by Joel Rich
Rabbi Jason Weiner’s new book, “Jewish Guide to Practical Medical Decision-Making” provides a valuable service to a wide audience. The main text of the book provides a valuable overview and the chapter endnotes provide both secular and halachic citations for those interested in a deeper dive into the complex issues raised.
The book covers some important general topics such as decision making (the roles of the patient, family, doctors, and Rabbis) treatment options (what’s allowable or recommended? When to say it us enough) and the role of prayer. From there, R’Weiner moves on to End of Life issues, post death issues (including organ donation, autopsy, and cremation) and reproductive issues (including genetic testing, assisted reproductive technology and labor and delivery customs).
While there is no substitute for a Rabbinic advisor, there is also no substitute for a knowledgeable consumer (or, as Donald Rumsfeld might have put it—we each need to reduce our unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know). This book can help make you aware of at least when to ask a question (and it’s best to know this before it becomes an real life or death issue).
One is also struck by the technological advances over the last decades and how Halacha wrestles and evolves (e.g., who is the halachic mother in a surrogate situation? Are organ donations forbidden, allowed, or required?) What will the next technology be and how will Halacha deal with it? The sentiments of R’Asher Weiss in his response on surrogacy ring true; the matter must therefore be determined based only on logic; We need greats the likes of Ramban of the Rashba in order to do this and we unfortunately do not have them, until then, we must remain in doubt. (Me – Oy, may we experience the final redemption speedily, in our days, but in the meantime we still have to act.)
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Rabbi J Weiner – The Talmudic sages performed post-mortem examinations and had considerable knowledge of anatomy and pathology. Indeed, the rabbis of the Talmud were among the first people in history to operate on corpses in order to learn medical information that had halakhic ramifications. See Tosefta Niddah 4:17, Niddah 30b, bekhorot 45A . . .
Wiki s- Initially, the Ancient Greek philosophers did not believe in empiricism, and saw measurements, such as geometry, as the domain of craftsmen and artisans. Philosophers, such as Plato, believed that all knowledge could be obtained through pure reasoning, and that there was no need to actually go out and measure anything.
Please look at the three sources quoted by R’Weiner, are they support or really maaseh lstormaaseh l’stor?
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Yom Tov 518-2
Can you carry something for a non ben brit on Yom Tov? Can you carry something home that you won’t need for the rest of Yom Tov (e.g., tallit)?
- Rav Soloveitchik: Pre-Selichot Shiur 1968 – Part 1
R’YBS on slichot as an extraordinary prayer – including his analysis of why and when we say them and their themes and construction.
- Rabbi Jonathan Ziring -ינויים בתפלה 3
In the context of changing blessings, remember the Gemara that says the Neviim dropped some praises of HKB”H from prayer because those attributes weren’t’ apparent to us and the Anshei Knesset Hagedola later added them back in. R’Lichtenstein was very traditional but left out some words from Nacheim (children not there) which were clearly counter factual. There’s also some debate about brachot we say which aren’t found in the Talmud.
- Rabbi Dr. Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff-The Sons of the Prominent Rabbis
The American experience was not so good for some of the children of great Jewish leaders (i.e., R’ Margolis, R’Epstein).
- Rabbi Assaf Bednarsh-Sukkah 4 (מטא זמניה וכרת)
Continuation of the analysis of oseik b’mitzvah – in making a priority evaluation, do we focus on the relative punishments or just the time element involved? How do we view the interplay of Torah and Rabbinic mitzvot in this context? Is the exemption about serving HKB”H or simply triage?
Then begins analysis of certain mourning practices in relation to wearing tfillin.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Yom Tov 518-3
Really, you can’t carry for a non ben brit but maybe you will be allowed to in certain circumstances. Then on to permission to move muktzeh in dangerous situations.
- Rabbi Assaf Bednarsh- Sukkah 5 (תפילין ביום א’ של אבלות)
Focus on the interplay of aveilut and wearing of tfillin. Do we primarily look at the exemption in terms of the “bitter day,” or the first day of actual mourning?
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Ten Minute Halacha – Must Restaurant Employees Wash Netilas Yadayim?
What is the status of food touched by someone who hasn’t washed his hands? The general rule is that it’s OK, but you should try to avoid it.
- Rabbi Dr. Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff -No Sins for Israelis!
More on Tachanun avoidance with a special focus on whether you say Tachanun on the day you make aliyah (IIRC R’HS says no).
- Rabbi Ezra Schwartz-Tosafos AZ 2a more on why we permit business with non Jews before the holidays
So, why is it that we seem to ignore the Talmudic prohibition of dealing with non ben brit 3 days prior to their holidays? (Me – because we had to in order to survive?)
- Rabbi Shay Schachter- Once a Chazzan Always a Chazzan?
We do have a concept of chazakah (“ownership”) in mitzvot such as being the shofar blower, but generally this right is secondary to the right of the community to have someone they want to represent them (mrutzeh l’kahal).
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Yom Tov 518-4
Moving a ladder on Yom Tov may be a concern if it appears as if you are doing a prohibited mlacha. Shiur then moves on to moving maus (disgusting) objects or animals on Yom Tov.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Yom Tov 518-5
Issues (back in the day?) concerning moving straw with thorns on Yom Tov (muktzeh issue). Can you use wood that was leaning against the sukkah? What about using wood from a fallen sukkah on Yom Tov?
