Audio Roundup CLV

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

by Joel Rich

So I think my recent unscheduled trip to the dentist was so that I should see an old Time magazine cover story (me – when you read the rest, you’ll realize this is a witty opening J).  See here for the entire piece: link
While the whole article is worth reading, two points in particular made me stop and think.
“Ajit Varki, a biologist at the University of California, San Diego, argues that the awareness of mortality on its own would have led evolution to a dead end. The despair would have interfered with our daily function, bringing the activities needed for survival to a stop. The only way conscious mental time travel could have arisen over the course of evolution is if it emerged together with irrational optimism. Knowledge of death had to emerge side by side with the persistent ability to picture a bright future” reminded me of Thomas Cahill’s “The Gift of the Jews” (my summary – awareness that time is not circle but a spiral) and  R’YBS and the lonely man of faith’s existential finite awareness (cue – Country Joe & the Fish – “Whoopee, we’re all gonna die”) which we address by tying ourselves to the infinite!
The second point was “A canceled flight is hardly tragic, but even when the incidents that befall us are the type of horrific events we never expected to encounter, we automatically seek evidence confirming that our misfortune is a blessing in disguise. No, we did not anticipate losing our job, being ill or getting a divorce, but when these incidents occur, we search for the upside. These experiences mature us, we think. They may lead to more fulfilling jobs and stable relationships in the future. Interpreting a misfortune in this way allows us to conclude that our sunny expectations were correct after all — things did work out for the best.”  Reminds me of how some folks struggle to make sense religiously out of tragedy and pretend to know the daat elyon.
Perhaps HKB”H hardwired us this way to get these results (or is that my optimistic wiring justifying my decision to be religious?)

From R’ Aviner
Q: How much money should one spend on organic food in order to eat in a healthier way?
A: There have been about two hundred research studies on the topic of organic foods, and there is almost no evidence that they are healthier.
Q: But everyone says that they are healthier!
A: “Everyone saying” it is not scientific proof.
Me- it’s not???????????????????, dang

  • Rabbi Baruch Simon -Shavuos 5771 Review – Inyanei Pru Urevu and Determining Motherhood
    A summary of R’Simon’s Shavuot shiurim analyzing the Talmudic sources related to non-standard parenthood (very thin) and how these evolve into halachic results for AI, IVF, etc. in terms of identity of parents and halachic status of father/mother. 
    Interesting beginning of insight into what is the basis of the court’s zchiya (acceptance for?) by ger katan. [me – never been 100% clear to me how zchiya works – the whole time/space continuum thing if the zchiyee later says – “no way Jose”]

  • Rabbi Azarya Berzon – The Unique Shlichut of Man in the Philosophy of the Rav
    2 types (surprise!) of shlichut (agency) – limited specific focus agency and broad agency.  Our role is to make our role as agent work with confidence and understanding.  Includes one of my favorite R’Kook’s on “ad shelo notzarti” – we are all born at the right time to fulfill our destiny (now if someone could help me figure out what mine is, I’d be much obliged).

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Asking Two Rabbis the Same Question
    Can (me – should is also a great question) you ask multiple Rabbis the same question?  (At least someone is asking!)  Talmudic sources reviewed – the inclination against is either due to kavod harav (honor) of first rabbi or naasah chaticha d’issurah (you prohibited it on yourself by getting an answer).  Possible halachic differences based on the alternative reasons plus some possible exceptions to the rule.

  • Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller-Tisha B’Av: Teaching Our Children about the Churban
    Teaching children of different ages about the 3 weeks et al.  General focus is on turning the abstract into reality through age appropriate analogies.  [me – now if we could only figure out how to get adults to feel the void caused by the lack of the beit mikdash]

  • Rabbi Aryeh Klapper- Is there a Modern Orthodox Halakhic Process?
    Should there be a “Modern Orthodox” approach to halacha?  Spends some time rejecting different possible definitions of MO halacha before settling on something between complete authority (gadol hador decides all) and “roll your own” yielding something with enough flexibility so that community values are reflected but the halachic process respected.  Individual decides on some issues based on where he stands within hierarchy of  knowledge.

  • Rabbi Dr Avraham Steinberg-Jewish Medical Ethics
    Excellent review of Israeli and some other countries rules on end of life issues – throw in halacha as well!   Good history of issues, definitions and practices and why things have changed.  Dynamic tension between autonomy and authority (what else is new).  Subset by state of individual involved, advance directive and type of intervention.

