by Joel Rich
I’ve been listening to a series of podcasts https://fs.blog/the-knowledge-project/ (the knowledge project) which speak to my intellectual curiosity concerning all human knowledge (did that sound pompous enough?). In one interview, Mr. Parrish asked whether the interviewer would rather be the best player on a losing team or worst player on a winning one. It reminded me of 1.) R’YBS on being judged on both an individual and community basis and 2.) R’Kook (IIUC) on the story in galut is the story of individuals but in Israel the nation reenters the story of history and 3.) The shift in thinking pre- and post-churban.
How many of us place a focus on the community priorities before our own personal good?
I suppose this is blatantly obvious to others, but I’ve updated my mental psak model. My many followers (very tongue in cheek) may remember my delicate dance analogy between the poseik and his community (TBD). This could have also been expressed as a two circle Venn diagram (but where in the intersection do you land?) It occurs to me we need a third circle (or maybe this is better expressed as two magnetic fields pulling on a piece of metal = the poseik), which represents what other poskim would find acceptable. This would explain R’ Schachter’s reference to poskim we disregard (e.g., Rogatchover, R’Avi Weiss?) because they are something like “too creative” (me = outside consensus of other poskim?)
- Rav Asher Weiss-Mishpatim
Important listening! Is charging ribit (interest) fundamentally a choshen mishpat (financial transaction) or yoreh deah (existential prohibition) issue? The Rabbis 500 years ago were simply following Chazal’s model of Pruzbol to reflect changing economic circumstances. Some fascinating “side points”:
1. R’Weiss understands the Rambam’s organizational principle in the Mishna Torah as being based on a practical approach rather than on an essential basic definitional view (anti-Brisk).
2. The Chatam Sofer viewed interest as “secularly” fundamentally different than rental income.[sounded like he felt rent was to cover depreciation??] 3. R’Weiss explains the Tur’s placement of hilchot ribit in Yoreh Deah as based on philosophical considerations. I wonder if someone might consider the history of the Tur and investigate the possibility that the Tur had not set out a broad organizational vision (see his Introduction to Orach Chaim, written first, where he speaks of writing Orach Chaim because of people being lackadaisical about brachot) and that Yoreh Deah was written before Choshen Mishpat.
4. R’Weiss seems to subscribe to the corporations being artificial persons school of thought, primarily due to the split of authority/responsibility/compensation between shareholders, directors, and officers. He further differentiates between public and private companies as well as small vs. large group owners. I’ll simply say a deeper dive would be of “interest” as to how earlier conceptualizations apply to modern financial constructs.
- Rabbi Mordechai I. Willig-Torah and Science- Shabbos and מציצה
Why metzitza bpeh might still make sense today even though we know it doesn’t prevent danger. Shout out to R’Meislman’s masterful explanation of how, in general, chazal were correct even if science today differs (and he has advanced degrees!)
- Rabbi Menachem Penner-Sacrificial Rams- Halachic & Hashkafic Challenges of Rooting for Losing Sports Teams
Does sports own us or do we own sports? Fixed prayer focuses on long-term vision but spontaneous prayer shows how we make HKB”H part of our lives.
Interesting anecdotal evaluation [or projection of personal experience] (unless there’s been some survey done) of early morning minyan goers kavannah vs. those who go to later minyanim. IIUC the conclusion on the specific question on spontaneous praying for game victory is OK if it will make your child happy. Imi Morat, ZLL”HH counseled that I consider that maybe there’s a child in the hospital who will be comforted by my teams’ loss and that I trust HKB”H’s decision on such matters and know that he loves me just as much even if my team has to lose. I very quickly outgrew the team allegiance.
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Mikvah On Erev Shabbos
Coming up with non-kabbalistic reasons to go to the mikveh on Friday (me – I’m guessing it’s a very small percentage of people who go the mikveh on Friday who can quote any of these reasons).
Somewhat sad (to me) comment—R’Weinberger came to the five towns and taught the community that people in their 40’s could still grow. (I thought this was one of the most basic premises of Yiddishkeit (even people in their 60s and beyond)).
