by Joel Rich
R’Asher Weiss discusses in parshat Vayeitzeih on lo taamod al dam reiacha that one would have to give up all his assets to save a single life if he is the only one who can do it. However, “it’s pashut” that if others can also do it that he doesn’t have to give up all his assets. Why is it so pashut if others refuse? [Extend to all community obligations but those usually are an aseh so subject to 20% limit?]
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Anyone have any sources on how local government, if any, functioned in times of Tanach? Was there any besides the court system? What was the role of the nesiim of the shvatim?
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- Dr. Shnayer Leiman-Major Implications of Pronunciation Controversies
Fascinating review of a number of occasions where we repeat psukim (verses) due to differing manuscript texts. This practice is fairly recent (e.g., mishna brurah for zacher/zeicher!) and in at least one case, due to faulty text work (mikraot gdolot). Interesting discussion concerning how we historically chose between textual differences in manuscripts (we only pick one by majority rule) and whether this is a one-time decision if more manuscripts become available.
Also, an important discussion about what we’ve learned about the history of the pronunciation of the Hebrew language.
- Rabbi Shay Schachter -B’chol Levavcha U’Bchol Nafshecha: Less Moral Sensitivity or More Yirat Shamayim – Part 3
More on how much we need o love HKB”H (more than our children). R’Lichtenstein on being frum/good. The key is that when we question the ethics of the Torah, the answer is to deepen our belief in the dvar hashem and increase our moral sensitivity (not reject the Torah). If the gedolim accepted, so should we.
I’d extend R’Lichtenstein’s insight that Shaul’s not killing Agag informed on all his other killing (i.e., driven by less than pure desire to do the will of HKB”H) to all of us—how we use our marginal time/act in marginal cases informs on all our deeds.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Sukkah 644-1
What are the rules concerning Shechiyanu if you didn’t eat in your sukkah on the first night? Discussion of rules for proper order of brachot on Sukkot.
- Rav Asher Weiss-Bedikas Chometz before Erev Pesach
Is it OK to do bedika before the 14th of Nissan? Would you make a bracha if you did? If not, is it better to wait ‘til the 14th? R’Weiss is OK with early bdika if there’s a big tircha(bother) not to do so.
Two important issues: 1) When and how does halacha change when technology (e.g., artificial lighting) and culture (e.g., people often out at night) change? 2) Once you’ve cleaned real well in advance of the 14th, a place may become a makom shein machnism bo chametz and thus no bracha would be made for cleaning (thus, putting out pieces of bread is required).
- Rabbi Larry Rothwachs -Halachic Mythbusters: Jewish History Mythsa>
Misconceptions (at least according to some opinions) 1) Tapuach is not an apple; 2) Lot’s daughters named their children consistent with aveirah l’shma (wrong for right reason); 3) Pasim doesn’t mean multicolored; 4) Moshe was really 80 age next birthday when he spoke to Pharoh; 5) the Yam Suf didn’t split across for Jewish people; 6) Luchot were not round on the top; 7) Rabbeinu Tam would not wear today’s Rabbeinu Tam tfillin; 8) Rashi’s daughters probably didn’t wear tfillin; 9) Megila story took over ten years
- Rabbi Gil S. Perl -The Making of Modern Judaism Part 1 – The Rise of Reform
Discussion of the evolution of the reform movement in the context of broader society’s enlightenment and the interplay between the rights of man and citizenship rights. Originally grounded in educational, aesthetic and religious reform, it evolved (through wissenschaft?) to a rejection of halacha rather than a reform of it.
- Rabbi Yitzchak Blau -Someone who can not remember what day is Shabbat
Survey of issues that need to be addressed if you are stranded and don’t know which day is Shabbat. Includes discussion of when to celebrate Shabbat, what can be used for Kiddush/Havdalah, and how to deal with Techumim, Tfillin, and Tfilla.
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter-Vayikra 5777 – Kodshei Kodshim vs. Kalim, Korbanot BaZeman HaZeh, Semichah, Oleh veYored
Parsha thoughts including:
• What are the requirements for building the beit mikdash? (e.g., prophet)
• Source of the minhag of women not working on rosh chodesh (they didn’t mess up with the golden calf?)
