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by Joel Rich

I am fortunate to be allowed by our kehilla kedosha to give a small chaburah on the thought of the Rav on Shabbat morning. We’ve been doing prayer (thank you R’Arnie Lustiger). We did the following which was so deeply personal to me that I had to exit stage rear after simply reading it to the group.
Lilmod U’llamed – the obligation to teach others. Learning is thus just the beginning of teaching; private study is the prologue to public dissemination of knowledge. One studies not to satisfy one’s intellectual ambition, but in order to enlighten those with more limited backgrounds. The Torah, therefore, never becomes any one individual’s unqualified possession. One studies as a representative of those to whom he will later pass on his knowledge. Judaism has formulated the doctrine of educational exotericism. The Torah must be accessible to everybody; every Jew is entitled to know the Torah. There is no privileged elite or intellectual aristocracy. Every Jew, regardless of his origins or his intellectual level, is deserving of being taught.
V’haer eineinu.-Judaism considers the study of Torah as the most sublime kind of worship, a way of meeting God, of breaking through the barrier separating the Absolute from the contingent and relative. Human intellectual engagement in the exploration of God’s word, thought and law is a great religious experience, an activity bordering on the miraculous, a paradoxical bridge spanning the chasm that separates the world of vanity from infinity. The preoccupation of the intellect with the Torah is a sort of identification with divine thought, the realization of man’s longing for companionship with God. (Worship of the Heart)


From the Gesher Hachaim’s Tzavah (channeled later by Avi Mori V’rabbi Zll”HH:
A Few Words on the Purpose of Life:
“(1) my descendants, may they live, should accustom themselves to remember that life has a purpose and a goal, to be achieved through Torah and Mitzvos. If life is not directed toward some purpose, it flits by like dust that flies away and a dream that dissipates, without leaving behind anything of consequence. Life is a valuable possession, and it would be a pity were it to be utterly lost.
“(2) Every person is judged principally in respect of his character traits. If we say that someone is a good man, we do not refer to the structure of his physique, but to his virtuous character traits.”


  • Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 259-3

    More on breaking the seals on a clay oven for taking out something on Shabbat.

  • Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 260-1

    Mitzvah of preparing for Shabbat including cutting nails, washing, shaving, et al.

  • Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 260-2 and 261-1

    Some real Kabbalistic (to me) stuff on nail cutting then on to final Shabbat preparations and reminders (based on local requirements), candle lighting and what you can do bein hashmashot (dusk?).

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Ten Minute Halacha – Saying Berachos in Front of Ervah on a Television

    Can you make a blessing in front of a TV which has a display of someone who is not appropriately dressed? (Should you have one?). Close your eyes or the TV?!

  • Rav Asher Weiss-Mishpatim-Din Shomrim

    What is the nature of a shomer’s (guardian’s?) responsibility – damages, benefit or contractual liability. R’Weiss thinks the last and then some lomdus. Mussar on always raising the bar (based on R’Dessler’s nkudat habechira). His audience never had nisyonot in Shabbat or Kashrut (you’re a better man than I Gunga Din!).

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Ten Minute Halacha – Makom Kavua For Davening

    What is the nature of makom kavua (set place for prayer)? Does it mean a shul (you should have just one) or a place in your home or both? Is the reason to have one to have concentration, humility or showing dependence on HKB”H?
    Don’t throw someone out of your seat (LOL, that anyone feels the need to provide a micro-halachic justification) and if noisy, move anyway (hey – that’s how I got a seat by the eastern wall, Tevye!).

  • Rabbi Adam Mintz-Rabbi Zevi Hirsch Kalischer: Zionism as a Response to Modernity

    Story of R’Tzvi Hirsch Kalisher. R’Mintz sees messianism as a response to both adversity and success and it’s always marginalized as a threat to those in (rabbinic) power!

  • Rabbi Shais Taub -Addiction and Torah

    Addiction is often more than chemical, it’s spiritual as well and thus needs physical and spiritual treatment. One’s soul is looking for wholeness with HKB”H.

  • Rabbi Netanel Wiederblank -Logic, quantum physics, and divine omnipotence: Is God bound by logic?

