The acid test of the Jew is whether he can withstand the impact of an advanced material and technological culture that at the same time is morally and ethically very primitive” (R’YBS-Boston-1968).
R’YBS on the fact that we learn a minyan is ten men from the “evil” 10 spies.
The message behind this scriptural derivation is that ten people can have either a profound positive or negative influence on others. In the case of the spies, the entire people revolted against Moses’ leadership…Caleb and Joshua, two righteous individuals were helpless against the influence of the Edah. (Moriah 1973)
Me- do you see the relationship between the two statements?
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 317-4
More on Shabbat prohibited knots, here specific types of ropes and knots as well as the famous twist tie issue.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 318-1
Important introduction to laws of bishul (cooking), it’s not just food on the stove! Different halachic results may result depending on whether it was done mazid (purposeful) vs. shogeig (not purposeful), the food use will be for self vs. others and whether there is a Torah vs. Rabbinic prohibition.
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Sugyos in Maseches Shekalim – Priorities in Tzedakah
Starts with one of my favorite quotes from Shkalim (theme – invest in people, not in fancy buildings), then on to how much to give and priorities in giving.
Important question – is charity focused on changing the giver or the world around him? (me – both!)
Points out that the Rama holds that the need to give dai machsoro (as much as an individual needs) is on the community or large group of individuals, not on a specific giver (lulai dmistifina I would guess this was reflection of actual practice as the source for such a dichotomy is not clear to me).
- Rabbi Shlomo Riskin – In the aftermath of the Chief Rabbinate elections, what is happening to free divorced women
A tribute to Joel Daner Z”L. R’Riskin reviews how he got women toenot to be accepted by Israeli rabbinate. He then calls for the use of R’Rackman (he actually never called it that) approach to annulments in cases of agunot. (Interesting to hear a black and white approach from the white hats for a change .) Quotes R’YBS several times but not with regard to the annulment issue.
- הלכות צבא #1, מאת הרב אביהוד שוורץ
“You’re in the Army Now”! Focus on defining “pikuach nefesh” (life endangering situations) where the danger is not immediate (e.g. regular patrols in Jordan valley) but not engaging in the activity can bring significant dangers later. Does the individual requirement of choleh l’faneinu (need for immediate payback) apply in the army case. R’Kook posits different rules for an army and for the community/state – the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. We can find the remnants of these differences, unfortunately they haven’t been really used in two thousand years. Proofs from the Talmud (public sanitation and dangerous materials in a public thoroughfare).
- Rabbi Jeffrey Saks-WOULD YOU KILL THE FAT MAN?
Long time audio roundup readers will remember my fascination with trolleyology (actually halachically it probably should be arrowology [see Chazon Ish) and in my book Casey Jonesology [see https://www.torahmusings.com/2009/10/audio-roundup-lxiv/]. The book in question deals with the seeming disconnect between philosophers’ and normal peoples’ reactions to: (i) throwing the track switch to kill one person vs. five and (ii) pushing a fat man on to the track to save the five.
Worth listening just to hear the author (not frum IIUC) describe the reason to think analytically about abstract issues (he sounds like he’s trying to describe how to develop chakiras!) and why to think about philosophical issues (he should read R’YBS on solving the existential problem by being part of the mesorah community).
- Rabbi Yonatan Emmett-Lefties in Halacha
A review of the different categories of mitzvoth where “handedness” may be an issue (e.g. Tfillin) and what the determining factor would be for whether lefties would use their left or right hand (i.e. is the mitzvah hand based on the stronger hand, a Kabbalistic preference for right …?). Specific examples reviewed.
- Rabbi Michael Rosensweig-“The Torah was given for the Refinement of Man”: Exploring the Value System of Halacha
First in a series on the meaning of life as seen by halachic man (my take on it anyway). Reflections on the primacy of Torah and our relationship with HKB”H. How do we look at the relationship between a focus on learning Torah and a focus on the mitzvot? Is Judaism primarily focused on actions (doing the mitzvoth) or on a broader context of the meaning of mitzvot. It’s really both and we then need to focus on internalizing the message of the mitzvoth!
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Ten Minute Halacha – Halachic Implications of 3-D Printing
Prohibition of making 3D or 2D objects – what is prohibited on a Torah basis? Rabbinic basis? Do we take into account the original purpose of the prohibition (or do you have to cut off a doll’s nose to spite its face and must you have nursery schoolers only draw modern non-representational art?).
Can prohibitions be neatly categorized as process ones and/or result ones??
- Rabbi Adam Mintz-Ramban’s Attitude Towards Midrash
When the Ramban participated in his famous debate, with Pablo Christiani, the topic of medrashim was central. The Rambam maintained it was not necessary to accept all medrashim. Did he really believe this? Is it a defensible position? Look to his commentary on chumash to see other examples.
- Rabbi Yitzchak Etshalom-Archaeology in Tanach
Examples of how archeology and other ologies can help understand Tanach and Talmud. Sulam (“Jacob’s ladder”) [AKA “Stairway to Heaven”] could have been a ziggurat!
