by Joel Rich
Here is a simplified scenario of evolution according to the standard theory of natural selection. A successful thief furthers his own interests and those of his offspring, but his actions weaken the remainder of the group. Any genes proscribing his psychopathic behavior will increase within the group from one generation to the next – but, like a parasite causing a disease in an organism, his activity weakens the rest of the group – and eventually the thief himself. At the opposite extreme, a valiant warrior leads his group to victory, but in doing so is killed in battle, leaving few or no offspring. His genes for heroism are lost with him, but the remainder of the group, and the heroism genes they share, benefit and increase.
The two levels of natural selection, individual and group, illustrated by these extremes, are in opposition. They will in time lead to either a balance of the opposing genes or an extinction of one of the two kinds altogether. Their action is summarized in this maxim: selfish members win within groups, but groups of altruists best groups of selfish members.
What are the implications for we who (as per R’YBS) are judged both as individuals and as part of the Tzibbur
From a recent Harvard Business Review article – Worth thinking about regarding halachic knowledge:
Unstructured versus structured.
Unstructured (tacit) knowledge involves deep, almost intuitive understanding that is hard to articulate; it’s generally rooted in great expertise. World-class, highly experienced engineers may intuit how to solve technical problems that nobody else can (and may be unable to explain their intuition). Rainmakers in a strategy consulting firm know in their bones how to steer a conversation or a discussion, develop a relationship, and close a deal, but they would have trouble telling colleagues why they made a particular move at a particular moment. Structured (explicit or codified) knowledge is easier to communicate: A company that’s expert in the use of discovery-driven planning, for example, can bring people up to speed on that methodology quickly because it has given them recourse to a common language, rules of thumb, and conceptual frameworks. Some knowledge is so fully structured that it can be captured in patents, software, or other intellectual property.
- Rabbi J B Soloveitchik-Sefer Hamitzvot
Kabbalat ol malchut shamayim (accepting the yoke of heaven) is really a state of mind. There is a parallel to prayer. Detailed analysis of the difference of opinion between the Rambam and Ramban on whether prayer is a Torah of rabbinic requirement. Includes R’Chaim’s famous “proof” that prayer is a Torah requirement (how could it not be?!) and R’YBS’s understanding that the feeling of need is the mechayev (trigger for a requirement) of prayer.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Birchos Hashachar 73-1
Rules about saying kriat shma when sharing a bed.
- Rav Nissan Kaplan-Terrorist Attacks
Har Nof massacre was a message to the community. Perhaps it’s to a message be serious in prayer/talis/tfillin.
(Me-– I certainly agree that if we can get folks to focus on davening,it’s a good thing, It bothers me a lot that folks focus on the har nof tragedy (which it was) as a galvanizing event when there have been thousands of other terrorist caused deaths and maybe 5 times as many injured. As one of my rabbeim once said to me “Does HKB”H have to send an engraved invitation with your name on it to get your attention?”)
- Rabbi Avraham Kohan -Lecture 50: Can Women Put On Tefillin If They Want To?
Women and tfillin (my title will be “Girls behaving badly?”). Who is entitled to an opinion? Don’t change the Torah to fit your lifestyle! You need a line in the sand or it will be another Conservative movement.
- Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn -Judaism and Other Religions Comparison of some thoughts on comparative religions:
1) Christianity – Reasons for not learning on Nittelnacht
2) Islam – monotheistic, what’s the status of a mosque?
3) Scientology – cult, compulsion
4) Hinduism – reincarnation issue
5) Atheism – it’s really about having doubts
- Rabbi Chayim Soloveichik -The Tragedies of Chodesh Teves from the Septuagint to Bible Criticism
Every word of the Torah is from HKB”H even if some rishonim held differently, now it’s been paskined (a well-known debatable point). Biblical criticism leads to downgrading some mitzvoth since once you accept something not directly from HKB”H, everything is questionable. Translation also led to an imperfect understanding and feeling that some parts of Torah are not so special.
