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by Joel Rich

There’s a famous medrash (R’YBS seemed particularly enamored with it) that an angel teaches all the Torah to a fetus in utero and then taps it so it forgets all of it at birth. Question – Does this apply to babies of both sexes?

FWIW (probably not much) I am feeling that if we can ever get clarity on quantum entanglement (spooky action at a distance) and the Heisenberg uncertainly principle/decoherence issues, we will be better able to explain the predestination/free will conundrum (and the whole time/space continuum thing as well!)

  • Rabbi Daniel Sperber -“Why Modern Orthodoxy is True Orthodoxy”-Importance of Innovation in Halachic Thinking

    Modern orthodoxy to R’Sperber is based on a total commitment to halacha but also to development of halachic process that faces challenges in an innovative manner.
    Historical example – heter iska (allows for charging interest)
    We can’t stop making changes based onour halachically valid conclusions just because those changes border on what the Conservative movement did 50 years ago, .

  • Rabbi Daniel Sperber –“Why Modern Orthodoxy is True Orthodoxy”-Revolutionary Approach to Observing the Sabbatical Year

    History and shift in the acceptance of the heter mchira. R’Kook was against the calcification of Halacha that we are seeing now.

  • Rabbi Daniel Sperber –”Why Modern Orthodoxy is True Orthodoxy”-Differing View on the Status of Women within Orthodoxy

    Changes in womens’ learning needs to be reflected but the Rabbinic establishment has been hijacked by the chareidim.
    Partnership minyanim and women Rabbis? Sounded positive but didn’t commit in this forum.

  • Rabbi Daniel Sperber “Why Modern Orthodoxy is True Orthodoxy”–Differing View of Dealing with Agunah & Conversion Issues within Orthodoxy

    Agunot/geirut – the problem is the batei denim (courts)!

  • Rabbi Hershel Schachter -The Mitzvah of Kevurah

    I think R’HS said that the idea that darshinin taama d’kra (we use the “reason” for a mitzvah in determining its halachic force) is agreed to by all in cases where scripture gave a reason, comes from later achronim.
    *Is burial a Rabbinic or Torah requirement?
    *How deep? How far from each other?
    *Burial of scriptural texts
    *R’YBS on malach teaching Torah to fetus before birth making each of us into a living sefer Torah requiring burial
    *Need for Jewish cemeteries
    *Need to bury near relatively equivalent level person (oy!)
    *Burying ashes
    *Burying on second day of yom tov
    *Coffins were frequently metal till fairly recently in Jewish history!
    *R’Gamliel’s takana on using inexpensive tachrichin (shrouds) is generally extended to coffins as well
    *When do we say don’t make new chumras because it reflects poorly on prior generations
    *Exhumation – when permitted?
    *Which husband/wife to bury next to when there’s more than one!
    *The talit is to strengthen our belief in tchiyat hameitim

  • Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky -Shas Topics: Shlichus Part 4 – Those who cannot appoint a shliach

    Last in the series – focus on technical elements – when is the shliach (agent) an active participant vs. just a robotic deliverer and what are the halachic implications of this distinction? Also includes analysis of non-Jews, minors and chatzer (property) status with regard to agency.

  • Rabbi Shmuel Maybruch -From Jewish Magazines to Your Old Siddur: Shiemos

    Which names of HKB”H are subsumed under the prohibition of erasing? Does intent of writer/printer make a difference? Is there such a thing as negative intent to keep something from being included? How does one dispose of sheimot thoughtfully?

  • Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner -Business Ethics: Rent Control

    Rent control as defined here includes the inability to expel a renter in certain circumstances, as well as limiting rent increases. Talmudic sources on examples of market interventions (or lack thereof) throughout Jewish history. Where is the proper balance? Does Dina D’Malchuta (DMD) apply? Local custom usually rules!

  • Rabbi Netanel Wiederblank -Kuzari’s understanding of Emunah

    Defining emunah (belief/faith) as a mitzvah – differing opinions. Post – Kant can you prove anything?

  • Rabbi Chaim Eisenstein -Halacha from the Daily Daf: Shabbos 32 — Painful Question: Does a father say kaddish for a child?

    Does a parent say kaddish for a child if lo aleinu the chid predeceases the parent? Talmudic sources analyzed, generally yes unless the child is a rasha (evil).

  • Rav Asher Weiss- Birkas Eirusin

    Analysis of birchat eirusin – who do they belong to? (me – who pays for the wedding?) How does shlichut (agency) work? R’AW’s chiddush – the agent actually gets the mitzvah, the principal just is in the state of having had whatever needed to be done as being done.
    Then some mussar on midot, midot, midot as the most important shidduch competency (Sound familiar my sons?).

  • Rabbi Elchanan Adler -Weekly Halacha: Putting Oneself in Danger

    Analysis of prohibitions involved in putting oneself in dangerous situations. It’s “obvious” that HKB”H wants you to live another day to do more mitzvoth.

