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by Joel Rich

R’A Lichtenstein on lev shel torah (me-does it trump logic?)

The second test concerns the posek – and this, with reference to both his learning and his spiritual persona. Unquestionably, some pesakim of Rav Moshe Feinstein or Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l (not all of which found their way into print), had they come from Rabbi X or Y, would have raised eyebrows and possibly incited protest. Is this discriminatory? Superficially, yes; in a deeper sense, categorically not. With regard to such giants, one knows that a decision issues out of a mastery of the halakhic corpus, imbedded in their bones no less than in their heads; that is anchored in a nuanced intuition of the halakhic process and of how it balances normative mandates with human needs.


Also from r’al –BUT IS THERE A SONG IN IT?
At bottom, our response to the quandary of double business is an amalgam of pragmatic, moral, and religious elements. Practically, one needs to develop the capacity for both decision and decisiveness – the ability to judge incisively and effectively, to see life steadily and see it whole, as well as the strength to act upon the decisions. Morally, we are charged to adopt and to internalize Ben Zoma’s counsel, itself an amalgam of ethics and Torah, “Wealthy is he who is satisfied with his lot” (Avot 4:1), while yet suffused with an aspiration to ascend spiritually at the personal plane, and to contribute to yishuvo shel olam by developing better mousetraps whose invention is stimulated by a measure of dissatisfaction with the older models as our part of the collective lot. Finally, in the more purely religious realm, an element often more associated with the East than with the West, but surely very deeply rooted in the tradition of Torah – acceptance. Acceptance of servitude, of the yoke of bondage to the Ribbono shel Olam, acceptance of the yoke of submission to the divine will, as formulated in the corpus of Torah; and acceptance of whatever lot He has meted out to us, as the lodestar of life, divided and unified. For ovdei Hashem, in quest of gratifying holistic existence, in this triad inheres the unum necessarium for its attainment. I cannot agree with R. Nahman. Whether or not the entire world is to be perceived and experienced as an extremely narrow bridge, the accompanying assertion, possibly tinged with a touch of bravado, that the main thing is fearlessness, is wide of the mark. Ve-ha’ikkar is acceptance


  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Ten Minute Halacha – Listening to Secular Music

    R’Lebowitz (who isn’t into music) calls into question the propriety of Stairway to Heaven?!?! [me – there must be a bustle in his hedge row! I believe it was inspired by sulam mutzav artza!! (Jacob’s ladder)] Goes through the listening to R’Shlomo’s music tshuvot (me – puk chazi?) and range of opinions on music and words (generally don’t want a black magic woman soothing your soul with that old time rock and roll or helping you break on through to the other side).
    R’Yaakov Hillel – no tzadikim would’ve used secular music and, if they did, they knew how and anyway time is on their side, yes it is (i.e. no one remembers that music’s source now).

  • Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 274-1

    Shabbat lechem mishna cutting rules and miscellaneous issues (e.g. using frozen challah, saying brshut [it’s humility?], waiting for blesser to eat before you do [derech eretz]).

  • Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 275-1

    Things you can’t do by the Shabbat candles (like reading, I mean) and possible exceptions based on evolving candle technology.

  • Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 275-2

    Rules where having some other individual/reminder allows the reading (and extrapolate to other circumstances where there’s a concern for forgetting). Great irony (mine, not R’Nosson’s) psak that being an adam chashuv (great man) not enough anymore to relax certain restrictions since we’ve seen many cases where great men aren’t all around great.

  • Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 275-3

    More exceptions based on not forgetting.

  • Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 276-1

    Benefitting from the work of non-bnai brit on Shabbat – extent of prohibition and exceptions (for the individual and others)

  • Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 276-2

    More on non-bnai brit.

  • Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 276-3

    What’s considered ok to ask a non-ben brit to do for himself and then you benefit later.

  • Rabbi Hershel Schachter-Parsha Shiur – Acharei Mos-Kedoshim 5773

    Stops include:
    *Seder Haavodah
    *Understanding the gemara stating that HKB”H gave 3 texts of the Torah
    *Parshat parah really duraita? When?
    *Definition of life = blood circulation – for entire organism and for individual limbs!
    *Pikuach nefesh exemption – source is from an Amora even though Tanaim gave other sources (hmmm?)
    *Defining gilui arayot
    *GRA – the halacha that you say hatov v’hameitiv on the birth of a son ended with takanat rabeinu gershom (since then no advantage of boy vs. girl in number of grandchildren you get IY”H).
    *Everyone needs to take precautions against their own predilections
    *You have to know how to go l’fnim mshurat had (my guess at meaning: WTG – bad, male tzniut – good)
    *Orlah and neta rivai outside of Israel
    *Chukat hagoyim (if goyim started wearing striped taleisim, we’d stop)
    *Rules for haftorah for Shabbatot with more than one parsha.

