Audio Roundup

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by Joel Rich

Five years on weekly deadline, you’d think I could say something profound and moving, but there’s only one thing that comes to mind. It’s the tune I hummed for the entire year of my aveilut (mourning) for Avi Mori V’Rabi ZLL”HH – “Lulai toratcha shashuai, az avadati b’onyi”. (“If thy law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction”). Actually, it is profound and moving (to channel Marvin Hamlisch/Edward Kleban – if not to them, well then to me).


I saw the following article , have any of you heard of cemeteries that will not bury someone with a tattoo?

Jewish burial hope has film star Drew Barrymore seeking tattoo removal
Actress Drew Barrymore is citing Jewish law as a reason for having her six tattoos removed by laser surgery.
Married to Jewish art consultant Will Kopelman, the Charlie’s Angels and Whip It star intends to convert, but is worried that tattoos will stop her eventually having a Jewish burial.
Tattoos are prohibited by Leviticus 19:28, which states: “You shall not make cuts in your flesh for a person [who died]. You shall not etch a tattoo on yourselves. I am the Lord.”
Though burial with a tattoo is not officially prohibited by Jewish law, some traditional cemeteries might refuse to bury people with body art.
Rabbi Yisroel Lew, of the Bloomsbury Chabad House in London, said: “There were certain Jewish cemeteries which instituted their own bans, in order to discourage people from having tattoos, but there isn’t actually a halachic prohibition against burying people with tattoos.
“It may very well still happen. Every Jewish burial society makes its own rules, which they are entitled to do. It’s also because they want to bury within their cemetery people who fit within their community.”


  • Rabbi Hershel Schachter-חצי שיעור

    A technical discussion of chatzi shiur (less than the minimum measure) for Sabbath violations. Why are some measures mentioned in the Mishneh and others not?

  • Lesley Hazleton:- The doubt essential to faith

    I hope someone else will listen to this and explain it to me and why it’s popular. The main theme seemed to be extremism is no good, believers need doubt and non-believers need faith. (Me – grounded in what?)

  • Rabbi Meir Orlian -“Baruch Dayan HaEmes” Part 2: Halachic and Hashkafic Guidelines for Attending a Funeral

    A little on the philosophy of burial (reflecting our faith in eternity and the value of the individual) and then on to some specific halachot of the burial process. A basic issue is whether the eulogy is for the living or the dead person. (Me – more in recent years it seems to be a catharsis for the eulogizer IMHO)
    Interesting differences between US and Israel practices, especially with regard to women’s roles (R’Orlian sounds to me like he’s on the “keep the practice even if the reasons seem odd” side.)

  • Rabbi Michael Bleicher -Pledging tzedaka while searching for lost candlesticks

    What if you took an oath to give $1,000 to charity if you found your lost candlesticks and you only found one? If it’s strictly an oath issue, $0, if it’s a joy issue, $500. [me – assumes joy is a linear function]

  • Rabbi Etan Ehrenfeld -The 1,000 Year Hunt for a Long Lost Mitzvah

    History of the once was lost but now is found (if not to them, well then to me) tcheilet.

  • Shay Schachter -Keeping on One’s Tefillin for a Bris Milah

    Discussion of ot (sign) nature of brit mila, tfillin and Shabbat – how they are defined and how they interact.

  • Dr. Ben Katz -Orthodoxy and Modern Academic Bible Study

    There’s a lot of good we can take from the academy approach [me – R’Meir and Acher spit out the pits and keep the juice?]. Here an analysis of the messages of the “she’s my sister, not my wife” stories. Then how knowledge of languages can help (e.g. what does “Tzafnat Paneach” mean) followed by how knowledge of architecture can help understand the Yiftach story. Climaxes with the asseret hadibrot following the model of the king and vassal state treaty of that time period.

  • Rabbi Michael Teitcher -Jewish Perspectives on Genetically Modified Foods

    There’s a lot of genetic plant engineering being done for good reasons (e.g. increase market supply, consumer appreciation). We need to be careful in this arena but halachic sources in klaim [mixing breeds] and kishuf [magic] seem to support positive engineering [me – of course we may not really know the whole story for years – anyone remember thalidomide?]

