by Joel Rich
I often hear people say HKB”H doesn’t give anyone a test they can’t “ pass”. Do you believe that?
Do folks think that the brisker derech is the final derech? Perhaps it will run its course (I have heard some whisper it has reached the point of diminishing returns) and a new revolution will come (remember the opposition r’ chaim “the chemist” encountered and the parallels with the “outside world”)- look out -”big data” or “behavioral torah” may be coming to a beit medrash near you
Lots of detail on asking, hinting, etc. to a non-ben brit concerning Sabbath prohibitions. Can you ask them to prepare for after Shabbat? Can you ask them to do uvda d’chol or psik reisha? Is the prohibition based on dabar davar or just concern you might come to do it yourself? What about amira l’amira, etc? Specific issues discussed include mail, express mail, muktzeh, air conditioning and Shabbat business partnerships.
Can you rely on leniencies to start with? (e.g. put yourself into the position where you need to take advantage of them?). I debated this with a young T.C. who didn’t see a big issue; I disagreed.
Mussar to denizens of the study hall – you might learn something from others, don’t be arrogant, don’t cause profanation of the divine name and remember what goes around, comes around.
Nothing may be tasted before Kiddush. What if you did?
What if you forgot and began a meal or other mistakes of forgetting (e.g. ritzeih)
Rules for making up a missed Kiddush, covering the challah reasons and the practical implications of the difference. What to do if the cup of wine is pagum (deficient). Does everyone have to cover the Challah or just the one making Kiddush?
What if you only have one cup of wine for all of Shabbat? Various strategies for ensuring full cup and minimum drink amounts. Beginning of hand washing practice discussions.
How much wine do you have to drink for Kiddush? The Nodeh B’yehuda’s famous doubling the size of shiurim.
Includes but not limited to:
*Quinona?! – It’s unclear from the Rishonim how to determine new additions to the kitniyot list. Achronim list possibilities – 1) seeds look like chametz grains; 2) the processing of the seed is similar to chametz; 3) normally grown close to chametz. R’Belsky doesn’t say it’s chametz but don’t use it; R’HS would be OK with using it.
*Cottonseed oil, peanut oil – ahhh for the old days but sorry not today!
*Babies and chametz (no good in most cases)
*Gebrochts – don’t use gebrochts utensils if you’re serious about non-gebrochts
*Gluten free folks – see if you can get one kzait real matzah (should be at end of meal)
*Peeling veggies and other anachronisms – can’t hurt and it’s only 8 days and it makes it memorable for the kids
*Inviting non-bnai brit or non-frum – problem!?
*Machine vs. hand shmurah – not a slam dunk
*Coffee and coffee machines – can you use/Kosher?
*Countertops – best to cover
*Paper products – R’Belsky knows people would be happy if he forbid, but there are really no problems with them
*Friends who haven’t toveiled utensils – stick to glass!
*Chametz gamur means more than 50% chametz
End of Season 2 – Implications of current brain research for public policy setting. Not really much in the way of solid policy but interesting summary of the current state of the interrelationship of brain (biology) and psychology research. Review of some classic experiments including kids ability to delay gratification as a marker for future success. (me – not clear that teaching kids to do this will have similar results to kids who are “natural” delayers)
Lots on decision making from the macro human being level to that of a single neuron. We’re only beginning to understand!
What is the nature of the “prohibition”(?) not doing work (or eating) until after havdalah? Technical discussion of the scope – is havdalah simply a ceremonial recognition of Shabbat being over or does the actual holiness of Shabbat continue until then or is it something in between?
What exactly can and can’t you do before havdalah and do you need wine? Do you need a full blown bracha?
The two types of HKB”H’s “mind changes” I was most interested in (i) changes in mind necessitated by reward and punishment – e.g. taking kingship away from Shaul and (ii) changes in mind which seem unexplainable – e.g. medrash that HKB”H was originally going to create the world by din (judgment) but “decided” to go with rachmim (mercy) weren’t discussed.
The type of change of mind that was discussed were basic operational (e.g., life pre and post cheit ha’egel as well as luchot shniot vs. rishonot). Maybe the message of these changes is that we need to work towards recreating the pre-sin status (as an aspirational goal even if not actually attainable).
Can you halachically own a dog? Sounds iffy, maybe it’s ok for security purposes. Specific issues of seeing-eye dogs in the beit medrash, dog food being basar v’chalav, Pesach dog food, are dogs muktzeh and prohibition neutering.
Eruv issues – basic definitions including rshut hayachid, rshut harabim, karmelit, tzurat hapetach, et al.
2 person panel on Kabbalah – not really a debate. R’JJS discusses the relationship between halacha and kaballah. It should be to enhance halacha observance and give spiritual meaning.
Lessons of Rambam’s (R’Tarfon) 5th cup at Seder. Four are Ishonot geulah (languages of redemption) and kos paroh (bracha). 5th is just lashon geulah or 5th is only kos paroh (bracha) or maybe it’s just its own thing.
Themes of Shir Hashirim and how it differs from other sefarim in writing and halachot. Themes: 1) Rashi – historical vision of relationship of HKB”H and Jewish people; 2) Malbim – relationship between our souls and bodies; 3) Netzivot – describes the desired state for our future.
Sipur (story) vs. Zechira (remembering). Brisker Rav 1) must be Q&A; 2) start with negative (gnut), end with positive (shevach); 3) mention Pesach, matza and maror.
R’AW 1) story formation – including miracles; 2) focus on this night; 3) must hear with ears.
Then 2 inspirational Pesach holocaust stories.
Vayikra – lots of detail on specifics of different types of sacrifices and the avodah. Also, yayin nesech and stam yeinam and yediah (knowledge) of sin and other applications.
You really need the oral law here since the Torah is not clear on many of the details of karbanot
Some standard stuff based on lo tasur and gemara in horiyot. Psak is one thing public policy another – Emunat chachamim should elevate autonomy, not crush it.
Someone recommended this shiur to me – I’d suggest it only to those with a Kabbalistic bent – lots on the sitra achra, hotzaat zera l’vatala and who not to look in the eye(hmmm-what body part should you look at?). There’s no in between – you’re either a staff or a snake!
Differing technical definitions of asmachta and some halachic implications based on their differences.
The Rambam discusses “reasons” for sacrifices in several places so don’t look at just one of his statements to understand his position. To say that sacrifices are part of a transition in getting closer to HKB”H isn’t such a big deal and has sources in Chazal. To say that there may be no “reason” for specific detail isn’t much different than saying the reasons are “al pi sod”. Remember as well that the Rambam planted some discrepancies in the Moreh to confuse the uninitiated and that there may be more than one reason for some things (including sacrifices).
Jumps off from sacrificial order (may women do smicha) to topic of “volunteering” and the whole mtzuveh v’oseh thing. Is it really a mitzvah when you’re not commanded and how does this tie into making a bracha?