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by Joel Rich

Question: Do non-bnai brit have hashgacha pratit or klalit? Discuss with sources if you can.

The Signal and the Noise – Nate Silver
“This need of finding patterns, humans have this more than other animals,” I was told by Tomaso Poggio, an MIT neuroscientist who studies how our brains process information. “Recognizing objects in difficult situations means generalizing. A newborn baby can recognize the basic pattern of a face. It has been learned by evolution, not by the individual.”
The problem, Poggio says, is that these evolutionary instincts sometimes lead us to see patterns when there are none there. “People have been doing that all the time,” Poggio said. “Finding patterns in random noise.”

Me- I think of the Rambam’s position on hashgacha pratit and how he must look at most of us and shrug – whatever gets you through the night (cue John Lennon)

  • Rabbi Michael Taubes -Parshas Chayei Sarah Kiddushin and The Wedding Ring

    I’ve commented before wondering about the original source of the use of rings for a Jewish wedding (Talmud never mentions this – just $ and equivalents) – you might do some research as to the use in general society!
    The earliest sources we have are the Chinuch and Mordechai – with a reference to Tshuvot Hagaonim – that they were used in Israel but not Bavel! [now there’s an interesting thought experiment – did Israelis start using them after the churban or did Bavlim stop? And why?] If my conjecture is correct, R’Moshe’s rejection of double ring ceremonies as chukat haakum is particularly ironic.

  • Rabbi Hershel Schachter -Following in the Steps of Our Forefathers

    Thinks the defense of metzitza b’peh is misguided (I’m being kind). Following our forefathers is to follow their desire to use the most current medical/scientific information – not to follow the science of Bavel 1,000+ years ago. Rabbis should be at the forefront of this movement!

  • Rav Asher Weiss-English Halachic status of a person in his slumber

    Is someone who is sleeping or drunk a bar chiyuva (subject to halachic requirements)? R’SZA seemed to think not, R’Weiss seems to disagree. An example of an application would be whether it is appropriate take a sleeping person out of a sukkah. Other examples as well.

  • Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner-Medical Halachah: Patient Capacity to Consent

    Giving consent for medical procedures – when is it needed? Who can give it? When can it be ignored?
    Some examples of issues – 1)can a person who is irrational (very subjective) give consent?; 2)can a person who is not capable of normal understanding/comprehension give consent?; 3) can a minor give consent? 4) can a physician overrule the patient?; 5) what to do when secular law conflicts with halacha? (good general question); 6) does a trustee do what they think is the best result or what they think the person themselves would do?

  • Rabbi Eliezer Lerner -Surviving the Spiritual Drought – Shiur for Alumnae

    How do you keep the intensity level up once you leave the year in Israel? 1) keep learning; 2) have a role model (“dyokno shel aviv”); 3) have a good rav; 4) find the right chevrah

  • Rabbi Joel Finkelstein -Hillel the Elder–Hillel the Gentle, an analysis of the life and contributions of Hillel

    Series based on R’Binny Lau’s books – Hillel the humble gentle soul – with some history. How can you be humble, modest and still be a great leader? Some specific examples.

  • TITLE 7

    Seemingly conflicting Talmudic sources concerning when one must provide something or some service to another if there is no “loss” involved. Is the threshold to not require someone to do something for someone else based on monetary rights or stepping on someone’s ownership rights? (and how the results might differ)

  • Rabbi Yonah Gross Our Obligation of Loyalty to a Country in Galus

    Discussion of issues including: “Dina D’malchuta (the law of the land)”, voting one’s own partisan issues and showing appreciation for the host country. R’Moshe was a key player in this discussion.

  • Rabbi Ezra SchwartzPareve Ice Cream and Other maris Ayin

    Part of a series. Short discussion here of “danger” of eating fish and meat together and then on to maarit ayin (“it doesn’t look right?”). Is maarit ayin an issue because one’s reputation doesn’t belong to themselves or that the action might be misleading to others? R’YBS used this distinction to explain the difference of opinion as to whether maarit ayin applies to Rabbinic prohibitions. If the former, then perhaps not, but if the latter, of course you can’t mislead. Then on to non-dairy creamers and the like.

  • Rav Nissan Kaplan-Birkas Hatorah

    R’Kaplan’s usual attention to practical detail – here with regard to birchat hatorah. Much flows from the difference of opinion amongst rishonim as to whether they are a Torah or rabbinic requirement.
    Is there a prohibition to learn Torah without them or is it simply a requirement to say them? What if you didn’t learn right away after saying them – do you need to repeat them? If you are unsure if you said them, best to hear someone else say them.
    Lots of detail on sleeping (day and night situations). Can you think about Torah before saying them?
    Many gedolim say teaching Torah (Kiruv) to those who didn’t say birchat hatorah is prohibited! [you are tripping (them)].

