Audio Roundup

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by Joel Rich


“Nevertheless, the absence of current data on Jewish communal trends in the U.S. is something of a scandal. In the absence of such information, however imperfect, questions about the size and characteristics of American Jewry will go unanswered—and the community’s ability to plan its future will suffer. “
Me-“Statistics , We don’t need no stinking statistics!”

From R’ Aviner:
Wedding Gift
Q: We are a poor family, and our relative is getting married. They have the custom of giving expensive wedding gifts, but we are unable to do so. The trip is also costly. What should we do?
A: Give according to your ability, and include an apology note. (Me- an apology note for what ?)

Born a Non-Jew
Q: I think it would have been better for me to have been born a non-Jew, since they seem to enjoy themselves more than we do.
A: I don’t know if in reality this is true. In any event, we are certainly much happier. (Me-how about, why are you wasting precious time thinking about something you can not control, and if you are, why not think about the gemara telling you you’d be better off not having been born at all)

  • Rabbi Jeffrey Saks-Rambam’s Shemonah Perakim – Introduction

    Introduction to shmoneh prakim (commentary on pirkei avot). Rambam’s take is based on his view of perfection of the soul and the need for a soul man doctor. Worth it for his “Truth from wherever it comes” and explanation of why what we might now call plagiarism is ok (and, in his case, called for).[Me-truth from wherever it comes, what’s next chochma bagoyim taamin? Can’t that lead to otd?]

  • Rabbi Eli Belizon-CBY Yarchei Kallah The Yes and No’s of Amira Leakum on Shabbos

    The prohibition of asking a non ben brit (NBB) to do something on Shabbat for you – is it based on Daber Davar or a rabbinic enactment or both? Then some practical applications based on this question, including hinting in a non-direct way on Shabbat or a direct way before or after Shabbat (defining direct may not be so easy!)
    Then differentiating based on whether it’s a benefit to NBB, followed by various leniencies – if only indirect, makom mitzvah, great need, great loss (as long as only rabbinic prohibition at issue).{me- but isn’t anything I need a great need????}

  • Harav Aharon Lichtenstein #3, Da’as Torah – Religious Imperative or Good Advice, Part 3

    Bottom line – Daas Torah is mostly good advice and requires the individual provider to be “holding” in the issues at hand. And can it be uniform? (e.g. is there only one daat torah per issue, per universe?)

  • Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky-Yarchei kallah Bishul Akum in Our Homes and Restaurants

    Bishul Akum (cooked by NBB) is “treif” drabanan. Then summary of basic “leniencies”:
    *something usually eaten raw” – this is an example of changing realities (raw meat was eaten in time of Talmud, not now). So what about sushi? Some say still no, unclear why. R’Sobolofsky seems ok with it, at least for fish types used for sushi (me – do we see subsetting like this by any other food type?)
    *something that goes on a king’s table – C.I. says this doesn’t mean for a state dinner, even for breakfast (me – 1. apparently, he said it doesn’t appear in writing; 2. how did he know that the Queen of England eats sardines for breakfast).
    *even though the concern that drove the rule is intermarriage, we generally say lo plug (we don’t differentiate) to cases where intermarriage wouldn’t be a concern. {me-except where we do}
    *microwave cooking? (vs. reheating which is certainly ok)
    *do you have to kosher utensils used (generally yes, but ask a shailah)

  • Rabbi Mayer E. Twersky -Internet Issues

    Unfiltered Internet can lead to big problems, even filtered can be a big time waster and you shouldn’t let it and/or general society define your axioms (e.g. materialism). Don’t take it for granted that you must have in home. (me – a difficult risk/reward calculus, you certainly give up a tremendous productivity boost if correctly used. I have an idead, let’s only allow its use in community centers watched my mashgichim , who will be watched by super mashgichim? Oh, sorry, that was already suggested at the Agudah convention)

  • Rabbi Shmuel Marcus-Tachanun without a Sefer Torah

    Short shiur on “falling on one’s arm” for tachanun. Is the holiness of Jerusalem itself sufficient to require it (much like a torah or aron). Source of torah and/or Aron requirement could use more explication.

  • Rabbi Aryeh Leibowitz-Are There “Type A” Personalities?: Free Will and Character Traits

    Introduction to understanding that predisposition (genetic, etc.) doesn’t mean predestined. Channel whatever HKB”H deals you into your avodat Hashem.

  • Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff -2011-11-21 JH 9 Agudath Israel Today: The Achievements and the Challenges

    R’Rakeffet is not pleased with Agudah in Israel:
    *not “accepting” cabinet minister positions means not taking responsibility
    *not “accepting” army service means not taking responsibility
    *not “accepting” secular education means not taking responsibility
    Bias (anti sfardi) is an issue as well.

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Ten Minute Halacha – Red Bendels

    Red Bendels have a tenuous basis at best (me – “everyone” does it so we can’t fire everyone). Is it Darkei Emori (non-Jewish practice)? Probably.
    Right on R’AL – the best way to defeat the evil eye is to live a life of tzniyut (modesty and humility), but how do you sell that to the Baalabatim?
    BTW there is a self service red bendel kiosk on the way down to the kotel, but I can’t tell if they’ve been wrapped around kever Rachel?

  • Rabbi Dani Rapp -The Shevatim – Where Are They Now

    Where have you gone my blue eyed son, and where have you gone my darling young ones? (oops sorry, another acid flashback)Talmudic debate concerning the ongoing existence of the 10 tribes. Psak is they do exist, a number of groups have claimed to be their descendants. Then on to Eldad Hadani and the debate about Ethiopian Jews [me – who says we got halachot “right”, maybe they did?].

