by Joel Rich
As part of my continuing search for understanding why an atheist might feel bound to ethics, I read an interesting book, “Finding Purpose in a Godless World; Why We Care Even if the Universe Doesn’t” (Ralph Lewis, MD).
How can you not love a book that quotes Ozymandis, the introduction to the Stone Chumash, R’W Goldstein and includes the quote, “We were also members of a synagogue community at that time—and orthodox one at that. (This seeming contradiction between non-belief and religious community affiliation is not unusual among Jews)” ? Interestingly, it was his wife’s cancer (and recovery) which pushed the author from agnosticism to atheism!
The book’s thesis is 1.) Humans find patterns where they don’t exist and this historically caused people (“religious” or not) to believe in a purposeful universe, 2.) But now science can explain cosmology and how our brains (minds—it’s all bio) operate. (Fairly good summary of current thinking in these areas). 3.) We now know (or at least can say it’s likely) that all the perceived directedness (our values and ethics) is not due to a prime mover but are natural (evolution) development. It’s all random! 4.) Science and religion are diametrically opposed and we can have meaning without religion—we’re significant to each other. 5.) Our evolution, quest for knowledge, and morality (very Pinkeresque) will continue forward with some bumps in the road.
So I didn’t “like” the book primarily because he never answered the question of why an individual who didn’t “feel” hard wired by evolution or any other internal drive would have any reason not to do whatever they felt like no matter what the impact.
From R’ Aviner:
Netilat Yadayim by a guest
Q: Should a guest avoid using large quantities of water for Netilat Yadayim, since it is at the host’s expense?
A: It is an insignificant amount of water and the host forgives the cost with all of his heart.
(me-paradigm shift due to indoor plumbing? See shabbat 62b and S”A O”C 158:10)
- Rabbi Shalom Carmy-Hespedim for Professor Yaakov Elman
I had the pleasure of auditing several of Dr. Elman’s Revel classes a few years back. Everything they say about his intellect and personality is true. Yihi Zichro Baruch.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Pesach 473-6 and 474-1
Continuation of the discussion of the rules related to the seder process from matzah zu to the bracha of asher gaalanu.
- 7/28/18 Being frum in the Workplace: Halachik Issues — Guest Hosted by Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Shaking hands with the opposite gender, Going to holiday parties, Meetings in non-Kosher Restaurants, Being an Ohr Lagoyim, Websites on Shabbos, And much more..
All the usual workplace issues. My general thoughts on the topics: 1.) Many times, the circumstance of a question are nuanced and Boolean statements (always, never) are not appropriate [my own take is that if you haven’t been in “the real world,” you’re less likely to get the nuance or even know what questions to ask. There are those individuals who know both],
2.) It seems that some opinions on specific questions are informed upon by the poseik’s meta vision of ohr lagoyim being defined as(excuse the religious reference) “the shining city on the hill,” (and others will change by observing us from afar) or improvement by direct interaction with us, 3.) It’s worth considering the impact of one time interactions (which may be their only one with an Orthodox Jew) versus ongoing relations, 4.) Where there’s wiggle room there may be a meta value to earning the right to a higher standard vs. demanding it (especially if you don’t then earn it).
Feel free to ask me for more detail on or off line.
- Rabbi Dr. Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff-The Rav: From Fate to Destiny
R’YBS’s covenant of fate and covenant of destiny detailed on a communal and personal basis.
- Rabbi Dr. Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff-The Rav: From Brisk to Agudah to Mizrachi
Ch-ch-ch-ch changes (HT – David Bowie) in the life and thought of R’YBS (Chaslovich/Berlin – U.S.; pre-holocaust – post-holocaust; Agudah-Mizrachi).
- Rabbi Yoni Levin-Speed Dating in Halacha
R’Moshe held that once a shidduch is made (people call the couple chatan and kallah), no one else can try to suggest a different coupling (it’s ani hamihapeich).
Chazal’s allowance of a man’s engaging a woman on a moed due to shma ykadmenu (maybe someone else will act first) shows the power of prayer (since else the bat kol designating one’s bashert couldn’t be overridden).
- Rabbi Judah Mischel-Motzai Tisha B’Av: The Song Remains the Same
Inspirational stories concerning the centrality of Torah even in times of destruction.
- Rabbi Azarya Berzon-Parsha & Hashkafa for VaEschanan: Is evil really ‘good’? How to respond to ‘evil’ & suffering?
How do we understand and respond to the perceived evil that occurs to us in this world?
