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by Joel Rich

The Talmud Sanhedrin 67b has a story concerning Yannai utilizing magic whose punch line is “”and so he was seen riding upon a woman in public”. I’ve searched high and low for an explanation of the meaning of the story but the commentators (including artscroll) seem silent. Has anyone come across anything (please don’t supply any home grown sarcastic interpretations – I can do that well enough on my own)
“The dominant opinion is that it’s still mustahab (recommended) to get up or leave a gathering where alcohol is served, but many consider it mubah (permissible) to stay seated,” the consultant wrote. (me-lchatchila vs. bdieved?)

On the matter of handshaking, some urged the consultant to shake hands with women when prompted, but not to initiate handshakes himself. Others suggested adopting “a tactful technique to avoid” shaking hands, such as pretending to be sick or wearing gloves.(me- at least he didn’t say sneeze into your hand )

Me-Would be interesting to see the relative leniency of self(and formal) psak on these issues in the Muslim world vs. the Jewish world!

  • Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn-Combating Societal Influences
    The issues of materialism, sex, drugs and rock and roll (how come in the 60’s we missed the first one?) are all struggles but not the main issue. We need to challenge ourselves to be sure that our religious practice is grounded in reality and meaning. The challenge is that people have entitlement/expectation issues; what they really need is belief, positive feelings and ability to implement. We need passion in our teachers, more than knowledge.
  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Ten Minute Halacha – Oops, I Learned the Wrong Bar Mitzvah Parsha

    When the torah reading outside of Israel (Ch”UL) is out of sync within Israel and a Bar Mitzvah boy learned the wrong parsha (because he lived outside of Israel but the Bar Mitzvah was to be in Israel) what can you do?
    Per R’HS: 1) have only Ch”UL guests attend and read the one he learned; 2) read both parshiyot; 3) even though he’s not yet 13, let him read it prior.
    Then discussion of Katan reading torah in general. R’AL – isn’t allowing an individual to read his own aliyah contrary to the original takanah of moving to one reader (Rosh in Megila IIRC)?

  • Rabbi David Hirsch -Sefiras Haomer

    Primarily review of R’YBS position on counting omer based on continuity (rtzifut). Then importance of chol hamoed and being consistent with community practice re-shaving during omer (me – but only 1 way? i.e. I never heard anyone tell people to shave in an MO community).

  • Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner-Magic, Part I

    Analysis of “Magic” in the torah and Chazal – is it real or “it’s only make believe?” [cue – Conrad Twitty – “It’s only make believe”]

  • Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner-Magic, Part II

    Were “The Rambam and the Rationalists” inspired by the evil genius of “Aristotle and the Greeks” as per the Gaon’s “I’m a believer”?

  • Rabbi Reuven Taragin -Questions and Answers

    Text message type Q&A – Interesting to see what’s on Yeshiva guys’ minds:
    *giving mussar/tochacha (rebuke) – be nice
    *aleinu – should say “shheim mishtachavim lahevel”
    *not saying “baruch hashem lolam” in marriv
    *morality of destroying amaleik (not an easy sell)
    *washing for pizza (yes for meal)
    *when can rabbinic ordinances be changed
    *rights vs. responsibilities
    *sheitels (respect those who think it’s ok even if not logical)
    *copyright laws
    *dina dmalchuta
    *living to 120 vs. 121
    *when is an issue halachic needing halachic guidance
    *why does he carry a picture of R’Bina?
    *secular studies

    Understanding the Talmudic prescription against prayer including “your mercy was shown on the kan tzipor”. Discussion of giving “reasons” for mitzvoth as well as acceptable praise and prayer.

  • Rabbi Reuven Taragin -Shloshesh Y’mei Hahaggbala

    Mussar to talmidim on making an ongoing kabbalat hatorah from your year(s) in Yeshiva in Israel

  • Rabbi Uri Orlian-Little Known Halachos of Sefiras HaOmer Part I

    Implications of rabbinic nature of sfirah (counting the omer) and the concept of tmimut (completeness). Me – is the angling of the mezuzah really a compromise between Beit Hillel and Shammai? I’m pretty sure R’Sperber said not.

  • Rav Reichman- Thoughts on Yaale Veyovo and repeating Shemonei Esrei and on Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik regarding this topic on the Ravs 19th Yartzeit

    Analysis of Yaaleh V’yavo – is it an integral part of the blessing containing it or only an add on. Based on this, various permutations of possible situations where a makeup for a forgotten yaaleh v’yavo would be required.

  • Rabbi Yossi Adler -Testimony on Bedikas Chametz and Thoughts on Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik Yaartzeit Shiur on the 19th Yarrtzeit

    Interesting insight on whether the rule that non-articulated thoughts have no halachic bearing only applies where there is a concomitant required action involved. Then nice mussar on message of halacha of smichat geula/tfila (must start shmoneh esrai right after gaal Yisrael) – only when we realize complete dependence on HKB”H can we truly pray (and be thankful for everything).

  • Rabbi Menachem Genack – Thoughts on Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik regarding Mesechet Horios and Beis Din on the 19th Yartzeit

    Thoughts on R’YBS and on Bet Din that errs

  • Rabbi Doneal Lander- Eidim Zomemim and Thoughts on the Rav April 10 2012 19th Yaartzeit Shiur for Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik

    Discussion of contradictory witnesses vs. hazamah (any good English word for this)

  • Rabbi Joseph Grunblatt -Philosophy of the Rav

    Starts with background on R’YBS’s published works recognizing very little was published, and that he doesn’t address some of the major theological issues that impact moderns (e.g. evolution, biblical criticism). Also notes that the topics of Israel and holocaust are dealt with primarily on a homiletical basis.
    Then moves on to an analysis of Lonely Man of Faith which he felt was more religious, more analytical and the later of the published works therefore more suitable for analysis. Sounds like he felt Halacic Man might be at odds with LMF and also not sure if R’YBS felt dialectic was resolvable (R’L Kaplan – comment?).

  • Rabbi Dr. Jacob J Schacter-Hanchat tefillin bechol hamoed

    Interaction of kabbalah and halacha – using wearing of tfillin on chol hamoed as an example. A lot of interesting discussion of seemingly conflicting sources and approaches but in the end the conclusion seems to be that this is pure halacha, not kabbalah.

  • 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. I could be mixing up stories but I’m 95% sure that the story appears in Levinas’ “9 Talmudic Readings”. I don’t know if you were looking for something more frum, but that’s something.

    2. p. 152 (unfortunately not on a preview page on Google Books). But, he doesn’t have much to say on this specific agadeta in itself.

    3. Google “jannai talmud sanhedrin 67b” and a few book references come up — some may shed some light for you.

    4. R’IH,
      Thanks – a lot of German books, the English was much of what I would have guessed.

    5. Shalom Rosenfeld

      I recall a R’ Leiman shiur where he quoted an older English source that referred to hazamah as “alibi.” (But instead of “I couldn’t have committed the crime — I can prove I was elsewhere”, it’s “you couldn’t have seen the crime — we can prove you were elsewhere.”)

    6. I think pashut pshat in that Gemara is basically, don’t get involved in kishuf. Even Yannai, who thought he had outsmarted the witch, ended up looking disgraceful because he didn’t just walk away.

      Also, it’s Conway Twitty. I was recently in Nashville so I just can’t let that slide.

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