• Kedusha of Beit Mikdash—is it permanent?
• Level of kedusha of the synagogue
• Chazakah (ownership rights) in mitzvoth
• Tashmishei kedusha—permitted construction materials
• R’YBS on visiting HKB”H’s home (Yom Tov) vs. his visiting us (Shabbat)
• What was the shape of the menorah?
• Difference between first and second luchot (first were all inclusive)
- Rabbi Yehuda Turetsky-The Mitzvah of Machatzis HaShekel: An Overview of the Sugyah
Machtzit hashekel—is it a separate mitzvah or a mitzvah of tzedaka? Is it for kaparah (atonement) or is it a simple monetary obligation? What is the real message?
- Rabbi Gil S. Perl- The Making of Modern Judaism Part 2 – The Origins of Ultra-Orthodoxy
Chatam Sofer’s response to reform was that the mesorah must be respected (stringent or lenient). The next generation’s response was more against the neo orthodox than the reform! (Me – things really don’t change.)
- Rabbi Gil S. Perl- The Making of Modern Judaism Part 3 – Neo-Orthodoxy and the Legacy of Rav Hirsch
Evolution of the philosophy of Torah Im Derech Eretz (TIDE) through Rabbis Bernays, Etlinger, Hildesheimer, and Hirsch. Secular studies were taken for granted but was it l’chatchila or bdieved? What was the background of the Austritt?
- Rabbi Dovid Cohen (cRc) -Kashrus of Medicine (Liquids and chewables, edibility, ach’shvei, severity of illness, flavors, gelcaps/Softgels, ingredients, substitutions, decision tree, general rules)
Need to ask four questions about medicines for Pesach: 1) Is it kosher in general? 2) Is it edible? 3) Are there substitutes for the drug? 4) How sick is the patient? Lots of good technical discussion of how the CRC researches these issues and what they’ve found.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich -Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Sukkah 643-2
When do you stand or sit for brachot in the sukkah, in particular for kiddush, leishev, and motzi? Does going into the house to wash cause a hefsek (unallowable interruption) issue?
- Rabbi Nosson Rich –Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Sukkah 641-2 and 642-1 and 643-1
When should one make a bracha on the lulav? What are the rules regarding talking or stopping during hallel?
- Rabbi Daniel Z. Feldman -Mechirat Chameitz – Problems and Practice
The practice of mchirat chametz has evolved over time. Reviews how do we deal with the various problems that such a sale can involve.
- Rabbi Dovid Cohen (cRc) -Non-foods and foods for Pesach (Coated items, things which go into the mouth, medicines & cosmetics, gluten-free, nuts, coffee, fruits & vegetables, meat & poultry)
Lots of great specifics including disposable gloves, paper plates, coated aluminum pans, toothpaste, mouthwash, denatured alcohol, pump pots, gluten free, CO2 for soda, milk, eggs, , nuts, coffee, frozen fruits, and vegetables.
- Rabbi Sharbat – Haggadah Insights 5777
Nice series of insights from various and sundry haggadah commentaries
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter-Inyonei Rosh Chodesh
Topics include who must say mussaf (machtzit hashekel payers only?), why no tashlumin [make up] for mussaf? (not rachamei), how we endow rosh chodesh with holiness, why we say yaaleh v’yavo (parallel to chatzotrot), level of simcha (joy) on rosh chodesh (passive not active), hallel/minhag issues, being yotzeih yaaleh v’yavo with the shatz and why people go to maarat hamachpela on erev rosh chodesh
- Rav Hershel Schachter – “The Time of Our Freedom As Reflected In the
Chumash, Haggadah and Halacha”
• Freedom is considered a zchut(positive) for a slave, some say even after the fact the slave can’t turn it down (contrary to usual rule of zachin)
• Minhag must have an element of kiyum of a mitzvah
• Mitzvah of sippur is a Torah mitzvah since we have matzah which is a Torah Mitzvah
• Lots of our seder practices are zecher l’mikdash(temple commemoration)
• Rules of 4 cups – amount and type (color and grape juice issues)
• Rules of matzah – size of kzayit, shmvrah status, hand vs. machine
• Charoses – mitzvah drabanan or medicinal? Reminding us of what?
