Audio Roundup

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by Joel Rich

Coincidence? I was being maavir sedrah and read Dvarim 32:10 “Kishon eino” on which Rashi comments:
As the apple of his eye: This is the black part of the eye from which the light comes forth. I thought to myself (I’ve been thinking a lot about sight lately), I wonder if there was a theory of light coming from the eyes.

Two days later courtesy of Dr. Randall’s “Knocking on Heaven’s Door”.

“That doesn’t mean we keep every idea that has ever been developed. Sometimes ideas are just proved wrong. Euclid’s initial description of light, resurrected in the Islamic world in the ninth century by Al-Kindi, which claimed that light was emitted by our eyes, was one such example. Although others, such as the Persian mathematician Ibn Sahl, correctly described phenomena such as refraction based on this false premise, Euclid and Al-Kindi’s theory – which predates science and modern scientific methods – was simply incorrect. It wasn’t absorbed into future theories. It was simply abandoned.”

See for new recorded shiruim from Rav Soloveitchik zt”l.
We have added about 35 shiurim from a recent collection that we loaded onto the site.
About 13 of these shiurim appear to be new!
About 18 are better recordings of older shiurim.
Plus hundreds of older shiurim that have been digitally enhanced.

  • A conversation about physics with Lisa Randall

    Discussion of multiple (10 or more) possible dimensions, string theory and lots of fundamental questions (she had me at Flatlander and the notion that she has a predilection for studying areas where there should be experimental confirmation of theories).

  • Lisa Randall on her book ‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World’

    Dr. Randall redux. An articulate description of the basic elements of physics today and a plea for appreciating science. Interesting how she chose physics over pure math because physics can be tested experimentally (like speeding neutrinos – oy will she have a lot to think about if that result is upheld).
    Dr. Randall had me at one of her top questions being the nature of time and space (I think it was her top one except she doesn’t think we have the tools yet to make any progress).
    The one comment I’d love to discuss with her (she was asked on this by Charlie Rose) was her answer to “scientists do….most of them believe there is no life after death?” Answer “most of the ones I know do but there actually are religious scientists….which I always find very confusing but they exist”.

  • Rabbi Daniel Z. Feldman -To Forgive is Divine–and Human: Asking for Mechila before Yom Kippur

    When asking for mechila (forgiveness) from another individual, is the mitzvah to get a waiver of claims or is it the act of asking (process vs. result)? Possible implications of this difference. Perhaps part of the goal is rectifying relationships. What about via messenger? in a group?
    Famous difference of opinion between Chofetz Chaim and R’Salanter on telling someone who doesn’t know about the lashon hara you spoke about him. Perhaps at least try to rectify the result?

  • Rabbi Ari Kahn -Saving Non-Jews Shabbat

    Interesting critique of Mishneh Brurah – it’s what the law should be “in theory” not taking into account local practice (so it was useful when Europe fell apart).
    Discussion of Meiri’s position on “restrictions” relating only to true idol worshippers and general concerns considering repercussions meaning it’s generally never the case that you could withhold intervention.

  • Rav Hershel Schachter-“The Tuition Crisis, Family Obligations, Communal Obligations and Tzedaka”

    In Europe and in pre-war America, mlamdim (teachers) were generally not of the highest quality (me – you really have to listen to this). Thus, “back in the day” there was no tuition crisis. We require some msirat nefesh (sacrifice) from teachers but shouldn’t be too much.
    We all have an obligation to learn torah and support it. Pru U’rvu includes raising the kids with torah values. (Interesting issue – what if your society is rotten and you know the kids won’t be frum.) Singles and childless should support Yeshivot to be in partial fulfillment. Others should too.
    Tzedaka – Minimum = 1/3 Shekel. Sifre – maaser kesafim = 10% – generally accepted as midat chassidut (but recommended). Difference of opinion whether you deduct living expenses before applying 10%. If you can’t afford to give (meaning you are impoverished), don’t! Max = 20% unless you won’t miss it, then the sky is the limit.
    Rambam says mashiach will appear for first time (gain fame) in Israel (problem for Lubavitch).
    Don’t ask for tuition break instead of giving maaser ksafim. Priorities in tzedakah (kadima) – family poor, community poor, E”Y poor, rest of world poor. Chochmat Adam and R’Moshe – 2/3 / 1/3 – sounded like whichever priority is first gets 2/3?? Community defined – what you got benefit from and must focus your tzedaka on these. Now that there are financial issues in the U.S., we can’t focus on Yeshivot in Israel or on expensive vacations, etc. (and then ask for scholarship – even if grandparents paid). Don’t spend money on huge luxuries when shuls and schools need $! Focus on endowments, if possible, so can get borderline people in.
    Both parents don’t have to work. It’s an individual calculation who needs the money more. It’s clear the cheshbon of allocation is difficult! (me – no daat torah from R’HS here)

