by Joel Rich
LZ”N Udi Fogel, 36, Ruth Fogel, 35, and their children Yoav, 11, Elad, 4, and three-month-old Hadas. I want to say something really meaningful but it all sounds so trite. May the Makom comfort all of the Jewish people, together, as mourners of Tzion and Yerushalayim and grant us the final redemption we so desperately need (even if we aren’t deserving enough and even if we aren’t yearning for it enough). May HKB”H grant humanity a respite from disasters such as those that have hit Japan and may all of humanity recognize HKB”H’s rule over all of us.
From David Brooks:(I hope Dr. Erica Brown is being mkarev him – he mentioned her in an earlier piece.) What he says below resonates in both my professional and personal experience
This body of research suggests the French enlightenment view of human nature, which emphasized individualism and reason, was wrong. The British enlightenment, which emphasized social sentiments, was more accurate about who we are. It suggests we are not divided creatures. We don’t only progress as reason dominates the passions. We also thrive as we educate our emotions.
When you synthesize this research, you get different perspectives on everything from business to family to politics. You pay less attention to how people analyze the world but more to how they perceive and organize it in their minds. You pay a bit less attention to individual traits and more to the quality of relationships between people.
You get a different view of, say, human capital. Over the past few decades, we have tended to define human capital in the narrow way, emphasizing I.Q., degrees, and professional skills. Those are all important, obviously, but this research illuminates a range of deeper talents, which span reason and emotion and make a hash of both categories:
Attunement: the ability to enter other minds and learn what they have to offer.
Equipoise: the ability to serenely monitor the movements of one’s own mind and correct for biases and shortcomings.
Metis: the ability to see patterns in the world and derive a gist from complex situations.
Sympathy: the ability to fall into a rhythm with those around you and thrive in groups.
Limerence: This isn’t a talent as much as a motivation. The conscious mind hungers for money and success, but the unconscious mind hungers for those moments of transcendence when the skull line falls away and we are lost in love for another, the challenge of a task or the love of God. Some people seem to experience this drive more powerfully than others.
From R’ Amital: I wish to note in this context that, in years past, there were yeshivas that tended to sever their students from their homes. In my opinion, a steep price was paid for this approach. I believe that yeshiva students should remain connected to their families and avoid any type of cut-off. They must be especially careful not to offend their parents against the background of heightened meticulousness in the observance of mitzvot.
Kdarko bakodesh a nuanced approach to a question that continues to preoccupy me. IIUC R’MR is concerned that the “academic” approach would supplant the historical talmud torah (HTT) approach. R’MR accepts there could be individual transmission errors or attribution errors but not ones that would be critical to the system itself. He is less concerned with original intent of the baalei mesorah as long as the opinion itself is supportable (although whose opinion it really is may have some weight).
The key aiui is we give the mesorah a very, very heavy “benefit of the doubt” and realize it’s next to impossible to “prove” it wrong [me – e.g. inconvenient texts found? They were put in gneizah because they were incorrect]. The psychology of the HTT vs. academic approaches (reverence for mesorah vs. full frontal criticism) and the importance of realizing halacha has its own set of rules (which may differ from “normal human logic”) can also play a conscious or subconscious role.
Looking at who said what, when and where is interesting but may not rate a birchat hatorah (for engaging the divine word) but there can be value (e.g. which commentaries were aware of others, which methodologies they used..)
Interesting comment on if you could prove a material transmission error, would you change halacha? Yes (result oriented – that’s what HKB”H wanted originally), No (process oriented – HKB”H made the error occur) or maybe (R’MR – it’s complicated J or it could never happen).
This shiur is from 2000, but AIUI his philosophy hasn’t changed.
Two of R’Moshe’s most important tshuvot (to actuaries and to baalei machshava) – can you buy life insurance (or is it showing a lack of trust in HKB”H?) and, if so, what kind (term or whole life?).
1. Yes we can! It’s a form of business investment (side point – you can choose a good parnasah/profession – who says you have the zchut to make a good parnasah without that right choice. [me – look for highest ROI (return on investment) where time invested is the I]).
2. Term insurance – based on gemara Nidah 31. Two important points from the Tshuva (i) R’Moshe classifies the question of which insurance to buy as eitzah (advice) which we really don’t have anymore!! [but he’ll try anyway] (ii) R’Moshe concludes that he doesn’t really understand the insurance discussed [me – if he could have been zoche J to a son-in-law the actuary, rather than a son-in-law the Doctor, maybe we’d be blogging more about insurance and less about brain death?!?!] – Free translation “but since it mystifies me how for only $400 a year you can get $50,000 of insurance, which is a lot, perhaps there are other conditions to the $50,000 payment that are unknown to me and maybe because of those conditions there is no advise here, thus, if there are conditions let me know and I will respond further”.
Tfila halachot are important but this series will primarily focus on the specific meaning of the words of prayer.
It’s always better to show up to pray (Anshei Knesset Hagedolah infused the text) than not, but there is much more. It can’t just be an intellectual experience (me – no, he really means it – da lfnei mi atah omeid – you should “know” [experience?] in front of whom you stand).
