by Joel Rich
Question: I note that the S”A O”C 158:10 (Hand Washing) quotes the Gemara (R’Chisda) in support of using more than the minimum required amount of water for hand washing. Given the Mechaber’s goal that the Shulchan Aruch be a halachic summary of his magnum opus, the Beit Yosef, does anyone know of a theory as to why the Mechaber in some cases quotes Talmudic sources (or Torah or Rishonim) and in others just states the halacha? Any study of the frequency of such quotes?
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Think about this might apply to minhagim (War and also dislocation?)
…the role of wars in dealing the coup de grace to lingering customs is quite remarkable. Contemporary observers noted this development without comment or simply attributed it directly to the catastrophe. But war was less a cause of change than a precipitant of changes already under way. Edgar Morin makes precisely this point when he writes that in the parish of Plodémet “the war of 1914 accelerated and amplified most of the processes set off in 1880-1900.” Like the Great Revolution in peasant parlance, the Great War became a symbolic dividing line between what once was and what is, so that informants in a survey used terms like jadis and avant de guerre interchangeably. Yet wars are not watersheds for customs, but difficult times in which people are forced to focus on essential matters and come to see things differently. Many festive customs were not necessarily suspended by the Great War. In the countryside, mourning was almost as universal as hardship; two years for parents, one for siblings. There were few pigs to slaughter, no festive family meals, no public festivities. And after the war there was the great influenza epidemic. By 1919 the old customs were no longer part of people’s lives. Some were restored to their prewar prominence, but many were quietly forgotten.
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- Rabbi Michael Rosensweig -שיטת הרמב’ם in ברכת התורה – Applications
This shiur is a continuation of R’Rosensweig’s analysis of the Rambam’s possible position that the Birchot Kriat Shma are really the essential Birchat Hatorah.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Pesach 433-2
Continuation of shiurim concerning chametz rules. If you do bdika during the day you still use candles/no torch. What constitutes a good candle? Which areas must be checked? (All—if you have kids. )
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter- בענין הותרה ודחויה
R’HS analyzes the concepts of hutra and dchuya (the issue at hand never applied vs. it applied but is waived in this situation). Applications include brit, pikuach nefesh on Shabbat, tzitzit et al.
Most interesting (to me) application –can a woman wear tzitzit made up of wool and linen?
- Rabbi Moshe Taragin-קדמה לפירוש המשניות של הרמב”ם חלק א
Introduction to Rambam’s Peirush Hamishnayot. Dialectics include: mesirah (transmission) vs. limud (learning), Navi (prophet) vs. Chacham (wise man), Peh (oral) vs. lev (heart), rational vs. super rational and different types of prophecy.
- Rabbi Shay Schachter-Consulting With Others Before Making a Decision or a Halachic Psak
We see a number of times (e.g., HKB”H – Naaseh adam) in Tanach the lesson of taking counsel from others. This is an important lesson for young Rabbis! (Me – this is how you deal with confirmation bias.)
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Pesach 433-3
More on areas that need (or don’t) checking for chametz including roofs, courtyards, and difficult to reach spots.
- Rabbi Yehoshua Grunstein-Requests on Shabbat- Forbidden, Inappropriate or Benefit?
Why is our amidah on Shabbat different from that of weekdays? The Yerushalmi says it’s because we have to show we are happy with what we have while the Bavli says it’s so we not be so bothered on Shabbat. Differences in application are discussed.
- Rabbi Jonathan Ziring-Skype, Youtube, and Tzniut
Is it live or is it Memorex? We may care more or less dependencing on whether the issue at hand is formality or concern for provocativeness.
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Ten Minute Halacha – Bishul and Pas Akum of Non-Religious Jew
Do you violate Pat Akum or Bishul Akum if you eat a product produced by a mumar? First you must define mumar (apostate or just non believing ben brit?) It may also depend on whether the reason for the prohibition is concern for marriage (chatnut) or concern for kashrut substitutions
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz -Weapons in Shul
Review of sources concerning bringing weapons into a holy place. Is it a concern relative to prayer or place? Leniencies may be available. Interesting insight from R’Asher Weiss—you can reach halachic conclusions from where the Rambam places a halacha but not from where the Shulchan Aruch does.
- Rabbi Jeremy Wieder לפנים משורת הדין. Actionable in a Court?
Shiur analyzes various Talmudic sources concerning lifnim mshurat hadin (beyond the letter of the law.) How can it be that the law could enforce a requirement beyond the letter of the law?
Three lessons we can learn are: 1.) failure to go beyond the letter of the law will eventually lead you to misuse the actual law 2.) It shows our recognition that all we have comes from HKB”H 3.) Imitato Dei—we want HKB”H to act this way with us thus we should act this way as well.
- Rabbi Shay Schachter-Unconditional Emunah: Is This World as Arbitrary as it Sometimes Seems?
The advantage of complete faith is that you have a long-term investment horizon vs. most people’s hyper discount rate (kach mkublani m’imi Morati).
- Rabbi Michael Taubes -Parshas Lech Lecha Is It Permissible to Accept Gifts?
Shiur presents Tanach and Talmudic sources concerning whether it’s appropriate to take gifts. Generally it’s not but there are some exceptions. The reason not to take gifts could be practical (you’ll come to want/expect more) or ethical (it shows a lack of complete bitachon).