  • Rabbi Ezra Schwartz -Topics in Kashrut Series: part 1

    First in a kashrut series. Here focus on the exact nature of the prohibition(s) regarding milk and meat together and some “interesting” applications (e.g. culinary school attendance, washing meat and dairy dish towels together in hot water [I’m not kidding!]).

  • Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff-11-11-2012 Rupture and Reconstruction Reconsidered

    “Dr. Grach” (R’Chaim Soloveitchik) is a big talmid chacham and sociologist /academic and “Rupture and Reconstruction” is a masterpiece – the rest is commentary.

  • Rabbi Eli Baruch Shulman-Yichud Insights

    Detailed analysis of yichud prohibitions – it’s always yichud (when men and women together) unless there’s a matir (permissive reason). The two major matirim are fear and embarrassment. Lots of different permutations discussed.

  • Rabbi Menachem Leibtag -R. M Leibtag Yeshayahu and Our Siddur Understanding What is Quoted and Why is it Quoted 11-11-12

    You will get a better understanding of prayer if you understand the context of the original scriptural sources which Chazal wove into our prayers.

  • Rabbi Beni Krohn -Contraception in Halacha and Hashkafa

    Sources and parameters on mitzvah of pru u’rvu and shevet. Based on these what might allow deferral and spacing of kids, for how long? For how many?
    Each circumstance is unique and requires rabbinic consultation.

  • Rabbi Michael Taubes -Parshas Lech Lecha Some Torah Perspectives on Gun Control

    Based on various Talmudic sources, it appears Chazal accepted that folks would be carrying weapons (me – but was that time and culture based or inherent in creation?). They also encouraged taking proper precautions as to who would have weapons and that they were properly secured.

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Ten Minute Halacha – Shailos From Hurricane Sandy – Refilling Generators on Shabbos

    Brief review of issues in asking or hinting to a non-ben brit to pour gas into your generator on Shabbat. Rabbinic or Torah prohibition involved? Large loss? Health issues?
    Sounds like a problem unless you are sharing it with a non-ben brit neighbor and/or baby, it’s cold outside.(cue about 1000 artists who have covered the Frank Loesser original)

  • Rabbi Nissan Kaplan – Chaye Sarah

    Parsha shiur with insights including:
    *”small” nisyonot (tests) can be more difficult to overcome than bigger ones
    *the heart of the King is in HKB”H’s hands (so don’t sweat post election results)
    *you have to have continuous effort
    *your wife won’t bother you to eat out or be home if you make her understand how important Torah learning is to you
    *Avraham didn’t cry over Terach or the death of his “private” wife, just over greater destiny loss on Sarah’s death

  • Rav Asher Weiss “Toldot “- ” Ne’emanut B’kashrut

    There is a difference of opinion in the Talmud over whether you can acquire something not yet in existence. Is that because of lack of meeting of the minds (smichat daat) or something not yet under our control? Implications for futures markets.

  • 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. “Do non-bnai brit have hashgacha pratit or klalit? ”

      One source is Derech Hashem 2:4

      ח. והנה בשעה שנחלק העולם כך, שם הקב”ה שבעים פקידים מסוג המלאכיי, שיהיו הם הממונים על האומות האלה, ומשקיפים עליהם ומשגיחים על ענייניהם. והוא יתברך שמו לא ישגיח עליהם אלא בהשגחה כללית, והשר הוא ישגיח עליהם בהשגחה פרטית, בכוח שמסר לו האדון, ברוך הוא, על זה. ועל דבר זה נאמר “רק אתכם ידעתי מכל משפחות האדמה”. ואמנם לא מפני זה תעדר ח”ו ידיעתו יתברך בפרטיהם, כי הכל צפוי וגלוי לפניו יתברך מעולם, אבל העניין הוא, שאינו משגיח ומשפיע לפרטיהם. ודבר זה תבינהו במה שנבאר עוד לפנים בסייעתא דשמיא

    2. r’shades,

    3. “R’Moshe’s rejection of double ring ceremonies as chukat haakum is particularly ironic.”

      Halipim is obvious problem.

    4. R’ Mycroft,
      Possibly, but that’s different from chukat hagoyim

    5. Shalom Rosenfeld

      “your wife won’t bother you to eat out or be home if you make her understand how important Torah learning is to you”

      How about: “ladies, your husband won’t keep abandoning you for the beis medrish (while you’re pregnant, working 40 hours / week, making shabbos from scratch, washing the dishes, and juggling five kids) if you make him understand how important human decency is to you.”

    6. R’SR<
      I don't make the news, I just report it 🙂

    7. The difference between hashgacha of Bnei Noach and Bnei Yisrael is one of the main themesof Rav Kook ZTZL’s book Örot Yisrael. Alregel achat,Bnei Noach have only hashgacha pratit, Bnei Yisrael have hashgacha of Clall Yisrael-veidach zil gmor.

    8. R’DT,

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