by Joel Rich
The Rama (O”C 17:2), commenting on the S”A’s statement of women doing positive time bound commandments, says women could put on Tzitzit with a bracha but it appears as Yuhara (halachic arrogance) and thus they shouldn’t (since it’s not really a personal requirement). Question – Why does the personal requirement (chovat gavra) make this any different than other voluntary mitzvoth in terms of Yuhara? (e.g. lulav)
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The point in time of “Nigmar Hadin” (verdict is rendered) has halachic significance (e.g. Makot 11b if there is no kohain gadol at that point in time). The gemara in sanhedrin describes that even after an initial verdict in a capital case, the defendant can raise new claims even on the way to execution. Is gmar din in this case the initial verdict or the final rejection of any claims (and what if they reverse judgment?)
- David Brooks-The Road to Character
David Brooks discusses his new book on eulogy vs. resume focus (what they say about you vs. what you trumpet about yourself). Quotes the Rav on Adam I and Adam II and the need to be rooted in something outside yourself. Also, how our culture is more focused on self and lacks any discussion of positive virtues. Very worthwhile listening.
- Rabbi Kenneth Brander -The Right Kind of Spirituality
Can’t have unbounded (by halacha) spirituality but also can’t exclude anything that is within halachic bounds even if it’s not what we consider “the norm”. YU must have multiple entry points so all can participate and benefit. (Me – not so simple; your critical mass will weigh heavily in determining what you acculturate to.)
- Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Nesias Kapayim 128-2
Duchening (blessings by Cohanim) rules regarding hand washing and taking off shoes (when and why).
- Rabbi Wannabe-Yuhara(Halachic Presumptuousness)
Introduction to Yuhara (halachic presumptuousness) – tracing from Talmud to codes to current authorities with a focus on women/tzitzit case. Is Yuhara in the eyes of the community or HKB”H? [Me – money question – What (community) sample space and what standard deviation defines Yuhara.]
- Ari Mirzoeff -Interesting Shailos with Rav Zilberstein: Leaving A Train During Krias HaTorah
People who have a heter (waiver?) to daven on a train with a minyan (this topic would be worth its own discussion IMHO), can they get off in the middle of Torah reading (it’s generally forbidden to leave in the middle of the reading). Get off and continue to listen as the train pulls away!
- Rav Asher Weiss-Lehazhir Gdolim Al Haktanim
Discussion of the nature of a parents’ (adults in general?) requirement to keep minors from sinning. How broadly does it apply and what is its nature (e.g. Torah level?). R’Weiss applies his general approach of “ratzon hatorah” (the Torah’s spirit?) and analyzes a number of applications. Along the way he mentions how the frum community recently (in historical terms) woke up to the need to care for handicapped (I’m sure he meant challenged) children. Also tries to explain the historical practice of kids carrying talit bags for fathers on Shabbat (without an eruv).
- Eitan Ben-David -אין מזל לישראל: Jewish Views on Astrology, Determinism, and Free Will
First in a series reviewing the Shulchan Aruch’s game plan and sources. I’d just wonder whether the assertion that Rabbis look to the Bet Yosef (vs. S”A) for psak is true. Mentions the S”A’s 2 of 3 algorithim, but doesn’t mention exceptions. (Me – Given the “Tur’s” intro, I’m guessing the Tur was not originally called the Four Turim given that there was no program delineated in his intro to the first section.)
- Rabbi David Hirsch -Overview of Hair Covering for Women
Good summary starting with primary sources concerning hair covering issues:
*divorcee required to cover?
*Daat Moshe vs. Daat Yehudit
*covering within home
*how much hair needs to be covered
*practice of head shaving
*acceptability of sheitels
*underlying reasons for requirement
- Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky-Chazara on Kavush kimivushal, Kli Sheni and Iruy by Uri Schneider
Good summary of halachic cooking issues including:
*pickling – materials involved, level of prohibition and how long must pickle
*cooking – kli rishon, sheni, irui, et al
- Rabbi Avishai David -Sefiras Ha’Omer in Hashkafa
Multiple insights on counting of the Omer.
- Rav Yair Kahn-The Weekly Mitzva – Tazria, The Laws of Shiv’at Yemei Mishteh
Analysis of “sheva brachot” (wedding blessings) including comparison to seven days of aveilut (mourning). Is there a difference in whether the source is days of celebration (ymei mishteh) or days of blessing (bracha)?
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -From The Rabbi’s Desk – A Tribute To Rav Wosner zt”l
Biography of R’Wosner and his individual greatness (including some stories). Some insights from his response including centrality of Talmud Torah and the importance of learning with a focus on producing ability to give psak. Also includes Rabbi missing counting sfira and delaying a bris to lessen chillul Shabbat. [On a side note – I’d say there is such a thing as not having a good memory and, as with most things, you can improve within a range if you make it a priority.]
