Audio Roundup

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by Joel Rich

Question: What if a prophet came to you and told you it’s really true that for most of us there’s only hashgacha klalit (no specific intervention from HKB”H), that there is no reward in this world and HKB”H expects you to be a good soldier and do as you are told with no promise of intervention or reward in this world (allof which have sources in the Talmud/Jewish philosophy) . Assume you are fine with that, would you tell anyone else? everyone else? Why? (assume the prophet left it up to you).

R’YBS 20th Yahrtzeit is coming up. Any suggestions for local community programming? Are YU, RIETS, RCA, etc. planning anything locally

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Ten Minute Halacha – Shailos From Hurricane Sandy – Trees Falling on Neighbors Property

    Halachically if your tree falls into your neighbor’s yard, he gets the wood (or what fell in his yard) and is responsible for the cost of getting rid of it (R’Lebowitz believes this is secular law as well). Me – this is based on gemara that implies the “damage” here is “less than grama (causation)” by the tree owner, I wonder whether there’s any ethical responsibility for the tree owner? (Part of a more general question, if halacha is sometimes a floor [R’YBS], how do we know when HKB”H will be happy if we get on the elevator.)

  • Shay Schachter -Relying on Miracles

    Sources on the dialectic – “it’s all HKB”H’s plan (fate)” vs. making your best effort to stay safe (how much hishtadlut (effort) must you make?). Both approaches have sources.
    Most interesting sidepoint to me – Oral tradition that R’Moshe held that if you lived in an apartment house on a floor that you used to be able to walk up to and now can’t (e.g. due to age), you don’t have to move but can use elevator in rabbinic way (e.g. ask non-ben brit to push buttons on Shabbat). 1) Implication is you couldn’t do this l’chatchila (in the first place) – who do all those who move into high floors rely on? 2) what was R’Moshe’s halachic justification? (Anything more than “why be matriarch (bother) him?”)

  • Rabbi Hershel Schachter -Nedarim and Shevuot Bi’Zman Ha’Zeh

    Fact packed shiur on oaths et al including:
    *theoretical basis
    *do oaths require articulation or just thought is enough (and when)?
    *Neder vs. Shvuah
    *Why do we need both Kol Nidrei and Hatarat Nedarim?
    *Community minhag (practice) is an extension (somewhat tenuous) of nidrei mitzvah (mitzvah oaths) which is a rabbinic extension of biblical oaths.
    *Doing a mitzvah extension once without having in mind the first time that it’s not binding, may make it binding on you (one time vs. three times discussed). My Question – can you have in mind in general that nothing you do should be considered a mitzvah neder?
    *Better never to vow, even for tzedakah (me – just do it) except b’eit tzarah (in time of great need) [my impression is most shuls don’t hold by this!] *Hatarat Nedarim – we don’t allow husband to do this anymore (lack of clarity on application) and it doesn’t work for community practices.
    *We say “mutar lach” 3 times for emphasis (this is the general rule when the issue at hand is a dispute w/Tzedukim).
    *Wife joins husband’s tzibbur – meaning she takes on his practice (unless he’s a Baal Tshuva/Ger without any history!).
    *Except for joint issues (e.g. Kashrut), each spouse can follow their own Rabbi!!!! (IMHO this needs clarification).
    *We can never say we regret taking on a mitzvah extension but we can say we regret not saying “bli neder” (I’m not promising).

  • Dr. David Pelcovitz -Giving Thanks: Jewish and Psychological Perspectives on Gratitude

    You need to step back and be thankful for what we don’t appreciate we have. Hergel (habituation) often keeps us from this. Studies show if you practice thankfulness it makes you happier and healthier, especially if you put yourself in a thankful frame of mind before you go to sleep (me – what if you think about your next shiur before you go to sleep). Then some exercises (and stories illustrating them) to help you be in the 1/3 that internalizes these lessons when they hear them and benefit from them.

