Audio Roundup

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by Joel Rich

From the WSJ:
The truth is, as the sociologist of religion Peter Berger has long noted, that religion today is a choice, and we are all converts to one degree or another, choosing among a variety of religious experiences rather than having them given to us, as in days of old. Whether converts do that better than “cradle Catholics”—or whether, as is often the case, that is a distinction without a difference—both categories of believers are bound by the same vocation. Both are as responsible for the success or failure of the church’s witness. (Me- however some branches “charge” a much higher exit fee making leaving the fold, at least outwardly, a very high cost choice)

Update from r’ Aviner
Cemetery before Wedding
Q: What is the source behind the custom of going to the cemetery before a wedding and inviting one’s relatives who have passed away?
A: The source is the Zohar (Parashat Balak and Pinchas), where it is said that ancestors in the World-to-Come participate in their descendants’ joyous occasions. And this is the custom of many people (Nita’ei Gavriel – Nissuim 4:7. And the Gerrer Rebbe, the “Imrei Emet”, told his son to visit the Kotel and Kever Rachel before his wedding).

[me- the olam seems to paskin meitim yodim but even so I have no idea what it means that they participate or why they would need an invitation].

  • R Asher Weiss- Ki Teitze
    Non cash forbidden interest on a loan. Can you say thank you? R’AW says ok once, it’s basic derech eretz and we don’t live in a caste society where it might have real value (nishtaneh hateva??) but don’t overdo it.
    Bottom line – you can’t get back more than you give (me – and you can’t always get what you want – but if you try sometimes (histadlut) you might just get what you need (hashgacha pratit)).
  • Steve Savitsky talks with David Lewinter-An Innovative Approach to Solving the Tuition Crisis

    Full disclosure – The Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy (Yeshiva Beit Yosef – if anyone besides me and R’Ozer remember that name) is the local day school for West Orange and the alma mater of my 3 sons [teeth planted in tongues please] and I spent a number of [fill in the blank with a number or a descriptive term] years there in various lay positions.
    My comments are not reflective of JKHA but of the day school system.
    Starts with nice recitation of JKHA vision/mission/values [me – corporations and schools often have these, it’s always interesting to compare the words to what stakeholders perceive the facts on the ground, and in schools it’s often the fact of who attends that define the real values being communicated].
    Discussion of large scholarship budget – no local kid turned away if demonstrated need [me – devil is always in the details, i.e. our earlier discussion of is camp a “necessity”].
    Note that affordabililty doesn’t compromise excellence [me – generally no such thing as a free lunch].
    New program = subvention (contest open to rename this program) which is not a scholarship (sounded like calling it that is a sore point). Basically funds raised (hat tip to the Gottesman family) are used to reduce tuition for the “middle class” solely based on demonstrated income and number of kids so they can live a normal life without feeling they are “taking”.
    Then discussion of cost containment including:
    * outsourcing medical benefits (hey, I work in this area and have no idea what that meant/saved)
    * joining buying coops (e.g. utilities)
    * have excellent professional leaders in building who can do more with less (experiment, etc.)
    Towards end sounded like teachers have born the brunt of “cost savings”.
    Me – I always thought schools were pretty easy to analyze from a business standpoint. Find new revenue streams or cut costs if you want to reduce tuition (BTW, the latter works well until someone’s sacred cow or ox is slain or gored).

  • Rabbi Hershel Schachter -Parsha Shiur – Ki Teitzei 5771

    Lots of mitzvot in this parsha & R’HS tries to touch on all of them.
    Some (and only some!) points include:
    * Gaon’s opinion that inheritance goes by first conceived, not first born.
    * 3-month window for ben soror u’moreh to be applicable is like 6 month window for naarah.
    * inheritance rules
    * burial time period
    * cadavers in medical school
    * shiluach hakan – cruel or kind? (me – Hamlet: Act 3; Scene 4)
    * concept of hefker is based on shmitah
    * maakeh (guard rails)
    * shatnez (can you try it on?)
    * defining military camp
    * magen avraham – zechirat Miriam is duraita
    * R’YSE says miyut hamatzui (material minority) = 7% because that’s % of treifot in Israel (me – and if you live somewhere that treifot = 1% that become standard for all miyut ha matzui???)

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz/Ten Minute Halacha-Machnisei Rachamim and Praying to Angels

    Machnisei rachamim et al – may one pray to angels? All the usual suspects rounded up. Most interesting is how each side reinterprets inconvenient sources.

  • Rabbi Baruch Simon -Contemporary Halacha: Rav Simon – Hilchos Yom Tov (1)

    Explaining “mitoch” (allowable melachot on yom tov), “ochel nefesh” (allowable food preparation), “hitiru sofan mishum tchilatam” (beginning justifies the end) and applications including yahrtzeit candles, electric lights and gas stoves.
    Philosophy of yom tov (sociable) vs. Shabbat (introspective) [wow-is introspection still allowed?].

  • Rabbi Yehoshua Grunstein-My community 1- application versus change

    M.O. isn’t new – it’s eternal torah applied to new circumstances and technology. Examples.]

  • Rabbi Yehoshua Grunstein-LeDavid Hashem Ori- at Mincha, at Maariv, not at all and all and in all

    Some communities don’t say l’dovid – some possible issues with saying it at maariv (a’la 13 midot), parallels to shir shel yom.

  • Rabbi Hershel Schachter -Halachos of Yamim Noraim
    Covers lots of territory!