    Can HKB”H create a rock he can’t lift? Traditional approaches to this question explored then R’YBS on how quantam physics can be used as an approach to understanding this issue in another way (is light a wave or a particle? Is doublemint a candy or a breath mint? [ok, that’s mine]).

  • Rabbi Ezra Schwartz-Gabbaut shiur #1- Aliyot for kohanim and non shomrei mitzvos

    Not focusing on who to pick to daven but that person should have a good voice (me – yes but real goal is inspirational prayer?). Mostly focuses on rules for aliyot – when can you make hosafot and for whom (weekdays too), multiple chiyuvim are an issue as well, as well as how to handle multiple “demands” for particular aliyot. Moves on to discussion of cohanim waiving rights and then to setting priorities.
    Not giving relatives contiguous aliyot – ayin hara or psul eidut issue. Important because it leads into giving (or not) aliyot to “sinners”.
    Should be careful not to give certain aliyot based on personal circumstances (e.g. mentioning baldness).
    Differing opinions on when to correct baalei kriah (R’SZA very lenient, MB differentiate between weekdays on Shabbat).
    Some interesting comments – 1) R’Schwartz would not use someone who is not shomer negiah as an eid kiddushin; 2) R’MF tshuva on Chanifa (false flattery) and giving aliyot to donors who aren’t shomer Shabbat vs. intermarried – it’s more a public policy/statement issue rather than a halachic severity of sin issue.

  • Rabbi Hershel Schachter -Parsha Shiur – Mishpatim 5773

    Mishpatim has many examples of multilevel drashot. Some examples/results:
    *Does grabbing something work (i.e. you don’t have to return it) if the person owes you “in the heavenly court”?
    *Can women be halachic authorities (not judges)?
    *What is the nature of “ownership” (kinyan) in Eved Ivri.
    *How are eved ivri/knani/ivriah/knaniah the same? Different?
    *Insights on different rules for “minyan hamitzvot”.
    *how does/did real ordination work?

    You could get ordination if you knew all of mishpatim and oral law thereon.

  • Rabbi Michael Taubes -Parhsas Yisro Alarm Clock on Shabbos
    If you know what grama (causation) is and how to define hashmaat kol (sounds?), you’d know law of alarm clocks (musical and not)! Of course, there are differences of opinion (shhh! Make sure it’s not “too loud” and you’re probably ok!)
  • Rabbi Moshe Tzvi Weinberg -SOY Seforim Sale [Mishpatim] 5773 – More Than Just a Book: The Past, Present and Future of Seforim

    Books date way back (e.g. before Avraham). [me – what is a book?] Many were lost (e.g. references to sefer milchamot hashem). There are reports that up to the time of X (e.g. Maharsha) books were written b’ruach hakodesh which would explain Netziv’s statement that Rambam in his Sh”ut is not necessarily accepted as explaining what he meant in the Yad! [me – not my taste].
    Some rules:
    *Don’t leave a sefer open
    *Don’t leave a sefer upside down
    *Don’t leave anything (even a pencil) on a sefer
    *Always put sefer back on the shelf where it belongs

    Write your own insights and be a friend to sfarim. We are lucky to live in a time of a plethora of sfarim (me – IMHO – it’s a mixed blessing – there’s a reason that Torah shebal peh wasn’t supposed to written down).
    Write sfarim since when all the sfarim that are supposed to be written are written, Mashiach will come (really!).
    Don’t call us am hasefer – call us am hatorah (me – puk chazi, we’ve turned a badge of second class citizenship into a badge of honor).

  • Rav HaGaon Asher Weiss -Relying for Kashrut on Gentiles & non-observant Jews

    LOL – R’Weiss speaks to the OU and mentions its primarily a Kashrut organization!
    Then on to how we believe a non-Ben Brit in Kashrut situations:
    1) Rashi – masiach lfi tumo (he’s telling us something without knowing why we’re asking);
    2) Tosfot – uman (a professional worries about his profession);
    3) Rosh – need both 1) and 2);
    4) Rashba – either 1) or 2);
    5) Rambam – don’t need 1) or 2), since he won’t lie since the lie could easily be discovered.
    Then onto applications found in his previously reviewed shiurim. Perhaps here a little more focus on close family members/personal knowledge making a difference.

  • Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky -Halachos of Wine

    An analysis of yayin nesech/stam yeinam prohibitions – definitions plus the allowance of yayiin mvushal. Once you understand the differing opinions as to the source of the prohibitions, you understand the differing positions on scope. Lots of detail.
    Then on to the prohibition of shechar (beer?) akum – and of course you shouldn’t go bar hopping (or bar sitting) – see earlier R’Lebowitz shiur.

  • Rav Nissan Kaplan-sitting_and_passing_near_person_davening

    An analysis of sitting within 4 amot of someone who is davening. Once you understand the differing opinions as to the source of the prohibition, you’ll understand the differing opinions on scope. Most important (IMHO) issue – what if you were sitting there first learning and someone comes in and starts davening, do you have to stand? Maybe different if it’s a shul vs. home (or beit medrash?).

  • Shay Schachter-corrupting Justice:Do the Ends Justify the Means in Dinei Torah??

    Can you somewhat “falsify” psak in order to get the proper result? Probably not! The source gemara is if you have a 3 judge panel where two are obviously bent on perverting justice, can the third say I don’t know (even if he knows how he would vote) in order to force the addition of two judges?

  • Rav Nissan Kaplan–purim_matanos_laevyonim_parshas_shekalim

    Defining ani and evyon – do you need an “ani mehudar” (and if you find one, do you keep it to yourself so as not to ruin it by others giving him $?!). Then details on where you can give from and to whom and for what and how much.
    Apparently there are two humans who want to kill “us” – Iran and those who want to close Yeshivot.

  • Shay Schachter -Psukei D’Zimrah

    Is the nature of psukei d’zmra a takana or to “butter up” HKB”H. Then on to some implications and other analysis – Interesting thoughts on “Sheasani Krtozono” – is it tziduk hadin (sorry I am what I am) or they are closer to ratzon HKB”H.
    Other insights on singing mizmor l’todah, saying partial psukim and hefsek (prohibited interruptions).

  • upting Shay Schachter -Justice:Do the Ends Justify the Means in Dinei Torah??

    Sefer Hachinuch – Why no bracha on din Torah (court decision)? (answers- all the usual suspects in rules of blessings). Din should be honest and quick.

  • Rabbi Nachman Cohen -Esther’s Plea: Understanding the Midrashic Disputes of R. Yehoshua b. Chanania and R. Elazar of Modi’in

    Interesting theory as to the 41 times in the mechilta of R’Yishmael that R’Eliezer and R’Yehoshua argue. It’s got to do with the perception of the level of klal Yisrael at Sinai and a perception of the appropriate hashkafa after the churban.

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Ten Minute Non-Halacha – Pointing at the Torah During Hagbah

    Bottom line – there really are approximately zero sources on pointing at the Torah with your pinky but there are a lot of “descriptive” reasons given. You probably won’t burn in _ _ _ _ if you don’t do it.

  • 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.

    3 comments

    1. Re: Pointing at the sefer Torah. R. Henkin (in Edus Yisrael, p159) writes that he saw the minhag of the Sefardim that they would not touch or kiss the Torah (when it was being carried around), but they would point to it with their finger from afar and then kiss their fingers, and he writes that this minhag is nice and good in his eyes for 2 reasons: pushing forward to touch the Torah shows a certain arrogance (who is closer after all?) and kissing leaves spit which is disgusting and is ossur by rules of medicine.

    2. r’ skeptic,
      I heard one report that it is a non-Jewish custom that we picked up as a mark of respect, but I haven’t been able to track a source down.

      KT

    3. This is what HaRav Kook Ztzl had to say about lilmod velilamed Torah.
      כשלומדים תורה לשמה עושים חסד עם כנסת ישראל.רוח האומה מתחזק ע”י הרוחניות מפרי רוחה…וכל יחיד העוסק בתורה הוא מגלה כח חיים חדש בנשמת ישראל…
      אורות התורה ע”יב

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