  • Rabbi Ezra Schwartz-Calculating Ma’aser, Taxes and Expenses

    Nicely done summary of the status of various taxes in hilchot maser (tithing). Are they a deduction from gross tithable income (GTI ?), a credit (or partial credit based on what the government contributes to welfare benefits) against your maser requirement? Does the type of tax (e.g. property vs. income) make a difference?
    Do mitzvah expenses reduce GTI? How do we treat reasonable (TBD) business expenses? How are capital expenses and gain/loss treated? How often and when must you true up your maser account?
    [Me – and you thought tax law was complicated!? IMHO another example where a heuristic approach grounded in mimetics makes a lot of sense]

  • Rabbanit Chana Henkin-Between Sura and Pumbadita: An Intriguing Talmudic Passage and its Message

    Talmudic story of visitor who didn’t seem to heed the ban on eating udders in Sura (vs. Pumpidita). Two possible interpretations on the story – 1) the people of Sura didn’t notice someone as picking through scraps who was hungry but rather as someone violating a local ordinance; 2) Sura was concerned for laxity and didn’t want to leave any choice to individuals rather than educating their laity so stringencies wouldn’t be needed (me – obvious implications for today).

  • Shay Schachter-Do I Really Deserve Shlishi?!?

    Bavli tells us that one who goes to the city of refuge and is offered an aliyah must tell if he is an accidental killer. Yerushalmi tells us that a scholar who goes to a town where they think he is a bigger scholar than he is, must tell them he is no. It seems unlikely these are cases of gneivat daat (false impression). Perhaps the accidental killer case requires disclosure as part of the repentance process and the scholar case is due to the prohibition against gaining this worldly advantage from Torah.

  • Rabbi Kalman Worch-Colors of the Fire: The Development of Chassidic Thought

    A whirlwind review of Chassidic history. Roots in how the Chmielnicki pogroms and Shabtai Tzvi times left people cold and how starting with the Ramchal, Chassidut took root (and changed) in order to bring plain folks and scholars in touch with the supernatural.

  • Rabbi J Sacks, Rabbi M Soloveichik – The Merchant of Venice

    The Merchant of Venice provides a jumping off point for an analysis of various authors and Shakespearian characters with regard to the Jewish question. Main point – Love and law are not contradictory in Jewish tradition. Bonus discussion – Judaism’s relationship to art (we are a participating, not an on-looking, people).

  • Mrs. Laurie Pinchot-Battle of Ambivalence: The Conflict between the Eastern European Jewish Immigrants and the German Jews in the United States, 1880-1910

    The German Jews who were already in the U.S. attempted to Americanize their Eastern European cousins when they arrived (it wasn’t necessarily appreciated).

  • Rav Asher Weiss – Mattos Maasei

    The categories of chashad (suspicion) and maarit ayin (the way it looks) don’t have a neat distinction. The concepts are from the Torah but the specifics are rabbinic. They may be very time and location specific and touch on profaning and glorifying HKB”H’s name. While R’Weiss mentions some specific cases (e.g. coffee whitner/wigs) the broader issue of how to define the sample space (time/place) begs for more clarity (e.g. from his example, perhaps a woman from Borough Park shouldn’t wear a sheitel when visiting yuhupitsville where “everyone” doesn’t know it’s one).

  • Rabbi Moshe Taragin -In Honor of July 4th: Democracy and Its Devils

    Democracy in many ways is the best form of government yet devised, yet there are elements of it that can encourage certain challenges to religion (me – see Egypt, current events).
    The challenges include moral relativism, focus on rights vs. mission, the notion that all are of equal value and the tendency not to submit to authority. We may devalue our anticipation of messianic times because the monarchy is not democratic. [Me – this is what I was getting at in some of our comment debates on the seeming assumption by some that halacha must accommodate all democratic ideals.]

  • Rabbi Aaron Leibtag-Can We Really Argue Against G-d? Deciding Halacha and the Most Famous Oven in Jewish History

    An introductory level shiur to Tanur Shel achai – how understand nitzchuni banai (the defeated me or eternalized me).

  • Rabbi Shmuel Marcus-Davening Maariv in Shul before Nightfall

    I was hoping I’d hear something on my issue of whether one should better not daven maariv at the pre/post shkia minyanim (me – why doesn’t the M”B say something like a b’al nefesh wouldn’t??). Here the focus is on whether to say birchat kriat shma at the post/shkia maariv. General answer is yes but if one is davening at a tartei d’satrei time [(contradictory) – e.g. both mincha and maariv after plag before shkia], perhaps it is better not to daven maariv btzibbur, or if you do, only daven the amidah and not kriat shma (R’Moshe)

  • Mrs. Lynn Kraft-A Tale of Two Sisters: Understanding the Misunderstanding Between Rachel and Leah

    The difference of opinion between Rachel and Leah was that Rachel felt children were the most important part of a marriage and Leah thought it was the husband/wife relationship. Perhaps this was based on their different attributes (midot). Key is to know when to go with each attribute as well as to learn from each other.

