by Joel Rich
“Does the fact that, from the perspective of eternity, our lives look small and insignificant mean that our lives are meaningless?” (“What Is This Thing Called Ethics” – Christopher Bennett, Second Edition – which is an excellent summary/primer for anyone interested in seriously, analytically thinking about ethics). This is the question that I try to understand from a non-believers viewpoint. The best answer I’ve gotten to date is, “Joel, you think too much. Most people don’t think, they just do.”
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My take on R’Dessler’s theory (as reported) that there are necessary casualties in the kollel system to produce a gadol
( in the words of col Jessup)
Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinburg? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives
So when related to the recent issues of Klal Perspectives the statement is made:”Baalabatim are frustrated because they set goals in their twenties and then life happened.”, my thought is– True, but can we say something about the role of yeshivas and rosh yeshivas in how those initial goals were formulated?
- Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shemoneh Esreh 104-3 and 105-1 and 106-1
What to do if you are in middle of shmoneh esrai and kaddish or kedusha is being said. Exemptions from the requirement to say shma and shmoneh esrai.
- Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner -The Role of Trust in a Synagogue
Defining trust based on secular sources, then examples is Tanach and Chazal. Synagogue trust issues include pastoral, social and financials realms. Good food for thought. [BTW, the correct definition of trust per me is who is the one you want at your back in a bar room fight! (R’T’s definition – honor commitments and social norms even when against the individual’s self-interest)] Need shuls to have transparency in their operations.
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Ten Minute Halacha – Can a School Compel Parents to Vaccinate Their Children
R’AL thinks anti-vaxxers are mistaken (I’m being kind) and that there is clear rabbinic authority to ban anti-vaxxers kids from schools and be suspicious of parents’ sudden provision of vaccination certifications.
- Jonathan Ziring -When Does What People Do Teach Us What the Halacha Is? The Role of Baal HaBatim in Psak 15
How much can we rely on community practice as reflecting a halachic standard? Does it depend on how the community (me – or its rabbis) view the community (e.g. it is, and has been, a kehilla kedosha). Includes R’Dr’ C. Soloveitchik on the baalei tosfet.
- Rabbi Hayyim Angel- Afterlife in Jewish Thought and Ramifications for Today
While resurrection isn’t mentioned in Tanach until Daniel, many scholars now agree with Rabbis that while it’s not mentioned, it is implied on a society focused basis. After the churban bayit, it became more of an issue. It’s all about how you look at this world. If you’re secular, you could just focus on this world. If you’re “frum” and just focus on the world to come, you could just focus on self-perfection (and not worry about the community). If you study Mesilat Yesharim without studying Navi, you might end up self-focused as well, but the real goal he has in mind is community perfection too.
- Star K-Do Kosher Agencies Get Along?
Interesting reference to MAD (mutually assured destruction) as a basis for major kashrut organization cooperation on standards. Reference is made to Litman book on the industry as well. Keep in mind that such a description could also support an oligopoly that might accept lower standards from an oligopic participant in order to defend total oligopoly market share. Interestingly mentions areas where Star K is more stringent than others, but not those where not so (pre-washed salad, Shabbat mode ovens come to mind).
Of particular interest – discussion of O.J., Chalav Yisrael and heter mechira (interesting how the implication is that US kosher consumers have no responsibility for the impact of their purchases (or lack thereof) on the Israeli economy).
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter -Parsha Shiur – Tetzaveh-Zochor 5775
Nature of the mitzvah of zachor – lots of technical detail. Does Amalek still exist? Why is Moshe not mentioned in Tezaveh? How often was the Menorah lit? Why is karban pesach the only karban that could be brought without a Temple? Discusses various issues regarding the bgdei kehunah.
- Yakov Danishefsky -Losing Your Mind, Rationally: Faith and Purim
M.O. focuses a lot on intellect but must realize question and doubt is part of life – this is the message of Purim.
- Rabbi Yosef Ginsberg -Rav Kook on Adon Olam
Deeper meaning of Adon Olam as per R’Kook.
- Star K-The Glatt Kosher Meat Industry
Interesting discussion of changes in Kosher meat industry and some practical issues. Rejects idea that there’s more glatt than in past (% wise?) – it’s now 35%. Chassidic intolerance ensures most shochtim are chassidim. 50% of listeners say they use any hashgacha.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shemoneh Esreh 106-2
Teaching children about prayer. Then on to “torato umnato” (someone who is totally involved in Torah learning) and the implication of that status for prayer requirements.
