by Joel Rich
From a recent WSJ article, which is relevant to rabbinic lecturers:
I”n times gone by, you might send a message internally that didn’t get outside,” says Mr. Sorrell. “Now, everything you write, everything that you say, you should think about it being on the front page of The Wall Street Journal.”
Bein Adam Le-chavero: Ethics of Interpersonal Conduct
By Rav Binyamin Zimmerman
We may suggest based on R. Hayyim Heller’s insight that the Rambam in all contexts demands a particularly rigorous standard of emuna that transcends the conventional definition of either knowledge or belief. Emuna conveys both affirmation and deep-seated conviction – amen –- as well as unshakeable loyalty, trust, and reliance – ne’emanut (see Rabbeinu Bachya, Kad Ha-kemach, Emuna). Intellectual awareness or even reasoned demonstration of Divine existence is insufficient if it is unaccompanied by unswerving dedication and commitment to the Divine Will. Superficial or uncritical belief that is not rooted in inquiry and introspection and that does not inspire one to channel all of one’s faculties to manifest Hashem’s presence (“kol atzmotai tomarna Hashem mi kamokha”) is also inadequate. In Sefer Ha-mitzvot, the Rambam utilizes an intentionally ambiguous term in order to convey both cognizance and belief in a maximal and integrated manner. In fact, the Ramban (Shemot 20:2) explicitly requires both knowledge and belief (she-yeide’u ve-sheya’aminu). The knowledge-belief implicit in this mitzva must redefine man’s purpose. (“Avraham Avinu and the Concept of Emunah”)
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Netilas Yadayim 7-2 and 8=1
More on hand washing and asher yatzar (how much do you have to go in order to make a bracha?). Introduction to Tzitzit rules – why to stand when making the bracha and how to do atifah (wrap).
- Rav Zvi Sobolofsky-Be an Educated Consumer: How Do We Decide What the Halacha Is?
Review of the process of psak. When is a minority opinion available for use in shaat hadchak (emergencies) and when is that opinion considered an unusable shita dchuya (out of left field?). A poseik must know all areas of Torah and the actual facts/conditions. In addition, he must be humble, make the effort and know the spirit of the law [and have a quick first step?].
- Avishai Ben Chaim’s-Haredi Autonomy 1
A three-part series in Hebrew focusing on Chareidi Society in Israel. Part I focuses on the building of a voluntary ghetto.
- Rabbi N Kaplan-Bechukosai
Major focus on ameilut b’Torah (working hard at learning) and msirat nefesh (sacrifice for such). Torah itself is true wealth (osher v’kavod). Includes some clarifications of prior remarks (ISTM one might differentiate between what one said [factual type issue] and what was meant).
- שיעור מיוחד מפי הרב אשר וייס, פסולי עדות: פסול רשע, פסול קרבה
Hebrew shiur focus on psulei eidut (invalid witnesses). There are two general categories (relatives and sinners). It is a gzeirat hakatuv (Torah command) for us to believe two witnesses and logic cannot extend these categories. However, relatives is an objective category. The sinner category has some subjectivity. Logic can be used to define subjective categories within such laws.
Great close on segulot for memory (work hard at it and love learning vs. putting first winter snow on your forehead).
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Netilas Yadayim 8-2
When to cover your head with your tallit during prayer (all the time)? R’YBS held while saying dvarim bkdusha [e.g. Barchu]). Text of bracha on tzitzit and possible requirement of surrounding self with 4 tzitzit (is it a constant requirement?).
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter -Birkas Hamazon
History of the evolution of the text of birchat hamazon [grace after meals]. How much do you have to eat? Where must you recite the blessing? What is the nature of the requirement?
- Rabbi Saul Berman -An Armchair Conversation on Modern Medicine and Contemporary Jewish Ethics: By: Rabbi Saul Berman and Dr. John Loike
Update on current reproductive technology issues and the challenges they present to halacha (technical and sociological considerations). I resonated to the mention of the absence of a robust methodology to resolve the various halachic opinions today (did I mention we need a Sanhedrin?).
- Rav Hershel Schachter-Tznius: A Way of Life for Men and Women
Imitato dei, HKB”H is hidden and so should be should be. Tzniut (modesty) as a lifestyle (male vs. female) and remember clothes make the man.
- Peter Singer-Practical Ethics—Small Group Discussion 2 (50:59)
Roundtable discussion including brain death, abortion, consciousness, et al.
