by Joel Rich
From R’ Aviner
Rabbi Meir Yechiel of Ostrovtza, one of the great Chasidic Rebbes in Poland, asked this question: what did they want from Moshe Rabbenu? Yosef saying that he was from Eretz Yisrael made perfect sense: he was raised there. But Moshe was born and raised in Egypt! Was he expected to lie and say he was from Eretz Yisrael?
His answer: Every Jew is obligated to see him or herself as an Israeli. Even if he was born elsewhere – by historical error – he nonetheless belongs to the Land of Israel. A Jew should always say: I come from Eretz Yisrael! Rabbi Moshe from Kutzi, the author of the “Semag” and one of the Tosafot, would sign his name: “Moshe from the Exile of Jerusalem who is in France.” It is true that I am in France, but I am from Jerusalem. When a Jew is asked: “Where are you from,” he must therefore respond: I come from Eretz Yisrael.
Now think about this thought on his return from Jerusalem:
From: R. Y. Eisenman
Subject: The Short Vort- “”“Homeward Bound””
*/“I wish I was Homeward bound …”/*/ excerpt from a nigun
written by Pinchas Shimon (also known as Paul Simon) /
/(“Homeward Bound” is an American folk song written by Paul Simon,
performed by Simon and Garfunkel, and recorded on December 14, 1965./
And my response:
:Ironic- I always think of the line :
Home, where my love lies waiting silently for me – as referring to the schina waiting by the makom hamikdash wondering why all his children haven’t returned home
And of course it makes me feel like ”
But all my words come back to me
In shades of mediocrity
Like emptyness in harmony
I need someone to comfort me
I wish I was
From the CRC
Q: Does one need to toveil a Keurig coffee maker?
A: A Keurig coffee maker does not need to be toveled. Although there are some metal components on the inside, it is still considered to be a plastic machine. Additionally, Rav Gedalia Dov Schwartz, Shlit”a is of the opinion that electronic machines that will be ruined by immersion in the mikva do not need to be immersed. An example of this would be a Keurig with an electronic screen.
Does anyone know the halachic reasoning for R’ Schwartz’s psak?
- Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff-Jewish History #12 – Press Conference! 12-9-13
R’Rakeffet holds nothing back! After a brief introduction of R’YBS’s famous Ger V’toshav (dialectic between particularism and universalism in Jewish thought and action – which BTW I don’t think we do very well) and Korach (“common sense” rebellion is wrong – paging Steve Brizel), R’ARR deals with:
*partnership minyanim – bad
*conservative movement – bad
*going to teach at Limud – maybe, but not for him
*preaching women (me – see Dr. Johnson)
*Daas Torah – depends on what you mean
*same sex marriage – bad
*YCT – it’s in America so he can’t really opine, let a beit din of R’Schachter, R’Dratch and R’Matanky decide if it’s OK (but there’s a lot of money behind YCT)
*Agunot – give the get
*R’Meiselman on metzitzah – double talk
*IDF – The Best!
- David Brooks Keynotes YU Hanukkah Convocation
Funny and thoughtful presentation of what should make YU (and MO) different. Great channeling of R’YBS on Adam I and Adam II. Long introduction by Richard Joel.
- Rabbi Netanel Wiederblank -Cases where one must give up their life other than the “big three”
Multiple (more than the “Big 3”) possible exceptions to the rule that threats to life take precedence over need to avoid committing sins. Also, some lessons to be learned from the exceptions to the rule.
- Ari Lamm -Hero or Hypocrite? Attacks on the Pharisees During the Late Second Temple Period
If we look at the intellectual attacks of the Sadducees (and the brit hachadasha folks) on the Pharisees, we can better understand what defined the Pharisees. The Pharisees succeeded because they had a practical bent and understood the mesorah was nuanced and not reducible to black and white (me – hmmm – 1) how does this relate to current orthodoxy?; 2) who gets to decide the “nuance” issues?).
- Shalom Rosenfeld -The World of Rav Moshe Feinstein, Part 1: American Identity
A review of R’Moshe’s tshuvot reflecting his view of the United States as a halachic cheftza (my term) requiring our halachic interaction based on hakarat hatov (recognition of good) and what R’YBS would call the toshav portion of our ger/vtoshav relationship with host states (i.e. we must contribute to the good and welfare of the host state).