- Rav Asher Weiss-BIRKAT SHEHECHEYANU
Is the gemara concerning saying a shechiyanu on kisui hadam (covering shechita blood) a paradigm for other mitzvot? Might shechiyanu depend on whether the mitzvah is a chiyuv (requirement) or reshut (voluntary)? On whether it is a mitzvah with personal benefit? A first in your life if its symbolic of a new stage?
- Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner-Mental Health: Week 1: Stress
The Torah encourages us to be happy and avoid stress yet religion can put us in stressful situations. The key is to use stress positively, remember we are not in this alone, and either remove it or share it (helping others is also a good idea).
- Rabbi Reuven Brand-Religious Life in the Vilna Ghetto, Rav Gustman and the Breaking of Stereotypes
A quick history of vilna (GRA, Shas, R’Chaim Ozer) with a focus on R’Gustman—a man for all seasons and all parties.
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter-Vayera 5778 – Elisha, Quiet Companionship, Hachnassas Orchim, Tzaddikim in Sedom, Akeidah
Parsha topics including: understanding the link between the parsha and haftara, why HKB”H tattled on Sarah, miracles, just being there for others, how Avraham knew to leave HKB”H for the angels, turning down aliyot (don’t)/Shatz (do), synthetic meat, chinuch – duraita/drabanan or both, humility, HKB”H’s guiding history, Avraham could have turned down the akeidah (and much, much more!)
- Rabbi Jonathan Ziring -The Biblical Population Explosion (and why Biblical Numbers are Round)
Demographic numbers in the Torah don’t seem right and there’s no easy explanation.
- Rabbi Mark Glass-From Sacred to Foolish: The Different Types of Minhagim
Part of a series looking at a number of different types of minhagim, including those resulting from: stringencies, disputes in halacha, new practices, customs from ignorance, and practices leading to inappropriate conclusions by a community.
- Rabbi Yoni Levin-Reading Parshas Zachor in a Minyan
This shiur discusses sources suggesting that we need to read parshat zachor from a sefer Torah and also provides possible rebuttals. The shiur also includes similar analysis for the need for a minyan for parshat zachor (because of a need for a tzibbur? Is it a davar shebikidusha?)
- Rabbi Aharon Adler-Torah and Medicine in the Rambam
Science is an integral part of Torah according to the Rambam (e.g., astronomy for Rosh Chodesh determination). Shiur includes some discussion of darkei shalom (ways of peace-relations with non bnai brit).
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Pesach 433-4
Do you have to check for chametz in dangerous places? A Beit Knesset and a Beit Medrash do require checking.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Pesach 433-5 and 434-1
We clean the house well in advance but we still need to do bdika on erev Pesach. What do you do with chametz that you still need for erev Pesach?
- Rabbi Yehoshua Grunstein-Korbanot in Davening- Substitution or…the REAL THING?
Do we say karbanot as a substitute for bringing them or as a part of our learning? (Me – or both.) Differences based on these possibilities would be 1.) Women’s requirement? 2.) Can you say them in translation? 3.) Do you need to understand what you are saying? 4.) Do you need to say them at mincha? 5.) Do you say the yhi ratzons?
- Dr. David Pelcovitz-Coping with Tragedy and Loss: Jewish and Psychological Perspectives
How do we deal with (and mitigate) tragedy? 1.) Our processing events can impact how we view them. 2.) We can use song and dance to deal with them. 3.) We can maintain an optimistic attitude. 4.) We can develop an attitude of gratitude.
- Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb-20th Century Teshuvot: R. Moshe Feinstein – Mechitzah
This shiur reviews R’Moshe’s opinion on mechitza (which is generally thought to be 5 feet high = shoulder height). Is the requirement based on concern over kalut rosh (light headedness) or histaklut (staring at prohibited relations)? Women’s fashion trends may require additional consideration in the mechitza height.
- Rabbi Assaf Bednarsh-Sukkah 15 (נטילת ידים)
The first part of this shiur deals with the shiurim needed for bracha achrona for eating/drinking (as well as underlying theories). The shiur then moves on to who can be motzi whom depending on how much they eat/drink. The shiur then begins an introduction to why we might not need to wash before eating.
- Rabbi Jonathan Ziring-ינויים בתפלה 7 – הלל ביום העצמאות 3
This Shiur discusses R’OY on Hallel on Yom Haatzmaut. The bottom line is tht one’s Zionistic chops do not necessarily correlate with saying Hallel with a bracha.3
- Rabbi Dr. Mordechai Schiffman-The Psychology of Chesed
How does psychology analyze the concept of chesed (loving kindness?) Chesed involves both cognitive and emotional elements. Rachel was an example of “smart chesed” (Me – HT-Lmaan Achai). Should we want to do chesed more on our own or due to our being commanded?
The shiur discusses the question as to whether there is such a thing as true altruism or is there always something in it for the doer? [me – evolutionary biologists must argue the latter, or else why did we evolve with this characteristic?].
- Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner-Logotherapy and Judaism: Can they work together?
Viktor Frankl’s logotherapy is based on man’s need to define meaning in his life. It’s (me) clearly consistent with Yiddishkeit! Dr. Frankl originally played down the religious aspect of logotherapy but later was less circumspect concerning its role.
Please direct any informal comments to [email protected].