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by Joel Rich

Most who know me don’t think of me as an outwardly emotional person, I subscribe to the notion per R’YBS and avi mori vrabi zll”hh that the more intense the emotion the more personal it should be. Having said that the events of the last few months in Beit Shemesh are so disturbing to me that I have to cry out שלום ונתיבותיה נועם דרכי שדרכיה תורה של דרכה זוהי ? (Is this the way of Torah whose ways are pleasant?) I imagine it won’t change anything, but to allow such behavior to go by unnoted is wrong imho. END OF RANT

Thought Experiment
Imagine you are me (probably a painful experiment already) and you pull a choni and wake up and find that orthodoxy has become purely current day chareidi-heavy Beit Shemesh. How do you organize your life?


“These are not so much mere issues as they are full-fledged “ism”s, of a sort with those idolatries Rav Elchonon Wasserman fingered decades ago: Communism, Secular Zionism, and Nationalism. Today we add Scientism, AnimalRights-ism, a Woman’sRighttoChoose-ism, QualityofLife-ism.
Can someone help me out here –IIRC R’EW did not include any modifiers before the word Zionism?

  • Rabbi Hershel Schachter-Critical Issues Facing The Jewish Family Today: Panel Discussion with RIETS Roshei Yeshiva

    Q&A with R’HS, R’MW and R’YN.
    *Backing out of engagement issues (give presents back)
    *Down’s Syndrome pregnancy (need for empathy, possibility of abortion?)
    *Women Shul President (meta issues, Srarah – sounds like a no) [me – there’s a real cost to excluding talent] *Tzniut (should be in broader lifestyle context [me – see Mycroft on MO materialism])
    *Prayer (be a role model) [duh?] *Tuition/scholarship issues (lifestyle issues)
    *Pidyon Shvuyim
    R’YN states as a davar pashut that grandparents have a halachic responsibility towards grandchildren’s tuition but not a say in the educational decisions –
    1) Source for latter?
    I would have assumed the former is only if the child would not otherwise get the education, not that so they shouldn’t need a scholarship (i.e. the chiyuv is that they be educated, not that they don’t take communal funds!)

  • ימי העיון השנתיים של ישיבת הר עציון בחסות רבבה – תכנית העשרה תורנית על שם ריבה קושיצקי ז”ל – חנוכה תשע”ב #02 מאת יאיר הלוי: דעת תורה בעולם הליטאי החרדי המודרני

    An interesting review of the history of Daat Torah in its modern form. In the earlier years it was much different – the Chafetz Chaim understood it more as you can find a response to all questions in psukim (story about him being pro-Aliyah).
    R’Elchanan saw it more as the gdolei Torah should be the only “voters” in reaching decisions (vs. the local agudah representatives). R’Dessler saw it more as ruach hakodesh (possibly driven by question of holocaust), the Brisker Rav more as halachic process.
    The real change came from R’Schach who (in contrast to prior “gedolim”) assertively broadcast his Daat Torah. R’Elyashav not quite so.

  • Let My People Know: The OU Poskim answer questions all across the Shulchan Aruch (R’ Belsky and R’ Schachter)

