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by Joel Rich

Rashi Breishit 2:25 says Yetzer hara did not arrive until “apple “ was eaten? So what was the force that allowed Chavah to be persuaded to eat?

The Psych Approach


In the 1990s, Vincent Felitti and Robert Anda conducted a study on adverse childhood experiences. They asked 17,000 mostly white, mostly upscale patients enrolled in a Kaiser H.M.O. to describe whether they had experienced any of 10 categories of childhood trauma. They asked them if they had been abused, if their parents had divorced, if family members had been incarcerated or declared mentally ill. Then they gave them what came to be known as ACE scores, depending on how many of the 10 experiences they had endured.

The link between childhood trauma and adult outcomes was striking. People with an ACE score of 4 were seven times more likely to be alcoholics as adults than people with an ACE score of 0. They were six times more likely to have had sex before age 15, twice as likely to be diagnosed with cancer, four times as likely to suffer emphysema. People with an ACE score above 6 were 30 times more likely to have attempted suicide.

Later research suggested that only 3 percent of students with an ACE score of 0 had learning or behavioral problems in school. Among students with an ACE score of 4 or higher, 51 percent had those problems.

ME- But everyone has the ability to overcome if they just want it enpugh?

  • Rav Kaplan-Daled Minim

    Very detailed discussion of what to look for in at Etrog – good example of where a picture would be worth 1000 words.
    What if you have 2 etrogim, one more mehudar (beautiful) than the other which you purchased – one for you and one for your father? Per R’SZA, you take the more mehudar one (unless your father paid for both) Since it’s a mitzvah, you have to do it, buy a couch for your father if you’re concerned about his kavod.
    I take it R’Asher Weiss (below) would disagree.

  • Rav Asher Weiss-Sleeping in the Sukkah

    5 family members sleep in the sukkah, 1 snores so loud that others wouldn’t be able to stay in. Per R’C Kanievski, snorer stays, others leave (they are mitztaer and thus exempt – he needs to do his mitzvah). [me – see R’SZA above] R’Weiss disagrees – 1) group vs. individual benefit – it’s like a mitzvah drabim (many) vs. individual situation – i.e. we rule in their favor before there is an issue of mitztaer; 2) he “gives up” a “light” mitzvah so others can do their mitzvah (generally complex issue of trading off mitzvoth); 3) In simple situation of available rooms in the house in general we would tell him to move so as not to bother others; 4) he will be mitztaer if others can’t do mitzvah because of him, so he should move.
    R’Weiss holds it’s not required, but it is a noble deed to give up a mitzvah so someone else (especially a greater person) can do it. [me – much to discuss here; how you answer this question tells a lot about your understanding how we as individuals relate to HKB”H vs. as part of collective. Back to the container of water in the desert issue!]

  • Rabbi Moshe Lichtman-Eretz Yisroel

    Mussar on miracles of 1948, 1967 as an irreversible process, need to thank HKB”H but more importantly act on his gifts before he takes more back.

  • Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky-Bar Mitzvah Age and Physical Maturity

    Age (shanim) vs. signs (simanim) – Do you need both? Perhaps one is representative of a required physical maturity and one of an intellectual maturity? (or maybe not!)
    Rosh believes whole thing is Halacha Moshe Misinai (wow – you mean that whole Shimon/Levi thing was only drush ??). Mishneh Brurah says we can rely on rov (majority) that most 13 year-old boys have simanim but only for Rabbinic ordinances (e.g. not for parshat zachor, kriat megilla) [me – why not efshar levarer? (we could easily clarify) so why not require clarification?]

  • Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff-9-23-12 Minhag Mivatel Halacha – Din

    Examples in both commerce and spiritual realms where local practice is determinative of halacha. Interesting discussion of “puk chazi” (go see what everyone does) – so it’s not a philosophical process debate, just “who gets to vote!” (who do you look to see what they are doing) [IMHO not such an easy sale to those who don’t already agree with “you” – I suppose demographics is destiny]

  • Rabbi Aaron Soloveichik- Orthodoxy Has Come of age, It is Time For Introspection

    Address to OU convention from early 1980s. Sulam’s (ladder) numerical equivalent to mammon($) and kol (voice) and oni (moderation). We must be diligent in where and how much charity to give, be pure in language, prayer and learning; and live in moderation. (Me – interesting, I suppose one man’s moderation is another’s excess. Who sets the parameters in the MO world?)
    Then lesson from life of Reuvain – how could gemara say he was first to do tshuva (repent)? It means he was first to repent for actions which were pure in intent but showed insufficient self-esteem/taking of responsibility. We have failed in our obligations to other Jews on a collective level! Then discussion of American Jewry, Reagan and Begin (me – as I write b’demah – some things never change).

