Audio Roundup

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by Joel Rich

• R’HS Q&A
Bad news – The recorder (not me) did not change batteries and thus no recording of the shiur exists – here is my summary:
Freewheeling Q&A direct from the heart of the Vilna of Essex county. Aficionados of R’HS would have appreciated his bob and weave (B&W) technique – it’s interesting to try to correlate the B&W with the possible reasons in each instance (e.g. R’HS opinion on the matter not mainstream? not wishing to upstage the LOR?):
1. Advice on how to cope if you don’t daven as fast as your minyan does (side note – best to say less words with more intent)
(i) Get ahead in psukei dzimra, only answer amein yhei shmei rabah and amein after leila (plus amen to birchat hashachar)
(ii) As long as you say part of shmoneh esraih while tzibbur is saying it, you get credit for tfilla b’tzibbur (yes, he knows the M”B disagrees).
(iii) Don’t start tachanun during chazarat hashatz, always say nfilat apaim part and as much else as you can.
2. Don’t always try to reconcile medrashim, there may be different opinions (yikes!).
3. Women more attached to tradition / men to future worlds to conquer (per R’YBS).
4. Mtzitzah B’Peh – should be stopped, we should be vocal against it. Perhaps parent/grandparent can do it. The fact that Zohar is in favor – response was “The Shrug” (aficionados know exactly what I mean!).
5. How encourage normalcy in the next generation? Find normal rabbeim (me – piece of cake!).
6. We need learned women but not women rabbis.
7. Inviting non-frum to your house on Shabbat – Don’t mislead them about the prohibition to violate Shabbat, don’t enable (i.e. give them a car), then it’s OK.
8. Yogurt shop with “Kosher” product mix but no supervision – avoid.
9. Shabbat timers – my summary – (i) based on Rambam text found within last century, all should be problematic; (ii) since psak had been given before, they didn’t change it (me – arghhh!); (iii) R’YBS explained that first people who used timers were violating marit ayin, then enough did and became ok (double arghhh); (iii) Shmirat Shabbat Khilchata says can set automatic coffee maker (IMHO R’HS disagrees).
10. Can you use hot water on Shabbat in an apartment house – (my summary) only if you can violate the basic laws of physics and plumbing!
11. Shmurah matzah – Rambam says use Shmurah all Pesach (it’s a hiddur).
12. Shehechiyanu on fruits and vegetables only if it comes to you seasonally (i.e. when I was a young man and never been kissed – cue Jimmie Rodgers).
13. R’A Kotler used iceberg lettuce for maror. Horseradish is bogus (they had nothing else to use in northern Europe at the time).
14. Mvushal (cooked) wine could be an issue for Kiddush

From: R’Alfred Cohen
“It is almost precisely the concern R. Moshe Feinstein articulated a generation ago when he opposed the use of “Shabbat clocks” to program lights to go off and on on the Sabbath. He saw it as the first step on a “slippery slope” leading to elimination of the strictures of performing melacha on the Sabbath. Yet, for some reason which is not clear (emphasis mine), this concern of R. Moshe did not find a responsive audience, and the use of Shabbat timers seems to be totally accepted in all circles of observant Jewry”. (me – now that’s real tongue in cheek IMHO).

  • Rabbi Michael Broyde -Innovation in Jewish Law (TIM)

    Issue 1 – How to apply timeless rules to timely applications. Examples of changes are: 1) what defines men’s clothing; 2) living in a democracy; 3) technology; 4) women’s roles; 5) gentile treatment.
    Issue 2 – When to reexamine basic sources and reevaluate principles in a novel manner (historical examples) – this generally occurs only over a longer period of time and can’t be viewed as result oriented (hmmm – R’YBS on a Manhattan project for Agunot?).
    Two thoughts (me) – 1) R’Broyde talks of being a truth seeking community, but is “truth” in this case totally objective?; 2) I’m sure he didn’t mean it this way, but he sounded very comfortable in galut.

  • Rabbi Ari Kahn-Sale of Chametz – “Legal Fiction”?

    2 approaches to sale of chametz – 1) sale is a way of seller saying I don’t want it; 2) Bona fide sale. Explanation of differences.
    2 points – 1) IIRC R’Sperber says it started with huge whiskey vats which could not be moved; 2) In R’Moshe’s approach to selling store’s chometz, why is there no lfnei Iver – if you know the Jewish merchant continued to “steal” the merchandise by selling it on prior Passover?