- Rabbi Moshe Taragin-Superbowl Sicha 2019: Dangers of Sports Obsession; The “One” Year to Withdraw
Mussar to Shana Alef students at gush – we don’t brainwash you, but you should be open to positive change. How you deal with sports in general and the Super Bowl in particular will inform on your progress in the one year you’re in the cocoon and in your life in general. Don’t be an oved avoda zarah b’tahara(letter vs. spirit of the law issue)!
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter-Mishpatim 5779 – Double Parsha, Korbanos HaGer, Verapo Yerapeh, Halacha leMoshe MiSinai
1. Major decisions in life are very individualized. You need to appreciate your tafkid (role in life). If TUM(Torah U’Mada) and TUP(Torah U’Parnassa) would create Talmidei Chachamim, the Chareidi Yeshivot would empty (me – lot to discuss on this). The mass kollel system is new. Don’t knock non bnai brit (sounded like because today it doesn’t work, not because it’s wrong). OTD is at 500 year low. You need a rebbi at older ages in Kollel who can guide you but the consumers aren’t demanding it. (Me – will any leader be willing to risk losing a gadol hador by communicating that becoming one is not the key goal of any member of the Olam Hayeshivot?)
2. You need to have a Plan, you never really leave Yeshiva.
- Rabbi Ya’akov Trump-Pavilions, Parks and Shuls – Dedications in Torah Thought
Why putting your name on a donation is a positive me-(so how about a survey of donors and their communities—in what % of cases is it not about the donor?)
- Rabbi Jonathan Ziring-A Case Study in Psak – Bat Mitzvah
Tshuvot on Bat Mitzvah representing differing approaches to psak. R’Moshe followed the sugya/logic approach, the Tzitz Eliezer looked to minhag and R’OY looked to precedent.
- Rabbi Dr. Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff-Rabbi Bernard Drachman
R’Drachman was the precursor of U.S. modern orthodoxy. Discussion of J. Schiff and the founding of K.J.
- Rabbi Tanchum Cohen-Sorting & Selecting: The Melacha of Boreir, from Berries to Board Games
It’s not borer (generally) if you would treat it as one object (e.g., water you would drink unfiltered). Other applications also discussed.
- Rabbi Yona Reiss-From the Dayan’s Desk #46: Collecting the Ketuba in the Modern Age
Primarily a review of how the actual value of a ketubah is calculated by beit din.
- Rabbi Moshe Taragin-Sichat Mussar for Mishpatim: Grand Ideas and Detailed Adherence; Don’t Confuse Judgementalism with Devotion
Be careful in judgement in general and particularly when you wrap yourself in the Torah.
- Rabbi Azarya Berzon-Masechet Pesachim 11a: reconciling contradictions regarding who enacts a גזירה and when?
Technical discussion of a subset of bdika rules as well as a discussion of chadash.
- Rabbi Yehoshua Grunstein–STAND or SIT: What’s Laining all about?
Viewing a number of issues regarding Torah reading practices as being grounded in whether we are teaching or reenacting Sinai.
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Ten Minute Halacha – Credit Unions
Are credit unions any different than banks when it comes to paying interest (and why don’t banks seem to be an issue?) I’ve always thought R’Moshe’s “ownership” test was a great example of halachic intuition.
- Rabbi Gershon Albert-Welcome to our Home: A Step-by-Step to Hachnasat Orchim
Introduction to the philosophy and practice of hachnasat orchim (inviting guests?) using Avraham as a paradigm (plus halachic sources).
- Rabbi Shay Schachter-Do We Ever Consider What God Says About This Decision?
We must always ask ourselves what HKB”H wants of us and act on it, even when it’s not comfortable!
- Rabbi Ezra Schwartz-Heter Iska: Is it Haarama?
Why does it seem some haaramas (loopholes) are not allowed while other haaramas (workarounds) are? Perhaps some combination of sociology and Rabbis keeping their eyes on the Torah’s meta-objectives.
- Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky-Trusting a Shatnez Checker
Introduction to rov (majority), miyut hamatzui (material minority), efshar l’varer (determinable) and the binding nature of psak on the individual who requested it and on others as well as on that same individual for other applications.
- Rabbi Jonathan Muskat-Do Not Touch: Common Muktza Applications on Shabbat
Nice summary review of categories of muktzeh and practical Shabbos applications.
- Rabbi Michoel Zylberman-Mishpatim – Alternative Medicine and Kishuf
Does alternate medicine qualify as kishuf (sorcery)? It depends on how you define kishuf (and medicine)! Apparently, there are gedolim on both sides of the question.
- Rabbi Netanel Wiederblank-מחשבת ישראל Semester 2 – פשט ודרש בהלכה
Why does the Torah formulate “pshat” different from halachic interpretation (e.g., eye for an eye = cash). There are lessons to be learned and these lessons can impact practical halacha as well.
- Rabbi Moshe Taragin-נםש החיים חלק א’ -ר’ חיים ולוזין והגאון, ייסוד הישיבה, הגדרה של תורה לשמה
R’Chaim Volozhiner bio—he was “revolutionary” as a 1.) Talmid of the GRA (anti-pilpul)
2.) Founder of a new model (centralized) Yeshiva and 3.) Thinker – Nefesh Hachaim – focus on Torah L’shma vs. Dveikut with HKB”H.
- R. Doniel Osher Kleinman-Parshat Mishpatim: Hashovas Aveida – Contemporary Applications
Returning lost objects involves a positive (hashev) and a negative (lo tuchal) commandment. So, how is it many often just pass by a lost object? Maybe it’s OK if there is no identifiable marks on the object, but it’s not so clear!
- Rabbi Moshe Taragin-Sichat Mussar for Mishpatim for Migdal Oz: Torah is a Parable; Convertings Sins of Ommission into Comission; Grand Ideas and Attention to Halacha
1.) The Torah contains interconnections which inform on, and define, the reality of life. 2.) Be as sensitive to missing out on a positive mitzvah as on avoiding a sin 3.) Keep your eye on the details as well as on the grand themes.
- Rabbi Yisroel Brog-Parashat Terumah: Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh!
Make HKB”H welcome in your home (by your actions).
- Rabbi Jonathan Ziring-הם מותר לשנות את האמת בפסק הלכה?
Reprise of previously reviewed shiur concerning taking socio/economic factors into account in psak. How far can the poseik go in adopting a position he doesn’t feel is primary? That he doesn’t accept at all?
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter-Mishpatim 5779 – Double Parsha, Korbanos HaGer, Verapo Yerapeh, Halacha leMoshe MiSinai
Parsha thoughts primarily focused on geirut (conversion) post-Sanhedrin/Karbanot. Includes insights on why the Torah reading btzibur (community) requires a full sefer Torah. Interesting insight from R’YBS on why, if all the Jewish people “converted” at Sinai, don’t we say they were unrelated due to “ger shnitgayer ktinok hanolad dami” (converts have no halachic relations immediately after conversion). [Chazal established this principle due to the time gap between conversions even if the entire family converted, Sinai was simultaneous conversion]. Closes with R’YBS on man partnering with HKB”H in this world.
- Rabbi Yoni Levin-The Time I Met the Moroccan Chief of Staff: Blessing Non-Jews
Three rationalizations of giving a blessing to a non-ben brit in face of the prohibition of lo tchaneim (1.) quid pro quo situation 2.) mitzvah is involved 3.) darkei shalom).
A broader discussion of how much of halacha is influenced by practicalities of life (e.g., Tosafot on doing business with non-ben brit and how we should/would view non-ben brit if not for practicalities of life, would be of value.)
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Ten Minute Halacha – Hand Warmers on Shabbos
If you can take a stand on defining bishul (what is considered not normal cooking), makeh b’patish (does it apply to food? What is a real finishing touch vs. a modification) and molid (when is “something new” actually created), answering Shabbat questions would be much easier
Please direct any informal comments to [email protected].