Audio Roundup

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by Joel Rich

In the meantime, Aviva Zfat is bargaining with God to save her daughter’s life. “If I can take her place, I’ll do it,” she said. “I’ll switch places. I’m older. I’ve done enough for me. She can have my time.”
Question: From a halachic viewpoint, is one allowed to pray for something that they would not be allowed to do through natural means? (assuming one is not allowed to say your blood is redder than mine) {from one who still sheds a tear remembering his grandfather saying he wished he could give my father his eye}

Question: Are we looking to government to ameliorate our tuition crisis or Sandy relief based on philosophy or expediency? What are the short and long term implications?

  • Rabbi Hershel Schachter -Hilchos Mikvaos

    I wonder if R’HS has been asked to do data dumps on a number of subjects. Here R’HS covers the waterfront (pun intended) on mikveh/maayan issues including: zochlin, eshborin, mayim shuavim, hamshacha, hashaka, zriya… It’s really impossible to summarize without writing up the whole shiur!
    Interesting items: 1) since aluminum existed in time of gemara (even though it was not a metal that they could separate) it wasn’t included in the types of metal which would make mayim shuavim; 2) Imrei Yosher’s psak (not generally accepted) that since American Jews give so much tzedaka, it’s a zchut for adoptees to be converted even if they won’t be fully frum, because they’ll give a lot of charity!

  • Rabbi Hershel Schachter-Overview of Eiruvin

    Detailed discussion of (primarily city) eruvin. Starts with basic building blocks and builds up to current halacha. Another example IMHO of some very basic differences of opinion in the axioms (Talmudic and rishonim) which then builds into current day halacha in a way which makes it difficult for the lay person to understand first principles. Issues include defining reshut harabim, yachid, tzurat hapetach, michitzot and what are Torah vs. rabbinic requirements.
    I especially liked the comment related to lack of clarity re the sanitary conditions the time of the Talmud when it was dangerous to do brit mila without hot water available but in the middle ages it was no longer an issue! (or am I imputting my dry sense of humor to R’HS?)

  • Rabbi Hershel Schachter-Inyonei Shehiya and Hachzara

    General review of cooking issues – setting in motion before Shabbat, maybe you’ll stir coals (shemayochta), raking coals prior to Shabbat (grufah) or covering with ashes (Ketuma), leaving on fire before Shabbat (sheniya) or returning on Shabbat (hachzara), …… I can’t write anymore!

  • Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 251

    OK-Back to some more digestible sized pieces! Rules on when you have to stop working on erev Shabbat (and what kind of work must be stopped). Then various attempts at leniencies which would allow what seem to be current practice. (I’m sure everyone is familiar with these)

  • Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 252-1

    Starting processes which will entail work being done on Shabbat (e.g. – time clocks, internet transactions). Strict opinions of R’Moshe and R’HS vs. generally accepted rules which are more lenient (surprise that the more lenient approach predominate?).

  • Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 252-2

    Giving work to non ben brit (e.g. dry cleaning) before Shabbat when he may do it on Shabbat – In all of these and similar situations it’s a complex calculus of various issues (zilzul, kablanut, hashmaat kol). Housekeeper issues as well.

  • Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 252-3

    What if the work being done is public in nature? Outside of the house may be more lenient, again a lot depends on local “generally accepted working practices” (my term).

  • Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 252-4

    What if non ben brit completed job (e.g. suit) on Shabbat and gave it to you that Shabbat? We would generally say not to use it that day unless it’s an emergency.

  • Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 252-5

    Setting up hose, grapes drain, mills and alarm clocks before Shabbat. CLOR on all these types of issues (see my notes to 3 above!)

  • Rav Asher Weiss- Shmot-To What Degree Does One Have to Put Their Life In Danger To Save A Fellow Jew

    1) R’Weiss refutes the position that HKB”H told Moshe “Ke meitu kol haanashim” (all your enemies have died) because if Moshe’s enemies were still life threatening, HKB”H couldn’t send Moshe back. HKB”H can do whatever he pleases and, in any event, one is required to sacrifice his life for the entire people (e.g. Esther).
    2) Laws of war are different than those applicable to a single individual when it comes to life threatening situations. (Me – question nowadays is defining war and participants).
    3) What about one individual (Mr. X) giving up life/putting self in danger to save another (Mr. Y)?
    (I) If the danger to X and Y are equal, no way (based on not knowing [Me-practically or existentially?] whose blood is redder)
    (II) If danger to X is less than the danger to Y, there are 3 opinions as to X’s ability to sacrifice:
    (i) Forbidden
    (ii) Optional
    (iii) Mitzvah!
    R’Weiss feels these 3 are really dependent on the actual probability of danger –
    (i) Is if “too big”
    (ii) Is if “reasonable”
    (iii) Is if “non-material”
    Another great actuarial business – assessing the probability of danger when in the real world for you it’s going to be 100% or 0%.

