by Joel Rich
My correspondent: Second order rule lists are very common and have yet to be well worked through in English — they include things like safek deoryata lechumra and sefaek derabanan lekula and safek brachot lehakel and even hilcheta kebartai. Some of them are in tension, also. The world is still waiting for a good work on this analytically
Me: The interaction of second order decision making rules has always
interested me. I’ve thought for a while that rather than a pure Boolean algorithmic approach which yields one and only one answer, perhaps the oral law was truly meant to be a fuzzy logic system?
Great Insight: By the way, there is no proof of aliens (The Satmar Rebbe – Ha-Rav Yoel Teitelbaum – exerted with total certitude that there was no life on the moon. If there was life on the moon, he reasoned, the Ponevizher Rav – Ha-Rav Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman, who was a most successful fundraiser for his yeshiva in Bnei Brak, would have gone there collecting! (Builders, by Chanoch Teller, p. 352).
- הלכות צבא #25, השבת במשטרה + דברי סיום לסדרה, מאת הרב אביהוד שורץ
Last in this excellent series. Analyzes the permissibility of various Shabbat police activities and responses. While it’s clear immediate life endangerment cases are allowed, what about non-immediate but urgent police activities? Does Orthodoxy have to worry today how an Orthodox police force (and individual policeman) would function? (me – yes, we are one body).
- רב בן ציון מוצפי – אפשר ללמוד תורה לתועלת
There’s no selling of heavenly reward. If you do something, do the asking after (similar to Torah reading). My comment: My Hebrew isn’t that great but I didn’t really hear a source/sevara other than “the kadmonim did it after”?
I also did an extensive shiur on yizkor which dealt with some of the related issues. I have maareh mkomot if you like. I’m pretty sure there were those who said for learning you must bdavka say before you learn that you’re doing it for….and at least one opinion that you should give tzedaka prior to the yizkor rather than after.
One caveat, As I always tell folks, I’m not HKB”h’s accountant and we should just focus on doing what’s right, I have full confidence that HKB”H is a better compensation consultant than I am and will reward appropriately
- Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shabbos Siman 340-6
Introduction to the melacha of Koteiv (writing).
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Ten Minute Halacha – Taking Tefillin Off Before Mussaf on Rosh Chodesh
If you’re in a shul that doesn’t give you enough time to wrap your Tfillin before Mussaf on Rosh Chodesh, what do you do? No good choices, perhaps best is to just cover them (reviews problems with all the possible choices).
Me – In “Nefesh Harav”, R’H Schacter says R’YBS said to just leave them on in this case (as long as davening ashkenaz and not saying Keter in Kedusha which is the original reason for taking tfillin off). In “Halachic Positions” R’Ziegler says R’YBS made the Shatz wait.
- Paul Bloom-Moralities of Everyday Life- 1.3 – Reason vs. Emotions – 15:18
Trolleyology focusing on traditional moral philosophical approaches (e.g., doctrine of double effect) and introducing the modern idea that it’s not necessarily an intellectual answer but rather it’s all in your gut.
- Rabbi Joel Finkelstein -Humanism and Judaism
Is there an ethic outside of halacha? What is the difference between those groups specifically commanded in mitzvoth and those not? Is it simply that we view Torah as a gift?
- Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky -The Issur of Melacha on Chol Hamoed
Practically defining davar haavud (opportunity cost?) allowance of chol hamoed activity. It was primarily left to Chazal to define which activities would not violate the spirit of Yom Tov. Issues include:
*Is there a need for actual loss or are reduced future profits enough to trigger an allowance?
*Is there a difference if the activity is a normal business pattern vs. a unique opportunity?
*Do we care if the activity generates a general profit vs. a profit earmarked for Yom Tov use?
*Does it matter if the activity involves new vs. old customers?
*Do lost vacation days count as a davar haavud?
- Paul Bloom-Moralities of Everyday Life-1.4 – The Case of Disgust – 14:10
Disgust is a universal emotion, evolutionary psychologists would say it protects us from poisons and parasites. But then why do we find some people disgusting?
