by Joel Rich
From a recent WSJ article
We are ruined by our own biases. When making decisions, we see what we want, ignore probabilities, and minimize risks that uproot our hopes.
What’s worse, “we are often confident even when we are wrong,” writes Daniel Kahneman, in his masterful new book on psychology and economics called “Thinking, Fast and Slow.”
An objective observer, he writes, “is more likely to detect our errors than we are.”
These systems can now chew through billions of bits of data, analyze them via self-learning algorithms, and package the insights for immediate use. Neither we nor the computers are perfect, but in tandem, we might neutralize our biased, intuitive failings when we price a car, prescribe a medicine, or deploy a sales force. This is playing “Moneyball” at life.
It means fewer hunches and more facts. ….
You probably hate the idea that human judgment can be improved or even replaced by machines, but you probably hate hurricanes and earthquakes too. The rise of machines is just as inevitable and just as indifferent to your hatred.
Me-You heard it here first(maybe)-there will be psak algorithm’s driven off the sh”ut et al literature – it will be interesting to see how we react
R’ H Maryles said: -“But the difference between Sarid and me is I realize that there are good answers to questions like these. God loves the Jewish people. We are His chosen ones. He would never harm us in any way unless we deserved it. And sometimes not even then, which is in part what Teshuva is all about. God is gracious and merciful; slow to anger; full of kindness and truth.”
I think this is backwards, isn’t it actually God is gracious and merciful; slow to anger; full of kindness and truth. God loves the Jewish people. We are His chosen ones. He would never harm us in any way unless we deserved it. THERFORE I realize that there are good answers to questions like these(i.e. we interpret the particular in light of our general approach).
I wonder if my life would have been different if I had heard this sicha in 1972. It’s like being in a time warp as R’AL describes how the counterculture may have shaken the “grey flannel suit” mindset.
Describes a time when there weren’t enough Rabbis for the pulpits, teaching positions even in the NY area. Discusses reasons for this shortage and hopes that general job market issues wouldn’t be the driver to get more applicants (ouch). It also is clear that other $ opportunities draw people away (et chatai ani mazkir hayom?).
Those who can go into the Rabbinate should! There are challenges but overwhelming benefits, and you may have a duty to your community.
Then some priceless words on the YU PR machine.
As Dr. Lisman used to tell us, “Yafutei shel Yefet beoholei Sheim”. Beauty, talent, etc. has to be viewed through a moral (Torah) lens. Science can take away from belief by making you feel “in control”. Remember, you can’t prove everything intellectually – you’ve received a gift (me – really a morasha/heirloom to be transmitted from past to future generations).
Nice riff on statistics – but I must tell Rabbi T. the truth is that actuaries have not established human behavior, they just measure it..
Discussion of why Amoraim couldn’t (or wouldn’t) disagree with Tannaim and implications for later authorities disagreeing with earlier ones. Turns into a discussion of whether a later rabbinic authority can disagree with “the gedolim”? Then a discussion of the evolution of measurements over time and practical applications for Matzah.
Technical (e.g. makom gidulo, need to actually tie?) and practical halacha on the melacha of maamar (gathering?)
Review of possible issues and why many authorities are stringent not to allow use on Shabbat (but, of course some allow).
Cases involving the possible conflict between the establishment of religion clause and the freedom of religion clause. Rabbi Pruzansky has a strong opinion on the constitutionality of the government paying for private schools’ secular studies, the entanglement test and the wisdom (or lack thereof) of the Supreme Court. Also, on public displays of religion.
He asserts that in a Torah state there would be tolerance and respect for other religions (e.g. Meiri’s position).
Interesting further assertion re: Torah law being process based (i.e. let chips fall where they may) vs. secular law being results based (i.e. supreme court watches the election results).
IMHO these two assertions may be an over reach.
Cohesion of kahal in Israel drives its preeminence in matters of the general kahal. In a Jewish state the dual identity dialectic is integrated so there is no split as there is outside of Israel.
Models of funding various community needs based on Talmudic sources. Generally either membership based (e.g. head tax), fee for service based (e.g. pay per view) or wealth based (e.g. % of some value). Those areas were not based on a head tax, generally based on who will benefit most or have highest likelihood of loss. (ex’s – chazzan, school, watchmen).
Interesting Trumat Hadeshen re volunteers: If it’s something everyone can do (e.g. Kiddush clean up) then community can’t force those who want to volunteer to pay for a professional service. If it’s not something everyone can do (e.g. bookkeeping), community can’t force others to do it (but they should volunteer).
Based on R’Asher Weiss (Minchat Asher) – a number of reconciliations of conflicting sources in Talmud concerning the meaningfulness of dreams. How do we treat dreams? Answers range from generally ignore them to take them very seriously (maybe a function of topic/type of dream). (I generally go with the rationalist approach, it goes according to how you interpret them).
Then a discussion of halachic decisions seemingly based on dreams. Later authorities seem to discount and give rationalistic approaches (me-it would be interesting to correlate historically and see if it is a chronological thing).
Anger can hurt your faith. The Rav on the difference between mood as a transient response to external factors that we haven’t made sense of, and permanent character into which we assimilate all experiences and emotion. So how do we do this in a positive manner? Orient oneself with HKB”H (me – make your will his will – easy to say, not so easy to do).
Life is not fair (Kach mkublani mbeit avi abba – just worry about what you do, HKB”H grades you on your efforts, not the outcomes!). Be process oriented not outcome oriented because we’re not really equipped to do proper outcome assessment.
Kol d’avid rachmana l’tav avid – not everything that is good for you feels good. We have free choice, but we are vulnerable because there are many things we don’t control.
I. This vulnerability ties (per the Rav) to the whole Yom Kippur/Tshuva thing – why the lottery for which goat goes where? Life is actuarial capricious and this causes vulnerability which can relate to our sins.
Vulnerability should make us humble (me – the challenge to Adam I in our time, realizing how much we’ve learned yet how vulnerable we remain).
Radical behavior can’t be supported or soft pedaled even if it is religious based. Surprise – he’s talking within the dati leumi community!
“New method” for studying Tanach is really just using common sense. BTW – first learn the “old way” (Chumash with Rashi, etc.)
Example from text of Rosh Chodesh davening – the authors of the tfila knew Tanach and used it well. This is illustrated by Rosh Chodesh tfila and allusions to atonement and remembrance (Rosh Chodesh – regular preventative atonement medicine vs. emergency treatment). There’s a tie between natural cycles and our observances tied to them as well as the messages therein.
Mussar at some Israel gap year program? Importance of Torah Shebal Peh and Mesorah. Ties in Menashe and Efraim and Yaakov’s blessing. Only accept change from one who doesn’t want change for the sake of change = chochmei hamesorah etc. (me – I didn’t realize the world was so binary).
Possible historical Jewish sources (me – sounded like limud zchut) for Chanukah presents and gelt. Gambling harder to defend.
Chanukah miracle occurred shortly (200 years) before the end of prophecy/miracles and the beginning of the long exile (and those 200 years were no picnic). This was to prepare us for exile with a message emphasizing:
*mesirat nefesh (need to sacrifice for the cause)
*national energy drives a blossoming of torah
*one last taste of malchut (sovereignty), no matter if flawed.
Then some nice mussar on falling in love with Talmud and eretz yisrael with Jewish sovereignty.