  • Rabbi Hershel Schachter -Esav and Yaacov – Non-Identical Twins

    Thoughts about what makes us different – reflections on the Cardinals’ visits to YU. The real difference is the oral law/unwritten chain of tradition (mesorah). While R’YBS was a creative genius, he was the bearer/transmitter of a very broad and deep tradition in Hashkafa, Halacha, Chumash…. It’s not a game! (e.g. knowing what’s a real question and what’s not) [Funny – I wonder sometimes about this when the Brisker methodology seems to become an ends not a means.]

  • Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky -Shas Topics: Zechia Part 2 – Ger Katan

    Continuation of topic of whether zchiyah (taking ownership for another without his knowledge) works because of agency (shlichut) or is it a separate concept. There would be a difference for a minor since laws of agency don’t apply. A particular application is a non-Jewish minor who converts.
    Most interesting point to me (the whole time/space continuum thing) is that if A is zoche for B and when B finds out he immediately says not interested, the zchiya is retroactively void. So who “owns” it in the interim (e.g. it leaks oil and does damage).
    There’s an interesting Rashba who says that if 99.9% (i.e. – it’s really completely beneficial in just about everyone’s mind for B’s good) would accept, then there is no retroactive nullification?!

  • Rabbi Ari Berman -Jihad vs. Judaism: The War for the Future of Israel

    The difference is the land of Israel is both our holy land and our home land – it is neither to anyone else.
    Then discussion of importance of western aliyah, unity and the need for a mentality of encouragement of Aliyah!!!!!

  • Rabbi Aaron Selevan -The Significance of the Israeli Flag

    A summary of R’YBS on the Israeli flag not having a micro-halachic import but rather a macro-hashkafic one based on the mesirat nefesh (sacrifice) of those who serve. That’s why (per R’YBS) we have Yom Hazikaron immediately prior to Yom Haatzmaut. (It’s the sacrifice of those who fell that allows us to have freedom.)
    Then some discussion of Hallel, misheberach for Tzahal, prayer for the State, and meaning of the Magen David.
    Bottom line – be tolerant of other’s opinions. (let’s all sing koombaya – halevai?)

  • Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky-Neemanus of the Storekeeper

    Very technical discussion of when a merchant is believed when he identifies the owner of an object sold by that same storekeeper.

  • Rabbi Hanoch Teller -Gedolei Yisrael in Times of War a>

    Macabees were Yeshiva guys doing their utmost, just as we all should and that’s what makes Gedolim into Gedolim.

  • Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky -Kinyan Reiah

    A very technical discussion of kinyan riah, daled amot, duraita vs. drabbanan and daat kinyan.

  • Rabbi Elchanan Adler-May one pray for a miracle?

    Talmudic (and Biblical) sources on whether one can/should or may not pray for miraculous intervention. Generally no (some reasons given) but possible exceptions in very unique circumstances.

  • Rabbi Zupnick-Mesilas Yesharim Goals and Objectives

    Intro to Mesilat Yesharim series. R’Zupnik disagrees with the Ramchal, and feels there are chidushim on every page of Mesilat Yesharim! Key is not just to know but to assimilate the knowledge (me – good role models IMHO are much more effective since life is complex!) He did for hashkafa/mussar what the Rambam did for halacha (and in concise language). Took nistar (hidden/Kabbalah) concepts and made them nigleh (every day)…

  • Rabbi Yonah Gross -Halachik Perspectives on the Chashmonaim Kingdom

    Reflections on the Rambam’s statement in hilchot Chanukah – reflecting the restoration of Jewish sovereignty and the service of the cohanim. Then general discussion of monarchy.

  • Rabbi Dr. Jacob J Schacter -The Interaction of Law and Narrative (Halakhah and Story) in the Torah, Mishnah and Gemara 15

    There’s a message in the juxtaposition of certain halachot with certain stories both in the Bible and the Talmud. Biblical examples – 1) new moon; 2) challah; 3) parah adumah.
    Talmudic example – drinking on Purim.