  • Rabbi Nachman Cohen-Bar Kappara – Guardian of the Tradition: Champion of Change

    Biography of Bar Kapara, his times and who he interacted with (Rabbi, Reish Lakish, etc.) and the Talmudic stories about him.
    Some key points of his legacy 1) importance of teaching in the language people understand; 2) changing direction on women and Pesach, Purim and Chanukah – these holidays now also about hope for the future (in the merit of righteous women); 3) Bchol Drarecha Daehu – know HKB”H in all ways; this is a basis of Torah Umada; 4) Chidush (new approach) is acceptable when based on appropriate temperament (i.e. IMHO history eventually agrees with result).
    Then a nice thought on the physical reality of hearing and the halacha of shomea k’oneh (hearing is like responding).

  • Rabbi Hershel Schachter-Issues in Nursing

    R’HS in his natural psak habitat fielding practical Q&A’s. Also, as usual, his answers may be somewhat uncomfortable for those who believe healthcare providers inhabit a separate section of the halachic multiverse. CLOR.
    Topics include:
    *male/female interactions (therapeutic, handshake)
    *providing information of halachically prohibited procedures
    *Goses issues (Dr.’s assumed not to hasten death)
    *end of life treatment and decisions
    *Sabbath procedures – especially in non bnai brit communities/institutions (this is a big one!)
    *gift giving
    *fetus is a soul for pikuach nefesh issues
    *brain death (He recognizes minority doesn’t agree with his definition)
    *Sabbath pay

  • Rabbi Yisroel Kaminetsky-Hashkafa Shmooze: Understanding the Psak of Gedolim

    How should we relate to halachic pronouncements of certain “gedolim” which are inconsistent with our practice. Be respectful, ask your own halachic authority and don’t believe everything you hear in the name of the gedolim [me – certain evil askonim at work again!. I’ve heard this many times, I’d just point out that saying, “don’t blame me, it’s the people I hired” usually doesn’t wash (unless at least you fire them)].

  • Rabbi Yonason Sacks -Pesach Inyonei Chametz

    The prohibition of baal yeraeh baal ymatzeh analyzed – is it an independent prohibition or a Torah siyag (fence) to prevent eating? Some implications plus an analysis of darshinein taamah d’kra (do we base halacha on presumed reasons for certain Torah commandments?)

  • Rabbi Shlomo Hochberg -Pesach Cleaning Made Easy

    My mom goes to R’Hochberg’s weekly Talmud shiur at the Young Israel of Jamaica Estates and thinks very highly of him (and as she always tells me, she’s very objective!).
    Here a good nuts and bolts discussion of cleaning and koshering for Pesach.

  • Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb-“She’lo Shinu et Malbusham” – Fashioning Jewish Identity Then and Now

    Discussion of the various opinions of chukat hagoyim and how they would apply for dress – pretty much a function of time and place. More important is how one behaves.

  • Rav Asher Weiss-Shabbat Hagadol Drasha

    Understanding the underpinnings of selling Chametz. Interesting insights on additions to contract suggested by R’YSE to ensure sellers take it seriously. Then some interesting insights on theodicy (questions sustain us!).

  • Shay Schachter -Seder Night Sheva Brachos – Do We Make?

    What to do if sheva brachot is on seder night. Issues include hefsek (interruptions) and ein osin mitzvoth chaveilot (don’t bunch mitzvoth). Rama in Darkei Moshe says MC says birchat hamazon on his cup and some else’s is used for sheva brachot.

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Man Versus Machine (Matzos)

    Good summary of the historical and current preferences for machine vs. hand shmurah matzah. Is it an issue of intent, and, if so, for what? IMHO an interesting study would be halacha’s response to changing economic modalities. (is featherbedding a Jewish ideal?)

  • Rabbi Michael Taubes-Coercing Someone to Perform a Mitzvah

    Can an individual be compelled to “do the right thing”? Who can compel (anyone? a righteous person? A court?). Examples include loan repayment, doing ritual mitzvah? Where does the power to do so come from? [Knas (fine), hocheach tocheach (give rebuke), arvut (joint responsibility)]? Implications of source of power for practical applications.

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Ten Minute Halacha – Wearing a Kittel at the Seder

    Two general approaches to why we wear kittel (not everyone does) at seder – (i) sign of cherut (freedom)/celebration; (ii) remind us of mita (death) which keeps us from arrogance. Specifics include mourner and chatan and some other odd practices.

  • Rabbi Hershel Schachter -Innovation and Halakha: Machine vs. Hand Shmurah Matzah – in commemoration of the Yahrzeit of Rabbi Dr. Samuel Belkin

    Technical analysis of when human intervention is needed – is it because of Isho mshum chitzo (personal action liability) vs. liability due to your property.
    Brings in mikvah and general liability rules and koach rishon/koach sheini – in what cases do we associate after effects of human intervention with the individual and for how long (all related to machine shmurah matzah!).

