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by Joel Rich

From R’ Aviner

Long Hair (cue Kenny Loggins – Your mama don’t dance)
Q: Is it permissible for a boy or man to have long hair?
A: No. There are three severe Torah prohibitions that are transgressed by having long hair: 1. Creating an impediment between one’s head and Tefillin, and therefore causing a blessing to be recited in vain when putting on Tefillin. 2. Following the ways of the non-Jews (which includes acts of conceit and haughtiness). 3. “Lo Tilbash” (the prohibition of men dressing or appearing as women) (Shut She’eilat 1:23).

Q: How than did the Rogachover (Ha-Rav Yosef Rosen, author of Tzafnat Pane’ach) and Ha-Rav Ha-Nazir (Ha-Rav David Cohain, Rosh Yeshiva in Mercaz Ha-Rav) grow long hair?
A: The Rogachover did not go to the barber because of a concern of “Bitul Torah” (taking away from Torah learning), but he is an exceptional genius, who is not a figure to be imitated. And regarding Ha-Rav Ha-Nazir, the Torah, the Torah commands a Nazir not to get a haircut.
[me- I think I mentioned that back in the day in MTA the Rogatchover was a role model, but is it assur to learn while having ones hair cut? I prefer the story that when he sat to get his haircut before a son’s wedding he said “oy, tzar gidul banim”]

Even if you’re not excited about the possibility of “condorsement” (I did not make this word up – they did) of GAAP (U.S. accounting) and IFRS (everyone else’s) you should pay attention to the “nature of standards”. I posit that “Rules Based” more encourages “What can I get away with” vs. “principles based” (if participants buy in) encouraging “what’s the right thing to do” [hameivin yavin].

BTW- Hat tip to Mycroft who suggested CAAP-Celestial Accepted Accounting Principles for those who wish to be HKB”H’s accountants (warning – CCPA credential is currently not policed by an authoritative standards setting group but rather individuals can (and often do) hang out their own shingle!)

Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -hulling Daf 11 – Source for Following Rov

Heading the wisdom of the Fab 4 (come on baby take a chance with me) I threw caution to the wind and for a moment abandoned two of my algorithmic rules for shiur picking (i) no pure gemara shiurim (too hard to concentrate on the blatt while picking my way through traffic – exception R’HS “jumping off from blatt” topics shiurim); (ii) no daf yomi shiurim (even though I still give the daf once a week) – too many out there and anyone who is interested can find their comfort zone.

HKB”H rewarded me with R’Lebowitz channeling R’HS on one of the classical actuarial topics – Rov (majority). Gemara quotes 10 possible sources for the concept and R’HS lists 5 types of rov (I once asked R’HS why the gemara used the same term [my case was chazakah] for disparate concepts – wasn’t it confusing (and lacking precision). I got the classic R’HS shrug (and a look that was probably benign but I couldn’t help but interpret as “oy, what I have to put up with).
1) Rov garua ( about 51%) – This rov doesn’t outweigh chazaka because rov is a birur (it answers the fact question), while chazakah is a hanhaga (tells us what to do). We can only rely on hanhagah if no birur but 51% isn’t enough of a birur.
2) Rov bari (70-80%)
3) Rov yotir bari (90%) – or the complement of miyut hamatzui (use for bug checking and present danger)
4) miyut bmiyuta (1%?)
5) 1/1000 – really doesn’t exist
Then discussion of Ruba d’leta vs. d’ita
(me – interesting that chazal were not obvious quantitative probabalists but by the 19-20th century all this analysis was built on their sources (especially the hanhaga chiluk))

  • Rabbi Yaakov B. Neuburger -The Best of Times, The Worst of Times: Does Refraining From Holding Certain Events During Certain Times Have Any Halachic Basis?

    How do we reconcile the prohibition against divination, etc. with the concept that certain times are predisposed to non-positive results (e.g. 9 days) “It’s not superstitious if the gemara says it”.

  • Rabbi Jeffrey Saks -Lonely Man of Faith (Part 7)

    More on existential loneliness/unique individuality. HKB”H joins the equation with (hat tip – Eddie Holman/Ruby and the Romantics) Hey there lonely boy [of faith] let me make your broken heart (finite awareness) like new.

