by Joel Rich
From a recent WSJ(No coincidences-see R’ Gottlieb shiur below):
All this presents a long overdue opportunity to rethink the philosophical underpinning of the nation’s transplant policy. For decades, desperate transplant patients and their loved ones have been captive to the ethical fiction that donating for free is noble while accepting compensation is sordid or undignified.
Altruism is a beautiful virtue. I learned this firsthand when I needed a kidney several years ago and a magnificent friend gave me one of hers. But demanding that altruism be the only permissible motive for giving marrow (or any organ) causes thousands of needless deaths each year.
The desire to do well by others while enriching oneself is a great engine for good. Now that we can compensate bone-marrow donors, it is time to demonstrate the power of incentives to save lives.
NYTimes on “The God Particle”:
It is natural for those not deeply involved in the half-century quest for the Higgs to ask why they should care about this seemingly esoteric discovery. There are three reasons.
First, it caps one of the most remarkable intellectual adventures in human history — one that anyone interested in the progress of knowledge should at least be aware of.
Second, it makes even more remarkable the precarious accident that allowed our existence to form from nothing — further proof that the universe of our senses is just the tip of a vast, largely hidden cosmic iceberg.
And finally, the effort to uncover this tiny particle represents the very best of what the process of science can offer to modern civilization.
Ripped from the headlines! What does halacha have to say about selling organs? Some seemingly conflicting Talmudic sources on injuring oneself purposely – the resolution may inform on the organ selling issue. Hashkafic issue – do you “own” your body?
There’s also a public policy issue at play and threading the needle between body snatchers and the legitimate demand for organs will be a challenge.
Review of the sources on prohibition of clapping/dancing on Shabbat. Would seem that the vast majority of sources are against it so why does it seem to be done? Famous Tosfot that we don’t fix musical instruments anymore so takana doesn’t apply anymore (Kehilat Yaakov – when reason is given for takanna then if the reason doesn’t apply, then the takanna falls away [me – doesn’t seem to fit all the data points]).
There are a bunch of possible explanations, especially when it’s a mitzvah involved. R’Moshe says a baal nefesh should be stringent (so I assume those who drink Chalav Yisrael will not clap or dance on Shabbat).
What is seeing? (ok, that’s the question I’d ask in an era of artificial vision, 3-D projections, etc.).
Looking through a window generally OK, what about pale reflections?
Halacha doesn’t look (pun intended) at microscopic phenomena.
I would have added R’Gamliel’s “looking glass” from Eiruvin 43b plus Nechmat Yesef 17 and Ben Ish Chai Shannah Shniyah Vayikra 24.
This should be daf 3a. I was hoping to find out what Rava’s hava amina (rejected presumption?) was but this wasn’t discussed. Interesting insights:
*Rav never said any extra words, that’s why it wasn’t unusual to need to clarify his statements (brevity is the soul of wit but sometimes detail is helpful)
*Can you have a single eid zomeim in a case of Issurim (difference of opinion)
*Kenas (fine?) requires a pronouncement of beit din to make it so
*Lots on amalta (explanatory reasons for a lie)
*Hapeh sheasar hu hapeh shehitir – (the mouth that prohibited is the one that permits) – must the two statements be made at the same time?
More on how to evaluate a futures market in ktuba (at least he mentions need to consult an actuary!!).
Particularly interesting comments on whether presumptions from time of gemara continue to apply (e.g. someone won’t lie if he knows his lie will be revealed shortly – see R’YBS on Kruschev – There are no missiles in Cuba). [me – can new presumptions be established?]
Generally dvarim shebelev einam dvarim (thinking doesn’t make it so) and tzedaka (charity) is not an exception, the Shulchan Aruch doesn’t mention an exception for charity, yet the Rama says it is an exception (i.e. if you make up your mind to give a certain amount of charity, you are required to give it).
The Daat Eish explains this was only in the case where you actually articulated the words that you would give the charity but not the amount, others says that the daat eish misread the Rama (me – I’d guess he didn’t, he just couldn’t believe the Rama reversed the gemara and so reconciled them).
A detailed review of Talmudic and more recent sources concerning the general prohibition against listening to music (me – this could be the chance for you to claim your own, somewhat unique, stringency!). Interaction of type of music (played with instrument vs. voices), where (with wine?) and type (praise the Lord or pedestrian). Nicely tied to our practices of other zecher l’churban (remembering the destruction of the Temple).
R’Nissan jumps through a bunch of hoops to explain why this prohibition is generally ignored today. (me – I wonder if some would be so kind if only MO ignored it)
A brief history of R’A Kotler and BMG – he opened it as an act of chessed to make up for all those who were not learning.
Good review of some of the basic rules of sheva brachot:
*how many days are sheva brachot said depending on the prior marital status of both bride & groom
*who or what counts as a new face to obligate them to be said
*last of the seven days,sheva brachot said only until shkia (not really clear why but it impacts Shalosh Seudot for wedding on prior Sunday)
*how much of a meal is needed to qualify for sheva brachot
Explaining a difficult Rashi with R’Weiss’s understanding that the Kriat Shma we say in birchot hashachar is not for the mitzvah of Kriat Shma but for acceptance of heavenly yoke. Then discussion of purpose of pre-sleep Kriat Shma.
Very nice review of halachic and Tanach sources for the zmirot of Ma Yedidut (this was majority of shiur) and Ya Ribbon.
Mussar on striving while being satisfied. Interesting side points:
(i) sometimes a carrot works better than a stick
(ii) work on something every day
However you understand the purpose of chazarat hashatz, don’t learn during it (and he even gives a Kabbalistic reason!). At most, think about learning.
The next in the gomel series. Focus on how much danger must be perceived to engender the requirement of a blessing.
First in a series – analysis of the chatzotzrot and when used in context of tzarot (problems and challenges?). It’s all about tshuva! Next will look at transition from fasting for current troubles to fasting to reflect on past challenges.
Make sure you’re working on the ratzon hashem not your ratzon. Make sure you care about others.
The burning of a sefer torah and raising of an idol (to exclusion of HKB”H) on 17th Tamamuz were signs for problems for all future generations. All five things happened on the same date that the luchot were shattered so as to make it a clear sign from HKB”H.
Chataim (sinners) are still adam (people). Bottom line – as a general rule, Bruriah was right – let the sin disappear – not the sinners. Then R’YBS on what changed to require birchat haminim to be added to shmoneh esrai and why Shmuel Hakatan was the one to do it (his characteristics of rachamim and chesed).
Leah’s hodaah in context of realization that she would never be as loved as Rachel vs. Judah’s being modeh. Then discussion of interrelationship of halacha, hashkafa and importance of learning to dribble with your left hand (my metaphor for working on your weaker areas).