    R’YB – leaving for cruise on Friday PM. Possible issues – seasick (not so common anymore), chillul Shabbat (for you? By Jews?) “Minhag hao am” is not to be concerned since majority of passengers are NBB [me – 1) isn’t this efshar l’varrer as to whether any crew are Jewish? 2) did chazal clearly state these as the reasons for the takanah that it can now be reversed?] R’HS – sending e-mail from US to Israel when it’s already Shabbat there– he’s generally stringent on any “automatic” Shabbat actions.
    R’YB – priorities when davening early a.m. in winter – try to daven with minyan; background on “misheyakir” – R’MF says it’s based on the actual circumstance of that day.
    R’HS – generally stringent on eating before davening
    R’YB – genetically engineered plants – generally no prohibition but we should avoid. A tomato engineered with fish genes is still a tomato (me – warning, boundary issues ahead)
    R’HS – Kashering plastic – R’MF allowed except for Pesach
    -Don’t kasher treif bakers tins except in great need (fascinating tosfot on their real world heter when no Jewish bakers, IMHO consumer electronics may end up following this pattern)
    R’YB – Dairy bread – the “Tzibbur” did not accept just noting it on the wrapper (me – which Tzibbur was that?)
    R’YB and R’HS – “Remote” mashgiach for chalav yisrael no good – since can’t see everything on farm (me – be interesting to compare with how much live mashgiach sees)
    R’HS – NBB housekeeper when both spouses work – big problem – must at least have “possibility” of one of them popping in [me – what percentage of “the olam” actually abides by this?] R’YB – Bugs in certain veggies exist even if you claim you didn’t see them. Bugs in raisins not a problem (explains why in detail)
    R’HS – Basar shenitaleim – original concern was animal might switch, now more a people issue – each circumstance must be evaluated (sounds like he wouldn’t buy the airplane switched sandwich story)
    R’YB – Best to have same sex (as provider ) service providers
    R’HS – Tzniut means lead private lives, don’t draw attention to self (Chofeitz Chaim – tzniut can’t be measured with a ruler). Not a bad idea to have separate seating buses, blotting out photos a bit much.
    R’YB – Wine and grape juice dilution issues
    R’HS – HKB”H knows sick people that you pray for by their given names as well (baruch shekivanti!)
    R’YB – need for wedding, etc. takanot – don’t be ostentatious, don’t cause others to spend more than they can afford (me – how about channeling Nancy Regan or Eric Russel [a shout out to anyone who gets both without Google])
    R’HS – Protecting children from relatives who don’t live up to your standards – delicate balance [me – market niche for me to open an advice hot line?] R’YB – cellphone usage – shul, car and home (guess!)
    R’HS – Inviting intermarrieds for Pesach – problem
    -why not rely on any kashrut supervision based on eid echad (me – R’N Alpert ZT”L told me this should be your starting point)? Some hechsherim known to be unreliable.
    R’YB – Internet sales on Shabbat – just put caveat that may be reversed through Monday AM. (me – interesting approach, needs more discussion)
    -IVF can have brit on Shabbat

  • Rabbi Yehoshua Grunstein -Baruch Hu UBaruch Shemo-Good, not bad, or better not.

    Differing opinions on answering Baruch Hu, Baruch Shmo, especially during chazarat hashatz. Logical result of the nature of chazarat hashatz today (R’YBS et al). Explains why I rush to finish private amidah!

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Ten Minute Halacha – Nefilas Apayim at Tachanun

    Summary of “falling” for tachanun issues.
    Which arm? How fall?….Kabbalah as a source (calling R’Marc Shapiro?)
    Two interesting (to me) issues:
    1) Why don’t women do it?
    Is there any historical record of when the practice changed from the original of falling on floor? [me – that only a Talmid Chacham who will be answered should do it is Talmudic – has human nature changed dramatically for the masses?]

  • Harav Aharon Lichtenstein -Eretz Yisrael Kahal Yisrael Part 1

    Bemoan(ed) those within Orthodoxy who would de-emphasize the Yishuv (my term for the land/people of Israel).
    Then discusses some sources on the centrality of Israel to the Jewish people.
    *Talmud Horiyot – for determination of whether to bring par helem (majority communal error) sacrifice – only those in Israel are considered for “majority” determination.
    *Rambam – restart of smicha only based on scholars in Israel.
    *Rambam – Rosh chodesh determination
    *Joint responsibility (areivut) based on entering Israel.

  • Rabbi Elon Soniker-Motion Sensors on Shabbos
    Interaction of melechet machshevet, mitasek, psik reisha, nicha leih, grama, eino mitkavein, etc. regarding automatic lights being triggered on Shabbat (try to avoid!)
  • Rabbi David Bigman -Judaism Vs. Hellenism In the Eyes of Twentieth Century Thinkers(TIM)

    How do we explain the Talmud’s seemingly ambiguous relationship with Greek language and wisdom (and what it represents) other than saying the opinions were from different times/people?
    R’Hutner – 10 maamarot & dibrot imply two divine emanations (e.g. “vayihi or” vs. lo Tishtachaveh) – we’re forced into observance of one but the other is voluntary.
    To R’Hutner the positive of Greece was science; to R’Kook it was aesthetics.