Discussion of how feeling disgust informs on our moral judgment. Experiments showing “moral dumbfounding” where people feel something is immoral but can’t explain rationale (implication – it’s all in the gut).
- Paul Bloom-Moralities of Everyday Life-1.5 – Cute and Sexy – 9:24
More examples of where emotion affects moral judgments.
- Rabbi Ezra Schwartz -Different Matza Minhagim: Are They All Equally Good
History and halacha of Ashkenazi (flat hard) and Yemenite (pita like – which was the historical status quo) matzot plus two possible sources of the minhag not to eat gebrochst (water touched matza).
- Rabbi Eli Belizon -C-Sections in halacha
Review of primary sources concerning status of yotzeih dofen births (primarily C-section) focusing on brit implications.
- Rabbi Moshe Lichtman -The Holocaust, Israel and the Metamorphosis of a Gadol
History of the writing of Eim Habanim Smeicha (we’ve discussed this before).
- Rabbi Michael Rosensweig -The Parameters of Semikha
In Smicha(ordination) two elements are important: (i) the knowledge/religious persona of the someich (Rabbi); (ii) the someich’s authority/permission to give psak.
R’Rosensweig looks at original smicha, as well as the “ntilat reshut” (authorization) given by the Exilarch and the modern Heter Horaah (permission from one’s teacher) in terms of both of these parameters.
*who can pass on authorization to the next generation?
*can authority be limited in time or scope?
*does the authority stem from individual’s stature?
*is facility in all areas of Torah required for smicha?
Philosophical take away – it’s more than just a degree!
- Rav Asher Weiss-Tazria
Is delaying a mitzvah a “bittul aseih” (cancelling a required commandment) or is that only when you decide you’re not going to do the mitzvah at all.
Rambam says there’s still a mitzvah regarding leprosy after the destruction of the Temple, so why don’t we see it done? Perhaps we no longer have Cohanim Meyuchasim (certified for Temple service), only Kohanei Chazakah (those that strong armedly insist that they are so ).
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter -Parsha Shiur – Tazria 5774
Discussion of yotzeih dofen (non “natural” birth) – how is this defined and what are the implications?
Some interesting shidduch advice (look for steady and stable mate).
Issues regarding ritual impurity (lots!) and childbirth Temple sacrifices.
Some issues regarding nidui (being cast out) and mourning.
Two interesting remarks which I thought could use more discussion – i) we don’t do atifa (wrapping face) any longer as part of mourning due to the fact that people would laugh [how do we know when to change rules based on this criteria?]; ii) Mechitzah – do we need it if the sexes are separated by more than five amot?
- Paul Bloom-Moralities of Everyday Life–1.6 – Return to the Trolley Problem – 6:11
Case study number 3 on emotion informing on moral decision making – the impact of the emotional portions of the brain on moral decisions.
- Paul Bloom-Moralities of Everyday Life-1.7 – The Big Questions – 13:03
Is there a single “right” moral answer (as is true in Physics)?[me-is it really true in physics]
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter =Likeutei Inyonim #5
R’YBS on Kol d’takun (Chazal always followed Torah blueprint in their ordinances).
Issues include: Marit Ayin (“how it looks”) in two forms – concern for people taking the wrong implication or thinking the individual did something wrong and distance to keep graves apart.
- Paul Bloom-Moralities of Everyday Life-Week 1 Office Hours – 26:18
Interesting issues include:
*who do you side with on is there one, and only one, “right” moral answer?
*why didn’t the class spend any time on virtue ethics?
*perhaps don’t do anything in trolley case because we’re not held responsible for
omission (me – not true for halachic man)
*problems with demographics of participants in psychology studies (you remember WEIRD)
*are we treating people as means (anti Kantian!) when we do psychological experiments?
- Rabbi Michael Taubes -Parshas Shemini Semicha and Horaah in Modern Times
Smicha (ordination) – what did/does it mean?
