Audio Roundup

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by Joel Rich


“So when someone does the opposite — ditches God but keeps the rules — it’s notable. Why would someone choose to live within the confines of religious laws but reject the God who commanded people to live by them?

Zeke Emanuel, the bioethicist, Obama adviser and brother to Ari and Rahm, has done just that. He is, according to a recent profile in the Philadelphia Inquirer, a kosher atheist. The profile shows Emanuel, a devoted foodie, hosting a dinner party. There, a friend razzes him for his faithfulness to the dietary laws written in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, which command the people of Israel to – among other things — eat meat only from animals with cloven hooves. “Atheism and Judaism are completely compatible,” Emanuel tells his friend. “Orthodoxy and orthopraxy are not the same.””

To me the scary thing is that a switch of one word also yields a true statement (at least to me). “Religion and Judaism are completely compatible. Orthodoxy and orthopraxy are not the same.”
To which I would add in an unguarded moment, is why IMHO we are still in a spiritual and (some of us ) physical galut.

My latest disappearing Cross Currents Comment:
To this post:
I asked whether there were any non-laudatory responses to the siyum which were not shallow or sad? I think it was a legitimate question.

  • Mrs. Shani Taragin -Aggadot Teshuva

    Literacy analysis of medrash (as well as parallel to Greek forms) can yield deeper insights into Chazal’s message. I would have used this opportunity to analyze “Paradise by the Dashboard’s Light” as a message concerning the yetzer hara and responsibility, but then I might be accused of being derivative of R’Reuvain Taragin’s apparent penchant for quoting rock songs in shiur (I believe I preceded him but he’s much more well-known).
    Here a very interesting analysis of two medrashim concerning repentance and women who in S&G’s words “I do declare there were times I took some comfort there”. (me – lonely man of faith?)
    Bottom line is not to objectify the world around you (it’s not all about you) and that true repentance may start with a bang but it’s a long process (great mussar for kids at Moshava, not so much for old folks like me who are still hoping to be koneh olamo in what time we have left).

  • Rabbi Eliyahu Kin-Did dinosaurs ever exist and what happened to them?

    Part of a series of 70 questions that will help us understand key philosophical issues. Here an explanation of why scientists are wrong and we are right about what the real story is with dinosaurs, it’s all about floods! Paging Rabbi Slifkin.

  • Savitsky Talks -Technology and Social Media: How Are They Affecting the Post-High School Year in Israel?

    1) Technological changes have caused shorter student attention span – we must deal with it.
    2) Also caused the year in Israel to be a greater challenge since no “bubble” anymore (ET phone home – the food stinks and my laundry doesn’t smell as fresh).
    3) Internet – it’s not going anywhere, deal with it!

  • Mrs. Shani Taragin-The Missing Years of Jewish History

    Very good summary of the “missing years” from Seder Olam calculation. When you compare Seder Olam to “secular” history we’re off about 160 years. So how do you sleep at night?
    1) Seder Olam is late Tannaitic medrash based on trying to interpret passages in Daniel – so may not be 100% accurate.
    2) Interpretation was accurate – but Chazal wanted to hide some years so one can’t calculate the time of mashiach coming etc. (R’Schwab posited along these lines, then retracted)
    3) Secular history isn’t always that accurate
    Maybe symbolic – wanted year 4,000 to line up according to Medrash years (2,000/4,000/6,000).

  • Rabbi Azarya Berzon-Sichat Mussar: The qualities of a leader in Israel & defining the characteristic of Tohar Lev

    All Midot (attributes) can be used for good or bad at the appropriate time. (cue Willie S. – Hamlet Act II, Scene II – “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”)

  • Mrs. Shani Taragin-Personal Prophetic Premonitions

    Interesting question: What does prophecy feel like, look like to the prophet (e.g. dreams vs. prophecy; intellect vs. emotion)?
    Novel (to me, which isn’t saying much) approach that some “stories” in Nach (e.g. Kings Saul and David related) may have been personal premonitions (which should, or should not, be acted on) rather than actual events.

  • Rabbi Dr. Jacob J Schacter-Exile or Redemption? Current Reality and Mourning for the Churban

    Reflections on the meaningfulness of Tisha B’av – is it Boolean (either total redemption or /total exile) or are there in between quantum levels – (e.g. ideologically in exile, existentially at home)?
    How do we answer “What are we doing here?” (me – rather poorly?).
    To R’JJS Tisha B’av is about the absence of the presence of HKB”H! (me – and how many of us truly feel that absence ?).

  • Rabbi Dani Rapp-Adoption of Non-Jewish Children

    Understanding the process of “conversion” for an adopted non-Jewish child. Is it a matter of zechiya (acceptance for another) or shlichut (agency for another) or simply acceptance of the adoptive parents as decision makers (which is why R’YBS was so focused on commitment as to how the child would be raised).
    Is it better to adopt a Jewish child, a non-Jewish child or not to adopt at all? (Question was asked but not really discussed in any detail.)

  • Rabbi Michael Siev -Five Minute Halacha – Must Non-Jews Pray?

