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by Joel Rich

From a recent email I received:
With the bracha and hascama of Rav X, we will be starting a new balabatish shacharis minyan (me- baalabatish lafukei mai?) at 6:45 AM on Mondays and Thursdays as soon as we have commitments from 15 mispallelim.(me-lafukei talkers?)

Our objective is to give chashivus and cavannah to our avodah! (me-can you have chashivus without cavvanah or v.v – and are these only needed on Monday and Thursday?).)

Davening will start promptly at 6:45 (no waiting around) and will end promptly at 7:35. Rosh Chodesh davening will typically end at 7:50.( Me-promptly v s. typically? Does it matter if Rosh Chodesh isn’t on a Monday or Thursday?)

From a recent WSJ piece:
Seated in a cheerfully cramped monitoring room at the Harvard University Laboratory for Developmental Studies, Elizabeth S. Spelke, a professor of psychology and a pre-eminent researcher of the basic ingredient list from which all human knowledge is constructed, looked on expectantly as her students prepared a boisterous 8-month-old girl with dark curly hair for the onerous task of watching cartoons.

Above all, Dr. Spelke relishes a good debate. “She welcomes people disagreeing with her,” said her husband, Elliott M. Blass, an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts. “She says it’s not about being right, it’s about getting it right.”

Me-and imho that’s what we should be about as well

  • Rabbi Hershel Schachter -Ethics of a Changing Body: Halakhic Perspectives on Elective Plastic Surgery

    Sounded like some of these questions should have been asked years ago, sounds like R’HS hasn’t been on the receiving end of a lot of them. Macro issue (little discussion) – how much focus should we have on looks (no mention of the famous Shidduch article).
    R’HS’s basic approach seemed like if it’s embarrassing (TBD) and is “normal” (as defined by society – not clear Jewish vs. non-Jewish vs. geography vs. class…) but not “too dangerous” (1%, 10%, 50%? – and does that mean it’s forbidden or permitted or a must do) and the person (or spouse) would feel “terrible”, without it, it’s ok. R’YSE allowed tattoo in reconstructive breast surgery (must be done by non ben brit? Unclear)
    Should one become a plastic surgeon – given the non-life saving elements and likely intimacy issues. IMHO R’HS ducked a bit as he answered about the latter in terms of using best Dr. possible regardless of sex (IMHO his answer to the former would be one shouldn’t!)
    IMHO he’d generally say need case by case analysis.

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Ten Minute Halacha – Cosmetic Surgery and Hairplugs

    A more formal listing than in the R’HS shiur of issues and sources relating to plastic surgery. It’s all about risk/reward/need (me – as if life in general, at least to an actuary).

  • Daniel Fridman -מצוות ישיבת ארץ ישראל

    A discussion of the mitzvah of Yishuv Eretz Yisrael and the classic opinions – Yes it is, not it is not, or it is only sometimes. Traces the various opinions in detail and then concludes with a comment I’ve made several times on this blog – life is complex and not everyone can do everything, but don’t let that become a rationalization of inaction or lessening the importance of things you can’t do right now.

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Ten Minute Halacha – Crocs and Glasses that Change Color in the Sun

    What a Croc – Photo sensitive lenses and materials – various possible explanations as to why their use is acceptable (it’s not permanent, not your action, it’s like a mirror, it’s like a covering, it’s the way it’s always used). Truth is not so clear (pun intended).

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz By Way of Introduction – Har Hakodesh V’Hamikdash

    More than an introduction to a sefer, a paean to Eretz Yisrael and Medinat Yisrael. R’Tukachinsky is famous for his work “Gesher Hachaim” on aveilut but here we see his great love for Eretz Yisrael – his famous dateline position flows from his viewing Jerusalem as the center of the universe and this sefer, “Har Hakodesh V’hamikdash” is all about the halachot of Eretz Yisrael. In his day, one could still be a Gaon and a Zionist!
    R’Lebowitz articulates some very important thoughts for those of us in galut, even those in “leadership” positions. For somewhat of a parallel, I’d suggest reading “When they come for us, we’ll be gone”, on how the Soviet Union let the leaders leave on the theory this would quell the demand for exit visas (it didn’t work!).

  • Rabbi Daniel Z. Feldman-kavod habriot

    Sources of kavod habriyot (human dignity) overriding prohibitions – Talmud has 3 cases and commentaries add a few. Is kavod objective (based on societal standards) or subjective (based on the individual involved). Interesting possible differentiation (to me since I’m working on why if something can be learned from a gezeirah shava,the Torah will say it outright anyway) between mfurash b’kra (when Torah specifically says something) vs. inferred (but still a Torah prohibition).
    Is kavod habriyot dchuya (i.e. it “fights” another item and Chazal decide which is stronger) or hutra (i.e. there’s an implied waiver of the other item)?