  • Rabbi Etan Schnall-Damage Control: When is it Better NOT to Ask for Mechila?

    Classic story on why R’Y Salanter wouldn’t give haskama (approbation) to Chofetz Chaim’s Shmirat Halashon (R’YS felt it can’t be that one must ask forgiveness if the asking will cause more pain). So, if you hold like R’YS, what do you do?
    1) mealy mouth it as part of a general request for forgiveness from that person prior to Yom Kippur;
    2) rely on tfilat zakah (properly formulated) or perhaps;
    3) general pain is the cause of forgiveness so your pain of feeling badly and asking 3 times is sufficient
    (This would be nice for those of us who have asked melchilla (forgiveness) 3 times and been turned down (so it’s not just you halachically don’t ask anymore, but you are forgiven) but not everyone agrees to this approach

  • Rav Hershel Schachter-Kinus Teshuva

    A list of areas on which we all could work:
    *being a light to the nations – show them our tzelem elokim (reflection of HKB”H)
    *work on imitato dei (imitating HKB”H)
    *pay your taxes (dina d’malchuta)
    *don’t always be stringent – it doesn’t always work to be the most stringent guy in the room
    *say all the words in your prayers
    *don’t always insist on getting your way

  • Rav Mayer Twersky-Kinus Teshuva

    Using Maimonides as a jumping off point, a discussion of the nature and feel of true repentance.

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lightstone Matan Torah: The Jewish Guide To Life

    Former Assistant Rabbi from West Orange makes good in (hear his paen) a sterling makom torah (5 towns). Discusses importance of role modeling menchlichkeit, reaching your potential by having faith in HKB”H as he has faith in you and making each year a better one in your observance.

  • Rabbi Michael Taubes -Membership in Klall Yisrael: The Torah Mandate of Inclusion

    Inclusion is an important Jewish concept – we must realize each individual is different, but we all have the same Tzolem Elokim and Kedushat Yisrael. Most importantly (to me) is the admonition not to look at another individual as a chesed project (or as we put it – a cheftza shel mitzvah) [me – although perhaps mtoch shelo lshma ba lshma? – better to start out as a project and eventually to realize it’s a person]

  • Rabbi Eli Baruch Shulman-Why animals don’t daven

    I had to listen to this one, since many years ago one of my rabbeim asked us how we know animals don’t daven. His answer was “did you ever see one in shul?”
    Most discussion here relates to no hashgacha pratit (specific divine intervention) for animals and no reward and punishment for them. Then explanation why Rosh Hashana (din) precedes Yom Kippur (Rachamim).

  • Rabbi Aaron Soloveichik -Understanding Reward and Punishment for Mitzvos

    How do we reconcile theTorah’s promises of reward and punishment with real life experience? 1) we must understand on an individual basis that end of life in this world is not the end of reward and punishment; 2) much as in employee compensation and rewards [ok, I added that] there are elements of both individual and communal measures used to determine the individual’s payout; so to for us; 3) free will must be maintained; if it were so obvious (my wife suggests lightning strikes) it wouldn’t be “free” will
    #2 is key, reward and punishment for “the collective” is sublime and explains why the MYOB (mind your own business) philosophy in the U.S. doesn’t work within our group.
    Nice riff on “Vchein Tein Pachdecha” leading to Yirat Haromeimut (true awe – anyone remember a famous Nixon quote onmnotch shelo l’shma – it was a bit earthy!)

  • Rabbi Yedidya Berzon -Psak Shopping

    Quick thoughts on the “prohibition” of psak shopping. Is it an issue of kavod harav (respect for the first rabbi you asked) or is it an issue of you accepting a prohibition on yourself. Practical differences between the approaches explored.

  • Shay Schachter-Is The Mitzvah of Aliyah L’regel Still Applicable?

    Analysis of the 3 answers Tosfot gives as to why R’Yehuda Ben Beteira did not come to Jerusalem for the festivals and the practical difficulties and implication of each answer.
    Interesting thought that there may be a mitzvah kiyumit today of aliyah l’regel.

