Audio Roundup CXXXVII

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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.

  • Rabbi Michael Rosensweig – The Relationship between Chachmas Yisrael and traditional Talmud Torah

    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.


  • Rabbi Shmuel Marcus -Insurance vs. Bitachon

    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”.


  • Rabbi Larry Rothwachs -Insights into Shemona Esrei: New Perspectives on Familiar Words #1

    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.


  • Rabbi Larry Rothwachs -Insights into Shemona Esrei: New Perspectives on Familiar Words #2

    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.


  • Rabbi Larry Rothwachs -Insights into Shemona Esrei: Bracha #1 – Avos

    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?])

  • Rabbi Wannabe – “Women and Children First – Halachic Triage, Western Ethic, Neither or Both?”

    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.


  • Rabbi Shmuel Marcus -Casual Contact and the Undesirable Workplace Handshake

    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)]

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz – Ten Minute Halacha – Haftarah

    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.


  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Ten Minute Halacha – Borrowing a Sefer, Tallis or Tefillin Without Permission

    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?]


  • Rav Binyamin Tabory-She’elot uTeshuvot – R. Chaim Halberstam – Divrei Chaim

    A selection of Shut including whether Ruach Hakodesh still exists (yes), machine matzah and tzitzit (no) and tfillin alignment by mirror (no).


  • Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb -Waiting in Between Meat and Milk

    Good tracing of the development or the different opinions on how long to wait between meat and milk.

  • Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner -Michah: Introduction; 1:1-8 “G-d is coming!”

    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.


  • Rabbi Yitzchak Blau -Esav, Bilam, and Achav: Negative Charachters in the Agadah

    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).


  • Rabbi Yona Reiss -The Relevance of the Rabbinical Court in Modern Times

    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.


  • Rabbi Elchanan Adler- BC Topics Shiur – Hilchos Kryias haTorah

    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?]


  • Rabbi Daniel Z. Feldman -The Mitzvah of Kiddush

    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.


  • Rabbi Dr. Joshua Berman -Tanach Yom Iyun Understanding Tanach in the context in which it was written

    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.


  • Rabbi Eliav Silverman -mitzvat kibud of grandparents

    Review of issues concerning respect for grandparents.  Somewhat detailed sources can be found here. (link)


  • Rabbi Avishai David -Historical Framwork of Nevuah

    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.

  • 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. Midnight massacre at Itamar.At the time of tikkun chatzot another Jewish baby is murdered in it’s crib. And here we are at
      shabbat zachor again, pledging not to forget but to wipe out this evil. How can we forget,we are constantly reminded.
      Perhaps on that cruel night last week, in some way “naddidah shnat hamelech (HAmelech)We know that in the Megillah this was the turning point and in the end”hargu haYehudim beoiveihem,veleyehudim haita simcha. True our war with bnei Yishmael is not the same as Amalek. This is explained by talmidei haGra in Kol Hator.It belongs to the wars of yemot hamashiach and indirectly Gog u Magog. We must plead to the KBH that he bring us into the geulah without all the terrible events related by Chazal.We must make ourselves worthy by emphasizing the Unity of the Jewish people and not chalila the opposite.Then the united Jewish people will have orah vesimcha in their united land by will of He who is was and always will be unity itself.(see intro. to Mikraei Kodesh on Purim, Harav Moshe Harrari al pi Harav Kook in Olat Reiya)

    2. “(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]).”

      So maximizing income is the only/primary choice in a profession. Wow. They say that there is truth in every sterotype (Jews as money grubbers).

    3. I suppose you could see it that way although I don’t think he meant it as the only or even primary choice, I think he meant it as more that there was no reason to purposely seek a profession that was low paying, all other things being equal (or more likely one shouldn’t say I’ll become a menial laborer because if HKB”H wants me to have parnassah, he’ll figure out some way to be sure I get it).
      In any event my ROI statement was meant as all other things being equal.


    4. Shalom Rosenfeld

      The prioritization shiur is by … Richard Joel, right?


    5. R’SR
      In the famous words of Don Adams “missed it by that much” 🙂

    6. In Parsha Tzav, we can understand that when we face difficult times, it’s not a punishment; it’s G-d helping us to achieve that cleansing that removes the impurities from our souls. Why does G-d consider the sin offering as being the “Holy of Holies?” Because when we Jews repent with a broken heart and ask HaShem to help us to live a life of righteousness, we fulfill the purpose of creation. More at

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