  • Rabbi Adam Mintz-Avodah Zarah 17/18: The Rabbis vs. Rome

    Analysis of two stories of R’Yosi Ben Kisma and R’Chananya Ben Tradyon looking at the historical time period. How does one deal with (Roman) oppression? 1) defiance; 2) activist/protector; 3) collaborator.
    The gemara’s preference seems Talmud Torah Kneged Kulam but R’Shaul Lieberman posits this was a later addition. One of the stories seems to say life’s more complex than that simple answer.

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Ten Minute Halacha – Recording Sporting Events or Television Shows on Shabbos

    Issues to consider –
    *Shvitat Keilim (do your utensils have to rest on Shabbat?)
    *Prohibition on “work noises” on Shabbat (even if set in motion before Shabbat)
    *Time clocks and R’Moshe (this one seems to have been settled by the facts on the ground)
    *How define “a great loss” (hefsed mrubah) that might counteract some prohibitions
    *Just because you’re technically allowed to do something doesn’t mean you should (pas nicht!)

  • Rabbi Michael Rosensweig -Veahavta Lereiacha Kamocha #3 – Not Just Bein Adam Lachaveiro

    Mediating the tension between V’ahavta L’reicha (love your brother) and Chayecha Kodmin (you come first)

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Giving Medical Treatment to Terrorists

    Need to take into account how lack of treatment may boomerang in the future.

  • Rabbi Mordechai I. Willig -Tzeniut, Haircovering, & Kol Isha in Modern times

    Review of the basic source gemaras and poskim to understand looking and hearing (stare, look, enjoy, glance) at what (hair, singing, body parts [some/all]) is prohibited when [kriat shma, street…]. R’Willig provides his psak.

  • Netanel Wiederblank -Are there Ethics beyond Halacha? Understanding the Imperative of Holiness

    3 examples where the actual halachic application of a concept needs definition so as to know how to act, but from where? 1) kedoshim tihiyu (Ramban) – don’t be a boor; 2) Ifnim mshurat hadin (act within the spirit of the law); 3) tishbot – restful Shabbat. So now define limits and requirements? – 1) interpolate from existing Torah values (e.g. reasons for mitzvoth); 2) tradition; 3) logic (but this is a slope which may be slippery) [ me – it’s all by the time and place and the poseik.]

  • Rav Hershel Schacter -“The Rav’s Halachic Legacy”

    From the deepest heart of Essex county!
    1. Is sfira duraita or drabbannan?
    2. You get “credit” whether you say la’omer or ba’omer but The Rav felt ba’omer implied “into the period” whereas la’omer implies “towards the karban omer”
    3. The Rav said the whole counting sentence twice with la’omer the second time to be close to the harachaman for rebuilt Beit Mikdash (see 2 above), his uncle R’Zeev just said the words la’omer, ba’omer at the end.
    4. 2 verses in Torah on counting – one for the individual count and one for the beit din to count?
    5. Women (not the Rabbis) made up the idea of lighting candles first and then accepting shabbat and making the blessing.
    6. Whole Bahag 49 mitzvoth vs.1 plus the Rav’s “continuity” thing.
    7. The Rav’s position on shaving during sfira (why permitted today – changing societal norms).
    8. R’Henkin (sr.) said the 24,000 students of R’Akiva story was written so you should realize it was a code for that the Romans killed them.
    9. The Rav worked on explaining minhag more than all contemporaries combined.

  • Rabbi Michael Taubes -Parshas Tazria Metzora tearing Garments Upon Seeing Holy Sites in Eretz Yisroel

    Discussion of tearing kriah for harei Yehuda (the mountains of Judah), Jerusalem and the Temple mount. Review of various opinions plus the “workarounds” that don’t work but people do them anyway. Comparison to mourning for relatives.

  • Daniel Fridman -שיטת הרמב’ם באיסור לצאת מארץ ישראל

    Discussion of the Ramban and Rambam’s position on Yishuv Eretz Yisrael. What is the consistent factor in the Ramban’s position? You can only leave if your avodat hashen becomes unsustainable and as soon as that situation changes, you must go back.
    Then some discussion where R’Fridman “accepts” kavod av, etc. as possible valid reasons not to make aliyah (e.g. eldercare).

  • Rabbi Ezra Schwartz -eilu metzios 37 lifnim meshuras hadin

    Do we use force to enforce “lfnim mshurat hadin” (beyond the letter of the law)/”latzeit ldei shamayim” (satisfy the heavenly court)? Perhaps there are different categories of lfnim driven by whether the source is scripture or logic or the nature of the specific case. Key issue – is halacha a ceiling or a floor?

  • Rav Weiss Achrey Kedoshim English 5773 Mitzvot Shben Adam Lechavero

    V’ahavta l’reacha kamocha (love your neighbor as yourself) [come on people now, smile on your brother!] emotion or action based? R’Weiss sees it as a basis for intrapersonal mitzvoth which are very action/result/circumstance based. He gives a number of examples and calls for common sense!!!!

  • 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.

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