  • Rabbi Moshe D. TendlerPrioritization of Torah Values

    Yamim Noraim type mussar to Bnai Yeshiva concerning viewing ourselves as beinonim (in betweeners?) and the need to positively influence others as well as ourselves.

  • Rabbi Aaron Soloveichik-Comparative Legal Systems

    Why so many parallels between Jewish and secular civil law? These laws are mostly logical and the Romans asked Chazal about civil law.
    Bnai Noach must have civil law (mishpat) but don’t have to give maximum punishments – that’s the difference between mishpat (strict judgment) and Tzedek (our justice) – Mishpat wouldn’t take into account circumstances (thus no need for hatraah [warning[for ben noach).
    Interesting insight – Yaakov was angry at Shimon and Levi because they did mishpat not tzedek with residents of Shchem.

  • Rabbi Aaron Soloveichik-The Purpose of Karbanot

    Man has a need to channel his overflow of emotion. Torah gives us karbanot (sacrifices) so we have appropriate vessel, rather human sacrifice or greed or other negative ways to channel the overflow.

  • Rabbi Aaron Soloveichik-A Guide to Dealing with Eisav and Non-Jews

    Why did Yaakov tell Esav, “Im lavan garti”? No need to be jealous, I was a ger (transient) and kept taryag mitzvoth. But doesn’t keeping mitzvoth mean we won’t be able to live together?
    Halacha Eisav soneih Yaakov – halacha (as in Moshe Misinai) means it’s not logical. Implication is no love/fellowship; yes goodwill/friendship (sounded a lot like R’YBS in confrontation).

  • Rabbi Aaron Soloveichik-Artificial Insemination

    Use of non-husband donor sperm is a torah prohibition! Technical (long) discussion of limitations and implications of AIH (husband) as well as AID (donor) if done anyway. Also focus on chain of evidence and assumptions regarding sperm source. Then some discussion of autopsy issues.

  • 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. Regarding sinning without Yetzer Hara, see Michtav M’Eliyahu Vol. 2, Pages 137-145.

    2. From a young tc in private correspondence
      most popular answer is nefesh hachaim 1:6 that yetzer hara inside didnt exist but tempataions on the outside did.


    3. I find the Nefesh Hachaim difficult to understand: If Adam was wholly good -with no Yetzer Harah – what would motivate him to choose external temptations?

    4. R’TI,
      I’d say the Nefesh Hachayim is using a subtler definition of yetzer hara than we are used to. BTW the footnote in Nefesh Hachayim points to r’ dessler as a “biyur rachav” on this point. I will have to look it up in shul, the English version of F’ED was enough for me.

    5. R’Tzvi Yehudah Kook deals with this question (Sichot HaRav Tzvi Yehuda Bereishit p. 70. Basically he says that all kochot ha nefesh- regesh, ratzon and dimayon existed potentially before the sin actually occurred. This is all part of tzelem elokim in which man was created (and even more so in Woman-but thats another topic.

    6. “Basically he says that all kochot ha nefesh- regesh, ratzon and dimayon existed potentially before the sin actually occurred. This is all part of tzelem elokim in which man was created ”

      How does that answer the question?

    7. R’ti,
      ok I read r’de but it does sound like an expansion of nefesh hachayim and the get close to sin to be even bettter a la yoseif/eishet potiphar.

    8. I read it as well over shabbos. I was referencing it from notes and hadn’t seen it inside in a while.

      After reading it I confess I don’t feel like he tackled the question fully either. (He does seem to be using the Nefesh Hachaim but he combines other ideas as well.) At the end of the day, Adam is making a mistake, however small R’ Dessler wants to make it. if he doesn’t possess a Yetzer Harah, it is perplexing how he could choose the wrong choice.

    9. R’TI,
      we’re on the same page 🙂

    10. And I am proud to say I think I figured out what “tc” stood for in your first comment. It stands for “talmid chacham”, does it not?

      I am new to the blog-world and unfamiliar with these abbreviated terms.

      I am working on “the English version of F’ED was enough for me.”

    11. 1. Correct
      2.typo s/b r’ed (r’ e dessler)

    12. R’TI,
      BTW – welcome to the sea of the blogs, good luck swimming

    13. Thanks.

      I should find a life-jacket somewhere.

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