by Joel Rich
From a recent study quoted in “The Economist”
The human impulse to be kind to unknown individuals is not the biological aberration it might seem….
No need, then, for special mechanisms to explain generosity. An open hand to the stranger makes evolutionary as well as moral sense. Except, of course, that those two senses are probably, biologically speaking, the same thing. But that would be the subject of a different article. [Me- or a clear example of both arising from a single purposeful creator?]
Sacrificing One’s Life to Save Another Person
Q: Is it permissible for one to sacrifice his life to save another person (not in the army)?
A: One’s own life takes precedence over the life of another person. Baba Metzia 62. But Maran Ha-Rav Kook was in doubt whether this is obligatory or optional, and if one can forfeit his life for another. Shut Mishpat Cohain #144 ot 15. And Mahar”i Chagiz writes that while it is optional, it is difficult to conceive of one forfeiting one’s life and leaving his fellow to live with the distress of knowing that another died in his place. Hilchot Ketanot 1:229. And Rabbi Yehudah Ha-Chasid says that if one person is a non-Torah scholar and the second is a Torah scholar, it is a Mitzvah for the non-Torah scholar to say: Kill me and not my fellow, just as Rabbi Reuven Atzterobli said that he should be killed in Rabbi Akiva’s stead, since many people needed Rabbi Akiva. Sefer Chasidim #698 [me-interesting is that this story doesn’t appear in the talmud etc.]
Also see: Reb Shimshon Ostropolier HY”D
3 Av is the yartzeit of the legendary Tzadik, R’ Shimshon Ostropolier. He was a great Rov, tzadik and kabbalist who was killed al kidush Hashem in the gezeiras Tach V’Tat. A Magid (Malach) used to come to him and teach him secrets from the Torah and warned him of the impending decree on Klal Yisroel. Reb Shimshon in turn implored the people to do teshuva, which they did, but it was already too late, as it was determined from Above that the decree would be carried out.
It was also revealed to Reb Shimshon that if he and two of the other great tzadikim of the time would agree to give up their lives al kiddush Hashem, everyone else would be saved. Reb Shimshon agreed to this and also got one of the other tzadikim to agree. The third tzadik, however, did not agree, saying that it was forbidden for them to do such a thing.
(me-saving all of klal yisrael isn’t an exception (e.g. Esther and Yael?)
Question: Is an appointment halachically enforceable? (e.g. you have a 10:30 appointment and the service provider says “that’s nice but the 10:45 appointment (is a cohaln talmud chacham and, thus, I’ve decided he) will be taken first. [me – you can answer with and without the phrase in parenthesis] If a beit din were there, could it force the provider to take you first? To pay damages? [under what halachic paradigm?]
Review of various sources re: multiple Mashiach’s (focus on Mashiach Ben Yoseif) and how R’Kook used the concept in his eulogy for Herzl to encompass the spiritual and political issues of the day.
Focus on the torah curriculum requirements for various ages, what torah subjects one can be paid for teaching and the power/importance/requirement for grandparents to teach grandchildren [me – cue CSN&Y – teach your children well].
Klal Yisrael recently lost 3 gedolim – our take away should be to focus on learning torah.
R’Marc discusses R’Weinberg’s (Sridei Eish) personal letters, as well as the general topics of history and hagiography – worthwhile in general (yes, son, I know “he has an agenda”) but I was struck by my analogy to Mother Theresa’s letters concerning her spiritual struggles – how much do we lose by not seeing the inner thoughts of great individuals.
Conflicting M.O. and chareidi approaches described and skewered! Interesting (and sad) how the Sridei Elsh saw a particular sociological/philosophical train coming before most but couldn’t stop it!
Review of practical psak relating to three weeks. Interesting discussion of permissibility of listening to music in general, let alone during the three weeks! So why do we allow it at all (since it should be prohibited all year long – to remember Churban?) 1) no choice (no one will obey?); 2) only foolish (leitzanut) music prohibited, not for “mitzvah” [me – oh oh perhaps “it’s still rock and roll to me” (cue – Billy Joel) is not a matir?]. [me – and 1) was not given by LWMO source…(imagine if it were!)]
Good review of the competing view of the general principles concerning haosek bmitzvah patur b’mitzvah (if you are involved in one mitzvah, you are exempt from another) and the implications thereof.
Nice insight from R’YBS on the gemara’s examples reflecting that preparation may be part of the mitzvah itself and the 2 aspects of Talmud torah – trying and knowing [me – does patur (exempt) from the second mean roll your own (pick either) or you’re stuck with the first? (Ritva)]
The role of the congregational rabbi and its challenges (they are many).
Rambam on the kedusha (holiness) of the physical Beit Knesset in comparison to the Beit Hamikdash. First in a series?
Dancing, clapping on Shabbat with whistling thrown in (anyone know Larry Kraut? – he was the first to point out the whistling M”B to me). Should you tell dancing fools (see Footloose) to stop. Some heterim mentioned (my favorite – you call that dancing?).
Part II of R’YBS on our shlichut (our destinies). Here examples from Yosef and Moshe.
Sometimes an individual has to “take one for the team” in halacha. The issue of individual vs. societal tradeoffs discussed.
Question during holocaust – should/must/may an individual put themselves in a position of potential life danger to save a group of Yeshiva boys in definite life danger? 1) relative # saved makes a difference? (me – not sure of this one); 2) evaluate possible vs. definite (me – hard even for an actuary to evaluate!).
Focus on person restricted to an Ir Hamiklat (city of refuge) example.
Defining the parameters of kavod/morah av/eim (respect/honor parents) – Focus on being smart with knowing when to use your authority. Some sh”ut literature plus R’YBS (cue – The Kinks – “It’s your life and you can do what you want)”.
Focus on teenage kids – (me – now need one on elderly parents for the sandwich generation).
Differing approaches to understanding machloket (differing halachic opinions) – some view as a way to get to the truth, others that truth is complex.
HKB”H as a dialectical being – close yet far (classic R’YBS).
Differing opinions on changing the text on Nacheim on Tisha B’av to reflect current realities (or does it reflect current reality?) Examples of other prayers with similar issue.
Main Theme – Think about what we’re praying (ironic – at Mincha last night I spoke about accapella opinions but noted the real issue if feeling the aveilut yeshana [the pain of not having a beit mikdash]).
A chat on whether orthodoxy is sliding left, right or a random walk. Lines between groups are getting grey, orthodox institutions are changing and OU Kosher is not chareidi!
Textual analysis of 2 questions 1) who sold Yoseif into slavery; 2) did they have free will to do so? Unfortunately cuts off before answering the second question (my guess is maybe yes, maybe no!)