• Heseibah should be leaning on something (R’YBS) but women don’t do heseibah
• Nusach Ashkenaz vs. Nusach Sefard (last bracha placement)
• Earliest starting and latest ending time for seder
• Source of the chumrah to bake matzot after chatzot on erev Pesach
• Lechem oni interpretations and practices
• Pesach is Yom tov of emunah, Shavuot of limud hatorah – this is reflected in the karbanot. HKB”H demonstrated munah on Pesach (examples provided)
• Freedom is not just another word for nothing left to lose (hat tip – Kris Kristofferson)
- Rabbi Jason Strauss -Why So Separate? The Nature and Purpose of Mechitza
This is a series of shiurim prior to a community building a new shul. This shiur is about the history of mechitzot, separate seating, and why it shouldn’t change. Reviews reasons for separation and the positions of R’Moshe, R’YBS, and R’Henkin.
- Rabbi Jason Strauss -‘You Saw No Image, Only a Voice’: Imagery in a Synagogue
Part of the same series. Reviews of various types of images (2D, 3D) in shul and out. R’YBS on the need for inner vs. outer spirituality.
- Rabbi Donny Besser- Adult Ed 2016 Part 1 –Haggadah
How do we deal with issues where modern morals seem to conflict with the Torah’s values? Examples include slavery, marital relationships, and democracy. A number of classic explanations plus a view that all halachically significant relationship rules in the Torah reflect our relationship with HKB”H.
- Rabbi Baruch Simon -Special Shiur In Teaneck (Beth Aaron): What is Nissan All About?
Nissan was set aside as the month of geulah (redemption) from the creation; it is a month of yeshuot. Two other examples of months having identity are Adar plus the months of the “minor” fasts.
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Ten Minute Halacha – Hagalas Keilim
Specifics of Hagalah as a koshering mechanism – theory and practical applications.
- Rabbi Donny Besser- Adult Ed 2016 Part 2 –Haggadah
Extended recap of the first shiur and extension to other current issues (e.g., mishkav zachar). Then some pre-Pesach insights, including the concept of communal identity and responsibility.
- Rabbi Berel Wein-Pesach Insights: What it Means to be a Jew
One should be able to answer the question—“What am I doing here?”(hat tip-Admiral Sttockdale) We are a chosen people, we need to be able to differentiate ourselves. If we make the effort, HKB”H will help.
- Rabbi Jonathan Ziring-The Jew Victorious 4: From the Maccabees to the IDF
Tzahal’s victories show some of the same elements as victories in Tanach. Purim and Chanukah show the need to celebrate even incomplete victories, how could we not celebrate today—especially when we see the advances of the last 70 years?
- Rabbi Jonathan Ziring-The Different Perspectives of the Chagim in Tora
The shalosh regalim have both historical and agricultural elements purposely always coinciding due to our calendar. The message is that HKB”H is the same one in history and our daily lives. Also, there’s the message of the evolution towards redemption and the need to help the less fortunate.
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -From The Rabbi’s Desk – Don’t Cry Over Spilled Coffee (But Somebody Should Pay For It), Kitniyos Shailos
Who is responsible for damages in a case where a school has a rule that no drinks can be brought into the computer room. A brings a drink in, B bumps in A and the drink spills and ruins a computer? Provides opinions both ways. (Me – what about in the heavenly view?)
Can a 94-year old eat kitniyot on Pesach? (not without some reason). What does one do if their mother decides that kitniyot is a chumrah she will do without?
- Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky -4th Year Halacha Lmaaseh – Gerut Part 2
This is a continuation of the geirut series. Focuses first on whether the order of events (mila/tvila) is a required element. Then major focus of kabbovlat mitzvoth – pre- and post-emancipation. Opinions of R’Chaim Ozer and R’Moshe Feinstein are major building blocks today.
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