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -From The Rabbi’s Desk – Tis The Season… For Interesting Shailos
• Working as Santa – could be a problem of chukat akum
• Saying Happy Holidays (R’H Schachter says no, R’Zylberstein says ok)
• Chanukah gifts – what is the history? (me – a cynic would say that the Kosherized history is to give cover to what amcha wants to do)
• Buying Kosher food for a local Santa – R’H Schachter says ok since everyone “understands” but R’Zylberstein was against it
• Participation in holidays with others
• Taking charity from non-bnai brit?
• Statues in a rental house backyard (me – just cover it like they do when you rent a high class catering hall with “art”)
- Rabbi Michael Taubes -Parshas Vayigash
Review of sources and rules concerning interruptions in kriat shma and in prayer – defining kavod (due to respect) and yirah (due to fear).
- Rabbi J B Soloveitchik-Brachos 8b Amar Rovo Livno
Keeping personal feelings private! (Kach mkublai mbeit avi abba) Halacha recognizes that we are not masters of our bodies, our property or our reputations. They all require deference to the will of HKB”H.
Analysis of Talmudic statement concerning an Aramean bed, the message of evening kriat shma and the treatment of converts.
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter -Tevilas Keilim
Sources and basics on Tvilat Keilim. Includes what types of utensils and materials are covered, status of corporate ownership of utensils, if a utensil would be ruined by immersion there is no requirement to toveil it, status of aluminum pans….
I suppose this is a good time to mention that R’HS has some unique opinions on certain issues which he sometimes communicates in offhand comments that don’t necessarily make clear the uniqueness.
- Rabbi Gershon Albert -Prophecy in Judaism – Part 1: Centrality of the Prophetic Experience
First in a series on prophecy in Judaism. Focus here on why prophecy is important in Judaism, mostly according to the Rambam
- Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Birchos Hashachar 74-1
Rules about saying kriat shma in various stages of undress.
- Jonathan Ziring -Are You Too Biased to Poskan For Yourself? – The Role of Baal HaBatim in Psak 9
Sources in Talmud and later authorities concerning rendering psak for oneself range from not a real problem to probably shouldn’t be done. So how to reconcile? Can I pronounce an opinion in the beit medrash on an issue where I have a personal stake?
- Rabbi Yehuda Turetsky -Assessing and Understanding Yourself: Ramchal, the Rav, and Rebbe Nachman
Ramchal (mussar school arch-type) – one must engage in constant self-reflection and analysis. (me – very tiring!)
R’YBS in halachic man says that’s a waste of valuable time – just do halacha, since this self-reflection will not result in fear or love of HKB”H or recognition of his Torah. [elsewhere he does allow for some reflection].
R’Nachman focused on time alone reflecting with HKB”H.
- Dr. Rona Novick -Bystander Action and Inaction: Psychological and Jewish Perspectives for Social Responsibility
Longer term readers of audio roundup will be familiar with the psychological issues (conformity, dehumanization, etc.) covered in this presentation from earlier review of psychology courses. Examples given from Tanach and Halacha of Lo Taamod (don’t stand idly by) and V’asita Hatov V’hashar (do the right thing) inform on our responsibilities in these areas.
- Dr. Rivka Schwartz – On Certainty and Uncertainty (Which is Not the Same Thing as Faith and Doubt, But That, Too.)
Believing your way is right and anything else is wrong may be comforting to you and provide you clarity, but there are dangers to the community when it delegitimizes everyone else. We need to hear others’ narratives even if we disagree and focus on our own group’s shortcomings rather than on others (who won’t listen anyway) [hmmm – have I said that before?]
- Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff- Jewish History #14 – “My Encounters With Rabbi Belkin” – 12-29-2014
R’ARR’s history with R’Belkin then introduction to R’Lessin (the mashgiach ruchani).
- Dr. David Pelcovitz -Noseh B’Ol Im Chaveiro: How Do We Help Family and Friends During Tough Times?
What to do? Be there for the long term with specific offers to help and measures of support.
- Rabbi Yaakov B. Neuburger -Buying Land in Israel During Shemittah: Rare Opportunity or Savvy Fundraising? Understanding Shemittah Principles
This shmita cycle there was an effort to get those who live outside of Israel to buy a piece of a farm to “get the mitzvah” of shmita. Does it work? (of course, if the money goes to poor farmers you would get the mitzvah of charity). Technically, it may be dependent on whether the mitzvah is for the land not to be worked or one not to work the land. While most seem to support the effort, R’Asher Weiss was against it. He gives a few reasons but the one that most resonated with me (and why I chose not to engage in this project) was that it reinforces the painless, effortless just write a check school of mitzvot whereas shmittah by its nature was a yigiah (pain/effort) mitzvah.