*do you need to know “all” of Torah?
*how much “on the job training” (shimush) is needed?
*can you rule based only on book knowledge?
*do you have to explain unusual rulings? [me – IMHO explanations should be the rule, not the exception, if you expect to raise the level of your community] *the longer a ruling has been around, the more deference is due it
*”To thine own self be true, and it must follow as the night the day, thou canst then not be false to any man” (ok – that’s my summa Rabbi Dovi Fischer -Halachic Misconceptionsry of intellectual honesty)
- Paul Bloom-Moralities of Everyday Life-2.1 – Caring About Others – 10:41
Is compassion a native trait or is it developed through training?
- Rabbi Netanel Wiederblank -Can God divorce us?
Avraham was chosen based on who he was and also due to an unknowable “no reason” of HKB”H; so too the Jewish people.
- Rabbi Dovi Fischer -Halachic Misconceptions
*Kiddush levana – saying Shalom Aleichem – should be 3 times to one other person (good luck finding a partner)
*Must sit when drinking Kiddush wine
*Examples where “tadir” (more frequent takes precedence) is overridden
*Don’t need to wear a suit on Chol Hamoed
*Don’t eat before davening maariv
*Taking off Tfillin – Rosh Chodesh and Chol Hamoed issues
*Keep on Tfillin during a brit (yes)
*Send some “real food” for Shalach Manot
*Don’t say Harav in misheberach, just the individual’s name
*You can write and say God
*Maareh Mkomot without pasuk from chumash or Sheim Hashem don’t need geniza
- Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky -The Haggadah in Halacha and Machshava
R’Chaim’s insight as to how sippur (telling the story) differs from zechira (remembering) of leaving Egypt.
Differences in 4 questions over time.
What are the main points of the story that must be told.
Why go past the formal halachic end time for telling the Passover story.
- Rabbi Ami Merzel -Chizuk for Going Back to America
“Coming To America” (apologies to Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall) after the gap year(s) is fraught with danger due to different value systems than the Israeli Yeshiva that nurtured you (me – that’s an understatement).
Remember what’s important, be ready to sacrifice, watch out for technology, hang out with good people and avoid parties [me – in another era The Big D would always exhort us – “Those Sweet 16’s will come back to haunt you!].
- Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner -Bankruptcy and the Jewish Client
Exploring Jewish law’s requirement to repay debts and the interaction with secular bankruptcy laws. The secular law may apply based on a number of theories including Jewish law’s allowance for: compromise settlements, accepted business practices, or local law provision. There can be issues with going to secular court and you may need to structure the agreement carefully to be sure that the result will be enforceable in Jewish court.
- Rabbi Michael Taubes -Parshas Tazria May One Eat Fish With Meat With Dairy
Goes through the whole not cooking (later eating) meat with fish “danger”. Beit Yosef said something about milk and fish but most think it was a misprint.
- Rabbi Michoel Zylberman-Melacha Before Havdalah
Can you do work after just saying “hamavdil bein Kodesh l’chol” without having been mavdil in shmoneh esrai? It may depend on whether havdalah is directly related to Shabbat or a separate rule.
- Paul Bloom-Moralities of Everyday Life-2.2 – How Do We Treat Strangers? – 22:15
How we deal with people shows our natural empathy. Interesting differences in how we deal with those close vs. far. We do sometimes use moral arguments to overcome natural self interest.
- Paul Bloom-Moralities of Everyday Life-2.3 – Empathy and Concern – 27:04
Why do we act compassionately? Is it self-serving? due to belief systems? rational analysis? or just how we are wired?
Perhaps based on empathy; that is being able to put oneself in others’ shoes. We mirror others’ expressions, etc.
Empathy dissolves the boundaries between us and we feel how other’s feel. This explains the identifiable victim syndrome (one individual suffering grabs our attention vs. many victims are just statistisc).
Fiction can break these boundaries as well. Psycopaths just don’t care.
Please direct any informal comments to [email protected].