Audio Roundup

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by Joel Rich

From R’ Aviner-Does anyone else say this:
“Al Naharot Bavel”
Q: Should one say “Al Naharot Bavel” before the Birkat Ha-Mazon on weekdays?
A: It is proper to do so, but is not obligatory since it is not found in the Gemara, Rambam or Shulchan Aruch, but in the Shelah (Our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah, would not recite “Al Naharot Bavel” but rather “Shir Ha-Ma’alot” at each meal, because of our return to our Land. Iturei Yerushalayim #26. “Al Naharot Bavel”, and when it is to be recited, does appear, however, in Siddur Olat Ha-Re’eiyah (vol. 1, p. 360) – a siddur with Maran Ha-Rav Kook’s commentary which our Rabbi himself arranged and annotated).
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The U.K. became the first country to authorize genetic modification of human embryos (to be used to research causes of miscarriages). The source of the embryos were from “unneeded” for IVF stocks and will not be implanted. “Watch this space”

  • Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Birchas Hapeiros 208-5

    Brachot (before and after eating) issues when mixing flour from 5 grains with non-5 grains. Real problem if the resulting foodstuff doesn’t have enough 5 grains to eat a kzayit bchdei achilat pras.

  • Harav Mosheh Lichtenstein and Rav David Stav. Rebbetzon Lauren Levin-Women in Orthodoxy

    R’Moshe Lichtenstein – Measure appropriateness of pace of change by community time, not individual lifespans (amen). Our overarching goal is avodat hashem and remember, it’s an evolutionary process.

    R’David Stav – One man’s evolution is another’s revolution (with examples) and we must respond to “Halacha isn’t moral”. Woman can have knowledge/roles since people ask people who know something regardless of title. We need to maintain tzniut and don’t change synagogue structure.

    R’Lichtenstein – Once you start with “Halacha isn’t moral” issues, it’s a problem.

    Importance of unity but not at any cost and remember copying what men do isn’t necessarily inspirational.

  • Rabbi Aaron Soloveichik-Understanding Reward and Punishment for Mitzvos

    For me, must listening – articulated my pitch much better than I’ve been able to.

    How do we deal with theodicy? Think about community/national/mankind versus individual level reward and punishment. Won’t always see it work for the individual.

    We need to tremble before God, not before man; eventually we do mitzvot not for reward but for the ideal motive of our relationship with HKB”H.

  • Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Birchas Hapeiros 208-6

    Change in after bracha text for fruits from Israel.

  • Rabbi Yona Reiss-Contemporary Women Issues

    Very good summary of issues including:

    *R’YBS and R’MF on serarah
    *Tzniyut (modesty), minui (appointment) and the public nature of certain positions
    *Is kavod hatzibur waivable? [no] *Role of Mesorah (tradition) [crucial]

    Includes examples of how change has played out in the context of kaddish, bat mitzvah, formal education, dayan, horaah (individual vs. public) and yoatzot.

  • Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Birchas Hapeiros 208-7

    Additions to al hamichya – Shabbat and Yom Tov plus what if forgot? What brachot if one ate mezonot and wine and/or peirot? Wine and grapes rule for brachot before and after.

  • Rav Asher Weiss-Lo Tachmod

    Understanding the positions of the Rambam and Raavad on Lo Tachmod (do not covet). It seems to be a part of a suite of sins which have a change of possession with lack of complete consent. The Rambam seems to focus on a desire, which results in an acquisition (not just a desire alone) and the Raavad with an acquisition, which was triggered by a desire. Then some specific applications.

    Good mussar on needing both kedoshim tihiyu (excel between man and HKB”H) and v’asita hatov v’hayashor (excel between man and man).

  • Rabbi Jonathan Ziring-Why is Precedent so Important in Halacha? (And Why is the Gemara Binding?)

