by Joel Rich
“Hashem Yair Einai” (HKB”H please enlighten me) is something I say from time to time. Most who know me tend to think of me as a rationalist (OK—they think I’m Spock—but I’m not).
For the past couple of months I’ve been trying to put together a Shiur on chazakot (presumptions) in the Talmud and do/can they change. I’ve done a lot of research and spoken to a number of people (many of whom are not at all bothered as to whether the presumptions of “what most people do” no longer seem accurate). When you note that Chazal were not always crystal clear (chazakah is used to describe at least 5 somewhat different concepts, rov is sometimes used instead of chazaka and V.V.) and throw in the Brisker hachraa (presumption = 100% clarity) vs. hanhaga (presumption = we’re not sure but have to do something) it can be very frustrating (especially if intuitively you understand that a legal system may need to trade off accuracy for practical applicability BUT don’t like “halachic reality” dramatically diverges from “reality reality.”)
So, while I’m still in the midst of wrestling with this question (and the Rama has at least one example where a chazakah no longer applied in his day). YUTORAH decides to upload a 1985 Shiur by R’Schachter where he specifically clarifies R’YBS’s position on chazakot which is consistent with what I’ve been positing for years (short version—yes, they can change, Tan Du was an exception.)
Of course, even if everyone agreed, we’re still with how the halachic process would actually reflect this change (I suspect in continual fits and starts and workarounds that get the desired psak without specifically dealing with the chazaka until we have a Sanhedrin) BUT I thank HKB”H for sending that Shiur my way!
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From R’Bednarsh’s shiur: There’s a famous question concerning why the gemara needs “Lcha” to tell us you don’t get the mitzvah of sukkah in a stolen sukkah—don’t we already know this from the concept of mitzvah haba b’aveira? There are a number of answers one of which is a unique Meiri who explains that there’s no mitzvah haba b’aveirah when the object of the aveirah is the schach but the object of the mitzvah is the space you are in (parallel to shofar where the object of the aveirah is the shofar but the object of the mitzvah is the sound). The question was then raised whether one would get the mitzvah of lighting a Chanukah menorah in a stolen motor home (is the object of the aveira the motor home but the object of the mitzvah the menorah?) R’Bednarsh thought the hashkafa and halacha of this parallel would make a good between mincha/maariv drasha (or maybe he was just humoring me).2
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- Rabbi Jeremy Wieder ,Rabbi Shmuel Maybruch -Mental Health in Dating: A Panel Discussion
There are a number of halachic issues that come up in the dating/shidduch process. The primary disclosure issues revolve around what needs to be disclosed and when. There may not be a one to one correspondence between the halacha and current therapeutic approaches (me – i.e., self-care vs. responsibilities to others). Honesty is the best policy—timing TBD.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Pesach 444-2
Continuation of the discussion concerning erev Pesach which falls on Shabbat. Shalosh seudot, cooking for Shabbat and breakfast chametz are main topics covered.
- Rabbi Ya’akov Trump-The Mysterious Yeshiva of Shem V’Ever
What did Yaakov learn in Yeshivat Shem V’ever (especially what he couldn’t learn from his father)? How to live in the outside world and provide visionary leadership. [Me – 14 years must have been a lot of Tora Umada?]
- Rabbi Ari Kahn-Fighting Angels Facing Demons (Full lecture)
Yaakov ran from both lot and eisav but there was a big difference between his running in terms of how his personal motivations changed. The Rashbam felt Yaakov was crossing the river to run and HKB”H sent the wrestler to teach him to not run when he needed to have the self- confidence to confront (when doing the dvar hashem). (HT – Kenny Rogers – “You gotta know when to hold them, when to fold them, when to walk away, when to run . . .”)
- Rabbi Evan Hoffman-Progressive Judaism in other Regions of Europe
While most folks focus on the change (Reform) in Europe was in terms of Germany, this Shiur discusses the differing versions of Reform in the rest of Europe (specifically Vienna, Galicia, Budapest, Russia).
- Rabbi Moshe Taragin-HaRav Amital on Chanukah: Historical Framing; The First Debate of Ideas; The Challenge of Pioneering; Evaluating Jewish Sovereignty
R’Amital stressed the challenge of Yavan (Greece) and the growth that could come from our confrontation with them (Yafutei Shel Yefet). We need to break out of hergel (rote) in a pioneering manner and recognize that malchut Yisrael (sovereignty), even partial, is worth celebrating. Thus, he believed in tempered redemptive consciousness.
- Rabbi Dovi Fischer-A Comprehensive Halachic Overview of Sefer Torah & Talmud Torah
A quick review of a number of sefer Torah rules including: The mitzvah to write, when can you move?, reading rules, priorities in aliyot, mistakes in reading, hagbah, mistakes in writing, dropping one and lots on learning it!
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Ten Minute Halacha – V’hu Rachum at Beginning of Maariv
We say V’hu Rachum for good reasons . When we don’t say it, it’s for good reasons, too!
- Rabbi Dr. Motti Klein -TorahPsych #4 Jewish Worryers
We should channel our anxiety properly and inject humor as directed.
- Rabbi Yonatan Shai Freedman -8 Reasons To Say Ga’al Yisrael Out Loud
The Shatz should follow the shul minhag on saying gaal yisrael out loud. If there isn’t a minhag, say it out loud!
- Rabbi Gershon Albert-Jews and the Wisdom of the Other
Review of the standard literature on Talmud Torah, Greek wisdom and Greek language—it’s complex!