    Blindness in halacha – can a blind person get an aliya? Does shomea k’oneh (hearing is like saying) work for him? When we say a blind person is patur from mitzvot, does it include negative commandments? 7 mitzvot of bnai neach? (poor Audio)

  • Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb -Teshuva: The Art of Balancing Past and Future

    Rambam puts accepting need to change in future ahead of regretting/rejecting past, just about everyone else reverses it – lesson is not to get stuck in past but be motivated for future. Then nice discussion of R’YBS on tshuva from ahava (love) vs. yirah (fear) – use past as motivation (you mean like someone who had the opportunity to be in R’YBS’s shiur but didn’t take advantage of it?).

  • David Shabtai -Halakhic Challenges in Medicine (2) – Pikuah Nefesh and Bikur Holim

    Sources of allowance to violate Shabbat for life threatening dangers and specific implications based on source.
    Goals of visiting the sick – especially hospitals in current health system. Can you do it through shaliach? By phone? Is there an act of chesed in these but not the mitzah of visiting the sick?.

  • Rabbi Yehoshua Grunstein -My community 2- is the passion there?

    Does our community focus too much on M and not enough on O? What is the focus of discussion at our Shabbat table? [me – tell it like it is brother – IMHO the testimony of your table will carry a lot of weight at the final din v’cheshbon] I especially appreciated his thought on asking for a dvar torah vs. discussing torah (me – try to steer the conversation vs. the formality “to be yotzeh” [you know this difference when you give a d.t. by looking your tablemates in the glazed over eye])
    You can be tolerant but still be bothered by lack of observance.

  • Rabbi Yonason Sacks -Tochacha

    Why generally no extra aliyot exception on Shabbat?
    1) Too much tircha (bother) on work days; 2) # of aliyot is indicative of level of kedusha (holiness). So why extra aliyot on simchat torah but not on Yom Tov that falls on Shabbat? R’YBS – focus is on what’s read not on the definition of the day.
    Perhaps there should be no extra aliyot now that each oleh makes a bracha (so to avoid extra unneeded brachot).
    Why no extra aliyot in reading tocheicha? 1) don’t interrupt HKB”H’s mussar; 2) don’t make a bracha on sad reading.
    Reading of tochacha before Rosh Hahana is a takanah of Ezra.
    Classic R’Sacks on plural (meaning issue pertains to each individual) vs. single (meaning issue pertains to entire community) language in torah on mitzvot.

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz – Ten Minute Halacha – Bowing and Bouncing During Davening

    Discussion and sources of various practices in bowing and stepping back for amidah. Me – how did it happen that many shuls have seating set up so you can’t take steps back or to the side when there are a bunch of people in shul?

  • Rabbi Aryeh Leibowitz – Rav Saadiah Gaon – Faith, Doubt, and Heresy

    Proofs discussion – the public nature of our miracles and the fact that we have persevered against all odds. Even though reason would get you to the same results as revelation, you really need a solid grounding in mesorah first. R’Elchanan on that emunah is really pashut, it’s the yetzer hara that bribes you (me – this doesn’t comport with my anecdotal observation).

  • Rav Nissan Kaplan – Ki Seitzei

    Mussar from Ki tetzei – lesson of yfat toar – all other temptations can be overcome. We are always at war with the yetzer hara. Discussion of yamut zakkai (better to die guiltless than to continue living) plus examples.

  • 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. Woohoo!Welcome back!

    2. R’ Saadya, IIUC (I happen to have read it today) says that H’ really wants us to reach the truth through reason, and mesorah is just an expedient, so that the klal won’t have to grapple for generations to reach the truth, and also so that the less-than-philosophically-worthy will have religious expression and won’t be stuck left out, confused, etc. while the eggheads are philosophizing. Seems to me more like “ready access to mesorah for checking” rather than “a solid grounding.” Also, the “mesorah” is so fragmented when it comes to these issues (in my eyes) that the idea becomes meaningless. Which is why I’m currently taking a Medieval Jewish Philosophy course at Touro Grad 🙂

    3. I’m not sure what you mean by an “exit fee” for someone who is born into a frum family who goes OTD. Obviously it is much easier to opt to be part of a overwhelmingly secular society today than it once was. I think that there are very few families today who would sit shiva for a child who leaves the Orthodox fold or even intermarries R’L. Some may have feelings of guilt but for many others it is a legitimate lifestyle decision.

    4. r’micha – ty

      r’dt- i was thinking of those with limited if any secular education-what will they do if they leave?


    5. r’ yitznewton,
      interesting. i also wonder if these proofs were mesorah (after all, if you “saw” hkb”h , why would you have originally had a need for any other “proof”)

    6. my modest proposal to solve the tuition crisis: consolidate shuls and sell the real estate. yes, go back to davening in the same shul with those people and that rav.
      (maybe send your kids to school with those kids too.)

    7. “So why extra aliyot on simchat torah but not on Yom Tov that falls on Shabbat?”

      Who says one doesn’t make hosafot on Shabbos YT-I have seen it.
      BTW I once saw hosafot on Rosh Hashana non Shabbos in a non MO schul-Rabbi NOT MO musmach and that schul sold aliyot on RH. For money would pasken any position-but of course as a non YU chareidi musmach he interpreted the Ramah of ein nohagim to make hosafot on YT to be it is not our mi8nhag. Of course, next year and since the schul has not gone back to selling hosafot on RH.

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