by Joel Rich
Question: Rosh Chodesh Iyar was on motzai Shabbat – did your Shul daven mincha early as to finish Shalosh Seudot and bentch before Shkia? If not, did you say rtzeih and/or yaaleh v’yavo in bentching or both?
Question: How transparent is your shul concerning the Rabbi’s compensation? Does the Board get full disclosure? The membership?
R’Schachter, R’Genack and R’Twersky interviewed by R’Brander. No surprises – just a reminder of what we’ve lost. The Rav was existentially lonely but personally friendly, humble, warm, caring with great integrity. Why sometimes different psak for different people? – that’s the way of the world (it’s a messy place with lots of factors)! Why focus of women’s education? – the world changed. Relationship to secular studies – it’s all part of the world!. Relationship to other gedolim – warm. He was a testimony to eternity of Torah and he had great belief in the individual. (how refreshing is that!)
Quick basics on comforting mourners (which are common sense but often ignored!). For further discussion (IMHO):
*Pre-burial comforting (i.e. the side room in the Chapel) – why is it so common if it’s clearly not a Jewish idea? Is it that the original “prohibition” of comforting while the body is unburied was based on societal norms that have changed rather than on hard wired human psyches? Similarly, the original prohibition of not comforting in first 3 days due to severity of mourning seems now totally ignored? Same reason or simple expediency?
*Why can’t you imply if you could have done something to change it you would have? The reason not to say this is that it implies lack of perfection in HKB”H, but might you not be saying you would have been a better person (or prayed harder) and have those merits accrue to the deceased. (paging R’Kahn!)
Long tongue in cheek (a bit too much even for me?) presentation against voodoo Judaism (e.g. Schlissol Chalah). Difference between prayer (good) and incantation (not good). No one could provide a source for 3rd party credit transfer (paging HKB”H’s accountants).
Bottom line message – redemption is always possible. (me – K’heref ayin – in the blink of an eye)
Sorry, I can never think about Yechezkeil’s prophecy of the dry bones without thinking of last episode of “The Prisoner” (you really should see it – it requires a thorough understanding of medrash to make sense out of it). As we say “Be seeing you” (and yes, I am a man, not a number).
Why can’t we rely on eid echad neeman b’issurin (one witness is sufficient in cases of ritual prohibition) in kashrut supervision? (ironic to me – this was the starting point of R’N Alpert’s Z”L response to me when I asked him about a kashrut supervision).
R’AW’s opinion is that eid echad is not a rule to neemanut (trustworthiness) but in hanhaga (how to act) – that in case of doubt you can rely on a single witness (proofs include there is no testimony and no beit din).
However, over the years the Rabbis make fences/judgments (e.g. requiring a ritual slaughterer to show his knife). So today (see chachmat adam 200 years ago) we don’t rely on anyone who has a monetary interest (me – but then what about the agency being paid?).
Then discussion of one of my favorite topics – Chazal and statistics. R’AW says out loud what I’ve whispered to my chaburah – Chazal did not engage in statistics! First he discusses why a miyut shachiach (normally found minority?) is of concern (why not just say rov [majority] is sufficient?) – Perhaps because of concern for margin of error. Then on to miyut hamatzui (material minority) and the famous 10% rule of the Mishkinot Yaakov – he feels tshuva is misread; while it does mention 10% with some “interesting” proofs, the conclusion is that it’s just about what’s “common” – and the real problem is defining “common” in age where a shocheit may shecht 100X as many animals in the old days. That’s why we steer clear of doubt!!!!! Oy, if only they would ask an actuary?
Classic Mussar to Bnai Yeshiva in the spring when a young man’s heart turns to ______. (You fill in the blank!)
Perhaps we got more “rules” post the sin of the Golden Calf as a way to bring HKB”H back in our midst. Holiness can’t just be in the mishkan, the lower level you’re on, the more you need structure (ok – that last part was partially influenced by my wife, the nursery director).
Something as seemingly simple as the blessing on fruit trees turns out to have a lot of complicating factors:
*must someone eat the fruits eventually?
*how many trees do you need?
*can you make the bracha on Shabbat?
Technical discussion of the priority in the psak hierarchy of karov (close), rov (majority) and karov muchrach (close where it’s an obvious factor).
Analysis of halachot related to a ripped, burnt or dropped sefer Torah.
Interesting points (would be more interesting with greater elaboration of the underlying halachic mechanism):
*why “outsiders” don’t tear clothes if present at the moment of death
*why stand for piyutim (IIRC R’YBS explained it based on responsive nature between kahal and chazzan made it a davar shebikidusha)
*tell the guy in the audience that there are people who tear kriyah at Kotel (me – fascinating people stay at hotels that cost big bucks but can’t afford one shirt – maybe I’ll set up a gmach!)
Discussion of attorney responsibilities in case of client perjuring himself under U.S. and Canadian law vs. varying opinions in Jewish law. What is the practical application of mesayeah (aid and abet?) in this case?
Frogs, R’Akiva’s Seder, kriat shma all may have been symbols for self-sacrifice and desire for freedom when public discussion of rebellion was dangerous.
Original Brisker opposition to mussar movement was due to the fear and despair it engendered (me – other worldly?) The mussar movement later developed a positive spiritual sensitivity which didn’t negate physicality. Latter is ok, former isn’t.
Another fascinating summary snapshot of the RIETS practical halacha courses for future Rabbis.
1) Mikveh – different possible construction parameters (we generally try to be stringent) plus discussion of technical issues such as shuvin (drawn water), zochlin (running water) and possible issues with natural bodies of water (it ain’t necessarily so).
2) Mezuzot – closets (why maybe 4X4 ≠ 2X8!), differing opinions on mezuzah placement (or lack thereof) in complex situations. Generally accepted now that apartment dwellers can take it with them (based on umdenah that there won’t be immediate reoccupancy and will be taken down to paint [me – efshar l’varer?] or perhaps another reason).
3) Homosexuality – Issue of our day – how to find an approach which is respectful of both individual and Jewish law (not easy in some cases). Interesting approach of R’Lamm – some % are “true” ones (can’t be changed/controlled).
Talmud shiur focusing on various interpretations as to why geirim (converts) are like a type of lesion (tzapachat) to Jewish people – interesting range from negative to positive takes (me – I always wonder why various authorities look at such statements and see different reflections).