- Rabbi Jonathan Ziring-שגחה – רק על כשרות? 2
The big question is do we “encourage” a lesser sin in order to avoid a bigger one? Examples – allow a deli to stay open during the 9 days so people will eat kosher; allow a zonah to go to mikveh. There is likely a difference between individual and community applications of these principles.
- Rabbi Ozer Glickman, Dr. Matthew Liao-Ethics of Neurotechnologies
Consequentialism, deontology, behavioral economics, big data and individual gut reactions—what’s the deal with ethics/morality?
- Rabbi Ezra Schwartz-Avoda Zara 6b doing business with davar hamiskayeim, Rambam’s position regarding aiva and adam chashuv
Continuing Talmud Shiur. This session focuses on commerce with non bnai brit. How is the possibility of eivah (hatred) taken into account? Is an adam chashuv (important person) different in this regard? (Note – the Rambam doesn’t include the rules of adam chashuv in the laws of avodah zarah).
- Rabbi Assaf Bednarsh-Sukkah 27 (מצוה הבא בעבירה)
Continuation of the analysis of mitzvah haba b’aveira applications and theory. Why does the gemara need lcha to tell you don’t get the mitzvah of sukkah? Is there a shiur for the size of an etrog? Does the aveirah need to be done by you? Is it an aveirah to borrow a stolen object? Is gzeilah (stealing) an issue of hurting the victim or enriching oneself without permission?
- Rabbi Yehoshua Grunstein-Chanukah Candles, Circa 2017- Does Electricity Obligate to be more STRINGENT?
When the Talmud says that Chanukah candles should be lit “ad shetichleh regel” (When the marketplace empties) was it being prescriptive or descriptive? (Today it’s a lot longer time period.)
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter-Chanukah 5778 – Chashmonaim, Fasting, Al HaNissim, Women, Hanaah from the Candles, Shul
Why do we light the Chanukiah? What is the nature of al hanissim? How do Chanukah and Shabbat candles interrelate? How long must candles remain lit? Why do we light in shul (zecher lmikdash, for transients, for publicizing the miracle)?
- Rabbi Dr. J. David Bleich,Dr. Edward Burns,Dr. Neville Sanjana-Playing the Creator with CRISPR
A brief description of the CRISPR technology and the ethical issues involved especially in germ line modifications (which impact future generations). What are the limits in our partnership with HKB”H regarding “healing?” (i.e., does it include designer babies?)
- Rabbi Moshe Taragin-Why 8 Days and Not 7 ? 3 Different Strategies Toward Answering the Beit Yossef’s Question
The answers to the question, “Why do we have eight days of Chanukah?” fall into three categories: 1.) related to the oil 2.) related to the investiture of mishkan/mikdash 3.) 7 days +1 for other reasons.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Pesach 444-1
Rules for bdika when erev Pesach falls out on Shabbat plus what you do on Shabbat for meals and prayer timing.
- Rabbi Michoel Zylberman-The Lesser Known Origins of Some Chanukah Minhagim
Why is there a prohibition against mlacha (work?) during the burning of Chanuka candles? Is it concern about using the light or respect for the miracle? Are sufganiyot eaten due oil or due to mizbeach/meen shalosh bracha (a little unclear). Dreidels seem a fairly recent innovation.
- Rabbi Aharon Kahn-When Does Trust in Hashem Become Trust in Yourself
We need to have confidence that we know we are right!
- Rabbi Dr. Edward Reichman ,Dr. Ana Maria Cuervo-The Anti-Aging Revolution
A number of introductory remarks, then onto treating aging as a specific risk factor for other diseases.
- Rabbi Isaac Rice-Hatavas Chalom – Amelioration of a Dream
The Talmud seems to have mixed messages concerning dreams. The Rambam doesn’t mention the approaches of hatavat chalom (a “court” undoing of bad dreams) or birchat kohanim (based on the medrash) as antidotes [me – I go with hakol holchin achar hapeh]-it all is according to how you interpret it].
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Hilchos Chanukah Questions
Some of the usual Chanukah questions concerning where to light and the appropriateness of a bracha at a public Menorah lighting.
- Rabbi Baruch Simon ,Rabbi Beni Krohn-Annual Chanuka Mesibah (Rav Simon’s Shiur): The Power of Dibuk Chaveirim and Makom Torah, Seeing the light of Torah through the window
Words of chizuk (encouragement) related to Chanukah from R’Simon and R’Krohn.
- Rabbi Michael Taubes- Chanukah Candles Before Sunset
Shiur discusses the earliest and latest times for davening Maariv.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Pesach 444-3
This Shiur begins with a discussion of how to get rid of Chametz at various points of the day when erev Pesach falls out on Shabbat. The Shiur then moves onto when bitul may work on real chametz on erev Pesach due to the fact that you’re involved in a different mitzvah.
- Rabbi Dr. Jacob J Schacter-Israel as a Messianic State: Reishit Tzmichat Geulateinu?
This Shiur discusses the phrase “reishit tzmichat geulateinu” (the first flowering of our redemption) from both a philosophical and historical basis. R’Herzog’s contribution to the prayer for the state gets special focus.
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter-Nishtanu HaTvaim
Times change, people change, science changes, and halacha recognizes such changes and incorporates them into the halachic process. The Shiur describes different halachic constructs (e.g., gzeirot vs. minhag) and how change would (or wouldn’t be reflected. Specific examples are covered. Also reviews a number of current science vs. chazal and R’YBS on tan du (which is unchanging) (R’HS disagrees) vs. other chazakot and the requirement for a mesorah by tcheilet.
Please direct any informal comments to [email protected].