  • HaGaon HaRav M Heinemann – Yom I’yun – 04 Jul 2011

    Some good discussion of the practices of the 3 weeks but the real exciting material is the Q&A. Some fascinating questions related to:
    * bugs in peanuts?
    * food under bed – does an airline seat count? Should you toveil them (I didn’t make this up) in negel vasser?
    * Starbucks coffee redux
    * fruit juice (why is red cheek apple juice in brown bottles?)
    * Quinona – is it kitniyot?
    * refrigerator technology (oy)
    * bugs in vegetables (now playing at a supermarket near you!)
    * Baltimore tzedaka authority

  • Rabbi Ari Zahtz -Practical Hilchos Tefillah for Women Part I

    Analysis of women’s chiyuv to pray followed by specific rules (what and when to daven)

  • Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb – Waiting for the Rabbi and other Examples of Tirchah De’Tzibur

    The Rama says not to wait for the Rabbi to start davening (maariv) or to start chazarat hashatz. Magen Avraham and Mishneh Brurah say “minhag” is to wait. Review of some sources on the issue.
    So why is practice different than the psak of the Rama? [me – still looking for the Pdf (probability distribution function!) that underlies when the Rama is inviolable and when not] 1) we want to give “cover” to slower daveners; 2) technical issues may come up needing Rabbi’s input; 3) being a Rabbi shorten’s life, longer shmoneh esrai prolongs it; 4) not waiting is a defect in kavod hatzibbur (since it implies community has no respect for Rabbi). [me – each minyan and Rabbi should use discretion/sechel].

  • Rabbi Michael Taubes – Parshat Balak Eliyahu HaNavi and Halachah

    When will Eliyahu come – before, after or at the same time as mashiach?
    Then discussion of the role of Eliyahu in halacha – not a simple question! The usual suspects (Eliyahu can tell us facts not halacha; he will act as a Rabbi) are discussed. [me – if choni hamaagal couldn’t get halachic credibility when he woke up 70 years later, how will Eliyahu do it?] Good news – R’Taubes is a Maharatz Chiyut fan (me too) although he was unaware of Rebbetzin Hutner – David’s doctoral thesis. [To me the irony of a doctoral thesis, heavy with Talmudic references, by Rebbitzin David attacking the “modern” Maharatz Chiyut is striking]

  • Rav Moshe Taragin -Pirkei Avot #04, – Chapter 4, Mishna 2 – Should We Evaluate the Weight of a Mitzva?

    Understanding Rebi and Ben Azzai – should we be focused on reward or just on doing? Importance of trait of zehirut. Behavioral vs. metaphysical approaches discussed.
    Interesting insight from a charedi educator as to why they wouldn’t show alternative approaches (e.g. Gush) to their students.

  • Eli Weber – The Role of Morality and Ethics in Halacha

    Beginning of a series. Is it good because HKB”H wants it or does HKB”H want it because it’s good? (yes – you’ve heard this question before!) From Avraham and Sdom it appears the latter.
    Interesting insight – the more rational the mitzvah, the less we respect it (i.e. people won’t stop smoking due to danger but would if you told them it was treif!)
    Ramban on filling in the “gaps” (v’asita hatov vhayasher) then Dor Rivi on cannibalism vs. eating treif (yes, we’ve discussed it before!!)

  • Rabbi Yonason Sacks -Birchas Hashemen

    Detailed discussion of blessing on consuming oil (olive) – issues of short term vs. long term enjoyment vs. damage and their impact on brachot.

  • Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb -Highlights of Italian Torah Scholarship

    Historical examples of Italian Jewish scholars (this was from a cruise trip shiur) – their history and examples of far reaching psak – Tosfot Rid, Bartenura, Sforno, Maharam m’padua and Ricanti. (At least two have wines named after them!)