- Yishai Fleisher-The Israeli Riviera
Chizuk based on Parshat Vaetchenan plus a plug for tourism to Netanya.
- Rabbi Ezra Schwartz-Introduction to Minhagim
First in a series on minhagim—this session deals with possible sources (there are a number of different classes of minhagim) and meaning. Community minhagim have more force than individual ones.
- Rabbi Yitzchak Etshalom-SHALL I WEEP? The Question With No Answer…
Zecharya’s message concerning whether to fast on the four Temple fasts was to focus on what needs to be fixed in our society, how to fix it, and how to be a model for others.
- Rabbi Shay Schachter-Caring for the Sick on Shabbos
Some very personal issues must be taken into account when determining whether tangential actions (e.g., parents’ flying to an ill child) are allowed on Shabbat under pikuach nefesh rules. Some discussion of how to view non-life threatening emergencies is included as well.
- Rabbi Michael Taubes-Parshas VaEschanan Understanding the Mitzvah of Ahavas Hashem
How do I love thee—let me count the ways (HT – Elizabeth Barret Browning).
- R. Dovid Sharfman ZTL -Staying in a Modern Day Hotel for Shabbat
This shiur primarily analyzes electronics and psik reisha issues (D’lo nicha lei, drabanan vs. duraita) for application to hotel HVAC and key issues.
- Rabbi Shimon Spitzer-Understanding the Challenges of Technology: Better and Being Mechanech Accordingly.
Technology is a double edged sword. We need to guard against the downsides (e.g., addiction, withdrawal) for our kids.
- Rabbi Yehoshua Grunstein-Minyan- How CRAZY must I go to attend one?
The old “yishtadel” conundrum—how hard do you have to try to find a minyan to daven with.
- Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Schwartz-Profiles in Exile – The Life and Times of Don Isaac Abarbanel
The life and (hard) time of the Abarbanel.
- Rabbi Ally Ehrman-Is Serving In Tzahal A Mitzva – The View Of The Klausenberger Rebbe ztz”l
Defending the Jewish people is a good thing!
- Rabbi Jonathan Ziring-Toys, Pets, Garbage Cans – Muktzeh
Toys, pets, and garbage cans (lids and sliding bins) seem to run afoul of muktzeh rules—are there workarounds? Last in this series.
- Rabbi Isaac Rice-Nivul Peh and Refined Speech
Don’t talk or listen to obscene language (nivel peh) or disgusting topics (davar mguneh). Speak like a dignified person!
- Rabbi Benzion Mutsafi-הרב בן ציון מוצפי מעלת חודש אלול וסגולות לכפרת עוונות
Here are some specific to dos for Elul.
- Rabbi Yoni Levin-Hashem Protects The Tzadik from Sin
When the gemara says HKB”H won’t allow a Tzadik to sin, is it only talking about eating treif inadvertently or any “inadvertent” (shogeigh?) sin?
- Rabbi Yehuda Balsam-Kiddush Bimakom Seudah
Kiddush b’makom seudah—which is the primary and which is the enhancement? What are the implications of the answer to this question?
- Rabbi Dr. Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff-The History of Yeshiva University Revisited
R’Rakeffet comments on the message of some pictures from the history of YU—R’YBS,R’Revel, and the current state of orthodoxy
- Rabbi Moshe Sokoloff-Security Cameras On Shabbos
Security cameras are an issue on Shabbat. The whole psik reisha dlo nicha lei issue is revisited here.
- Rabbi Anthony Manning-What is Hashkafah and Where Can You Find it?
Hashkafa is about seeing HKB”H in this world. YU is about how to take the good of the outsider world into our world.
- Zev Eleff-How the Modern Beit Midrash and Library Changed the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah
Did the invention of the printing press cause many to violate the prohibition of forgetting their Torah or did it aid in fulfilling the requirement to pass the Torah on to the next generation?
- Rabbi Yonason Sacks-Rabbi Yonason Sacks Guest Shiur on NCSY Kollel (Berachot)
Birchat hamazon and magein avot—can saying a smaller quantity of brachot ever substitute for the standard form?
- Rabbi Ezra Schwartz-Maimonides, Minhag and Mitzva: When are brachos recited on minhagim
The Rambam views broadly accepted minhagim as required under the rules of lo tasur.
- Rabbi Yoni Levin-Parshas Devarim/Shabbos Chazon Drasha 5778: The Awe of Hashem in Places of Desolation
Local West Orange boy teaches R’Levin the meaning of HKB”H being Nora even in destruction.
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