by Joel Rich
From the Wall Street Journal: link
Anyone who has felt like the odd duck of the group can take heart from new research from Harvard Business School that says sticking out in distinct ways can lend you an air of presence or influence.
I’ve thought from time to time that wearing a yarmulke at a time when many others didn’t made people think that the wearer was smarter than he was (as in “he must be good if he has the xxxxx to wear that in corporate America”)
A recent comment of mine:
Unfortunately I am in shloshim for my mother Hareini kapparat mishkava and so I must watch the video without the music, however I was struck by CK’s statement “but there is no way that IDF service can be considered as Yoshvei Bais Hamedrash”. In my hesped I mentioned that Dovid Hamelech asks of HKB”H “shivti bbeit hashem kol ymei chayai” (let me sit in HKB”H’s house all the days of my life), yet when we look at his life, he clearly led an active one that included many days “on the road”. Perhaps much like imi morati hk”m, wherever he was, as long as he was actively involved in trying to execute the ratzon hashem with all his resources and abilities, he was “sitting in HKB”H’s house” (lfnei hashem is the true simcha per R’YBS). One who sits in the beit medrash when not performing his duties to his people imho recieves schar for every second serving as if he were sitting there (and never battling etc.)
- Jonathan Ziring -Rabbinic Authority in the Age of the Bar Ilan Responsa Project
One must consider three factors in thinking about the authority of a particular “poseik”: (i) his intrinsic individual ability to give psak; (ii) the availability/existence of other poskim (more suited to give psak?); (iii) what questions demand psak (vs. good advice)? [me – what is the real meaning of “psak” today, both in terms of issuer and issuee?] Analysis issue – must a poseik have everything at his fingertips? (Me – it seems clear to me that the level of poseik required should be a function of the complexity and impact of the question. One needs to also take into account that in our interconnected society, a “poseik” flapping his wings in Jerusalem will cause hurricanes on the upper West Side.)
However, ISTM there are some issues that the sources are very limited and clear and it’s hard to say that a great poseik is needed for specific information, but that maybe we need a structure for broad decisions where the result is primarily based on intuition.
- Dr. Ben Polak, -ECON 159: Game Theory-Lecture 1 – Introduction: Five First Lessons
Defining payoffs matter! You can’t always get what you want unless you know what you want! (and by the way, sometimes you might just get what you need). Prisoners’ dilemma et al discussed. Knowing your opponents’ payoffs is key for good strategic decisions.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 339-2
More things you can’t do on Shabbat: Chalitzah, Yibum, trumot, maasrot, pidyon and gerushin.
- Rabbi J Sacks-The Relevance of the Bible for Law and Ethics in Society Today
Interesting at King’s College– R’Sacks buys that there would be ethics without HKB”H (evolutionary psychology basis discussed in earlier psych series) but there are important Jewish/Biblical ethics that are in danger: (i) human dignity; (ii) freedom and responsibility; (iii) sanctity of life; (iv) guilt (vs. shame); (v) marriage as the basis of society; (vi) there are moral limits to power; (vii) we are in a covenantal relationship with society.
- King’s College London: Inaugural Lecture: Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks and Responses
I don’t think this link was on the chief Rabbi site but the responses were interesting (nothing that Torah Shebal Peh doesn’t deal with):
I. a) The Torah speaks with diverse voices on issues (e.g. peace) so how pick which voice to listen to today?
b) There are inconvenient exclusive rules (e.g. antigay)
c) how do we recognize evolving changes in culture (e.g. medical/ethical and psychological advances)
II. What is displacing Torah in modern world?
a) Economic self-interest (efficient results but not necessarily the “right” ones)
b) Shredding of notion of universal utopia (so no source of guidance)
c) New concerns – humanity changing the earth and changing humanity
Can you have forgiveness without justice and avoid a system of revenge?
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Ten Minute Halacha – Learning Torah From Disgraced Rabbis (35 minutes long)
What are the rules regarding knowledge gained from Rabbis who later turn out to have been behaving badly?
Two primary Talmudic sources analyzed and then applications. It may depend on the area the Rabbi fell short in; also whether the knowledge gained was oral or written, and whether you’re asked for psak or good advice.
R’Willig says nothing new can be learned, but you can rely on old knowledge if not in area of shortfall.
R’D Feinstein says nothing new can be learned but all old knowledge is ok.
R’HS says nothing old or new, once you’re not a chochom (baal ha) mesorah, you have no credibility.
- Rabbi Arnie Wittenstein -Intro To Koheles
Some general introductory comments concerning the study of Rashi in general and Rashi’s commentary on Kohelet in particular. Remember not to project our culture back into the time period of Kohelet and to consider the impact of our host on societies on our culture.
- Rabbi Netanel Wiederblank -Chasidai umot ha-olam–can non-Jews earn olam haba
Discussion of the Ramban’s position concerning chasidei (righteous) and chochmei (wise ones) of the nations and their place in the world to come (how to define who they are and their relative place therein).
Nine answers as to why the written law (Torah) does not include mention of the world to come.
- Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks -The Dangers of Autonomy
For us autonomy means don’t focus on ourselves (what we want) but on internalizing what HKB”H wants of us. The problem with the outside world is that it has autonomy but no direction (me – home, a complete unknown, like a rolling stone). Then a list of principles similar to the King’s College talk above.
- Dr. Ben Polak, -ECON 159: Game Theory-Lecture 2 –Putting Yourselve’s Into Other People’s Shoes
Some basic nomenclature defined plus introduction to assuming rational players (me – see Putin, V) and do we assume I know that you know that I know you know?
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -The Obligation of a Married Woman to Cover Her Hair
Is it an issue of a mitzvah or avoiding an issur. How much must be covered, by what, under which circumstances?
Don’t be a one issue Jew!
- Rav Yisroel Reisman-Kelalei Horaah Issur VeHeter – Shiur 1 after Yoreh Deah 242
Some rules of psak in Issur V’heter depending on:
*Torah vs. rabbinic issue
*Shaat hadchak (emergency)
*Hefsed mrubah (large $ at stake)
*Individual vs. majority position
*Is it just a stringency?
- Rav Yisroel Reisman-Kelalei Horaah Issur VeHeter – Shiur 2 after Yoreh Deah 242
Can you go to a second Rabbi in case of:
*Looking for a stringency (or a leniency)
*Slam dunk error by the first vs. judgment call
*Case still in progress
*Similar issue but new specific case
How do we evaluate relative weight of poskim?
- Rabbi Elchanan Adler -Lifnei Iver (6) – Mesayeiyah
Technical analysis of lfnei lver and msayea – trying to reconcile Talmudic sources.
- Dr. Ben Polak, -ECON 159: Game Theory-Lecture 3 – Iterative Deletion and the Median-Voter Theorem
Discusses models as abstractions for further refinement using a political science example (where should a candidate position himself)? Then on to the best response strategy based on a probabilistic model of rewards and likelihood of choices.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 339-4
Rules regarding a person’s interaction with objects on water on Shabbat – when is there a concern over possibly making a forbidden floatation device?
- Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner -Judaism and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
OCD defined with examples . How do OCD and religion interact? At some level religion can exacerbate OCD at another it can help treat. It’s important to understand both the disease and the context in order to best treat it.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 340-1
Hair and nail cutting prohibitions on Shabbat – what is the level of prohibition and why.
- Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky-ְסוּקֵי דְּזִמְרָא
Why do we say Karbanot each day and how “Kilu” (it’s as if you had brought a sacrifice) is it really (plus implications)? Is psukei dzimra’s structure from Anshei Knesset Hagedola or just minhag (practice)? Some implications of this question – what to do if you skip it one day? Women’s requirement?
Are birchat kriat shma really intertwined with the mitzvah of saying shma? If they are, why do we say them after the zman of kriat shma?
- הלכות צבא #24, אחדות המחנה הצבאי – בישול לצורך נכרים ביו”ט, מאת הרב אביהוד שורץ
How do we handle cooking on Yom Tov when there are non-bnai brit on the army base? Analysis of the original prohibition and possible reasons to be lenient in a situation where bnai brit and non-bnai brit are stationed together for a common kitchen.
- Ari Lamm -Like a Son of Man – Sefer Daniel, the Gospels and the Bookshelf of Bayit Sheni
Evolution of Xtianty doesn’t really follow traditional Jewish or Xtianty narratives which make it sound as if it were Yeish m’ayin (in this case a sudden leap into existence). Analysis of Book of Daniel and other narratives from the time period.
- Rabbi Reuven Brand -Advice: Giving and Taking in the Jewish Tradition
Some thoughts on hezek reiah (visual damage), ayin hara (evil eye), lashon hara and lfnei iver (stumbling block).
- Paul Bloom-Moralities of Everyday Life-Introduction to the Course – 22:45 (may need courser regis)
Looking at moral differences over time and cultures. Can we reconcile humanistic (free will) and scientific (we’re just a bunch of cells) approaches?
- Paul Bloom-Moralities of Everyday Life-1.1 – What is Morality? – 20:49
It’s hard to define morality – some examples and approaches about how we think about morality.
- Ari Lamm -Pestilence and the Sword – Jews, Gentiles and the Babylonian Hagadah
Eretz Yisrael vs. Babylonian Haggadah texts. While everyone needs HKB”H protection, outside of Israel there’s a real need to focus on redemption and our identity.
- Rabbi Jeffrey Saks -Halakhic Man (Part 9)
Religious man seeks to escape this world, halachic man to redeem it through his action. I’m not sure this really fully explains the Soloveitchik fear of death.
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Ten Minute Halacha – Chinuch for Tefillin
Explains different practices as to when a boy starts putting on tfillin and what brachot to make (e.g. shehechiyanu).
- Paul Bloom-Moralities of Everyday Life-1.2 – Philosophical Approaches – 20:30
Consequentialism and deontology explained – pros and cons of each approach.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 340-2
A man removing one white hair on Shabbat could be a Torah violation. Then on to male hair coloring on Shabbat and in general.
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Ten Minute Halacha – What Can One Make a Siyum On?
Can you make a siyum on Mishnah? A sefer in Tanach? Reading or listening without articulating a word? A bunch of people each doing a piece of the text?
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