- Rav Asher Weiss-Vayigash
Insights into the question of when an agent (shaliach) is employed to do a mitzvah, who makes the blessing on the mitzvah (and when can an agent be employed?). Technical discussion focusing on result vs. act based mitzvoth and where lighting Chanukah candles fit in.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 320-2
Continuation on the permissibility of squeezing juice from fruit on Shabbat focused on the local practice for fruit utilization (i.e. are the fruits usually used for juice). Contrasts with direct sucking of fruit for immediate use.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 320-3
Squeezing juice directly onto food for flavoring on Shabbat is generally ok. Then deals with some other immediate uses and borer issues.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 320-4
Squeezing lemons is ok on Shabbat since the primary purpose isn’t for drinking. Parallels to squeezing excess liquids out of pickles and vegetables.
- Nachum Segal, R. J. David Bleich, R. Daniel Z. – The Philosophical Quest: Of Philosophy, Ethics, Law and Halakhah.
Principles of faith are significant. The Rambam’s principles “became” normative/binding over time (sounded like there is psak in hashkafa). Most important issue now is why we can’t just change hashkafa and/or halacha to be consistent with western thought.
Is there an ethic beyond halacha? It’s a definitional thing. There is no sharp boundary between halacha and hashkafa and there will be more to come from RIETS in both the halacha and hashkafa book series.
Some discussion of our obligation to the general community – Jewish officials must speak truth even if it is against current ethics/mores. Wealth causes temptation but also has some positive results (paging Mycroft!).
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Ten Minute Halacha – Planes Trains and Automobiles: Travelling Through The Night on Chanukah
R’Moshe holds the requirement for Chanukah candles is on the bayit (family unit?). If you’re an individual travelling, there’s no requirement to light. Others disagree and thus you halachically you would have to tempt getting arrested for lighting a candle on the airplane (I’m not making this up). I got the impression R’Lebowitz thinks it’s best to avoid the situation by not traveling. It would not be on the top of my list of situations to avoid given R’Moshe’s unequivocal psak. (Gets to the whole balance in life issue – you have to pick your spots.)
- הלכות צבא #8, היערכות למניעת חילול שבת, מאת הרב אביהוד שוורץ
Discussion of the permissibility of prior to Shabbat putting oneself in a dangerous situation which will eventually require active chillul (profanation) of Shabbat. Basic issue is differing interpretations of the gemara in Shabbat on leaving on sea travel 3 days before Shabbat. The Steipler sees the 3-day prohibition rule as proof that the prohibition must be rabbinic (else why does 3 days make a difference?).
Generally, we try to be sensitive to not putting oneself in that position, especially if it’s a sure thing that the Shabbat violation will occur but in event of a mitzvah, we will generally allow the act.
- Rabbi Mordechai Cohen -Nehama Leibowitz’s Lasting Impact on Bible Scholarship
Nechama Lebowitz’s style was close reading of Tanach focused on what the text says to us using literary techniques to “read between the lines” (I’m pretty sure I heard R’YBS quoted as that his father taught him this for Torah in general) – also understanding that the same text can communicate multiple messages as the reader shapes the reading. It’s important to use critical thinking!
Interesting that R’Cohen adds to Nechama’s approach the use of historical context in understanding how earlier commentators understood Tanach (seems right to me but AIUI many gasp at this concept).
- מי העיון השנתיים של ישיבת הר עציון בחסות רבבה – תכנית העשרה תורנית על שם ריבה קושיצקי ז”ל – חנוכה תשע”ד – דור לדור יביע אומר, מורשתו ותורתו של הראשון לציון הרב עובדיה יוסף זצ”ל – “להחזיר עטרה ליושנה”, מפי הרב בני לאו
R’Blau provides a biographical sketch of R’OY, much of which is well known (and has appeared here). Of particular interest to me was the emphasis on how completely he immersed himself in the beit medrash as a youth (sounded like he basically cut himself off from family). Also unanswered was why he felt the need to unify all sfardic psak against prior individual country specific traditions and why that wouldn’t extend to unifying sfardic and ashkenazic practices in Israel.
- Rabbi Yehuda Werblowsky -Emunas Chachamim part 1
Ode to the greatness of the Tannaim.
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter-likeutei Inyonim
A potpourri of technical discussion topics (not sure what the common factor was) including:
*defining kesef (money) for redemption purposes
*life threatening cases – how worried does one (or a community) have to be to allow commandment violations?