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Ten Minute Halacha – The Mitzvah to Rebuke

    Some issues regarding rebuke [me – always a difficult balance between knowing when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em, when to walk away and when to run].
    Go through the following checklist before trying this at home:
    1) are you sure you are right? (i.e. is there no minority opinion? [me – try to stay away from thinking “of course I’m right, I am wrapped in the torah”])
    2) be sure it’s something you don’t do [me – are you a pot? a kettle?] 3) if the issue is a torah violation which isn’t specifically mentioned in the torah, and you know the person won’t listen and doesn’t “know” it’s forbidden, then don’t rebuke [me – (i) requires you to be a Talmid chochom and a psychotherapist; (ii) R’Lebowitz mentions mixed dancing in the category? Hmmm – with your wife? Non-contact (no body can do the shingaling?)] 4) if the act is being done willfully – must rebuke
    5) if everyone does it and not specifically stated as prohibited don’t rebuke [me – like lashon hara?] 6) If someone is a complete “freethinker”, maybe don’t.
    Next time: How to rebuke (me – I’m guessing “You will burn in hell for eternity?”)

  • Rabbi Nissan Kaplan-Rosh Chodesh

    Covers a lot of practical halacha (as he implies at the beginning at the cost of a deeper understanding of the issues involved).
    * the chazan’s calling out yaaleh v’yavo before shmoneh esrai of maariv (is this a frequent practice?)
    * seriousness of missing yaaleh v’yavo
    * say yaaleh v’yavo in maariv when you accept Shabbat early? (generally yes)
    * all the rules of forgotten yaaleh v’yavoh
    * singing in Hallel is “brought down in the sifrei hakaoshim”
    * Barchei Nafshi – why said and when (based on why)
    * tfillin off at musaf (we don’t say keter but we take them off anyway – I never really got that)
    * prohibition (semi) to work
    * requirement for Seudah
    * requirement for special dress
    Lots of “

  • Stephen Savitsky -A New and Innovative Idea in Jewish Education

    Full Disclosure – I know many of the parties involved. Steve Savitsky applauds the West Orange Cooperative Yechiva. Plan is to keep costs down by volunteerism, very limited scholarship, using public school resources (this was particularly surprising to me) and inexpensive underused synagogue space.

  • Rabbi Nissan Kaplan-zman krias shma ubirchoseha

    Extended technical discussion of the rules of time to say kriat shma and its brachot. Grave concern about bracha l’vatala issues but some limud zchut for those who are lenient (and sleep late Shabbat morning).

  • 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. Re the hair, that’s . . . questionable. The possible problem is with a בלורית, long in the front, not on the sides or back. And even that, the Gemara permits under certain conditions. In other words, the mullet is 100% kasher.

      And anyway, the question isn’t about “the Nazir,” but any nazir. Or the fact that in almost every single pre-modern – and even early modern – depiction of Jews, rabbis included, they have what we would call long hair. There’s even a picture of R. David Sinzheim (author of Yad David) with not only long hair, but two neat little curls, just like George Washington wore.

    2. I wrote an article on the topic of men growing long hair for anybody interested in finding more on the topic.

    3. “Plan is to keep costs down by volunteerism”

      I will listen to this later but my first reaction is:
      If they don’t understand that volunteers’ time is much more valuable than money they won’t get very far and they won’t keep many volunteers.

    4. I remember when as part of his adolescent rebellion our youngest son started to grow his hair over his forehead and his collar. We had a meeting with his Rav and Rosh Yeshiva who said that if he didn’t get a haircut he would be suspended even though he was one of the best in his class in Gemara and always attended tefilla etc. In the end there was a compromise:he cut off a little of his hair but kept it longer than the norm. Today he is a rav in a mechina kdam tzvait, married with three kids and wears his hair in a short buzz cut.
      BTW according to scholars of the Hellenistic period “blorit” was a Greek hairstyle where the hair was grown long at the back of the neck in a flip. In the late fifties of the last century this style was known as “ducks-ass” and was made popular by Elvis and Bobby Darin. In modern Hebrew it has come to mean hair grown over the forehead.

    5. r’dt,
      i remember those days well but iirc his oldest brother knew what the end of the story would be 🙂

      btw who is this elvis fellow?

    6. risa,
      as i said, i know the folks, that’s why i didn’t provide an actuarial estimate of the probability of success.