  • Rav Asher Weiss – Birchat Hamitzvah (Hebrew)

    A shiur in Hebrew concerning the text of certain brachot reflecting both the essence of the mitzvah and implying some practical applications.

  • Shay Schachter -Tevillas Keilim in My Flooded Basement?!

    This shiur is primarily a review of some basic rules of mikvaot to get to the rule of zochalin (trickling?) sheino nikeret (which isn’t obvious) – defined as putting a mark at water level and seeing if the water has “receded” 24 hours later.

  • Rabbi Michael Taubes-Parshas Toldos When Does One Become a Bar or Bas Mitzvah

    Review of possible sources for age 13 as age of Bar Mitzvah – Bottom line – Halacha Moshe Misinai! Some discussion of how exactly to count, what I’d like to see is more discussion of the “presumption” of 13 being physical maturity.

  • Rabbi Etan Schnall-Shortest. Thanksgiving. Ever

    Why should the other nations praise HKB”H for our redemption? 1) they know how bad it could have been for us (they planned it?); 2) eventual defeat of Ashur means all other nations can return home; [BTW – all that happens in history happens because of us]; 3) real reference is to ymot hamachiach/end of days.

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Ten Minute Halacha – Shailos From Hurricane Sandy – Miscellaneous Questions

    *Can you make a bracha in a smelly place (e.g. your flooded basement reeks!)?
    *Gas line (for car) – priorities in halacha (you know priorities in halacha is one of my favorite topics!). R’Lebowitz mentions a tshuva of R’Moshe differentiating between individuals and community policies (IMHO it’s not simple – say there were a line of people and 10 members of your shul are the next in line, do you think psak would really be to let cohain go first?)
    *Mikveh open during the day for women?
    *Baruch dayan emet on seeing a destroyed house?

  • 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. Shalom Rosenfeld

      Re: hashgacha klalit

      While philosophers may disagree whether we can say “I was put in situation XYZ for a specific reason”, kulei alma lo pligi we will be asked — “you were in situation XYZ — (how) did you make the most of it?”

    2. Ye’yasher kochakhem, R. Joel Rich and R. Shalom Rosenfeld.

      I think that the prophet so described [who would come to contradict one of Rambam’s thirteen principles of faith] should be categorized as a navi sheker and hence must be ignored. A freilekhen Chanukah!

    3. Shalom:
      Which of the Ikarim is the navi denying?

    4. R’SR,

    5. ,” I wonder whether there’s any ethical responsibility for the tree owner? (Part of a more general question, if halacha is sometimes a floor [R’YBS], how do we know when HKB”H will be happy if we get on the elevator.)”

      Listening to tape is just another problem in extrapolating proper behavior from hilchos nezikim-in general it deals with what is recoverable in a beis din NOT proper behavior-eg avoiding middas sdom, misheparah, issues such as chamor knita even lo kanita etc.

    6. R’ mycroft,
      Aiui there are those who say hilchot nizikin do define ethics.

    7. Thank you, R’ Dovid Zalkin, for the request for clarification. Indeed, I should have elaborated in my original comment. Ikkar #10: HKB”H knows the action of every single individual. [Cf. the mishnah in Rosh ha-Shanah 16a – on Rosh ha-Shanah all of humanity is examined single-file by HKB”H]. Ikkar #11: Every mitzvah is rewarded. [Cf. the gemara in Bava Kamma 50a – one who says that HKB”H doesn’t care about a person’s actions… well – to state it positively: such a person needs to perform teshuvah.]

    8. Re: Shalom

      I’m not sure I follow your logic on why a world run with only hashgacha klalit is necessarily against ikkarim #10 and #11. H’ can know every action and still choose not to intervene in every case (10), and the mitzvah are still recorded in ohlam habah (11).

      I personally don’t subscribe to that viewpoint, but it doesn’t make it automatically assur. It’s also somewhat ironic to cite the Rambam for the proposition (who was frequently called heretical himself).

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