- Rabbi Daniel Stein -Gramma on Shabbos and the Kosher Switch
Detailed review of sources on Grama (causation) and halachic attribution to the person who caused it. Issues include attribution for Shabbat vs. Yom Tov, hefsed merubah (large loss) and, perhaps most importantly, what does Halacha view as a single action? (me – e.g. why isn’t flipping a switch considered causation in closing a circuit which then turns on a light?).
- Rav Hershal Schacter- Life is Full of Risks
R’HS on definite vs. possible danger. Covers usual ground including his air raid warden story, drafting into the Israeli army and protection for shluchei mitzah (one involved in a mitzvah). Other topics include shichei hezeikah (danger is common), miyut hamatzui (material minority), chayei olam vs. shaah (life preserving – for some time), shomer ptaim (HKB”H protects the simple). Another major theme is individual choice based on individual perception of danger, including career choices. [Me – might be worthwhile considering the human tendency to overestimate the probability of unlikely risks.]
- Harav Aharon Lichtenstein zt”l in the Eyes of Rabbanei Hayeshiva
Reflection on our loss, mostly focused on the personal attributes rather than the prodigious learning. My take – life is complex – why can’t we aspire to a complex greatness?
- Rabbi David Katz -Zionism and Anti Zionism – The Modern State of Israel in Halacha and Hashkafa
Classic sources on Zionism debate including the 3 oaths, the Satmar position and Eim Habanim Smeicha.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Nesias Kapayim 128-3
When do the Cohanim go up, how should they stand and who says what in duchening. Some interesting insights on the aron (ark) being a separate halachic domain.
- Rabbi Reuven Brand -Wisdom of the Sages in the Affairs of the State
Some of the classic sources on the relationship between rabbinic and governmental leadership. Current religious Zionist sources on the matter.
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Ten Minute Halacha – Putting a Tallis Over Your Head
Review of some of the many practices (with some sources) concerning covering one’s head with their talit during prayer. I wonder if R’YBS’s approach (cover for davar shebikidusha) was a tradition or the result of his effort to tie minhagim to halachic sources.
- Rabbi Netanel Wiederblank -Israel Today, Israel Tomorrow: Two Perspectives on the Messianic Era
Focus on Rambam including why is mashiach so important? What are the qualifications? What will the messianic era be like (vs. Ramban)?
- Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Nesias Kapayim 128-6
How do Cohanim turn, stand and hold their hands during birchat Cohanim? How are words called out? What is recommended and what is required?
- Rabbi Moshe Heinemann-Bankruptcy In Halacha
How does (or doesn’t) Jewish commercial law deal with corporations? With personal or corporate bankruptcy? (I believe there are other views on a number of the issues presented here.)
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Ten Minute Halacha – Gelatin and Gel Caps
R’A Kotler’s responsa on why gelatin from non-Kosher animals is forbidden (in the U.S. at least). Medicine is a different story.
- Rav Asher Weiss-Sefirat Haomer is Deorayta or Derabanan
Review of some of the standard counting sfirah issues – Torah or Rabbinic? Days/Weeks – Two mitzvoth or one? Interesting take on the Beit Haleivi’s chiddush based on a possibly missed Tur which led to the astounding assertion by R’Weiss that everyone, even gedolim, even the Gaon, forget things! Discusses Rabbi forgetting to count – IMHO it’s a great Rorschach test – is it kavod Hatorah for community to know, or not know, that its Rabbi could forget and admit it?!
- Rabbi Aryeh Leibowitz -QA
Sounds like R’M Twersky –
• Figuring out your tafkid (destiny) – learning, job….. to thine own self be true (my translation of msurim l’lev)
• Use your concern for what anyone else thinks about you to elevate your yirat shamayim (fear of heaven), not your ego (interesting remarks on guests of honor at dinners)
• Prayer needs preparation
• Use one source for advice who knows you and your reality
• Goals for Torah learning
• Ahavat Hashem – defined
• Preferred learning schedules
- Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Nesias Kapayim 128-4
Rules for hand washing of Cohanim by Leviim prior to duchening. Timing of Cohanim going up to duchen.
- Rabbi Michael Rosensweig -Divrei Hesped for Rav Aharon Lichtenstein zt”l
Singular in our generation, multifaceted role model in our generation. Always concerned for YU.
- Gil S. Perl -r. Norbert Strauss’ Record of his Holocaust Era Experience
His great grandfathers’ holocaust history (I assume a Yom Hashoa program). Live your life as if it’s miraculous.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Nesias Kapayim 128-5
Kahal and Cohanim shouldn’t overlap in their respective portions of birkat cohanim. Rules for shatz answering amein to birkat cohanim and what he should do if he is a Cohen.
- Rabbi Michael Taubes -Parshas Shemini
Mikveh construction rulesbased on situations to be avoided (e.g. zochalin).
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