    Rambam holds that each generation Rabbis may reinterpret Torah text (interesting discussion concerning rabbinic ordinances being less open to reinterpretation) yet this process stopped. What happened? Perhaps the Rabbis took it upon themselves not to do so or perhaps they do reinterpret but in a subtle way so as to give weight (if not 100%) to precedent but also change where needed.

    In psak do we give weight to precedent due to earlier generations “having the truth” (even though when we go back to true “oral law” we may not give it so much weight?!). Do we follow “the majority” of authorities (and how would you count them?!)?

    Once precedents aren’t 100% on target or don’t look determinative, we turn to logic!

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-My Kidushin Was Uprooted – So Was I Never Married?

    One of my favorite questions – Retroactivity and the whole space/time continuum. How does afkinhu (the rabbis undo marriage) work and is it retroactive? A real R’M Rosensweig response (it’s complex and each application is different). Lot’s of other applications to discuss (general theory of retroactivity?)

  • Rabbi Shay Schachter-The Issur of Hachanah on Shabbos & When it Does Not Apply

    Folding clothes/tallit on Shabbat; for Shabbat vs. another day; on the crease vs. not. Interesting – discussion of how our use is different today but no discussion of how permanent press technology might be different. Then specific applications – dishes, putting kids in PJ’s and taking siddur for motzai Shabbat maariv (me – what about taking keys when you go to shul then?). Interesting chiddush about hachana and bein hashmashot – I wonder if anyone else is lenient in this way.

  • Rabbi Shay Schachter-Melacha Whose Activity Begins on Shabbos and Actualizes After Shabbos

    Opening comments on when we might say to commit a lesser sin to prevent a greater sin. Then on to a threshold question for zorea (planting) and other prohibitions – does the sin adhere to you when you do the initial act or at some later time when some effect takes place? (e.g., if one puts the pot on the flame ten seconds before Shabbat is over, have they done a sin?).

  • Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Birchas Hapeiros 208-8

    Some unusual (for us) cases with whether various brachot achronot can cover foodstuffs not usually included.

  • Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Birchas Hapeiros 208-9 and 209-1

    Cases where said wrong bracha achrona or issues with inserts in “mein shalosh”. What works (or doesn’t) if you had the wrong words or intent in different parts of the bracha.

  • Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner-Legal Ethics: Advertising Legal Services

    Discussion of legal advertising from a (Canadian) legal and halachic standpoint. The advantages to advertising are to ensure both access to the legal system and to fair markets. The concerns are bad advice, forms of (halachic) verbal abuse and the cheapening of the image of the profession. The best practice is disclosure.

  • Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky-Kiddush B’Makom Seudah

    Understanding the nature of Kiddush bmakom seudah (Kiddush must be made in the place of a meal). What kind of “meal” is required? (bread, mezonot, fruit?) Analysis of the positions of the Gaonim and Rabbeinu Tam and implications for “Kiddushim” in shul and a fourth meal.

  • Yair Manas-Making Ice Cubes on Shabbos

    Part of a series. Prior session dealt with using ice cubes on Shabbat and analyzed differing opinions on what the issues might be. This session applies many of those opinions to making ice cubes [neither is a simple question. Surprise!]

  • Rabbi Ari Kahn-Personal Autonomy in the 21st century

    Looks at the evolution of Halacha on issues of abortion, cosmetic surgery and sex change operations. Autonomy is IMHO an example of how external culture impacts Halacha on an under the radar basis.

  • Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner-Supernatural Judaism: The Jew and the Dybbuk

    Dybbuk in Judaism is clearly post Talmudic, perhaps grounded in the concept of a soul’s punishment, reincarnation or limbo status.

  • Rabbi Aryeh LebowitzShiur on Brachot

    Random brachot thoughts. R’YBS on the sociology of mitzvot that we don’t say a bracha on (people downgrade then). Relationship of brachot to hakarat hatov and kavod av (it’s a mindset). What if you made a bracha to drink water and then realize it’s a fast day? (just taste a bit.)

  • Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner-Business Lunches in Non-Kosher Restaurants

    Understanding maarit ayin (is it that people will think what you are doing is OK or that you are a sinner?). Is “everyone knows it’s done” an acceptable exception to maarit ayin? Discussion of specific applications (bringing in food, cold salad, coffee?). Seems to me we’ve gotten stricter over my lifetime. Would be interesting to study multiple reasons why this is so.

  • Rabbi Azarya Berzon-Mitzvos Tzrichos Kavana: practical aspects

    Talmudic sources (shofar, maror…) as to whether mitzvot require cavanah (intent). Rava vs. Rav Zeira and many later sources weigh in. Is it a function of rabbinic vs. Torah mitzvot? Action vs. word based mitzvot? General intent to do mitzvah vs. specific mitzvah? Is latent (inherent) awareness enough? [me – awareness to have whatever intent Chazal wanted?]

  • Rabbi Jeremy Wieder-Giving and Inculcating Tsedakah

    Quick overview of some rules regarding tzedaka/maaser ksafim. If you view yourself as a trustee over funds (rather than owner), it’s much more consistent with the Torah’s view. The fact that there isn’t an algorithm how to allocate tzedaka puts great responsibility on each of us. It’s also a challenge to define what is a necessity vs. a luxury.

    Tuition should be borne by the community.

  • Rabbi Michael Taubes-Parsha Yisro “Understanding the Nature of a Berachah Levatalah”

    Is the making of an unnecessary bracha (bracha sheina tzricha) tantamount to taking HKB”H’s name in vain (a Torah prohibition)? What are the implications of the answer to this question?

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Ten Minute Halacha – Being a Guest at Somebody’s House

    Bring an appropriate gift and be sure to be aware of appropriate ownership transfer rules on Shabbat. Be attentive to all family members, follow most of the host’s instructions, consume food appropriately for the host’s circumstances, don’t bring a friend and say the bracha for the host in birkat hamazon.

  • Rabbi Aharon Lopiansky-Fill The Void Inside Yourself With Torah

    You must feel empty without Torah and other chizuk and mussar for Gush talmidim.

  • Rabbi Reuven Brand-HIPAA: A Jewish Tradition?

    Navigating the tension between baal tomar (don’t repeat conversations) and Lo Taamod (don’t stand idly by) – when can you tell others “important” information. Responsa on doctors/drivers’ licenses for one who is epileptic or legally blind and defect which would discourage a marriage. Should you forfeit your job if halacha says disclose and Hippa says no?

  • Rabbi Hershel Schachter-Zechiyas Ger Kattan b’Gerus

    Understanding the interaction of zachin, shlichut, apitropus and how they work in the case of ger katan (convert who is a minor). Interesting opinion of R’Elyashiv requiring acceptance of mitzvot in front of a court upon reaching majority! (R’HS thinks this isn’t a great idea since no previous generations required this.)

  • Applying Secular Law in Beis Din-Rabbi Mordechai I. Willig

    When can you use secular law? Primarily when that specific application is the tacit or conscious agreement of the parties.

  • Rabbi Ezra Schwartz-Beth Din vs. Secular Courts

    Is the prohibition of going to foreign courts due to giving credibility to idol worship or “dissing” Judaism? Halachic implications of the answer to this question.

  • Rav N Kaplan-Yisro

    Parsha insights including:
    *need to get away from negative influences (even a miracle won’t help against them)
    *why didn’t Moshe institute a pyramid justice system himself?
    *need to act right away on good intentions
    *importance of “stand by your man”
    *seeing the sounds metaphor explained

Please direct any informal comments to [email protected].

About Joel Rich

Joel Rich is a frequent wannabee cyberspace lecturer on various Torah topics. A Yerushalmi formerly temporarily living in West Orange, NJ, his former employer and the Social Security administration support his Torah listening habits. He is a recovering consulting actuary.

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