Audio Roundup

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by Joel Rich

From R’ Aviner:40 Women Separating Challah
Q: Is there a Segulah for finding a match, healing, fertility, etc. if 40 women separate Challah together on a Friday? Is it permissible for some of the women to separate Challah on Thursday if there is a pressing need?
A: This is a new creation, which has no source. There is certainly a level of holiness in separating Challah – just as there is holiness in the fulfillment of every Mitzvah – but there is no source for 40 women separating it together. It can therefore be performed in this manner.

Stories of Rabbenu – Our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Ha-Cohain Kook

A student introduced himself as an “American”. Our Rabbi pointed out that he is not an American, since America is not our Land. Rather he should say: A Jew from the Exile of America (Iturei Yerushalayim #64).

One Chabad publication referred to the house of the Lubavitcher Rebbe outside of Israel as “Beit Chayeinu” (The House of our Life). Our Rabbi responded with great distress: “Have mercy on Zion for it is the House of our Life! How is it possible to call a house in America by this name?!” (Iturei Yerushalayim #64 in the name of Ha-Rav Yitzchak Dadon).

  • Rabbi Netanel Wiederblank-Understanding History, Providence, Free Will, and Yitziat Mitzrayim

    How can one reconcile free will with seeming examples of forced actions (e.g. God hardened Pharaoh’s heart)? We’ll never really understand but one approach is that sometimes HKB”H has a particular historical result that needs to happen and either (i) each individual has free will (e.g. Joseph’s brothers) and depending on their choices, HKB”H will adjust the method of attainment (e.g. perhaps Joseph would have taken a vacation in Egypt/HKB”H sent someone to direct him to his brothers) or (ii) sometimes HKB”H will constrain free will to get the needed result.
    Actually, I don’t think R’Wiederblank said (ii). I made it up since it would seem that, for example, the entire Jewish nation could not commit suicide within HKB”H’s promise that we would continue, so at some level an individual’s free will seems to be constrained.

  • Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik -Prayer as a Philosophy

    Prayer changes you. The juxtaposition of geulah (redemption) and tfila (prayer) is to move us from the periphery (we are mute) to the center (story telling) of redemptive history.
    Pain is a physical sensation, suffering is spiritual. If you’re not sensitive to suffering, you can’t be sensitive to kindness.

  • Rabbi Shmuel Belkin -Talmud Torah Knegged Kulam

    Discusses the centrality of the Yeshiva (beit medrash) to YU. Goal is for you to build your own house; YU provides the basic building blocks but not the finished product. Must have divine optimism and faith; keep searching and studying (me – Amen).
    Had to smile when R’Belkin referred to watching the YU library being built. The highlight of my freshman year at MTA was watching them blast the bedrock (but I never did get the pile of unaligned books architecture or the main entrance in the back).

  • Mrs Ilana Saks -Teaching Trees and Learning Torah

    Part of a series on interpreting medrashim. Here the Torah being compared to a tree used to demonstrate metaphors, messages and how textual issues or parallels may drive interpretations.

  • Rabbi A Mintz – The Contributions of Rashi and Tosafot

    Post Talmud series. Focus here on post-gaonic period in Europe against the backdrop of general development of European countries. For us a key component is new lands = new traditions. Discussion of Rashi’s approach – formalize a final Talmudic text and make Talmud user friendly (pshat). This results in an authoritative volume. Tosfot’s approach is then to unify and reconcile the authoritative volume.
    Some felt Tosfot’s was influenced by the scholasticism of the time, but it may simply be something that occurs when there’s widely available authoritative text.
    One impact of Tosfot’s approach is that it may undermine the authority of earlier generations. (Me – the tension between earlier generations being like angels and halacha like the latest decisors (standing on a giant’s shoulders) seems always in play in halacha.)

  • Rabbi A Mintz-The Traditions of Ramban and Christian Spain

    OTOH Bagdad based tradition continued oral study and didn’t seem to regard the Talmud Bavli as the final word, rather the mimetic tradition ruled due to the unbroken chain of mesorah (tradition) [me – interesting how geographic discontinuities lead to intellectual ones]. When center of gravity moved to Spain and North Africa, Rif had to “rewrite” gemara to harmonize (dislocations also seem to yield need for books of code). Ramban supported the Rif’s tradition but incorporated Tosfot’s approach.

  • Rabbi Yehuda Parnes The Halacha of the Halacha: What is the Authority of the Torah?

    Some current (1975) trends were really bothering R’Parness (academic study of Talmud perhaps?). R’YP analysis of history of written and oral Torah and role of Sanhedrin (transmitter, legislator and interpreter of halacha). RYP thesis – authority of the Bavli is final, no gathering of Rabbis (perhaps even in times of mashiach) can regain legislative function – can only interpret Bavli.
    IIUC R’YP thinks Lo Tassur (don’t deviate) applies in a very broad sense (Chinuch’s approach) – even if you know Sanhedrin is wrong you must listen! (me – think of Talmud Horiyot). He acknowledges that R’HS disagrees. [Me – wonder if R’YP really believed this or felt it necessary medicine for Talmidim of TUM.]

  • Rabbi A Mintz-The Rambam’s Mishneh Torah

    A review of the Rambam’s life and works followed by trying to understand the Rambam’s intent in writing the Mishneh Torah (yad hachazkoh) vs. how it has been used.

  • Rosh HaYeshiva Norman Lamm-Torah Umadda’s 20th Anniversary

    Interview on 20th anniversary of R’Lamm’s Torah U’Maddah. R’Lamm articulates a number of possible models of TUM– most people mix and match his models (me – or really just don’t think about it at all – just take a nap till it passes). IMHO the “M.O. for Intellectuals Only?” would be worth a more extensive treatment.