  • Rabbi J Sacks- Lubavitch Address

    Giving chizuk to Chabad shluchim conference – R’Sacks retells stories of the Rebbi’s influence on him at crucial times in his life. As long as they carry on the Rebbi’s work, he lives through them (me-triggered some thoughts on what some there might have been thinking).
    My favorite R’Sacks story (I retell it often as I remember it) – when a student at Cambridge he met with the Rebbi and began to tell him “In the circumstances I find myself in” and the Rebbi stops him and says “one does not find oneself in circumstances, one puts one self into circumstances”.(chatati,aviti, pashati)

  • Rabbi Jeffrey Saks-Rambam’s Anatomy of the Soul – I

    Medicine (Galen) in his time believed that man has 3 souls (vegetable, animal, person is simplest way I can describe it) etc. Need to know these to heal souls just like need to know body to heal it. [It’s a new world, Goldie!]

  • Rabbi Jeffrey Saks-Lonely Man of Faith (Part 14)

    We are all both Adam I and Adam II. We focus on this world. Being a member of covenantal community helps resolve the existential loneliness but doesn’t resolve it (me – Yes, they’re sharing a drink they call loneliness but it’s better than drinking alone). Our job is to unite the 2 worlds of the Adam I and Adam II in all of us (we will always feel the dialectic tension).

  • Rabbi Efrem Goldberg -Determinism vs. Free Will: Who is Really Calling the Shots in our Lives?

    Sounded a lot like me (content, not vocals; and I’m not sure it’s a compliment!). Starts with current popular belief “It’s all from HKB”H’ (predestined); points out issues with this (e.g. holocaust) and then reviews the wide range of Jewish thought on freewill, predestination, nature, theodicy….
    [me – generally go with what gets you through the night (I’m pretty much a Rabbeinu Bachya guy – individual freewill within the master plan – see Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy) but realize we are finite and IMHO will never comprehend the infinite {though Rambam would say come close or actually do?}. But realize every position has issues] Most liked the ending – my take perhaps oversimplified Kach MKublani mbeit Avi Abba (sorry R’Gil) – just do your best to do the ratzon HKB”H as you understand it and let him worry about the philosophy issues and the scorecard and know that he (infinite) always has your (finite) back (even though you may not see it). Me – you’re on a roller coaster that’s careening over a hill.
    Of course, it helps having great parents who modeled that for you (kach mkublani practically vdai brmizah).
    R’AL quoting R’Chaim – Ramban couldn’t have said don’t go to doctor! (I love those kinds of edits)

  • 2011-12-15
  • 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. “Why not think of the gemarra saying that it is better not to have been born at all.”
      In this weeks parasha the gemarra says-נח לו לאדם שישליך עצמו לכבשן האש ולא להלבין פני חבירו ברבים
      This is in praise of Tamar who refused to directly accuse Yehudah. Rav Yitzchak Ginsburg in a sicha on the parasha said
      that “naoch lo ladam” does not mean that this is a mitzvah, since only avoda zara, shfichut dam and arayot require mesirut nefesh, but in a deeper sense shaming someone in public is like spiritual bloodshed and it is better for the ADAM who was created b’tzelem Elokim to be immolated so that his nefesh will not be forfeit. In the same way noach lo la’adam she lo nivra means that lechatchila the divine spark of the neshama elokit has no place in the corporeal body but bedieved (if one can say bedieved about the divine will) the nefesh habeheimi binds the neshama to the guf. Noach lo ladam she lo nivra but noach lo laShem she bara haadam venafach bo ruach chaim

    2. Shalom Rosenfeld

      If you’ll allow me to project my thinking onto R’ Aviner’s words, I think he meant you mail them a $10 check along with a nice card that says “mazel tov we send our heartfelt wishes and we’re so sorry we won’t be attending the wedding.” The “apology note” [what’s the Hebrew wording here? Languages have lots of nuance for words like “sorry” or “regret”] just meant “regret we’re not attending.”

      Not “ashamnu bagadnu gazalnu that we didn’t take out a third mortgage for that 24k-gold-plated combination-ice-cream-and-espresso-maker that is obviously magia lachem.” Yech.

    3. Shalom Rosenfeld

      > “isn’t anything I need a great need????”

      Hence we recommend you go ask a “rabbi” rather than decide it for yourself. Like the band of yeshiva boys who said “it’s 17 Tamuz and eh we feel a bit dizzy … we should eat … but wait something about small amounts … okay we’ll have crackers … hey maybe some tuna to go with it …”

      > “me – do we see subsetting like this by any other food type?”

      I’m sure a real scholar can answer this better, but Kitzur S”A talks of some delicacy made of sugar-frying unripe fruit. Apparently “grapes” are subset into “ripe” [no B”A problem] and “unripe” [yes problem]; so it doesn’t shock me that “fish” is subset into “sushi-grade” and “not sushi-grade.”

      > Chazon Ish & sardines:

      RH”S quotes it from a conversation R’ Schwob had when visiting C”I. R’ Schwob was about to challenge “but R’ Chaim Ozer allowed sardines!” — then realized — oh yeah C”I tana upalig.

      Tsk tsk, it was the *KING* of England (can RZ”S quote the fights historical?); RH”S says C”I read in a newspaper that the king ate tinned sardines for breakfast. The reigns of George V and VI (+ Edward briefly) covered all of C”I’s life until his last year. As C”I was ~58 when Colin Firth — oops George VI — took the throne, I’m guessing it was George V.

      > me – who says we got halachot “right”, maybe they did?

      If I’m not mistaken their divorce ritual didn’t involve a written document, so their practice didn’t even conform to our written text … yes I’ll take it for granted that our written text … okay you get my point and I get yours. Let’s move on.

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