur – lots of technical discussion including bgdei khunah, kedusha, hutra vs. dechuya.
Part I – Can you duck community financial responsibility (e.g. resign from a moshav and not pay last year fine). Some sample cases – Conclusion – if it’s a standard ongoing “tax”, no. If it’s a one timer, maybe yes
What about an action that is both damaging and helpful – do you pay for the damage (e.g. robber breaks into car and finds a sick kid and takes them to hospital and other examples). It may be a function of how directly related the act of damage is to the help provided.
Interview with R’Ruderman (with some leading questions) discussing the hashkafa, mussar and practices in Slabodka in general and “The Alter” in particular. Didn’t frown on realizing there is a world out there. Also, how is the U.S. different in terms of application of the hashkafa. Taking on chumrot? Remember Mar Ukva (vinegar when compared to father’swine – if you’re generally far from a level then don’t take on something at that level).
Review of the Avnei Nezer. He had love of Zion (should buy property in Israel, stimulate economy) some tshuvot supporting Chassidic practices and some women’s issues.