  • Dr. Rivkah Blau -Jewish Education for Women–Some Surprises

    History of women’s learning from tanach to modern times. Realistic review of what practices in pre-war Europe (women worked, kollel limited to 5 years/very top performers, some women’s schooling [religious/secular]). Current examples including R’OY’s backing (through his daughter) of chareidi women’s college, others include yoetzet halacha et al.
    What will the future bring? Who knows, but it should be with a strong connection to torah (learning) and halacha. [me – how you gonna keep them down on the farm]

  • Rabbi Moshe Weinberger -Achas Shaalti – Elul

    Divrei hisorirus – What it means to be a human, to be a Jew.

  • Rabbi Yehoshua Grunstein -My community 5- How to make Talmud Torah a THING?

    Respect learning – it makes HKB”H ours rather than just that of our fathers. We should make learning part of our conversations, make our learning with our kids natural and understand that learning needs struggle (it’s not just reading parsha sheets).

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Ten Minute Halacha – Kissing a Sefer Torah (Men, Women and Children)

    Discusses a number of issues.
    Escorting the sefer torah all the way – is it showing honor/love or is it Yuhara?
    Why don’t people take the shortest route to the bima?
    Where did the idea of kissing the torah come from? And if you do it, how?
    Women kissing sefer torah?

  • Rabbi Ari Zahtz -Parshas Nitzavim But I Wasnt Even There

    The Brit in Nitzavim replaced that at Sinai which was broken by the cheit haegel (golden calf). How did it bind future generations? – 1) every soul was there; 2) Avot are like root of tree (sounded like homunculus); 3) HKB”H was koneh us in Egypt and it’s like a loan to parents which binds children.

  • Rebbetzin Smadar Rosensweig -Profiles in Courage: Personal Repentance and Redemption in Tanakh

    Progression of repentace in tanach – Adam and Kayin didn’t take personal responsibility, Reuvain did, but didn’t ask forgiveness. Asking forgiveness (vs. just no punishment) allows for true repentance which is transformational (e.g. Shmuel vs. idol worship at mitzpeh, David vs. Shaul).

  • Synagogue Security for the Yomim Noraim and Beyond

    An OU conference on security for synagogues – theory and practical suggestions (me – interesting would be a discussion of how to do a cost/benefit analysis – and what to include in the costs and the benefits).

  • Rabbi Jeffrey Saks -Rabbi Dr. Yoel Finkelman-book “Strictly Kosher Reading”a>

    Chareidi popular literature – is it to push an agenda, to meet a market demand or both? Dressing up popular parenting etc. advice as “the torah approach”. [me – in the alta heim we didn’t need books!] OTOH M.O. intellectuals seem to only talk to each other and not to masses!

  • Rav Hershel Schachter-Teshuva: Serving Hashem HIS Way, Not Mine

    Stealing and cheating is not allowed and giving that money to charity doesn’t help! Unfortunate state of batei din in U.S. Don’t brag about chumrot, rather worry about basic mitzvot and think about the “cost” to you and others of chumrot (and don’t spend $1,000 on an etrog case and $10 on an etrog). The yetzer hara is happy to not fight you on unimportant chumrot and defeat you on basic torah requirements.
    We need an “objective” approach to halacha, not predetermined result.

  • Rav Mayer Twersky-Teshuva: It’s Not Just About ME

    People are naturally self-centered. Self-centered motivation is ok but not focus. Tzedaka is a shibud (you owe it).
    How fix self-centeredness – 1) (I’m stating it as my mom did) You are what you pretend to be; 2) lots of self reflection (me – to thine own self be true – hmmm where did I hear that before?)

  • Rabbi Dr. Joshua Berman -Inconsistences in the Torah: Looking Beyond R. Breuer and Source Criticism

    How do we understand inconsistencies between Devarim recounting of stories and earlier version earlier in the torah. Rishonim usually saw a local explanation – but what is the meta message? Academics – why didn’t the final editor smooth these inconsistencies out?
    If you look at Hittite covenants, you’ll see renewing of covenants over generations with variations in the historical narrative to give diplomatic signals to forge alliances. (So variations in Devarim could be Dibra tora blashon bnei adam following the common practice then).
    Plea for academic/Rabbinic study (me – good luck with that).

