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by Joel Rich

Münchausen syndrome is a psychiatric factitious disorder wherein those affected feign disease, illness, or psychological trauma to draw attention or sympathy to themselves
Question: Would the description somewhat fit a community whose implementation of its vision results in large pockets of poverty which it then seeks to ameliorate to an extent with chesed institutions?

Question: When davening in a minyan that starts before misheyakir (the earliest time for putting on talit and tfillin [T&T]) there are generally two approaches if misheyakir is reached after Baruch Sheamar and before Yishtabach: (i) just daven without T&T and then put on T&T with brachot at misheyakir; (ii) put on T&T when you start davening and make brachot at misheyakir after moving the T&T slightly. What do you see as the advantage of either approach? Would your answer change if you know the Shatz does (ii) quickly and immediately continues on?

  • Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 244-1

    I’m told there’s private garbage disposal in Teaneck. Here an analysis concerning the permissibility of putting out garbage erev Shabbat for Shabbat collection in both public and private carting situations.

  • Rav Hershel Schacter – “Halachic Living Wills and Other End of Life Issues”.

    One should complete a regular will and a living will at age 50 [me – IMHO should do regular will as soon as you have kids].
    Unless 99% of people would, or would not, undergo a particular treatment, we allow the patient to decide whether to undergo the treatment. It’s generally up to the next of kin to decide if the patient isn’t capable of deciding but the decision should be what the patient would want, not what the next of kin thinks is best.
    If you’re at all unsure, it’s best to pray for mercy from HKB”H, not for death or for miracles.
    Some rules on visiting the ill and some brief discussion of brain death (ask the same Rabbi as you ask all your other questions) and metzitza bpeh (sounded like R’M Shapiro asking – my summary of answer- it’s not assur, it’s stupid).
    Sounds to me like R’HS holds that any passive methods of withholding care are OK if the circumstances warrant (vs.R’MF and R’SZA on not withholding nourishment and oxygen requirements).

  • Rabbi Hershel Schachter -Parsha Shiur – Vayeishev 5773

    Another data dump including:
    *Differing opinions on status of Avot (Bnai Noach or Jewish)
    *General approach is to assume avot/shvatim acted appropriately unless the Torah tells us differently (e.g. it tells us Yaakov was wrong for favoring Joseph).
    *At least one commentary felt that the mental gymnastics used to halachically explain the protagonists’ actions in Breishit were not reflecting well on us!
    *Shchiach hezeikah (dangerous situations) – how do we define this in terms of the probability of danger? R’HS assumes similar to miyut hamatzui (material minority) but R’Elchanan thinks it’s higher – [me – R’HS assumes a universal theory of materiality? Especially interesting given that it seems Kehilat Yaakov was the first to try to quantify?] *Affirms my version of the R’YBS naming story (my comment to an earlier R’Gil post) on R’Chaim holding in practice mother/father priorities in naming (but R’HS let his wife do all the names).
    *Interesting take on “burning” Tamar – it may have meant a scarlet letter!
    *Dmut Dyokno Shel Aviv (fathers image) [you know I love this one] means his father inspired him to live up to his potential (both spiritual and material!). We should all do this.
    *Practice of holding Kiddush cup in palm is from the Shlah based on “Kaf Paroh”
    *No great answer on why Yoseif was “wrong” to ask to be remembered by the wine steward.
    *Worthwhile just to hear R’HS answer why we don’t prostelitize???
    *Famous Mesech Chochmah and why Avraham and Yitzchak did outreach but not Yaakov (I’ve always understood this Mesech Chochmah as reverse engineering unless he means Yaakov knew this prophetically).
    *Life is meant to be full of challenge.

  • Rabbi Hershel Schachter-The Halachic and Hashkafic Perspectives of Neuroenhancing Drugs

    A bit off the beaten track – R’HS quotes John Donne and a psych text (he was given the latter)!
    I was struck by the connections R’HS made between the psych text and halacha and couldn’t help but think that poskim would be well served with the latest outside knowledge (cue the Rambam).
    Main take away here was that the safety of taking these drugs is in question and it’s not recommended to go outside the “norm”.
    Of particular interest to me – R’HS believes HKB”H does give some people tests they can’t overcome and that they are then in the category of Shoteh!
    I was always taught that HKB”H does not do this – it took me a while to decide what I was taught did not cohere with my observations.

  • YURA Convention 1965 Atlantic City Part 1

    First speaker – philosophy of TSB”P – it’s given over to the “chochmei hamesorah” to determine. There are different approaches (e.g. Rambam, Baalei Tosfot). Halacha does evolve as we better understand sources and texts and things like difference between amoraim and saboraim (sounded like some acceptance of quasi academic issues).
    Second speaker – The major purpose of learning is halachic determination. An individual’s philosophy of halacha is only arrived at after years. You can’t simply look at Rama – halacha is immutable but responsive to local conditions and times. You must start from basic principles and have a process (sounded a little liberal!).