*follow your Rebbi Muvhak (even if not alive) halachically even against a majority
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 320-5
Crushing ice or snow into a cup on Shabbat vs. letting it melt on its own. Issues could be molid or sochet or nolad, but we generally allow passive use of ice/snow. You can chop ice to get to water underneath and it’s fine to walk on ice or snow (but not on water ). In general, we allow making ice on Shabbat for Shabbat – use, if needed.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 320-6
Difference of opinion on watering on snow on Shabbat. Towels are not an issue if you don’t care if they get wet. Good discussion of reasons given for why sponges need a handle for Shabbat use and how the different possible reasons given have important halachic implications.
- Dr. Lawrence Schiffman -The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Hasmonean Dynasty
Academic history of the Chashmonai Kings – politics and religion caused some Cohanim to form a sect to leave Jerusalem and keep the king/cohain separation and their understanding of halacha. These Tzadukim were “religious” and others were politically motivated. A number of the laws found at Qumran can be seen as a reaction to the politics (and religion) of the time.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 320-7
Explanation of a Shabbat leniency practiced at the time of cloths on spouts. Moves on to more practical liquid interaction issues with tablecloths/paper towels and tooth brushes on Shabbat.
- Rabbi Daniel Hartstein -Being Gentle to the Gentiles: The Philippines, Syria, Haiti & the IDF
IDF/Israel doing the right thing for others because of HKB”H having mercy on all his creations(me – imitato dei) . It’s who we are! This was preceded by a discussion of are these actions simply permitted as darkei shalom/anti-eivah or really a mitzvah?
- Rabbi Yonason Sacks-shabbos
Even Ramban would agree prayer on Shabbat/Yom Tov is a Torah requirement (mikra kodesh).
It may be that Maariv’s time is whenever mincha or shacharit’s time is not. This may explain summer practice of davening mincha/maariv on Friday after plag before shkia (Kabbalat Shabbat makes it no longer mincha time) but don’t count on it! Other technical discussion as well.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 320-8 and 321-1
Why there’s no issue of coloring foods on Shabbat but one should be careful when eating things that could stain your clothes. Discussion of certain bundled grasses, saltwater and salting foods.
- הלכות צבא #9, היערכות למניעת חילול שבת חלק ב’, מאת הרב אביהוד שוורץ
Back to the leaving on a caravan within 3 days of Shabbat case – can you do so for your livelihood? To reach Eretz Yisrael? Then case of not enough hot water available on Shabbat to do a brit (gemara assumed hot water was needed for post brit care) – do you do the brit anyway and then heat the needed water? Building on these cases – can you put yourself actively into a situation on Shabbat which will require Chillul Shabbat?
Next topic is do you have to avoid situations where you may later be required to be mechallel (profane) Shabbat? Must a Dr. go to the hospital before Shabbat if he knows he will be called in on Shabbat? R’Moshe says yes, R’SZ Auerbach says no – generally you aren’t required to give up your family or day for someone else’s later possible life endangerment.
- Rav Asher Weiss-Tzom Asara B’tevet (5774)
Analysis and alternative understandings of the Abudraham’s position on Assarah B’Tevet fasting on Shabbat/Friday.
- Rabbi Daniel Z. Feldman-Balancing Peace and Truth
Truth vs. peace (Emes vs. Shalom) – do you view it as a values clash or shades of grey? When there is an apparent clash, is it a mitzvah or a choice to pick one over the other? Of course the best answer is to try and achieve both.
- Rabbi Wallerstein Rebukes Educational System For Apathy Of Today’s Youth
This talk got a lot of press at the time but if you focus on the content, ISTM it was not such a big deal. Bottom line – we need to transmit the fire and beauty of Yiddishkeit, not just the rules. Not much in the way of solutions other than being nice and caring and focusing on transmitting love and caring.
- Rabbi Mayer E. Twersky–Chanukah
Are Rabbinic ordinances freely creative or must they be limited to protecting Torah rules? There are two points of view and Chanukah and Purim may illustrate the Rambam’s approach to the issue.
- Rabbi Menachem Genack -When Kosher Food’s Not Kosher: Bishul Akum
Summary of the halachot of bishul akum along with ou policies on contentious issues (and, of course, some Clintonophilia).
- Rabbi Ari Storch-The History of How the Hebrew Calendar Developed
Interesting presentation concerning the development of our “fixed” calendar. There are differing opinions (and supporting factoids) as to exactly who did what and when. Was there an evolution of the calendar? My full support for the prayer that we soon have an agreed upon Sanhedrin to establish the months!
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