by Joel Rich
Consider the following assertion: HKB”H sets the world in motion based on specific “rules of nature.” He allows those rules of nature to interact with our free will choices. In certain situations he chooses to intervene in a manner that cannot be proven or predicted in order to produce a specific result. Each of us is ultimately judged on our free choice efforts with some combination of results in this world and/or the next. Thus, suffering or success in this world may be “random” or HKB”H’s direct influence.
What % of Rishonim would find this description accurate? Achronim? Laity then and now?
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Is there a true concept of dvar reshut or at every moment is there only one thing that maximizes HKB”H’s happiness with us? (I realize one could say these are not mutually exclusive)
- Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Sukkah 629-2
Discusses rules for sukkah on a boat, wagon, camel, or tree. Introduction to permitted schach material.
- Ian Shapiro-PLSC 118: THE MORAL FOUNDATIONS OF POLITICS
While I’ve stopped writing up secular courses, I’ll at least introduce this series. This is the introductory class outlining what the course will be about. The Enlightenment introduced the concept that science could lead to “correct political organization” focusing on individual freedoms. In particular, course will study utilitarianism, Marxism, and social contract theory. Anti-enlightenment theories will also be explored and the “resolution” of these (democracy) will also be studied. The Eichman saga will be a test case. ISTM interesting background for halachic governance issues.
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter -Mehadrin Min HaMehadrin: The Proper Role of Chumra in Halacha
How can one differentiate between appropriate and inappropriate chumrot (stringencies)? Perhaps if there is a kiyum (accomplishment) of a mitzvah in the action being done? Or are you following a minority opinion which has not been rejected? Is it a personal siyag (fence) which you are using? Note that Chasidei Ashkenaz started the idea of trying to satisfy all opinions and the Chofetz Chaim put it on steroids.
Are there mitzvoth which are truly voluntary? Should the stringencies one follows be dependent on one’s general level (i.e., you need to know your place) and what’s generally accepted:
Remember every chumrah has an associated kula (leniency) (e.g., paying too much for an etrog vs. using that money for tzedaka, do resources not used due to stringency might be b’al taschit (e.g., saying something is treif when it likely isn’t).
Interesting assertions concerning the trigger for daily bathing and the general acceptance of cold Shabbat showers.
- TITLE 4
Historical comparison of cultural, political, and religious differences between Yerushalmi and Bavli. The Rabbis of Israel trash talked the Rabbis of Bavel, but why?
The Bavel approach allowed for the dynamism that survives to this day. (More kavod vs. more kadosh.)
I’d appreciate it if someone from the academy could listen to determine whether the comments about the saboraim and why the Bavli prevailed are mainstream.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Sukkah 629-3
Can schach be from material which can be ritually impure? Important Shas wide issue—when does an item change status? (e.g., if you painted stalks, are they still stalks?)
- Rabbi H Schachter-Parshas Chayei Sarah
Topics covered include:
• Respect for dead, respect for living (latter is probablymore important!)
• Jewish burial places
• R’YBS on Ger V’Toshav (being both aa resident and alien in galut)
• Anti-Karaite measures in Rambam
• Level of kedusha of avot (were they full Jews?)
• Need for eidut (witnessing) at badeken
- Rabbi Jonathan Ziring -May I Use Someone Else’s Wireless?
Can you use someone else’s internet access without permission? Can you steal a non-physical object? Can you borrow without permission? Can you benefit if no one loses? Can you assume the owner won’t care? Do unenforced government rules apply in a halachic sense? Does the internet provider get a say in who can use my access?
- Robb Willer-Why your political discussions go nowhere
Are we in a zombie or a buddy cop movie? Key is to reframe our discussions with “the other” with empathy and respect for the way they view the world. (me-Halevai we could do this even within the orthodox world.)
- Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Sukkah 629-4
Rules for use of prefab mats as schach—various opinions cited [me – fascinating how local practice can overrule specific intent of an individual. Would be worth discussing why this is true and does it apply across Shas?]
- הרב יהושע שפירא – שפת אמת על פרשת וירא
Emunah is about staying strong when HKB”H’s presence isn’t obvious. Working is a tikkun (fix) for the sin of Adam and Shabbat reminds us of HKBH’s presence (similarly dark to light/cursed to blessed/diaspora to redemption.)
We should carry over the feeling of certainty from shabbat to the rest of the week.
- Rabbi Motti Neuburger-Halachos Of Paying A Shadchan
Halachot of paying a shaddchan are a subset of general commercial laws (e.g., poel[hired worker] if one is hired to find a shidduch, yored lsadeh[unsolicited provider] if not contracted). Local practice has a large impact on who pays when. Specific applications discussed.
- Rabbi Mordechai I. Willig -Memories of Rav Aharon Lichtenstein zt”l
R’Willig recollects R’Lichtenstein’s intellectual and personal greatness. He was very open but did have some redlines!