  • YURA Convention 1965 Atlantic City Part 2

    Some Q&A on #1 – Not so clear but sounded like questioners were a bit more conservative.

  • Rabbi Adam Mintz-Uncovering a Rabbinic Forgery: The Besamim Rosh

    History of the forgery of the Bsamim Rosh and conjecture of why it was done (get some new ideas accepted) and why R’OY included it as a source (Cannon/Rabbinic tradition).

  • Rabbi Yonason Sacks -Infusing Chochma with Kedusha
    Comparison of what to do on Friday night if you don’t have enough money for Chanukah oil and Shabbat candles vs. if you don’t have enough for Chanukah candles during the week.
    Mussar – the miracle of the oil informs on the “miracle” of the military victory – it’s all from HKB”H. The Greek’s separated holiness from wisdom, we see them as inextricably intertwined (all wisdom).
  • Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky -Electricity on Shabbat

    Preset systems that run on Shabbat have two basic issues: 1) Mashmia Kol = making noise; 2) Ziluta d’Shabbat = “not shabbosdic”. How much noise is noise for making this a prohibition?
    R’Moshe didn’t like Shabbas clocks, R’Sobolofsky thinks moving clock settings on Shabbos is a Torah prohibition. Others look at it as a subset of grama (indirect causation).
    R’Sobolofsky thinks “Shabbos lamps” are a big problem (of zilzul).
    Then extensive review of eino mitkaven (don’t intend a certain result) and psik reisha (result will certainly occur) implications.

  • Rabbi Michael Rosensweig -The Enduring Impact of Chanukah – Lizecher Nishmas Imi Morasi

    Yahrtzeit drasha for R’Rosensweig’s mother. Analysis of the status of excess menorah oil on same day as well as after Chanukah (seems unusual to be so strict).
    Chanukah is “special” because of what Yivanim tried to do to our Torah mesorah, we respond by making the lessons of Chanukah enduring and keeping the impact in front of us always.

  • Rabbi Dr. Edward Reichman -Anticipatory Medical Halacha

    R’SRH – why if you stop while learning to admire a tree, are you liable for your life? Using the word stop implies you see learning as a separate world rather than one integrated existence.
    Upcoming and current medical halachic issues include:
    *Artificial insemination donor – ben brit or non ben brit sperm preferred?
    *Posthumous conception – who is the father? Does the new child inherit?
    *Surrogate motherhood – shifting sands on who is the mother? (I’m not sure it’s so simple to say the psak one got will hold even if the halachic pendulum swings in another direction well after your psak).
    *Advisability of using new genetic tests where we’re not sure if the “deviation” has any significance.
    *Animals hosting human fetus.
    *One parent (DNA techniques) children?
    *New MRI technology – persistent vegetative folks may not be so “brain dead”

  • Rabbi Dr. Jacob J Schacter -Interacting with the World Around Us: Culture, Progress and Hannukah

    Memorial for Rabbi Jung. Deals with how we answer the question could Moshe Rabbeinu have invented the printing press or does knowledge in the natural sphere evolve? (IMHO tougher question is medical treatments, if Chazal could have developed them wouldn’t they have been required to?)

  • Rabbi Nosson Rich- Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 244-2

    Do we care about non-Jewish contractors working on our homes on Shabbat since no one does their own general contracting so it’s “known” that these are on a per job rather than hourly basis? Still can be a “not shabbosdic” issue.

  • Rav Asher Weiss – Birchas Shechiyanu

    R’Weiss published his first book of sh”ut! While libo omer lo (his halachic heart tells him) he should make a shehechiyanu, he wore a new garment because it’s not accepted to make shechiyanu on a new book.
    Then a review of the different types of shehechiyanu and focus on the Chanukah shechiyanu (e.g. if you said it can you say it again later to be motzi someone?)

  • Rabbi Netanel Wiederblank -Rambam’s Principles of Faith

    Plato vs. Aristotle seems similar to the philosophical debate over emunah (faith) as reflected in the rationalist (use intellect to perceive HKB”H) vs. mystic (it’s way above us) tradition. But really, it’s not that big a difference – all agree we should accept mesorah (tradition) first either for practical or philosophical reasons (me – no matter how rational one is, there’s always a leap of faith at the end).

  • About Joel Rich

    Joel Rich is a frequent local lecturer on various Torah topics in West Orange, NJ and supports his Torah listening habits by working as a consulting actuary.


    1. Perhaps Münchausen-by-proxy is a better fit?

    2. Communal Munchhausen?Interesting but IMHO a stretch. As I understand it Munchhausen is a kind of delusion where the person is unaware that he is starving himself in order to get attention. The communities or institutons to whom I think you are alluding are not-deluding them selves They are based on the principle that chesed institutions will support them.