  • Rabbi Elon Soniker-Responsa from the Holocaust: Bracha on Kiddush Hashem
    Sounds like first in a series – here R’Oshry on whether you make a bracha or Kiddush Hashem if you are about to give up your life [Hashem Yracham] (yes – based on general rules of when to say brachot [me – IIRC none of these rules explain all the data points]). Also discusses form of bracha (al vs. l).
    Question – Since the gemara also IIRC learns the personal daily requirement of Kiddush hashem (e.g. a rabbi not “buying” meat and saying he’ll pay tomorrow) from the same verse, would there also be a bracha in that case?

  • Rabbi Yehuda Balsam -Mitoch Shelo Lishma Ba Lishma
    Explains seemingly contradictory Talmudic sources on mitoch shelo ishma ba ishma (doing [mitzvot etc.] for the wrong reasons will eventually lead to doing them for the right reasons).

  • Rabbi Yehuda Balsam – Sanhedrin 72a – Chazaka Ein Adam Ma’amid Atzmo Al Mamono
    Understanding Chazals’ understanding of the psychology of the robber and the robbee that allows the robbee to take the life of the robber in specific break in situations.  Possible implications thereof.

  • Rabbi Aryeh Klapper-The Critique of Aesthetes in the Rav’s Confrontation
    Analysis of R’YBS on aesthetics based text in introduction to Confrontation.  Sounds like one should find an article by R’Shubert Spero which consolidated a number of sources from R’YBS on the topic (I wonder if the article includes anything from the more recent Torah Harav works).  Main thrust is R’YBS felt one must be aware of both freedom and commandness in order to be “redeemed”.  Then discussion on morality and halacha.

  • Rabbi Yonah Gross -Searching for LIght in the Darkness part 1 – Is Everything Really for the Best?
    It’s OK to be sad (angry) about life events but must accept there’s a limit (in terms of actions? beliefs? both?).  R’YBS on saying baruch dayan emet – right now it hurts even though in the future it will all be good. [see opening to this audio roundup!]

  • Dr. M. Friedman -Borders and Boundaries for Physicians and other Health Professionals
    Rabbi/therapist/MD relationships all need to create “sacred space” while still maintaining boundary awareness.  Violation occurs when a boundary is crossed that involves something you wouldn’t tell anyone else about.  (Rich’s Wall Street Journal rule).
    Be aware of transference, manage time, remember you need to think about keeping  some “specialness” (i.e. should you play basketball with patients/congregants?).
    Note – I didn’t review all the shiurim from the Torah in Motion medical issues meeting but the ones I did review were worth listening to.  Also worth noting, the range of sponsoring organizations!

  • Rabbi T.H. Weinreb-My Experience as Rabbinic Liaison to NEFESH: The Case Files of Mental Health Professionals Working with the Frum Community
    R’Weinreb discusses issues brought to him through multiple channels.  He importantly points out that it’s hard to generalize about an entire population based on the anecdotal subset of those who seek therapy.
    Issues include:
    * spouse & child abuse (R’YSE says go straight to police)
    * “flipping out – left and right (R’Weinheb sees this somewhat [I didn’t fully get this] as kids (encouraged?) to play out their parents’ midlife crisis models)
    * JLI (Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus) – kiruv krovim/give kids a (meaningful) experience
    * internet porn’s impact on marriage (not good)
    * midlife regrets (cue Frank Sinatra – Regrets, I’ve had a few)
    *Disillusionment (don’t judge Judaism by Jews doesn’t wash)
    * eating disorders

  • Rabbi A. Steinberg MD -Designer Babies – Religious Jewish Perspectives
    New technologies/techniques – do we assume prohibited, neutral or mandated?  [me – excellent general philosophical question- does everything in life require a “heter”] Then discussion of pre-marital genetic testing, PGD (pre-implant genetic testing) – R’YSE allowed. The  most interesting (to me) point of the discussion – RYSEover the  last 20 years just gives thumbs up or down – with no explanation!! (me – throwing them fish but not teaching how to fish?)
    What genetic selection (e.g. eliminate tay sachs vs. blue eyes) is prohibited neutral or mandated??  Meta Halachic concerns!! [me – will be interesting to see who lines up on which side of the meta questions – e.g. those who reject meta issues on women’s issues, will they accept them here?]