- Mrs. C.B. Neugroschl -Rav Kook: A Religious Zionism of Inclusion
R’Kook assumed all Jews were in it for the right reason and acted on that assumption even if it meant personal sacrifice (as we all should). He was inclusive to anyone who worked for the Torah, the people or the land of Israel.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Birchos Hashachar 73-1
Rules of water as a cover for body/nakedness for various purposes including male vs female issues. How do you cover your head for a bracha in this case?
- Jonathan Ziring -Hodaat Baal Din, Davar Shelo Ba LeOlam
Classical technical chakira discussions (nemanut vs. hitchayvut, shibud on person or land) regarding hodaat baaldin (self-admission of liability) and davar shelo ba l’olam (not yet existing object).
- Rabbi Uri Orlian -hazara: Yom Tov, Fasting, Yichud, Sukkah, 4 Minim, Avodah Zarah, Kiruv, Medical Risks
Halacha l’maaseh (practical halacha) for rabbinical students includes:
• Holiday topics
– Gas stoves
– Shabbat mode ovens
– Showering on Yom Tov
– Yom Tov sheini for visitors to Israel
– Pregnant or nursing mothers on Yom Kippur
– Who is included
– Where does it take place
– How many people of each sex involved
– Minimum size and walls
– Mats for schach
– Wall material issues
– Building order
• Avodah zarah (status of other religions and houses of worship)
• Lulav/Esrog et al rules (me – need pictures for this stuff)
• Medical issues
– What risk can/should you undertake (blood and marrow transplant)
– Sources of mitzvah
Status of non-religious Jews
- Rav Asher Weiss-Baroc Shim Chbod Malchoto Leolam Vahd
Different reasons given for saying “baruch shem kvod malchuto” after kriat shma. There are two purposes in saying kriat shma – accepting the yoke of heaven and the positive commandment. Implications of this differentiation discussed.
- Rabbi Uri Orlian -Chazara II: Arakos, Shabbos Childcare, Dina D’malchusa, Mikvaos
• Secular courts
– Can you go?
– Can you sometimes use secular law?
– Israeli law
• Kids/Shabbat (recently reviewed R’Sobolofsky shiur)
• Dina Dmalchuta (R’HS – many shiurim reviewed previously)
– Vs. maayan
– Differing construction methods
- Mrs. Merav Tal-Timen-Beginning, End, and What’s in Between: Age and the perception of Time (Hebrew)
Use of different words in Hebrew for time concepts. When did we start counting time? Einstein vs. Newton on the subjectivity of time (as a function of the observer [me – and of the magid shiur?])
Appreciating the time we have, especially as our time horizon gets shorter.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Birchos Hashachar 74-3 and 75-1
Physical separation from one’s ervah for kriat shma and amida. How to conduct oneself in saying prayers/kriat shma if someone around you is not dressed appropriately.
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Ten Minute Halacha – Giving Tzedakah During Pesukei D’zimra
Explanation of the practice of giving Tzedakah (and standing) by Vayivarech David. Really – it’s a bigger mitzvah to give charity to the gabbai than to give it directly?? To interrupt prayer than to give it before?? (me – see S”A O”C 92 and tell me when you think R’Y Karo gave it)
- Rabbi Larry Rothwachs -Torah Living for the OCD, Anxiety Disordered or Struggling Addict
Examples of halachic questions asked regarding mental challenges (e.g. parental relationships, Shabbat violations for treatments) and halachic parameters invoked (shoteh [not capable], ones [not responsible], choleh/sakanah [dangerously ill….]. Some focus on OCD and R’Asher Weiss’s approach (worth a separate discussion – the halachic heart – who gets to follow it).
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter -Pikuach Nefesh
R’HS covers the waterfront on pikuach nefesh – who, when and which conditions.
Please direct any informal comments to [email protected].