- Ms. Rachel Leshaw -Rabbi Akiva: Leadership of Optimism
R’Akiva’s history and how his personality was appropriate and necessary for his time.
- Peter Singer-Practical Ethics—Making Decisions for Sick and Disabled Infants (15:04)
Dr. discusses babies born with severe problems – it’s the parents’ decision whether to use extraordinary lifesaving measures, but Dr. tries to ensure clarification of circumstances and clarify parental values and emotions. When is a fetus viable? How much should expected quality of life be taken into account in extending life?
- Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Tzitzis 8-3
Talit kattan bracha rules. Explains different possible reasons for separating the tzitzit strings and the practical halachic implication of those reasons.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Tzitzis 8-4
Putting on tallit kattan before hand washing, what to do when you make the bracha? Wearing tzitzit in or out? What to do when there’s a long pause between putting on tallit katan and gadol.
- Rabbi Reuven Brand – Good Laugh? Humor in Halacha and Hashkafa
Seemingly contradictory Talmudic sources on humor (or lack thereof) and how they might be reconciled. Be balanced and understand the difference between humor, simcha (joy) and cynicism (leitzanut).
- Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Tzitzis 8-5
More tzitzit rules focusing on when one bracha is sufficient for multiple wearing and when do you need a new one.
- Jonathan Ziring -Yuhara: Between Chumra and Arrogance
Review of Talmudic sources and later poskim concerning practices which might be considered yuhara (arrogance?). What are the concerns and practical applications? Does the concern extend to communities as well as individuals?
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter -Birkas Kohanim
Lots of detail on birchat kohanim:
*relation to tfilat hatzibur and implications
*relation to avodah (sacrificial order) and implications
*when is bracha not required?
*saying it on fast days
*minor saying it
*requirement to be bsimcha (joyous) and implications
Includes an excellent summary of the Kehilat Yaakov’s explanation of why sometimes we take into account the reason for a rabbinic ordinance (and allow it to “expire”) and other times not [involves kol d’takun, darshinan taama d’kra and Rabbis needing to give reasons when oker davar min hatorah].
- The State of the Jewish World Address: Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
Major issues of the day: European anti-Semitism , de-legitimization of Israel and the State of Iran.
We need: friends and allies, unity in the ranks and celebration of our own Judaism.
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter -Zemanei Tefillah
All the parameters of netz; alot, mincha, shkia … and the implications for tfila, kriat shma, kiddush…
- Rabbi Allen Schwartz -Haftorah of Yom Kippur, Teshuvah
Importance of self-restraint and creating a moral society. Hatarat nedarim (annulment of vows) as a paradigm for Torah shebal peh and other lessons.
- Peter Singer-Practical Ethics-What is a Life Worth Living? (12:23)
Is there a point where life is not worth living? How should cost ($, time) be taken into account?
- Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky -Sh’mitah B’zman Hazeh
Lots of detail on prohibitions of working land, new growth, doing business, eating…
- Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Tzitzis 8-6
Rules concerning bracha when you put tzitzit back on. Depends on why you took them off, how long they were off for, what you did in the interim and which type of talit?
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter -The ABC’s of Our Religion
Interesting background as to R’YBS’s Hallel on Yom Haatzmaut Shiur (Rabbis are people too it seems).
Discussion of the eternity of the self-contained halachic process and understanding the difference between motivations for change and formulas for change. Nails the big problem (to me) that science theory is experimentally testable (will the ship fly?) but halacha is not.
- Avishai Ben Chaim’s-Haredi Autonomy 2
Focus on the economics of the Chareidi community.
- Avishai Ben Chaim’s-Haredi Autonomy 3
Focus on Chareidi education and the future.
- Rabbi David Hirsch -Nichum Aveilim
Analysis of relative priorities of bikur cholim (visiting the sick) and nichum aveilim (comforting mourners). Particular focus on case where there are no mourners.
- Peter Singer-Practical Ethics-The Wrongness of Killing (9:18)
Is killing always wrong or are there some parameters (e.g. self desire)
- Peter Singer-Practical Ethics-Terminology and Distinctions (8:12)
Suicide related terms – voluntary, non-voluntary and involuntary. Is there a difference between passive and active assistance? Prof. Singer says no one is talking about involuntary euthanasia. I assume he’s talking about his philosophical circles.
Please direct any informal comments to [email protected].