  • Rabbi Michael Rosensweig -איש ההלכה ז- דרך הלימוד של הגר”ח

    Brisk tends to conceptualization in order to reconstruct concepts and define halachic reality. While this might have led to “TOE” (theory of everything) generalizations, in fact it tends to recognize specific subsets as unique concepts (i.e. not applicable across all halachic categories). This could simply be viewed as gzeirat hakatuv (that’s the way, a ha I (HKB”H) like it – cue KC and the Sunshine Band) but R’MR tends to look for inner coherence in these as well. Then an example from sotah.

  • 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. Does anyone know where you can purchase Rav Nachman Cohen’s seforim (the encyclopedia of Talmudic arguments)?

    2. 1- Did RHS say that the Zohar is the only source for the halacha od metzitza b’peh? BTW I recently read an article by an immunologist who claims that MBP is beneficial since there are enzymes in saliva which promote coagulation and that if done after rinsing the mouth with chlorhexidine solution there is no danger.
      2-By “tongue -in-cheek” are you implying that there are circles who do not accept the use of any type of shabbat timers?

    3. Regarding the yogurt shops, minhag yisrael is not like RHS. When I was young my rebbe in yeshiva took me and some friends to Carvel. The store was not under hashgacha, only the ice cream. I have seen plenty of frum people in TCBY and Baskin and Robbins and the stores are not under hashgachah.

    4. r’dt
      3-that was apparently r’mf’s original position, limited by the fact that timers for lights was already widespread. also r’hs seems that if the later found rambam had been known, noone would have allowed timers

    5. r’anon2,
      not really-carvel stores were under contract to only use carvel mixes which were all kosher, the yogurt stores in question have both kosher and nonkosher mixes. similarly the packaged ice cream tubs can be checked before they scoop for you.

    6. r’dt
      the tongue in cheek was the responsive audience line (do we make halacgha based on the audience’s responsiveness?)

    7. The yogurt stores don’t have nonkosher mixes. Everything at TCBY is from a kosher mix.

    8. R’AN,
      Might be true for TCBY (I don’t know) but it certainly is not true for Twist which was the subject of the discussion

    9. There is a big difference between a national yogurt or ice cream chain whose mixes are under hashgacha (E.g. TCBY, Carvel), and a local Ma and Pa store (eg – Twist and for those in the five towns, the Hewlett Station Yogurt). The former is not permitted to use anything other than the certified ingredients while the latter can use whatever they want and suffer no consequences for “accidentally” telling you the non-kosher ice cream is kosher. Particularly if the store owner is not shomer shabbos it would be no better (and probably alot worse) than eating in his home and trusting that all is okay because he says that he used only kosher ingredients.

    10. R’ Avrohom,
      Thank you for the excellent question. The Mechaber (whom I was privileged to enjoy as a teacher at Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education) can be reached at [email protected] . Chag same’ach.

    11. Hi Shalom,

      Thank you very much. I have written to Rabbi Cohen. Do you have his seforim? I am curious about the talmudic disputes seforim and was wondering what they were? Does he go through the machlokesim between amoraim and try to explain the source of the dispute as originating from some meta legal theory?

    12. R’ Avrohom,
      Thank you for the honour of the additional question. Yes: for the course that he taught me at Azrieli Graduate School, R. Cohen distributed a copy of three of his books to each student – Mirrors of Eternity, Esther’s Plea, and Master a Mesekhta (for Tractate Berakhot). I enjoyed each of these works. Mirrors of Eternity seeks to find a common theme among various disputes of R. Yehudah and R. Nechemiah. Esther’s Plea seeks to find a common theme among various disputes of R. Elazar of Modi’in and R. Yehoshua. Master a Mesekhta is more of a general anthology of insights sugya by sugya. It seems to me that the first two of these books could be compared to R. Shlomo Yosef Zevin’s chapter in Le-Or ha-Halakhah seeking to find a common theme among many (if not all) of the disputes between Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel.

    13. R’SS,
      Have you read R’ B Lau’s “the Sages”, he seems to be looking for similar themes. How do they compare?

    14. R’ Joel Rich,
      Thank you for the honour of the question. I apologize that I have not yet experienced the pleasure of reading R. Lau’s book, but I have now placed it in queue on my wish-list. [Cf. Nedarim 8a: “One who says ‘I shall awake and learn this chapter [or] I shall learn this tractate’, he has vowed a great vow…”]
      Kol tuv.

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