  • Dr. Rebbeca Winter -Models of Kibud Av Vèm as presented in the Tanach(TIM)

    Analysis of kavod lessons and motivations in Tanach – Shimon and Levi to Yaakov versus Yonatan to David. Me – interesting – is Esav the best example of kavod av in the simple understanding of Chumash?

  • Rabbi Elchanan Adler -Ein Keilokeinu: Almost Last But Not Least

    Understanding the tie to the ketoret (wealth) and the underlying meaning of the lyrics (it’s all up to HKB”H).

  • Rabbi Howard Apfel-Medical Ethics: Wearing a Yarmulka at Work

    Sounded not too excited about the importance of wearing a kippah if it will interfere with advancement (wow-that would be a great panel discussion). Don’t cut Shabbat too close, but we basically ignore the original safety margins of Friday afternoon. (see earlier wow)

  • Rabbi Ezra Schwartz -Contemporary Halacha Review Fall 5772 Part 2

    Part II of the wide ranging practical halacha curriculum. The whole electric on Shabbat thing (I miss you too Harold Z), issues with kids (e.g. nursing, diapers, baby food) abortion, infertility and risk taking (definite and/or possible).

  • Rav Hershel Schacter – Seeming Contradictions between Halachic Practice and the Jew’s Role as a Light Unto the Nations

    Another potpourri. R’HS sees or lagoyim as doing our own thing, and it will impress everyone. All humankind has a tzelem elokim (a little piece of HKBH’s heart?).
    R’HS goes through a number of examples where one might wonder about the “morality” of our approach and explains them.
    Interesting – a convert has a rabbinic responsibility of kibud av v’em to his birth parents

  • Rabbi Yaakov B. Neuburger-Kibbud Av V’aim: Not Just for Kids

    The mitzvah changes as we change; focus is to be available, give nachat and have the proper mindset.

  • Rabbi Aryeh Leibowitz-The Mitzvah of Melave Malka

    Discussion of the source of having (being?) melaveh malkah and, based on that source, the relative importance and some practical applications.

  • 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. Your thought experiment gave me a pounding headache.

    2. Ye’yasher kochakha R’ Joel Rich.
      Regarding brit milah for an IVF baby on Shabbat, I note that R. Bleich disagrees in a chapter devoted to the subject in Bioethical Dilemmas Vol. 2 (Targum Press, 2006). R. Bleich holds the milah must be postponed, and to prevent public strigmatization of the baby, curious questioners should be told that the baby was jaundiced. However, not mentioned by R. Bleich is that R. Ovadiah Yosef (Yabi’a Omer VII, Hilkhot Milah, also brought in Yalkut Yosef on Hilkhot Milah) holds that an IVF milah does override Shabbat.

    3. “Not a bad idea to have separate seating buses” ??!!!

    4. R’SS,
      Yes, the whole IVF/fertility space is fascinating halacha. IMHO the real issues will be meta ones as the cost comes down -choice of sex and genetics/playing God – what will daas torah be?

    5. R’ davidwag,
      That is what he said, in a passing remark that would need more explication (e.g. as it might be a good idea for people not to feel the need to buy a Lexus or as it might be a good idea to have have wedding takanot?)

    6. No, it’s never a good idea. And if halakha doesn’t require it, why even think it would be?

      And even if it was a good idea, both the way it (perhaps inevitably- see above) has been implemented as well as the current situation- and, attendantly, the way such a remark would be “played”- should cause any person not to say such things. Chachamim, hizaharu b’divreichem.

    7. Thank you very much, R’ Joel Rich, for the kind recognition and illuminating insight. I apologize that I did not provide the exact Yabi’a Omer reference on Friday; I wanted to quickly contribute the comment in case there was a practical question somewhere in the world whether to perform an IVF milah this past Shabbat Va’yechi, so I had to sacrifice precision for the sake of efficiency [-not that I provided much help in adjudicating the question, since I merely quoted two opposite opinions…] The Yabi’a Omer reference is Vol. 7, YD 24, sec. 5. Kol tuv.

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