  • Rabbi Moshe Taragin -The Publication of Shulchan Oruch

    History of Bet Yosef (and S”A) – irony that S”A was supposed to be a summary for the less learned (who told me HKB”H has an ironic sense of humor?)
    Why did R’Karo decide to base himself on the Tur? More opinions included, narrower scope than Rambam [only practical topics covered], more analysis of sources.
    Why broad acceptance? Migration that was ongoing increased the need for a code, printing press in Tzfat allowed for mass distribution, it was easy to read.
    What were the objections? Didn’t encourage following batrai [later authorities], didn’t put enough emphasis on following minhag [mimetic tradition], can’t really capture everything in a mechanical process, doesn’t encourage breadth of understanding.
    Would halacha have survived without this shift in approach? (me – imho yes, just differently – perhaps the “Talmudist” vs. “Poseik” lines would not be so stark).

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Ten Minute Halacha – Kibud Av v’Eim

    Given to students in Israel. Is Kibbud Av a mitzvah between Man and Man, Man and God, or Man and himself (probably all)? Some possible implications. Especially liked the end – view your parents as gdolai olam (spiritual giants) and also bring them back to Israel! [but of course we get back to the commanding thoughts/emotions issue].

  • Are American Modern Orthodox Jews Obligated to Follow the Psak of Rav Eliyashiv?

    Does the M.O. community have to follow R’Elyashav? No, because R’YBS legitimated M.O. as a different approach. Psak cannot be done from afar geographically or philosophically.

  • Rabbi Shmuel Marcus -Hair Covering for Widows and Divorcees

    Why did R’MF allow a divorcee or a widow not to cover her hair in extenuating circumstances? For them hair covering is rabbinic (data yehudit) and thus, we may be lenient in assuming it an issur aseih and thus one is not required to give up a large portion of their livelihood.

  • Rabbi A Mintz-The Shulhan Arukh and the End of an Era in Jewish Law

    R’Mintz’s take on the progression of halacha from Rambam to S’A. Covers much of the same territory as R’Taragin. Adds that he felt the reason for the “success” of the S”A was that it was printed with the Rama so it had both traditions.

  • Rabbi Shmuel Marcus-Taking Someone’s Shidduch

    Can someone step in and “steal” someone else’s shidduch? Is there an application of Ani hamehapech (you can’t step in and take something someone else’s intended acquisition – quite a more extensive discussion needed). It may also require consideration of local practice.

  • Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff -2012-1-15 Responsa 12 “The Shiltot” YU vs YU- Torah vs. Madah

    Continuation of his shiur on development of halacha/psak methodologies. Discussion of use of newly available manuscripts and the contribution of the Sheiltot and Bahag.

  • 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. “Some felt Tosfot’s was influenced by the scholasticism of the time, but it may simply be something that occurs when there’s widely available authoritative text.”

      I would think cultural diffusion is a better explanation than “influence,” but if scholasticism occurs when there’s a widely available authoritative text, then why didn’t it occurs hundreds of years earlier among Christians?

      There are other examples of trends in Jewish learning which clearly where influenced by – or occurred at the same time through culutural diffusion – modes of learning current at the time. So why not Tosafot?

      “Does the M.O. community have to follow R’Elyashav? No, because R’YBS legitimated M.O. as a different approach.”

      I’m a fan of Rabbi Mintz, but I was appalled when I heard this a couple of years ago.

    2. Started to listen to the Rav Parnes lecture. Is that really rav Parnes, It doesnt sound like how I remeber his voice.

    3. R’S,
      Which part appalled you? I do agree about the cultural diffusion, is there any practical nafka mina?

    4. R’ Anan,
      Not sure about the voice but the content is what I would have expected.

    5. “Which part appalled you?”

      The notion that “the reason” why Rav Elyashiv’s word is not our community’s command is because we as a community were given a hechsher by a single person (who is no longer alive, much less). Is that so? If R. Soloveitchik had never existed then American modern Orthodoxy would not be a legitimate type of Orthodox Judaism? Or, the only thing barring the most allegedly venerated manhig of one particular group in Orthdoxy, in another country, would have shlita over us if not for R. Soloveitchik pronouncing Kasher on this community? There are so many things wrong with that idea in my view that I hardly no where to begin. As I said, I’m a big fan of Rabbi Mintz, but I cannot believe he thought that one through enough.

      “I do agree about the cultural diffusion, is there any practical nafka mina?”

      A little. There’s a famous story about Rav Hai sending a pupil to ask a Church patriarch how he interprets a verse in Tehillim. Although this one story is a bit much to build an entire hashkafah around, the fact is that it is very different from how we would understand it if he gave an interpretation of Tehillim which is similar to how the Syriac church interpreted it, all because such thinking was in the air of the time, so to speak.

      If the methods of Tosafot were literally influenced by Scholasticism that probably says something about how we can or ought to approach learning. On the other hand if it was just the way Europeans would sort of approach analyzing sacred texts in the middle ages, that’s a bit different. Maybe.

    6. R’S
      Iirc r’ A Lichtenstein said much the same thing about r’ybs legitimization of the approach.

    7. I wonder what R. Kook would say about this quote:

      כי מבארי תצא תורה ודבר ה’ מאוטרנטו


    8. “I wonder what R. Kook would say about this quote:”

      Berlin is Jerusalem; Yerushalayim d’Lita, etc.

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