- Rabbi Yaakov B. Neuburger-Fasting on Yom Kippur
R’Neuberger provides specific insights into Yom Kippur fasting halachot for pregnant and nursing mothers. It’s more important to fast than to pray with a minyan!
- Rabbi Evan Hoffman-The Breakdown of Tradition
Discussion of the outside cultural forces that impacted European Jewry with particular focus on the scope of the interaction between emancipation and religion. (How mutually exclusive were they viewed as?)
- Rabbi Yonatan Shai Freedman-Understanding Eiruv Tavshilin – How does it work?
The why, how, and when of an Eruv Tavshilin.
- Rav Nissan Kaplan- Gittin 1
First of R’Kaplan’s Talmud shiurim focusing on being mvatel (invalidating) a get (divorce) vs. invalidating an agent sent to deliver a get.
- Dr. David Shatz-Autonomy and Obedience in Sefer Bereishit
Lessons learned from the progression of autonomy narratives from Adam to Kayin to Noach. We believe in autonomy based on HKBH’s command.
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter-Berachos#8 5a-6b – Yissurin Shel Ahavah, Yerushalayim as Machaneh Yisrael, Shemitta Bazman Hazeh, Tefillah beTzibbur
Talmud Brachot shiur covering a number of topics including: trying to understand reward and punishment, when yovel/shmita will be a Torah requirement, stealing as a bad attribute, doing anything before prayer, Zohar vs. Talmud in psak, prayer with a minyan in a synagogue and divine assistance in psak.
- Rabbi Dovid Revah-Va’eschanan: Adding/Subtracting Mitzvos; Lifnim M’shuras Ha’din
We can’t add to mitzvot because doing so would demonstrate a focus on our own individual autonomy (vs. HKB”H’s command), and similarly, we can’t subtract from mitzvot just because we don’t feel the specifics apply to us.
- Mrs. Michal Horowitz-The Necessity of Patience for Our Inner “Child”
Be normal in your prayer when you speak to HKB”H and understand that our prayers have value even if they don’t seem to be answered. The child within us must teach the adult within us and we must realize that we will never achieve perfection. (Me – yet “a man’s reach must always exceed his grasp else what’s a heaven for.”)
- Rav Nissan Kaplan—elul preparing_for rh
In our times, we don’t really feel we will change for the upcoming year and we really need to. To accomplish this, we need preparation!
- Rav Asher Weiss-Beracha of a Mitzvah Before its Proper Time
Continuation of the discussion concerning any requirement to be prepared to do a mitzvah prior to the actual time the mitzvah must be done. R’Weiss thinks there is such a requirement but it’s not part of the specific mitzvah (or not being prepared is not a bittul aseih) but rather, it’s not doing the ratzon hashem (will of HKB”H). One application is the question of whether you make a bracha right before the time of the requirement of the mitzvah and then do the mitzvah at the time of the mitzvah? (or is it a bracha l’vatala?)
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter-Berachos #10 6a-7b – Seudas Mitzvah, Hashem’s Tefillah, Eizer Kenegdo, Birkas Hedyot,
Continuation of Tractate Brachot shiur including: The nature and importance of prayer, al hanisim in birchat hamazon and shmoneh esrai, praying for a miracle (for an individual vs. for the community), an unusual Tzaddik can ask for a miracle, the status of a wedding meal, resolving contradictory verses, the nature of the mitzvah of pru u’rvu (population vs. serving HKB”H?), the purpose of creation, toch kdei dibbur and imitato dei.
- Rabbi Dr. Motti Klein- TorahPsych #1 – The Power of Shame
First in a series combining psychology and religion. Focus here is on guilt vs. shame vs. embarrassment and the difference between doing something wrong and being a bad person. Implications for the tshuva process are discussed.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Yom Tov 518-6
Discussion of the Muktzeh status on Yom Tov of objects in a room which was originally inaccessible and then became accessible on Yom Tov.
- Rabbi Shmuel Braun-Lonely Man of Faith #47: Is Judaism “Democratic”? LMOF vs. Halachik Man
R’YBS’s view of tfila as a parallel to prophecy which is an encounter with HKB”H within a community which results in concrete action. (Me – it’s part of prayerful life in the words of R’YBS). Judaism is democratic in that everyone has direct access to HKB”H.
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter-Nitzavim-Vayeilech 5777 – 53 Parshios, Smicha in Eretz Yisrael, The Second Bris, Galus HaShechina, Sheviis Bazman HaZeh, Hakhel, Kesiavas Sefer Torah
Parsha Potpourri including: Bechira Chofshit/Tshuva, why Jews will repent, HKB”H in galut, kiddusha rishona/shnia (kibbush/chazaka) what mitzvah is not far from us, individual vs. group leadership, the sefer in the Azarah, Hakheil/Shmita issues and writing a sefer Torah.
- TITLE 19
Extended analysis of the hava amina and maskana of why mitztaer is partur from the sukkah (it really goes to the nature of the mitzvah of living in the sukkah).
- Rabbi Reuven Feinstein-TeshuvaTalks: Reflections on Teshuva
Thoughts on sins, tshuva, and messages for the yamim noraim.
Please direct any informal comments to [email protected].