  • Rabbi Yona Reiss-Choosing a Profession
    In picking a career go with your passion and circumstances (people, for some reason, don’t understand that from my youth I had a passion for actuarial science and it was just coincidence that my circumstance was graduating with a BA in math, getting married and sick of school).
    It’s important to work, it’s better to work with satisfaction, and even better to work with satisfaction and time to learn. Best is to do all these while making a Kiddush Hashem out of your work life.
  • Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn -When your Daas is in Exile

    What does it mean that our daat was in galut in Egypt (per the Arizal) – 1) we lost our past identity/our awareness of our ability to make a difference in the world; 2) we lost our “alignment” with HKB”H due to our loss of self-esteem

  • Rabbi Noach Isaac Oelbaum- Brit Milah

    History of issue with NY authorities on metzizah bpeh at a brit. Real issue is slippery slope of government involvement (me – if you take their money…). While the Talmud refers to the requirement for metzizah as an issue of danger, and while we often say nature has changed (IMHO an apologetic where one isn’t necessary for Chazal used the science of their times), in this case we shouldn’t change since maybe Chazal had other reasons as well [me – which could apply in every case and thus we should never have any changes in any pronouncements].

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Kibbud Av V’Em: Parameters and Limitations

    There are exceptions to the blanket idea that you must always defer to a parent:
    1) Religious life – (i) father and son learning dialog can be warlike; (ii) parent tells child not to do a mitzvah, child doesn’t listen; (iii) child can decide where to learn (but be prepared to pay own tuition).
    2) Social life – child can decide: (i) who to marry; (ii) other things that don’t really impact parent (e.g. color of shirts)
    3) Child can prevent harm to parent – (i) don’t buy them cigarettes; (ii) don’t fix computer (just kidding)
    4) Miscellaneous issues – (i) wife’s first priority is husband (who should know better); (ii) $ comes from parent to do anything for them; (iii) embarrassment to parent may be higher threshold for exceptions (e.g. if the shirt is really ugly?)

  • Rabbi Aharon Lopiansky-Question & Answer Session

    1) Why does the Torah sometimes go on at length about seemingly unimportant issues (there’s always a reason (me – and if we don’t know it, we’ll make something up)).
    2) Choseness simply means a higher level of potential spiritually.
    3) Kabalah for the masses has pros and cons.
    4) Ramban didn’t really mean all mitzvoth outside of Israel are Rabbinic (me – he just believed it in his heart!).
    5) Secular reading can be a bad influence (me – you can’t build the walls high enough).
    6) Rational parts of Torah show we can trust those parts we don’t understand; rationality doesn’t exclude miracles.

  • Rabbi Yehoshua Grunstein -“Can’t sit still?” Shuckling during learning Why shukle during learning?

    1) They used to be cold and also had to jockey for position to see the text(since limited copies available).
    2) Reminds us of Jewish people shaking when they got the Torah
    3) Something Kabbalistic regarding flames
    4) Shows our motivation

  • Rabbi Aryeh Cohen -Living a Productive Life

    Why were the nursemaids (Shifra & Puah) rewarded with batim (houses) of kohanim, etc. but not batim of Torah? You need to earn that on your own through ongoing purposeful activity.

  • Rabbi Michael Taubes -Workers Unions and Strikes

    Rabbi Michael Taubes -Workers Unions and Strikes
    Generally, commerce rules are set by local practice (minhag hamakom) but the “town” can set specific rules. “Town” might include guilds, local Talmud Chacham or tovei ha’ir (local civil leadership) and may have power to appropriate assets (me – like melech or beit din).
    R’Moshe allowed unions and strikes but felt rebbeim and doctors were special circumstances since they are doing mitzvoth (but if they are starving…) [please hold your fire Mycroft ]

  • Rabbi Yoni Levin – Can I daven without using a siddur?

    Understanding the prohibition of not quoting written law orally. Is it a Torah or Rabbinic issue? Perhaps: 1) excludes well known scriptures (by you or by all?); 2) only applies to Torah (not Nach); 3) only when you are being motzi others; 4) not for prayers; 5) only when teaching (like Moshe).

  • Rabbi Jesse Horn -The Halachos of Shomer Negiah

    Engaging (pun intended?) discussion of Negiah issues. Quick review of basics (you know – the whole derech chibah issue) and then on to R’Moshe’s famous subway and handshake tshuvot (I had not heard that R’Reuvain understood the “try not to” as applying to the man reaching out first). Then specific situations – relatives, doctors, et al.

  • 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. There’s the famous story about how the prisoners gave days, weeks, and even the rest of their lives for R’ Aryeh Levin’s daughter.

    2. r’ nachum,
      and more recent ones in the chareidi community iirc. You do add an interesting dimension-if bderech hateva you could give up a day, what would the halacha be? we do have a similar issue in real life-shortening life expectancy through donor procedures. iiuc rabbis have said ok within “nornal” parameters.tbd.

    3. btw-see r’asher weiss shiur above

    4. ” felt rebbeim and doctors were special circumstances since they are doing mitzvoth (but if they are starving…) [please hold your fire Mycroft”
      What special circumstances? that they are both mah ani bchinam…

    5. Shalom Rosenfeld

      Well on a simpler note, Moshe and Yonah both pray that G-d end their lives, which would be forbidden for one to take into one’s own hands; similarly in some cases, davening that G-d put someone else out of their suffering lo aleinu, while at the same time 100% halachic requirement to provide them with nutrition and oxygen.

      The whole switcheroo thing … there’s the medrish of Adam giving David 70 years [so mutar for ben noach? :)], any other instances of it in our literature?

    6. r’sr,
      I always wondered about that medrash – much like the whole giving of zchutim for learning etc.

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