by Joel Rich
Hat Tip to My Connection – Councilor K.
The reviews are out of order because I’d really like to hear your thoughts on some of them more than others.
- J-18 – God is the Travel Agent
Why did Joshua send spies given Moses’ experience? To show that it’s not the situation, it’s what you make of it [me R’Reisman channeling Shakespeare? “Nothing is either good nor bad but thinking makes it so”].
Wherever you are (physically, experientially), it’s because HKB”H put you there and it’s what you make of it. You’ll be happier this way!
[Me – this would be a great jumping off point for a discussion: 1) Is being happy the goal?; 2) Is this approach popular because it gives comfort or because it is philosophically convincing?; 3) Does this approach lead to acceptance of fate vs. effort to destiny (hat tip R’YBS)?…]
- J-13 – Expulsion from Spain
Consequences of Spanish expulsion:
When a new kehilla (cohesive community) moved into a city with an already existing community, the new Kehilla’s rabbis ruled it could keep it’s own traditions (me – unfortunately the halachic justification was not fully discussed).
Great desire for messiah (kabbalat Shabbat is really all pointed at this, and we don’t say it on Yom Tov into Shabbat because there will be sadness prior to his coming).
Those that left Spain (rather than convert or seem to) were the most willing to sacrifice for purity – they founded Tzfat in Israel and that’s why [plus Talmidei Hagra who were also like this] in Israel they’re very intense even today (l’chatchila Jews). We in America should learn from them!
[Me – in the prior shiur R’Reisman talked about no obsessing yet here he seems to prefer it as a lifestyle. Maybe he’s right, but I don’t think being a chareid (one who runs to do the dvar hashem) needs (should?) be bordering on OCD to be worried about every opinion. Rather IMEHO to me it means realizing that everything in life involves trade-offs and you need to weigh them as best you can through the eyes of the ratzon hashem.]
- J-12 – Netzach: Permanent Change
Discussion of the midah of netzach (eternity). Application here is that sometimes you just have to grow up and put certain things behind you/take them off the table. If you’re obsessive about something, it wears you out and the more you think about it, the harder it is to overcome. (Apparently R’Reisman had to know about Chuck Knoblauch for chinuch purposes.) Make some items routine so you don’t have to even think about it (e.g. minyan attendance), pick your specific issues to fight and create siyagim (fences) so your fight is at the fence, not the real thing you are battling. Internet and family relations are his two recommendations for areas for focus.
- J-14 – Return of Rachav Hazonah
Lessons from Rachav:
You start tshuva (repentance process) and HKB”H will help
When you go to help someone, you end up being helped (Baruch Shekivanti to the Yad Hamelech in a Shiur I gave a few years ago – praying for someone else first isn’t a segulah that magically causes your prayer to be answered, it’s about the kind of person you are). [see a great how/why prayer works summary here: http://vbm-torah.org/archive/faith/12faith.htm ] Tshuva (repentance) should come from an area you have strength – take that strength and cause it to spread and flourish in other areas.
- J-15 – The Eyes Have It
Status of Vilna Gaon as a rishon in terms of his ability to argue halachic opinions. No clarification of how to determine [or why there are] exceptions to the normal chronological rules.
Seeing has more of an impact than hearing – use your eyes to impact your heart in a positive way.
[Sidepoint – R’Reisman presents it as a slam dunk that we violate Shabbat for any possible blindness in one eye. IMHO this is not a slam dunk – contact me offline for a detailed Shiur if you’re interested.]
- J-16 – Undercover Yid
Questions relating to spies (doesn’t deal with last year’s brouhaha on engaging in relations):
If someone asks if you’re Jewish, can you deny it? Generally no, but if you can say something that might be misinterpreted, that’s ok. R’Reisman thinks it may be different if he’s asking about race vs. religion.
R’Reisman says it’s no different even if you’re saving all of Israel – his proof, gemara doesn’t give that answer for the Esther/Ahashverus relationship. (me – actually IIRC the Nefesh Hachaim does differentiate for hatzalat kol Yisrael!)
Shoephone (interesting bekiut in “Get Smart” – but I suppose that was then, this is now, etc. Disappointingly, in line with current sensibilities, no mention of Agent 99 or the nature of her non-business relationship with Max!) Discussion of dual purpose (jewelry/practical) items (e.g. watch) on Shabbat. R’Moshe allows if generally worn by others.
Cone of Silence – you can’t make a temporary tent (kids can’t drape a blanket over 2 chairs) – but people holding tallit on Simchat Torah is ok per Chazon Ish [no clear statement as to why].
Why was prospective ger told to strike a match on Shabbat so as not to keep Shabbat? On a duraita (Torah) level it’s allowed as a melacha sheinah tz’richa lgufa so he’s not violating on a torah level?? Ramban holds its duraita [me – Q is better than A] Then mussar abount disruptiveness of cellphone and need for shalom bayit.
- J-17 – Red String
Rif has letter stating from the time of gaonim the study of nedarim (vows) was discouraged due to concern of people taking advantage of perceived loopholes. R’SZA – that approach (not studying nedarim) changed because then people feared vows and so lack of clear knowledge meant they’d avoid any involvement, now the concern is the opposite, if they don’t know, they’ll violate.
We need to be careful since commitments to mitzvah or good practices can be considered vows.
When you’re exposed to holiness in your house, it impacts you, the challenge is to hold onto it! Forget the red string!
- J-19 – Kedusha – Preparing for the Big Day
The word kedusha (holiness?) sometimes denotes separation and sometimes connection. Why? To be truly connected to an entity you must be separate to a degree from others (e.g. commitment to spouse must be qualitatively different from all others).
Focused preparation is important throughout life, we allow too many distractions from what’s really important.
- J-20 – The Hei Hayidiyah
R’Yaakov – when you have a double hei hayidiyah (as in Haaron Habrit) there is something to be learned from it.
The power of hei – if you think something is important, it shows! Use this to excel.
- J-21 – Miracles
There are 2 types of miracles and, once you understand that, a lot of questions may be answered and services reconciled. Type I includes miracles which require nature to be changed. Type II is when an individual exists at a level outside of nature.
Then to mussar concerning connecting to higher levels (of aspirations) – e.g. HKB”H, Torah, Avot – at whatever level you can. Similarly, we need to have more msirat nefesh (self-sacrifice) to reach these types of goals.
- J-22 – Water Damage
Primarily discussion of Tosfot’s position that first gush of water when a person removes a blockage is considered a direct result of his effort.
An interesting thought issue raised but not explored – the difference between being liable under the earthy court rules vs. heavenly court rules.
Then onto liability for losses one caused by “supernatural” means (segulah and/or prayer)!
R’Reisman seems to be saying halacha is based on a rationalist perspective even if non-rationalist approaches may “work”.