  • 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. “Europe and in pre-war America, mlamdim (teachers) were generally not of the highest quality ”
      Who says that they were of highest quality in post-war America. Maybe GBShaws comment about teachers is still accurate.

      “Thus, “back in the day” there was no tuition crisis.”
      There always was a tuition crisis-even famous day schools founded in the 30s had tuitions and many did not attend because for them it was too expensive. Why do you think frum people sent some kids to public schools in the South Bronx-they couldn’t afford tuition. Day schools weren’t YU/Stern where the same students could take student loans to attend. The ‘financial crisis’ which hit the financial classes those minority who in the past helped support mosdos just exacerbates the problem-but we had yhis situation before 30s and 70s for obvious examples.

      We require some msirat nefesh (sacrifice) from teachers but shouldn’t be too much

    2. “We require some msirat nefesh (sacrifice) from teachers but shouldn’t be too much”

      If we look at the income of teachers-it is not clear that we are demanding sacrifices at all from them-certainly in a dollar per hour of work compared to the median salaries of those who had similar SAT scores to what teachers had.

    3. “See for new recorded shiruim from Rav Soloveitchik zt”l.
      We have added about 35 shiurim from a recent collection that we loaded onto the site.
      About 13 of these shiurim appear to be new!
      About 18 are better recordings of older shiurim.
      Plus hundreds of older shiurim that have been digitally enhanced”

      How come they have the ability to have the Ravs shiurim online and not YU ToOrah?

    4. R’Mycroft,
      I’ve heard rumors, but I’m just happy they are available. One could use the contact us form on YUTORAH and see what response they get.

    5. R’Mycroft,
      I’m not sure SAT scores are the major variable, but in any case, ina free market, the market pays what it pays.

    6. R’JR- Rashbam interprets “ishon eino” as eyelid. This seems to be a better pshat for the pasuk-“Hashem protects them as the eyelid protects(a person’s) eye. There is the same usage in tehillim 17:8 but see mishlei 2:8 “ishon laila” usually translated “blackness of night”

      A gitten kvittel v’refuah shleima


    7. “joel rich on October 7, 2011 at 8:33 am
      I’m not sure SAT scores are the major variable,”

      Probably not the most important variable but as a standardized proxy for certain skills that tend to be required for professions that pay more it is certainly relevant.

      ” but in any case, ina free market, the market pays what it pays.

      Is it a free market? Where Rav Joel do we really ahve free markets in the classical sense. Of course if there is a free market than one could not say “We require some msirat nefesh (sacrifice) from teachers” because they are getting what they deserve-since it is not a perfect free market the question is are they getting more or less than they would get in a free market.

    8. R”DT Gam Lmar

      R’ Mycroft,
      IIUC what R’hs was really saying is that if we pay too much like peanuts, we’ll get too much like monkeys

    9. joel rich on October 8, 2011 at 10:38 pm
      “R”DT Gam Lmar

      R’ Mycroft,
      IIUC what R’hs was really saying is that if we pay too much like peanuts, we’ll get too much like monkeys

      Is that really true-there is no doubt that RY in real terms get much higher salaries than RY received half a century ago-were the RY who were RHS rebeiim too much like monkeys.

    10. “what R’hs was really saying is that if we pay too much like peanuts, we’ll get too much like monkeys

      BTW-do we really want to pay certain professions a lot of money -do we really want profit maximizers entering the professions?
      Not being an expert but on the surface an actuary is a field which is going to pay more than average the skillset requiredto be one is lacking in thevast majority of people and even the exams necessary for either life/casualty appparently require work by even the most intelligent. I am far from an expert but an actuary is in a field where one could theoretically check the work and thus there is somewhat of a check against dishonesty. Sadly, in two fields that are far more important to most frum Jews-rofim who deal in saving chayei olam hazeh and Rabbonim who hopefully will enable to cometo chayei olam haba-one should not amke the salaries that high that it will attract people who enter for the money-it will besides making the field more attractive to skilled people alos attract less ethical people-because one who desires money will do anything to get it-thus sadly making to easy a potential conflict of interest.

    11. I think he was thinkinng more of the day school market (perhaps pulpit as well?) I have an opinion on the quality change since my day but no need to discuss as it’s anecdotal.

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