- Rabbi Ya’akov Trump -A Practical Guide to Risk Taking, Part 1
Risk/reward evaluation sources in the Talmud and later sources. [Me – Replacement Kohain Gadol/wife would be an important source. I’d also consider consulting a professional in risk analysis, I think they’re called . . . actuaries?]
- Rabbi Yitzchak Blau -The Scope of the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah
R’Shimon Bar Yochai, R’Yishmael et al on Torah learning requirements.
- Rabbi Baruch Simon -The Halachos of Our Morning Routines
What is and isn’t allowed to be done before AM davening? Important Pri Chadash concerning davening if not at time of hanetz. Specific applications also discussed. (ISTM there’s a lot of nuance.)
- Rabbi Moshe Taragin -The Last Stage of Geulah
Breishit as a blueprint for two stages of exile and two stages of redemption in current times. Great retelling of the Max Nordeau story.
- Rabbi Ezra Schwartz -Lying, Lashon Hara, and Our Social Lives
Is lieing in general totally prohibited (with some exceptions) or is it grey from the start? Once you decide that, how does this apply to shidduchim (matchmaking) in general? Do incomplete responses count as a lie (also, are they lfnei iver)? Practical applications discussed.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Yom Kippur 624-2
More on Sukkah building with focus on maamad (supporting materials) issues. Important practical applications for all sukkah builders!
- Rabbi Michael Taubes -Parshas Chayei Sarah Why Is There No Shehecheyanu at a Wedding
Why don’t we say shechiyanu at a wedding? Maybe we should? Includes analysis of mchayeiv (trigger requirement) for shechiyanu in cyclical mitzvot. Does simcha (joy) alone trigger the requirement? How complete must the simcha be?
- Rabbi Yoni Levin -Separating Teruma With Your Mind
Can machshava (thought) without dibbur (speech) effectuate status changes?
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Ten Minute Halacha – Giving an Aliya to a Mechalel Shabbos (and Other Ovrei Aveira)
Can you give an aliyah to a non-shomer shabbat individual? Nowadays does not being shomer shabbat doesn’t really show you don’t believe in HKB”H as it did in days of yore. Are the Yamim noraim any different for giving an aliyah purposes? Does the content of the aliyah matter? Are there situations where giving an aliyah might be perceived as accepting/validating sinful lifestyles?
- Rabbi Dani Rapp -Why Bother Dating if it’s all Bashert?
Talmudic sources, somewhat contradictory, concerning whether one’s “bashert” (predestined) really is so. Three approaches to reconciling the sources presented.
- Rabbi Dr. Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff -(8) The Rav’s Understanding of what Yeshiva University Should Be
R’YBS was focused on YU as a continuation of the traditional Litvish Yeshiva producing talmidei chachamim vs. polished pulpit rabbis (e.g., R’Belkin vs. R’Jung). It’s the Twin Peaks (tum) vs. integration (TIDE) or harmonious correlation vs. synthesis. [Me – everyone sees their own reflection in the mirror.]
- Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Chanuka Siman 670-1
Introduction to Chanukah including a quick history. Explanation of why women don’t do mlacha (work) during candlelit times (so won’t use the light of candles) and why no fasting or eulogics. Why aren’t there nine days of Chanukah chutz l’aretz? Festive meals aren’t required but are a good idea. We give Chanukah gelt to remember our ancestors did so at Chanukah to reencourage learning which had been forbidden.
- Rabbi Jonathan Ziring -Churches in the State of Israel
Is the mitzvah to destroy batei avodah zara different inside Israel (i.e., you must seek and destroy them) vs. outside Israel? If it is, what is the reason? (Legal ownership vs. control vs. conquered vs. culture issues). Practical applications discussed today for Israel (perhaps it’s HKB”H paskining through history that it’s not yet the time,when it is, they will give them up voluntarily?
- Rabbi Moshe Taragin -Pre Shiur Tefillah Conversations: Davening in the Workplace
Yeshiva experience mussar and ethics insights.
- Rabbi Reuven Brand -Medical Ethics: Naming Patient Zero
Identifying the first AIDS patient by name—is there an issue of lashon hara? Is it ok if there is some benefit to the public in the identification? Can pikuach nefesh (life endangering) be defined broadly (In time and in action)? If so, how broadly? (Implications for medical research).
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Halachic Implications of Amazon Echo
Usual BCI (Brain Computer Interface) Shabbat sources plus some microphone issues as well. Poskim grasp at straws for sources, IMHO it will be a meta result.
- TITLE 19
How could Yaakov purchase the birthright? Can one purchase something that doesn’t exist (davar shelo ba l’olam)? Is the issue concerning davar shelo ba l’oam one of not having gmirat daat (complete intention) or that there’s nothing for the kinyan (acquisition) to be chal on (to take effect on)?
- The Sukkos Triangle
Kabbalistic green, triangles, chesed and balance in life.
Please direct any informal comments to [email protected].