  • Rabbi Hershel Schachter -Emergency Situations on Shabbos

    If you’re a regular reader, you’ve seen very similar R’HS shiurim summarized in the audio roundup. When is there a danger that is recognized to permit Shabbat violations and what violations are permitted?

  • Rabbi Michael Rosensweig -Lessons to be Learned from the Beginning of Bereishs

    Continuation of Beishit series. Here focus on the paradigms provided by pre-Avraham storylines as guidance for our future individual and communal actions.

  • Rabbi Ari Kahn -Hair Covering for Women (part 1)

    Focusing on differentiating between hair circumstances requiring loss of ktuvah vs. where hair is viewed as a source of ervah. Very detailed analysis of sources.

  • Rabbi Ari Kahn -Hair Covering for Women (part 2 -Hair as Ervah)

    Focus on definitions of ervah in case of shok (TBD – part of leg), hair and even a little finger. Includes current halachic opinions as well as original sources.

  • 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. You mention a question regarding the learning of Torah in utero. I was at a shalom zachor a few months ago for a common grandchild of Rabbi’s Shalom Kaminetsky and Kalish. I mentioned this question to them, and they went off to a different question. If a child is a few weeks overdue, what does he learn in the “extra time” he is granted with the malach? Presumably he has learned everything already?! Rabbi Kalish who finishes shas once a year said “obviously he is using the time for chazarah”! Rabbi kaminetsky who is a big baa machshavah as well as a famed rosh yeshiva said, “Obviously he is spending the extra time learning maharal and other sifrei machshavah”! It seems that he felt this is not included in “kol hatorah kulah”…Be it as it may, I thought you might appreciate this story.

    2. Mr Rich – re: your first question: do you have a reason why there should be a difference?

      Shay – perhaps the reason the baby is late is because s/he hasn’t yet learned everything in the normal time frame. Some take longer than others…

    3. r’shay.
      did they discuss a case of someone who gives birth prematurely?

    4. r’ shmuel,
      yes-based on an imterpretaton by r’ybs:
      Based on the famous aggada depicting a baby being taught Torah in the womb (Nidda 30b), according to which Torah remains latent in one’s personality and is rediscovered through study, the Rav states that talmud Torah helps man find his inner self and thereby redeems him (“Redemption, Prayer, Talmud Torah,” p. 69).

      so i wonder based on the lack of a mitzvah of higher level talmud torah for women….


    5. Since another thing that happens in-Utero is that a match for the baby (I assume both male and female) is declared, maybe she is taught her husband’s Torah helek, since they are, after all, two halves of a whole? I don’t have a makor for this statement though. 🙂

    6. I think R’HS said that the idea that darshinin taama d’kra (we use the “reason” for a mitzvah in determining its halachic force) is agreed to by all in cases where scripture gave a reason, comes from later achronim.

      It is a clear in Gemara in bava metziah 115 see shaar hamelech איסורי ביאה פרק יב הלכה א

    7. R’ME,
      Yes, that is what I meant. I was surprised that this was late, I was under the impression that it was a basic concept.

    8. Regarding early delivery and learning in the womb – I believe that one of the more chassidishe poskim (perhaps Rav Menashe Klein IIRC) was against scheduled deliveries for this reason, because you’re cutting short the baby’s learning time.

      Regarding the question of females – even though they are patur from the mitzva of Talmud Torah, but as the Brisker Rav says from Rav Chaim, their Torah is still a cheftza of Talmud Torah. Perhaps related, the requirement to tear kria upon seeing the petira of a Jew because it is like a sefer torah shenisraf – I believe that applies when the niftar is a woman too, is that correct?

    9. עיין פרי צדיק ויקרא פרשת קדשים סוף ד”ה ובתנחומא, שכתב בסופו “וזה הקדושה יש לכל עובר בנעי אמו” עכ”ל משמע זכר ונקבה

    10. R’Sass,
      Actually it was the rehearing of that insight from R’YBS (although IIRC it was regarding burial) that made me think about it.

      The “learning time” issue (also referred to by r’shay and shmuel and ploni) is a great example of a (imho) projection – my take was that this was an aggadic statement with a lesson but it’s interesting how literal some understand it

      BTW -is there a positive parallel statement to -kol haposel bmumo posel (which I always understood as negative projection)

    11. Joel Rich: the Breslover Rebbe says in a well known Torah in Likutei Mohoran, resh pei beis, that if we see someone dan l’chaf zechus, and see their nekuda tova, their good points, that it brings them into the scale of merit, even if they are a rasha. Is that what you mean? It’s not an exact parallel, but dan l’chaf zechus seems to be the opposite of seeing someone’s poselim.

    12. R’muken,
      I would guess most see it that way – so now one has to wonder what point chazal were trying to make in saying that a female embryo is taught all the torah that she will have no requirement of learning once born.

    13. R’ ploni,
      I agree – but the parallel I’m looking for is to the projection part

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