    3. Shalom Rosenfeld

      Yosef asking the wine guy — the pshat I like most is all about the wording: “*and you will get me out of here*” (vehotzeisani). All he had to say was “please ask Paraoh *to get me out of here* (le-hotzi’ani).”

      Difference between (for someone on the right madreiga): “doctor healed me” and “doctor treated me and HKB”H made it successful.”

      Re: communal Munchhausen — you’ve heard about how Chachmei Chelm noticed how a particular road had steep inclines and sharp turns that caused a lot of accidents — so they built a top-notch emergency room next to it. Heroics are much more exciting.

      Zilzul — R’ Heinemann shlita defended the yomtov temperature-adjust feature on “Sabbath mode ovens” — this has been around for over ten years, nu empirically do you see it has caused zilzul in your community? And it’s simply giving you back the functionality that a 1950s oven had …

      The technological innovation of the shabbos lamp is just a light bulb that’s not too hot (which they didn’t have until recently), so it won’t burn the cover; if you put a towel over an incandescent lamp you can burn the house down (still remember avi mori catching this in my room when I was young — “we could have all died tonight.”)

    4. r’dt & r’skeptic,
      here’s wiki for more exact definitions , i was wondering about the hashkafic part of it – would knowing that you were setting up a system that would have this result inform back on the halachic/hashkafic propriety of setting it up(clearly one wouldn’t say be mchallel shabbat, but maybe aseih shabatcha chol, or work one day more….)

      Münchausen syndrome is a psychiatric factitious disorder wherein those affected feign disease, illness, or psychological trauma to draw attention or sympathy to themselves. It is also sometimes known as hospital addiction syndrome, thick chart syndrome, or hospital hopper syndrome. Nurses and doctors sometimes refer to them as frequent flyers, because they return to the hospital just as frequent flyers return to the airport. However, there is discussion to reclassify them as somatoform disorder in the DSM-5 as it is unclear whether or not people are conscious of drawing attention to themselves.[1]

      Münchausen syndrome is related to Münchausen syndrome by proxy (MSbP/MSP), which refers to the abuse of another person, typically a child, in order to seek attention or sympathy for the abuser. It is an obsessive want to create symptoms for the victim in order to obtain repeated medication or even operations.


    5. r’sr,
      yes, iiuc that’s a subclass of “they sinned at their level” approaches to the issue.

    6. r’sr,
      IIUC zilzul is a subjective measure and society seems to be voting against the more constraining definition. why is an interesting question.

    7. Re Munchausen – I found the recent article on potlatch in Hakira to be quite thought provoking.

    8. Question: Would the description somewhat fit a community whose implementation of its vision results in large pockets of poverty which it then seeks to ameliorate to an extent with chesed institutions?

      I believe this reduces to the “why don’t you make a bracha on tzedakah” question which I believe you’ve asked before.

    9. R’ Shlomo,
      I’m not sure why it would reduce to that, I’m really asking whether having an aspirational vison which includes large pockets of poverty deserves applause. The bracha on tzedaka question may be related but I don’t think it’s the same.

    10. ” just daven without T&T and then put on T&T with brachot at misheyakir;”

      That approach is choshed for the viewpoint that not only does not get a mitzvah for putting tfillin on at night but one is violating a commandment by doing so.

    11. r’mycroft,

    12. ” joel rich on January 6, 2013 at 8:42 am


      As a general principle if I am relying on info that I have been told I don’t quote sources-in your case I decided to do a google search on prohibition of tfillin at night and found . ” The distinct impression from the gemara is that Rabbi Akiva extends tefillin into the evening hours and disputes Rabbi Yossi Haglili’s interpretation. Interestingly enough, the gemara contends that those who exclude the nighttime from tefillin might also admit a prohibition to wear tefillin at night. Since the Torah informed us of this time limitation by employing the word ve-shamarta (you should guard), we might induce a violation for wearing tefillin at night.

      How might we understand Rabbi Yossi Haglili’s position? Not only is tefillin excluded from evenings (as lulav or shofar might be), but one is Biblically forbidden from donning tefillin at night. The Rav zt”l suggested that the evening exclusion can be viewed as more than just a formal parameter. Evenings might be incompatible with a fundamental facet of the mitzva of tefillin.”
      But to be choshed for that position in my practice not only goes back to before the internet but before the ARPANET.

    13. r’mycroft

    14. When I moved to my first apartment, I was pleased to find that my bedrooom had a closet with a light bulb. So I left the light on for Shabbos and opened the door when I wanted light. I can’t see why the Shabbos lamp is any different in principle.

    15. Shalom Rosenfeld on January 4, 2013 at 3:46 am
      Yosef asking the wine guy — the pshat I like most is all about the wording: “*and you will get me out of here*” (vehotzeisani). All he had to say was “please ask Paraoh *to get me out of here* (le-hotzi’ani).”

      Difference between (for someone on the right madreiga): “doctor healed me” and “doctor treated me and HKB”H made it successful.”


      I saw something like that written by R. Schwab.

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