  • TITLE 7Rav Yaakov Neuburger-Faith Amongst the Faceless: Transmitting Mesorah in a Culture of Social Media

    Nice insight from R’N Alpert on psak primarily being search for emet (truth) but must reflect entire person and circumstances. (I remember him explaining the difference between the heavenly and earthly court in a similar manner, with the heavenly court solving an infinite series of simultaneous equations – my description .) Torah needs face to face exposure and a good attention span.

  • Rabbi Dr. Jacob J Schacter-Sefirah and Avelut: From Ancient Times to the State of Israel

    Provides a history of the crusades and timing of related pogroms which tied into the omer period. In Ashkenaz the impact of the crusades superseded the omer time period’s tie to the death of R’Akiva’s students.
    Then interesting history (worth listening to) of the setting of the date for Yom Hashoa (original day was to be named after the ghettos) but note that part of the reason for the final date was sfira!

  • Rabbi Ally Ehrman -Rav Kook – Davening For Others

    Our goal in prayer is to bring things (which all come from HKB”H) to their ultimate (destined) purpose – If HKB”H causes something to move us to pray, then our job is to pray (using our free will) all of which in combination cause the ultimate purpose.

  • Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff-The Viewpoint of Rav Aharon Lichtenstein

    Starts with another presentation about gedolim, daat Torah and politics (no good comes from this combination). Then moves to a bio of R’A Lichtenstein and analysis of his thinking on the error of extending emunat chachamim to the current version of daat Torah (way too much expansion on the original concept of emunat chachamim).

  • Rabbi Daniel Stein-Davening With a Minyan: Obligation or Priority?

    Is tfilah (prayer) with a minyan a mitzvah (rabbinic) or just a good thing to do to get prayers answered. Various opinions noted and implications posited – e.g. issues such as going on vacation where there is no minyan, praying maariv alone so as not to eat before praying, praying alone so as to have more intensity in prayer.
    Also discussion of how much time do you have to give up to daven with a minyan and what constitutes davening with a minyan (R’MF – any overlap in amidah is sufficient to be tfila b’tzibur).

  • Rabbi Yonason Sacks -Mitzvas Sefiras Haomer LE

    Analysis of all the usual suspects in sfira – duraita vs. drabannan, days vs. weeks tmimut and R’YBS on continuous counting.

  • Rabbi Aryeh Leibowitz-Sefer Tanya – Why We Learn Torah

    Torah is spiritual food, don’t eat too much junk food (expanded discussion based on the Tanya).

  • Rav Hershel Schachter-No Galus Lasts Forever: Reflections on Galus, Geulah, and Eretz Yisroel

    A general explanation of sources in Chazal and Chachmei Hamesorah for religious Zionism.

  • Rabbi Netanel Wiederblank-Ein Ode Milvado and Why we learn machshava?

    Nefesh Hachayim on “Ein od mlvado” – in essence this world is a figment of HKB”H’s imagination and thus keshafim (magic) can’t affect one who understands this. The downside is that it might make you think nothing is important but one should understand that halacha is based on our perception, not on HKB”H’s reality. Mussar and Machshava go together

  • Rabbi Hershel Schachter -Parsha Shiur – Acharei Mos-Kedoshim 5772

    The usual potpourri including varying topics such as:
    *Haftarah rules for double pavshiyot.
    *Relation of luchot to written andoral Torah
    *Sacrificial order
    *Definition of death (relationship to blood circulation and vital organs)
    *Mesorah (tradition) needed for kashrut? (e.g. cheilev (prohibited fat), zebu….)
    *arayot (sexual prohibitions)
    *Kriyat hatorah at mincha on Yom Kippur/Shabbat (taanit tzibur or Shabbat)
    *malkot (lashes) as a deterrent vs. a punishment

  • 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. Joel – why the need to tarnish your valuable weekly contribution with that barrel of cynicism? ( I hope its clear but I refer to your first piece)

    2. R’Eytan,
      Different strokes for different folks, sorry if you were offended and thanks for the kind thought on contribution. It actually started with baal batish – what does that mean, who is the target audience? How do we intend to add chashivus and cavanah? Why only Monday and Thursday? The only real information conveyed is a starting time (which may or may not be different from the regular minyan) and that davening will take 50 minutes. I applaud having a vision and sticking to it, this did not explain much in therms of what the vision is (can’t be against cavanah and chashivut but how will this minyan seek to intensify them)

    3. Baalebattish is usually leafukei Yeshiva bochurs, avreichim and rabbanim. This is so chas veshalom davenning won’t take more than the alotted fifty minutes. As for kavvanah a lot has to do with the relative time for kriat shema, and shmone esrei as opposed to the rest of the davenning. IMHO you should zip throuh brachot and PDZ and spend the most time on Kriat shma and shmoneh esrei

    4. R’DT,
      I definitely agree with the seifa.

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