Try to clear your mind – change your siddur or seat, shut your cell phone (me – ouch – you are so right about vibrate vs. shut off!). Remember you are not the center of the universe, HKB”H is.
Recommended reading – R’Schwab on prayer.
Smichat Geulah L’tfilah (saying the bracha of Gaal Yisrael right before the amidah) – Why do Chazal think it so important? Message of this geulah (redemption) is that HKB”H is interested in what we have to say.
Tfilah b’lachash (saying amidah out loud but in low voice) – must feel like you are actually talking to someone, but in a most intimate way.
Why 3 steps backward/forward into amidah? We’re stepping into a different zone, HKB”H wants us to move forward to engage him.
Begins his analysis of meaning of amidah – here focus on 1st bracha and specific things to think about on praise of HKB”H in general and the actual specific words. Worthwhile even for those who think they “know”. (BTW, do you think R’Chaim would be pleased with the practice of the Shatz saying the 1st bracha slowly and then moving to warp factor 9 [captain, I don’t know how much more she’ll take?])
First in a three part introductory series examining halachic priorities in allocation of scarce resources in different situations. Here whose blood is redder (ethical quandaries of the railroad switch track kind) , the Horiyot priorities (man vs. woman, Kohein vs. Levi…) and evaluating competing charitable causes (fascinating R’Moshe tshuva on elementary schools vs. higher level institutions). Extensive Maareh Mkomot may be found here link 1, link 2. The speaker means well but his humor seems a bit off – I guess it’s a baby boomer thing.
R’M Feinsteins tshuva on crowded subway riding (permissible) [me – Question – how much should you have to spend on a taxi to avoid this issue? What if that cost meant using meat with a regular hashgacha rather than a “mehudar” (special?) one]. Then his tshuva on opposite sex handshake (hard to permit)]
Why do we chant the haftarah? R’Aryeh quotes S”A reason that there was a gzeira against reading the torah (not quoted was reason that it was in place of learning sessions) [side point – why on Shabbat can’t you start until after the torah is wrapped but can start yehi ratzon’s on weekday? (i) Yehi ratzon is only a minhag; (ii) people have to get to work. Lots of nafka mina’s based on these reasons] Discussion of use of Klaf and other choices – need to read along? Why do we not read from kiaf i) hard to find readers; (ii) expensive [me – huge nafka mina especially in Englewood? back Lawrence?!!] Other halachot as well.
Borrowing without borrowers permission? Source is gemara in Pesachim related to renters and presumption regarding bdika and the desire to do it. It’s all based on Umdenah – what is “generally expected/accepted”. R’Aryeh says must be a “super majority” of what’s generally accepted (source? What is a “super majority”?). Some examples – does a folded talit communicate that the borrower doesn’t want it used? [me – general actuarial issue – how do you define “what’s accepted?” – is it by country, state, city, shul, minyan… what about efshar l’varer – should you have to call the individual and ask if you can?]
A selection of Shut including whether Ruach Hakodesh still exists (yes), machine matzah and tzitzit (no) and tfillin alignment by mirror (no).
Good tracing of the development or the different opinions on how long to wait between meat and milk.
First in a series on Micah. We know little about him. He mostly lectures on social issues and was especially hard on Jerusalem and Shomron – capitol cities.
Why are some biblical personalities thrown under the bus even more than the text seems to imply? Ramchal – Chazal had a tradition that this was the case. Maharatz Chiyut – maybe then represented archetypes (projecting certain negative stereotype lessons).
A review of practical issues related to beit din including who must go and who not, compromise decision doesn’t mean 50/50, when need to go to secular courts, can religious court send to secular? Can you refer to secular law in a contract? Lawyers issues if both litigants are Jewish.
Good summary of a number of facets of Kriat Hatorah including: Why we read, when we read, how many called up, individual vs. communal requirement, aliyot priorities, how to make brachot.
A few points:
1) Kriat hatorah is “more important” than tfila btzibbur (source anyone?)
2) When discussing whether to make first bracha with the torah open or closed no mention of R’YBS opinion to close then open because opening creates the chiyuv bracha.
3) R’Henkin wasn’t in favor of misheberach’s without accompanying tzedakah, neither was R’YBS. R’Adler is m’lamed zchut (from hashkifa we see can ask for blessing if did mitzvah) [me – there HKB”H is telling you to say it?]
Good summary of a number of issues surrounding Kiddush as well as the possible interpretations of “zachor et yom hashabbat”. Lots of detail – it’s easy to see why practical implications are so confusing given some basic disagreements as to source and force.
Seeing the difference between the torah view (fluidity in class status) and that of societies that existed at the time Torah was given reflected in the Torah’s political, economic, communication [of torah to all] and basic theological approaches.
Review of issues concerning respect for grandparents. Somewhat detailed sources can be found here. (link)
Discussion of various types and levels of prophecy (e.g. Neviim vs. Ketuvim, ruach hakodesh…) Important point (not just for prophets imho but other leaders as well) when a prophet loses faith in the community, it’s time for a new prophet.