- Rabbi Michael Rosensweig-Shabbos, Moed, and Rosh Chodesh – Human Initiative in Shabbos
Shabbat represents HKB”H/permanence, Yom Tov represents human involvement, but there is overlap (Rosh Chodesh as well).
- Melvyn Bragg Miri Rubin; Ian Wei, and Peter Denley,-The Medieval University
Interesting history of the development of the University (sounds like a modern “roll up” of a cottage industry). (me – they discuss 7 traditional arts, I wonder if they patterned after the 7 branches of the menorah???)
- Rabbi Dr. Edward Reichman-Genetics Meets Halacha
Introduction for Rabbinical students to basics of genetics and appearance of such in the Tanach and Talmud. Halachic Issues came to fore with Tay-Sachs testing (both pre-marital and in utero) which led to lots of issues concerning propriety of testing, abortion, etc. PIGD amplifies the halachic/moral issues and there’s a lot more to come!
- Rabbi Azarya Berzon-Parshat Toldot & Vayeitzei: Sichot Mussar on the complex personality
The Rambam wrote the Moreh for a number of reasons (in addition to the student who was moving away and needed it). Reconciling reason and revelation was one reason, anti-mysticism was definitely on the agenda.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 318-2
If one did an otherwise prohibited activity on Shabbat (e.g. cooking) for one who is seriously ill, can someone else use the by-products (e.g. eat the leftovers)?
- Rabbi Azarya Berzon-Mitzvot Bein Adam LeChavero: insights of HaRav Yosef Dov Soloveichik zatza”l
R’Chaim was well known for his focus on the Rabbi’s role as defender of the defenseless. The need for sensitivity to the less fortunate is emphasized in the Rambam and other sources.
- Rabbi Ari Cutler-Rosh Chodesh issues in Halacha
Rosh Chodesh rules with a focus on yaaleh v’yavo.
- Rav Asher Weiss-Vayeitzei
When a mutual agreement is violated by one of the parties, is it automatically abrogated or is it still in force with damages being due unless the aggrieved party agrees to the dissolution? When can a swindled party swindle back?
- Rabbi Dr. Jacob J Schacter-Book Launch for the OU Mesorat Harav Chumash
A bit of biography on R’YBS followed by an analysis of the Ramban’s use of maaseh avot siman l’banim (the actions of our forefathers are a sign for us) as a blueprint for how Jewish history will play out vs. R’YBS viewing the concept as providing a manual for how we should act today based on how the Avot acted then.
- Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner-Business Halachah: Borrowing Without Permission
Halachic implications of borrowing an object without permission. When is it theft? If it is theft, is that on a Torah or rabbinic basis? If the object doesn’t deteriorate based on your use, does it make a difference? What about if you’re using it for a mitzvah purpose? What if “society’s child” (cue Janis Ian) agrees that such use is subject to a general implied consent that society has already implicitly given?
- Rabbi Dr. Hidary on “Hakham Ovadiah on Conversion and Other Controversies” and Rabbi Helfgot on “Reflections on the Halakhic Legacy of Rav Ovadiah Yosef
Three examples of R’OY’s halachic legacy – (i) conversions; (ii) science and halacha; (iii) Ethiopian Jewry.
A few comments on his cultural impact, his halachic problem solving abilities and his centrality in the Israeli and halachic narrative and debate.
- Jonathan Ziring-Lice, Treifot, and Premature Babies: Halacha and Mistakes about Science
A review of the basic approaches to seeming inconsistencies between modern science and Chazal’s statements, primarily focusing on how halacha is impacted. A handy guide as to when to use different approaches.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 318-3
Cooking on Shabbat issues including:
*already fully cooked vs. not
*cooled off vs. not
*wet vs. dry
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 318-4
Is it prohibited cooking if you “rinse” food with hot (kli sheini) water on Shabbat? Is there a concept of prohibited maakeh b’patish (finishing touch) regarding food preparation on Shabbat?
- Rabbi Reuven Ungar-The Holy Shluf: Sleep in Halacha
Can you count a sleeping person for various requirements (e.g. prayer, Torah reading, public recognition of miracles)? Interesting question – if sleeper is considered not a baar daat (capable of cognition?) while he is sleeping, does he get a mitzvah while sleeping in the sukkah or is it just falling asleep?
- Rav Nissan Kaplan-modeh ani_lefanecha
In “Modeh Ani” focus on the realization that it really is acceptance of the heavenly yoke. If you want to be successful in having the right intention in praying, be sure to have in mind your “love for your brother” and pray for their needs.
- Rav Nissan Kaplan–Toldos
Parsha insights including:
*why it’s important to know the focus/source of a miracle (Avraham vs. Avimelech as Yitzchak’s father)
*why Yaakov needed an Esav
*why Yaakov needed to be dressed as Esav to get the brachot (blessings)
*physical vs. spiritual brachot
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 318-5
Various opinions on acceptable tea making procedures on Shabbat.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 318-6
Is there a Shabbat prohibition of cooking after baking (can you put challah in your soup)? Can a hot piece of food “cook” another cold piece of food put on it?
Please direct any informal comments to [email protected].