by Joel Rich
Interesting article in the current issue of Conversations on “Learning from the Bene Israel of India”. They have an oral tradition which Rabbi Shafner somewhat describes. My questions is how do we know we got it right and they need to switch to our understanding of halacha? If they need to switch, why did later deviations (e.g. ashkenaz vs. sfard) not have to pick one approach once they rediscovered each other?
One researcher who has taken advantage of that diversity (Joel’s note – participant diversity available in new study methodology called “Mechanical Turk”) is David Rand, a lecturer in psychology at Harvard University. He is using Mechanical Turk to reconsider the results of several experiments originally conducted mainly on students. In a recent study of moral decision-making, for example, he recruited hundreds of Turkers to repeat a classic thought experiment known as the trolley problem. (Joel’s note #2 – you remember our version of Casey Jones and the switch track.) This confronts its participants with a dilemma – a runaway railway trolley will kill a group of people unless the subject of the study chooses to push a single individual in front of it, in order to slow it down. Doing so will kill that individual, so the dilemma is whether to kill one person deliberately, or several through inaction. (Joel’s note #3 – we considered several other versions.)
Dr. Rand is unwilling to discuss the results of his re-run in detail, because they have not yet been formally published. But he will say that he found he could replicate the prior findings of trolleyology, as this branch of psychology is often known, only among the atheists in his sample of Turkers. Those with strong religious beliefs behaved in a dramatically different way, and such believers are more common among Turkers than Harvard undergraduates. (Joel’s note #4 – be interesting to see the results – do people buy the CI’S maaseh hatzalah?)
There is a division of power between King and Kohain Gadol. (Ramban – that was a big part of the problem of Chashmonaim taking kingship). Similarly Drashot Haran on the powers of the King vs. those of the Beit Din. King must have real awe of heaven and all the parties with power must be aligned to carry out HKB”H’s will.
Me – special irony that today all these powers are not split but vested in the courts and/or Rabbis. R’YBS pointed out the division of powers was because HKB”H did not “trust” man.
If only issue is that there is a small possibility that a non-material dairy chocolate slipped into the bag, it’s likely not a real halachic problem.
R’Willig was in KBY in ’67 and gives a moving first hand account of his experiences and why we need to be giving thanks to HKB”H for having Jerusalem in our hands.
Then random Q&A which includes:
*showers on Yom Tov (yes, but limited)
*taking off kipah and tzitzit when playing ball (no, no) [I thought it was a trick question – you should be learning, not playing ball].
*secular college (no – read the original Gil Perl Ivy League article) (me – what does he know, he’s the son of a ball player!)
*ball playing (older) on Shabbat (no)
*proof of chosen nation? (Kuzari proof)
*learning preferences (roll your own)
*switch minhag to that of your Shul’s (not generally)
*dairy on Shavuot (differing practice)
*putting on tfillin at mincha (no) [me-yuhara?] *going to mikveh (“our” practice – erev R”H and Y”K – that’s it)
A technical discussion of the halachic force of simanim (recognizable marks). Issues include the varying application between (and within) monetary and ritual cases, comparison to one witness and tviat ayin (person recognizes his own object).
Interesting discussion of the Baal Hamaor’s midot (methodologies) when trying to extrapolate halacha from gemara – e.g. when the gemara posits a case and mentions two factors and relevant psak, do you assume you need both factors for this to be the psak or is it possible one is enough?
How far do you have to go to “encourage” ethical behavior (i.e. encouraging others to comply with law. Issues of hochacha (giving rebuke) lfnei iver (stumbling block), areivut (joint responsibility), msayeah (assisting in sin) and machzik ovrei aveirah (strengthening sinners) all discussed.
A segulah R’Lebowitz likes! It’s not so simple since type and sex of bird, day of week, as well as ownership of eggs and intent of “sender away” all play a role in determining whether you’ve done a mitzvah and whether you need to make a bracha.
Seemingly paging Dr. Bill! 1st part of a 2 parter on the resolving the contradictory Talmudic sources on “sunset”. All the usual suspects are here!
Life is a dialectic (he didn’t say it, that was the message I heard) on the one hand every human is created in the image of God and we need to be teachers, yet at the same time we need to be separate (and you know what can happen on campus!).
Most say nothing happened that night, some disagree. It was a Yibbum like situation and both Ruth and Boaz showed tremendous self-discipline.
Six reasons to allow (after the fact) prepared food with veggies which weren’t totally infested but should have been checked (R’Asher Weiss).
The Ramban et al on the holiness of Israel and Jerusalem. Then R’YBS on the difference between Kedushat Karka (holiness of the land) and Kedushat Mikdash (holiness of Temple).
Discussion of R’Kook’s history with “not yet frum” (including opposition of R’YC Sonnenfeld). The original curriculum for the “Universal Yeshiva” included history and geography and was very broad and demanding. R’Mintz discusses the impact of the Nazir on the curriculum as well as the possible connection with RIETS.
Did R’Charlop, in order to preserve R’Kook’s legacy, water down his non-traditional side? (me – shades of R’YBS?) Was Machon Harry Fishel intended as a broad counterpart when R’Kook realized where Yeshivas were going?
The prohibition of eating before shacharit (morning prayer) Torah or rabbinic? Can you have water? Coffee? OJ? Liquor? Technical analysis.
Don’t speak negatively about Jerusalem, Israel or another Jew.
Menucha in Tanach is used for Israel, Shiloh and Jerusalem – it may refer to rest from war or rest for Ark.
Relationship between Har Sinai and Har Hamoriah – halachic and hashkafic connections. Then discussion of parallels between Shavuot and Jerusalem – e.g. unity of people, Jerusalem belonging to all the people. Very nice modern medrash on why the Lions’ Gate was deemed worthy of having the IDF enter in 1967 (similar to Har Sinai being chosen for matan Torah).