  • Ms. Marianne Novak-Extending Acts of Chesed to the World: Seeing Chesed Through the Lens of Sheva Mitzvot Bnei Noach

    Is Chesed focused on bnai brit or does it extend past them – R’Novak feels Rabbis were bothered by the narrow approach based on profaning HKB”H’s name and/or ways of peace. R’ Novak likes the Meiri’s approach of saying any exclusion is only for those who don’t keep the 7 mitzvot [sounded like this issue bothered Rabbis who were embedded in other host societies . [(me) shouldn’t be a mitzvah irrespective of that].

  • Rabbi Menachem Linzer-When Can I Eat Ice Cream? The History and Development of Waiting Between Milk and Meat

    Tracing the history of the different opinions on waiting between meat and milk.

  • Rabbi Moshe Taragin-My Rebbe Harav Yehuda Amital Tz”l

    What made R’Amital unforgettable: 1) his humility, humanity and validation of human instincts; 2) his ability to see patterns of redemption in Jewish history (including current); 3) his combination of deep faith and extreme creativity; 4) his focus on the importance of cognitive experiences in addition to intellectual accomplishment.

  • Rabbi Yonah Gross-The History and Significance of the Kotel

    Medrashim, history, geography and debate concerning the Western Wall.

  • Rabbi Levi Langer -Brain Computer Interface-1

    Brain computer interface is cutting edge of halacha (me – that ain’t the half of it). How do we evaluate a mind driven prosthetic arm in terms of actions taken (e.g. giving a ring for marriage), is it your action? Might we differentiate between Shabbat (melechet machshevet, etc.) and other halachic categories? Sources include manna cooking by thought (there is a source that this is how it was cooked) and killing by prayer/magic/divine intervention.

  • Rabbi Levi Langer -Brain Computer Interface-2

    More on the above – is the threshold being your physical act or your direct involvement [me – is there a parallel issue in accomplishing a hearing mitzvah through a hearing aide?]

  • Rabbi Howard Apfel-Teaching our Children to Make Hashkafic Choices

    R’Wolbe – teach kids ikarei emunah (essentials of faith) give them a warm atmosphere, have a close relationship and be a good example [me – is it naïve of me to believe that everyone really knows this but life sometimes gets in the way?].
    How does one define hashkafa? What does HKB”H want from us? There is room for self-realization/autonomy even though hashkafa is subject to psak (contrary to some bloggers’ opinions), it’s just you can pick which approach to follow. Who would you go to for such psak? You need a contemporary gadol.

  • 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.

    9 comments

    1. Sounds to me like a very appropriate tune for your father z”l.
      May you continue to have nechama from your good memories of him.

    2. May you continue to have nechama from your good memories of him.
      ———————————–
      Often when something happened (usually not good) in shiur, Rabbi Dulitz used to say “now I understand the gemara in….”. It was n’t until after avi mori v’rabi ZLL”HH was niftar that I really understood dmut dyokno shel aviv.

      KT

    3. R’ Sass,
      LOL – you always can point to a quote from the gedolim, but Larry David!?
      KT

    4. A final myth is that people with tattoos are barred from burial in all Jewish cemeteries. It is true that Torah law prohibits a Jew from being tattooed, says Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz, the presiding judge of the Orthodox Beth Din of America, a rabbinical court that provides advice on issues involving Jewish law. However, “there is no reason why a Jew with a tattoo may not be buried in a Jewish cemetery.”

      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704164004575548031458061378.html

    5. R’Joel- Is the tune that you hummed the Carlebach tune? Is there any special connection between the tune and Saba A’HSh?

    6. Shalom Rosenfeld

      “We may devalue our anticipation of messianic times because the monarchy is not democratic.”

      What about the Netziv, that the chiyuvis is just to have a government; and then there’s a kiyumis about “if it’s a monarch, he needs the following limitations…”?

      **********************************

      “Heuristic with mimetics.” Hooray!

    7. r’dt,
      Is there any other 🙂
      Not the tune, but the words (double entendre -torascha in the macro sense from HKB”H and in the micro the ethical mrsorah from Saba ZLL”HH)
      KT

    8. r’sr
      I think r’mt was speaking about human nature
      *****************************
      I consider it actuary speak for don’t ask a shailah whether you can blow your nose 🙂

      KT

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