    R’Moshe (I.M. – O”C – 2:25) discusses whether there is a requirement for non-bnai brit to pray (note issue of allowance vs. requirement) – is a time of great need different?

  • Rabbi Chaim Eisenstein -Halacha from the Daily Daf–Berachos 7: Makom Kavua & Mourner Changing his Seat

    R’Zylberstein confirms common sense – don’t throw someone out of your makom kavuah (set place for prayer). Discussion of S”A vs. Rama on practice for those in mourning, especially on Shabbat. [me – IMHO this should be a geographical community based practice]

  • Rabbi Klapper-How Much Power Should the Messianic King Have?

    Analysis of 3 not 100% consistent sources in Tanach on powers of king and how the Talmud and Rambam and Mahartz Chiyut understood them – R’Klapper’s theory – it’s whatever power the people decide to give the king. (cue – John Lennon – “Power to the people right on”)

  • Rabbi Daniel Z. Feldman -Maseches Brachos Perek 2 The Six Zechiros

    Analysis of how many commandments there are to remember (zchirot) and how they are carried out.

  • Rabbi Daniel Z. Feldman -Maseches Brachos Perek 2 The Six Zechiros

    What are the required zchirot (remembrances)? Why is Amalek singled out as requiring reading from Torah? (not so obvious). Why do some hold parshat parah is a Torah requirement? Perhaps it’s remembering the golden calf.
    Then a nice (if somewhat strained imho) explanation of how the Sheis Zchirot (6 remembrances) represent a comprehensive Jewish philosophy.

  • Rabbi Chaim Eisenstein-Halacha from the Daily Daf–Berachos 8. Davening where you learn. 2) Shnayim Mikra V’echad Targum

    1) Is it better to daven where you learn even if it’s without a minyan? Really not unless you are a very special person.
    Lots of detail on rules of shnayim mikra v’echad targum (reviewing the weekly parsha). Is it recreation of the receipt of the Torah or just designed to make sure we understand the Torah?

  • Rabbi Daniel Z. Feldman-Bracot Perek 2 Parshat Zachor

    Torah reading as a Torah commandment. Whole debate about Parshat Zachor with some detail.

  • Rabbi Azarya Berzon-Tefilla: The Significance of prayer at a time of crisis; & learning about prayer from Yaakov Avinu

    R’Moshe states that non-bnai brit have a chiyuv (requirement to pray) in an eit tzarah (time of prayer). Tied to the difference of opinion between the Rambam and Ramban on prayer being a Torah Mitzvah. Even the Ramban will agree that prayer in an eit tzarah is a Torah requirement. But which of the 7 mitzvot does it fall under under? It’s part of belief in one God!

  • Shay Schachter -Omitting Tachanun For a Chassan

    End of tanur shel achnai story shows true power of tachanun when tied to shmoneh esrai. If there’s a chatan who is getting married on that day, no tachanun at mincha but there’s a disagreement concerning shacharit. This should only be applicable if the wedding is before sunset.
    Mishna Brurah paskins chatan shouldn’t come to minyan so as not to preclude that minyan from saying tachanun. R’HS says the minhag is not like this and that if a kallah is there, you also wouldn’t say tachanun either, but, of course, one shouldn’t seek out a minyan that doesn’t say tachanun. Me – The fact that it seems that some say “no tachanun” instead of mazel tov indicates our lack of understanding of the power of tachanun.

  • Rabbi Michael Taubes -Parshas Eikev Unniversal Health Care Some Torah perspecties

    1) Permissibility of going to Dr. (yes)
    2) Permissibility of Dr. charging fees (yes)
    3) Requirement to get someone to heal someone else in need and then the healed has to pay (yes)
    Tzitz Eliezer discusses how Drs./Tzibbur need to somehow allocate time/resources to healing poor. There are a number of community needs that “kofin” community must tax itself to provide) and the Aruch Hashulhan includes hospitals in this category, but prioritization remains unclear (gee – have we discussed prioritization before?).

  • Rabbi Moshe Taragin-Different aspects of Talmud Torah

    Importance of learning – especially Talmud. What to learn, when to learn, Talmud as a common language and a vehicle to know HKB”H and his value system.
    Interesting comment – almost all Rishonim except the Rambam were mkubalim!

  • Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff -The Tal Law

    Same deal – come back in 60 years and Chareidim will be fully integrated into Israeli Society.

  • 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’ve never understood this article of faith among RW Orthodox that observing the mitzvot is not sustainable without belief in the Orthodox conception of God and inerrant Torah mi’Sinai. Zeke Emanuel may be unusual to the extent he is an atheist, but there sufficient other examples, past and present, to put the lie to that assertion. I suspect that Orthopraxy, in one form or another, is a significant demographic within American Orthodoxy (across the spectrum).

    2. R’IH,
      IMHO part of the question is how many people (excluding hirhurim readers of course) think very much about these issues (i.e. there’s a difference between affirmatively doing something while not understanding why and just doing something because you do it)

    3. OK-I’ll give it a listen

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