    7. I turned off R. Neuberger’s shiur when he said that the Rambam would permit planning events based on unlucky times if the source for their unluckiness is kabbalistic or from the zodiac. I couldn’t believe that a talmid chacham of his calibre could so misunderstand the Rambam’s attitude towards rationalism and astrology. He should have a chat with R. Slifkin…

    8. “Even if you’re not excited about the possibility of “condorsement” (I did not make this word up – they did) of GAAP (U.S. accounting) and IFRS (everyone else’s) ”
      Isn’t it just a euphemism for backing away from adoption of IFRS
      I believe that not every country that has adopted IFRS has adopted the identical versions of IFRS -thus there are in reality different IFRSs-just like GAAP was different in different countries-just to back off from cynicism for a second -there has been much standardization of accounting principles worldwide in the past 4 decades. Of course, who really carea about GAAP figures except for executives trying to game their bonuses. Regulators will be more concerned about SAP reports etc.

      “you should pay attention to the “nature of standards”. I posit that “Rules Based” more encourages “What can I get away with” vs. “principles based” (if participants buy in)”

      perhaps if principals buy into a principle system-but since many insiders have a big financial incentive to game the system and have looked for loopholes to game GAAP-it should be even easier to game IFRS.
      Of course the relevance to a Hirhurim crowd is to compare the two concepts to Halacha and what God demands of us-all frum Jews believe that certainly one is required to obey the rules-but what if the rules are silent how does one do what is proper and determine the principles to live by-or as frankly some religious Jews believe one just has to follow the rules.

      “encouraging “what’s the right thing to do” [hameivin yavin].”
      IN Financial statements forget about it-in acting lifnei mi atan atid latet din vcheshbon-lets hope.

    9. The link to R. Heimann shiur does not work

    10. Re post on Jewish day school tuition and steos some are doing to avoid US tuition see,7340,L-4098629,00.html


      “Taking into account the fact that the average income in the US is around $50,000, and that a reasonable health insurance costs about $1,400 a month ($17,000 a year), one reaches the conclusion that parents with three children studying in the Jewish education system must earn three times the average salary in order to provide for the family, own an apartment and a car, pay bills and meet all school payments.”

    11. R’ Mycroft,
      Baruch shekivanta.

    12. I want to thank R’ Lebowitz (yes, on my very own I switched the appellation I use for him) for his link and the warm feeling it gave me to know the more things change the more they remain the same. Suufice it to say the Big D (“you boys are the future of Judaism, God save us”)and I had many discussions on this topic.
      Your summary was much the same as his:
      “V. Conclusion. While one who grows long hair cannot be said to have definitively violated any given prohibition, whether biblical or rabbinic, the overwhelming consensus amongst the leading פוסקים is that growing long hair is a practice that should be avoided both for halachic and meta-halachic reasons. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef concludes that it is worthwhile to give מוסר about this and remind people how a בן תורה should present himself…… Rabbi Shternbuch does note that when a boy comes from a family where he is expected to keep up with certain styles, and a sudden change in outward appearance is likely to upset the שלום בית and may discourage the parents from supporting the boy’s development as a בן תורה, it is certainly ill advised for the boy to cut his hair. However, even in these circumstances the בן תורה should realize that the ultimate goal should be to appear as a בן תורה and avoid the various concerns outlined in this essay”

      My response ( a play of Mitch Mamorosch(Z”L) famous “back to the good old days, the bubonic plague”) was we’d all come in the next day looking like Charlton Heston in the ten commandments. Oh well, at least I didn’t get the -go visit Mr. Abrams yellow card fotr that one.


    13. Speaking of long hair, we can see that in the Western world long hair was acceptable in men of all stations throughout the 19th century. Obviously this changed, only to be revived in the 1960s. It seemed counter cultural, because it was counter cultural. But in the ’60s there were doubtlessly many people alive who could remember when perfectly respectable adult men wore their hair long. I wonder if anyone has ever studied the topic of long hair in men in modern times, reactions, memory, etc.

    14. Kenny Loggins reference 🙂

      “Know when to fold them, know when to hold them, know when to walk away, know when to run. You’ve got to count your money, sitting at the table…” That’s all I remember without googling the lyrics 🙂

    15. R’RA,
      Sorry – that’s Kenny Rogers, I was going for
      “You’ve pulled into a drive-in and found a place to park
      You hop into the backseat where ya know it’s nice and dark
      You’re just about to move in, you’re thinking it’s a breeze
      There’s a light in my eye and a guy says
      Out of the car long hair
      Oowee – You’re coming with me – local police”

    16. “) Rov garua ( about 51%) – This rov doesn’t outweigh chazaka because rov is a birur (it answers the fact question), while chazakah is a hanhaga (tells us what to do). We can only rely on hanhagah if no birur but 51% isn’t enough of a birur.
      2) Rov bari (70-80%)
      3) Rov yotir bari (90%) – or the complement of miyut hamatzui (use for bug checking and present danger”

      Rough ballpark figures for preponderance of the evidence, clear and convincing and beyond a reasonable doubt.