  • Rabbi R. Weiss MD – Weiss-Determining Mental Capacity in Halacha
    Discussion of interrelationship between decision making capacity as defined in “secular sources” and halacha.  Does halacha recognize individual decision making (can one refuse treatment?)  Specific examples and issues discussed

  • Dr. Shira Weiss -Migdal Bavel: How do we define Avoda Zara?
    Understanding the downside of the “unity” of the generation that sought to build migdal bavel – need to be unified towards a spiritual goal.
    Abarbanel vs. R’YBS on civilization as a curse (Adam I & II).
    Seeing parallels between punishment of Adam and the generation of the tower.

  • Rav Asher Weiss Pinchas 5771 ‘Yom Tov 2 of Galuyos’
    R’Asher Weiss reviews the basic opinions concerning those from Chu”l who are in aretz for Yom tov Sheini and renders his psak which is driven by defining incidents of “Toshavness”.  Then some nice mussar on how to identify a torah defined zealot vs. a self defined one (hint – it’s not about asking them which they are!)
  • 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. btw R’ Gil, when will we get the old comments back (at least on

    2. mycroft. It turns out the

      “Perhaps HKB”H hardwired us this way to get these results (or is that my optimistic wiring justifying my decision to be religious?)”

      Or is the decision to be religious likely a genetic one rather than an environmental one-see eg studies of adopted identical twins by different parents. Thus, it turns out as adults their religiosity tends to be relatively equal and closerto each others rather than that of the different adoptive parents. They need not have been raised in the same religion thus if one raised Catholic and one Jewish either both were religious or both not in different religions. Hypothesis either a religious gene/gullibility gene/non rational gene or whatever is heavily involved in such decisions.

    3. Shalom Rosenfeld

      Re: Migdal Bavel, “need to be unified towards a spiritual goal”

      Lulei demistafina, I’d disagree, see Sforno. They were so tightly-knit that such a society, once it got going the wrong direction, could never produce an Abraham who could correct their groupthink. Multiple languages allow for multiple points of view, which allows for the truth to emerge.

    4. On awareness of mortality-Harav Kook ZTZL gave a derasha on parashat Parah (published in Moadei HaRaaya) where he said that the secret of Parah Aduma and all of tumah is to emphasize the “chok” of death and mortality and how to deal with it. As I have recently entered the second half of IYH 120 this subject is more and more on my mind. The answers are not I think to be found in torat hanigleh which is why I am now spending more time in studying torat hanistar. Perhaps if I can approach the level of the “beinoni” of the Tanya, (which seems like a far off goal) what comes to us all eventually will make more sense.
      On health and organic foods- I have the good fortune of having a doctor who loves debunking health myths. According to him a salt free diet has no effect on blood pressure,red meat doesn’t raise cholesterol and any mention of organic foods brings a look to his face that says “throw away your money if you want to,but don’t think it will make you healthy”

    5. r’dt,
      Good luck-let me know what you find! meantime i’m going with avi mori zll”hh’s “keep putting one foot in front of the other” “-)

      btw your doctor might find this of interest:


    6. r’mycroft,
      or hkb”h gives us each a pakage of proclivities and circumstances (mazal?) and says ok-let’s see how you do(i’m rooting for you).

    7. Further mekoros on asking more than one rabbi the same question:

    8. “joel rich on July 29, 2011 at 5:44 am
      or hkb”h gives us each a pakage of proclivities and circumstances (mazal?) and says ok-let’s see how you do(i’m rooting for you).

      A frum way of expressing essentially the same idea-of course the same result why create some people who are programmed to accept a supreme being and others who aren’t

    9. R’Mycroft,
      Yup, I BE”H have granchildren to marry off 🙂

    10. r’j
      is there anyway to download that shiur with mekorot? (the buttons seem deactivated )

    11. When I click on When I click on the numbers (in the text of the shiur at the bottom) a scan of the ‘mekor’ comes out. You have to be a member of the site (free, but you have to participate in a shiur) to access a PDF of the mekorot and a ‘write-up’ of the shiur. The site is a tremendous resource, and a new shiur is added every week.

    Leave a Reply

    Subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter

    The latest weekly digest is also available by clicking here.

    Subscribe to our Daily Newsletter