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -By Way Of Introduction – Dor Revi’i Part 2
More on the Dor Revi including his approach to the oral law, his brilliance, tzidkut, and approach to “reconciling” science and Torah. He was anti-pilpul.
Only in Eretz Yisrael can you have “unbiased” approach (i.e. not affected by “outside” philosophy, etc.). [Me – IMHO one is always affected, it’s just whether they are aware of it or not]
- Rabbi Nissan Kaplan-Mishpatim
Several topics including the relative importance of commercial halacha (shows you “get” that all resources belong to HKB”H), use of doctors and giving treifot to dogs.
- Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff -Jewish History #20 – “Can We Trust This Source?” – 03-05-2015
Detailed history and analysis of the 7th (and last?) Lubavitcher Rebbi.
- Dr. Alan Willner -Torah and Science
Science tells us what, Torah tells us why. Torah had to tell us in a way everyone could understand so big bang is Breishit etc.
- Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff -Responsa Literature #18 – “Can You Keep a Secret” 03-01-2015
R’ARR on the Lubavicther Rebbi being against eruvin (people won’t remember there is a prohibition of carrying and eruvin will fall down). How it has played out in Australia and Brooklyn.
- Star K-Talking About Star-K Certified Kosher Phones
Star K certifies a specially built Kosher phone (no texting/internet) for those who want one (does not come in strawberry due to bug issues).
- Rabbi Nissan Kaplan-One Mitzvah
Choose a mitzvah and have simcha (joy) in it.
- Rabbi Mordechai Friedman-Topics in Practical Halakha #11 Benching and Zimmun Part 1
Practical review of laws of Zimmun. Key results include:
• Leader should say entire Birchat Hamazon out loud. Followers should listen (and not say) with intent to first blessing, listen and say along rest.
• Rules for breaking off from, or not forming, a Zimmun
• Women on their own and with men
• At least 7 eat bread plus 3 any eating form 10
At least 2 eat bread plus 3 any eating forms 3 only after the fact
- Star K-What’s the Difference Between Kosher Certifying Agencies – Policies and Perspectives
Look for fear of heaven, deep Torah knowledge and deep practical knowledge in Kashrut supervision. Standards differ in many areas including:
- Rabbi Gedalya Shames -Jewish View of Adoption
Some Talmudic sources on adoption primarily focused on the support/raising feelings of parents. What does it mean “as if” you gave birth to them?
- Jonathan Ziring -Emunot V’Deot – The Nature of Knowledge and Taamei HaMitzvot
R’Sadia on ways of “knowing” – methodology and employing intellect or observation (logic vs. mesorah).
- Dr. Stu Halpern -The Lion, the Pit and the Wardrobe: Daniel, Joseph, Esther and the Struggles of Being a Diaspora Jew
Esther, Daniel and Yosef parallels and differences – lessons for the Jew in exile.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Shemoneh Esreh 107-1
What to do if not sure said shomeh esrai. There is no – tfilat ndavah (voluntary shmoneh esrai) today [me – not real clear to me why – has concentration really slipped away? (cue – CSN&Y)].
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter -15_03_03_Schachter
Purim issues including:
• Nature of taanit Esther and implications
• Value of machtzit hashekel
• Blessings on the megilla
• Standing for blessings and/or listening to megilla
How bnai haman should be written
- Jonathan Ziring-Al Taas Atzmecha KeOrchei HaDayanin
What does it mean not to be like Orchei Dayanim? Does it refer to judges and/or others? Can they clarify, spin or change claims?
- Rabbi Daniel Z. Feldman -Humor and Laughter as Torah Values
Jewish humor – does it come from dealing with adversity/persecution? It can be an act of chesed and aid in education. Most importantly, it can be imitato dei (which is why I have a dry sense of humor) and help maintain a sense of proportion. Then some insights on Purim Spiels and Torah.
- Rabbi Avishai David -Megillas Esther; Why is it Called Megillas Esther?
Seeing HKB”H’s hand in history, Mordechai and Esther’s role and why “the lead” switched from Mordechai to Esther.
- Rabbi Ami Merzel -Kashrush questions in a modern home
Practical Kashrut issues for guys learning in Israel (and assumedly returning home to people not as frum as them). Includes:
• Cold plates on a temporary basis
• Yayin nesech
• Airplane food
• Bishul akum
• Model seder
Gotta love the reasons why one oven and one set of glasses was ok in the past but not today – (me – don’t think twice, it’s all right. Cue – Bob Dylan)
- Rabbi Reuven Brand -A General Introduction to Brachot
Begins a series – Intro to different types of brachot then onto hanehenin (benefitting) and the rules of Ikar and tafel (primary and secondary foods).
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