    17. “being a Rabbi shorten’s life,”

      any data to show that

      “longer shmoneh esrai prolongs it;”

      It certainly appears to prolong the time when others are waiting for one to finish a shmoneh esrai at the pace of one who can hardly read Hebrew.

    18. “the more rational the mitzvah, the less we respect it ”
      Is that true? I doubt it-I suspect the more rational the mitzvah the more it is observed at least in mO communities.

    19. I think he means if it’s rational we rationalize around it (e.g. smoking prohibited for health but if we said it caused timtum halev everyone would stop)

    20. Regarding long hair see my blog post with a response from Kollel Eretz Chemda on this issue

    21. “joel rich on July 22, 2011 at 6:00 pm
      I think he means if it’s rational we rationalize around it (e.g. smoking prohibited for health but if we said it caused timtum halev everyone would stop)
      I have never smoked in my life-even as a teenager-but it is not clearly obvious to me why smoking should be prohibited andthe following activities permitted-downhill skiing, driving faster than the speed limit etc.
      I disagree with RJDB-but I heard once speak on the old Radio show “A Taste of Torah”? stating that smoking is permitted because of shomer ptaim hashem-thus it is not clear that smoking is prohibited by all. Certainly some have become succesful in the US being smokers see eg the current President and current Speaker of the House.


      It seems that no one in the US see OU machers etc is concerned about the lack of average Jews in US and Israel to have decent standard of living

      see “In this sense, the current protest movement represents wider accumulated anger over the economic predicament faced by the majority of Israelis. Despite a boom in the economy, only 13% of the population have benefited. Wealth is highly concentrated in Israel, with the majority of the economy controlled by just 18 oligarchic families and, while there have been big tax cuts for the rich, some 25% of the Israeli population live in poverty.
      An OECD report revealed that Israel has the one of the biggest disparities between rich and poor in the Western world, standing at a staggering 14:1 ratio and that it has also seen the largest increase in children living in poor homes in the OECD countries since the 1990s. Moreover, while Israel receives the highest aid of any country in the world – $3billion annually from the USA- on top of the massive prices rises (120% for water), the government has slashed spending on education, health care and public housing.
      Israelis work longer hours than Europeans and often two jobs to make ends meet. Unlike some impressions, the general standard of living, according to the World Bank, is more similar to Greece or Portugal, rather than Germany or the US. (The same report noted that in Gaza and the West Bank, the situation was on a par with Honduras or Sri Lanka.) and, of course, at the bottom of the heap are the Arab Israelis, 75% of whom said in a poll that their living standards had fallen in the last year.
      A poll by Tel Aviv University and The Israel Democracy Institute showed that the economy was now people’s biggest concern with eighty percent saying they were “very disturbed” or “quite disturbed” by the socioeconomic situation, a figure higher than for issues concerning Palestine, settlement or Iran.
      The average salary in Israel is about $2,500 (1,700 Euros) per month, while people like teacher, social workers and hospital staff receive less than $2,000 (1,400 Euros) a month. A modest apartment costs $600,000 in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem and $200,000 to $300,000 outside. Youth and students simply cannot find affordable housing and the cost is a huge burden on the population at large. Rents and mortgages now take up 40-50% of average incomes and have risen from 1,000 to NIS 1800 in the last two years.
      Housing cost are just one of the most striking examples of the disparities in wealth and this has not been lost on the demonstrators. The protests began on purpose on the super rich street of Rothschild Boulevard, Tel Aviv, where many rich Israeli’s own palatial apartments, which they occupy for only part of the year. The protesters have renamed the street “If I Were a Rothschild” Boulevard. ”

      Read more:

      Does anyone believe that the median Jewish income can make it in Orthodox Jewish life in the US ?

      I may be missing it-but I haven’t heard any drashas about our responsibility to our less fortunate-is it our Rabbonim and RY spend too much time hobnobbing with the wealthy in hotels over Yom Tov.

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