Audio Roundup 2019:19

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by Joel Rich

Objection: Disgust, Morality, and the Law

(conclusion of book, me-so how does one and especially a group)not grounded in divine command decide)

In a sense, there’s nothing specific about this argument that limits it to disgust. Instead, it serves as a particularly illuminating example of why we should be taking a closer look at all of our intuitions, motivations, feelings, judgments, and moral inclinations and asking the same types of questions we’ve been asking here: Where do they come from? How do they work? What features are hidden from consciousness, and how does our blindness to them color our appraisal of the intuition itself? By answering those questions, we can start to evaluate whether, and how, they fit into the framework generated by a separate set of questions: Which types of behaviors do we want to encourage, and which do we want to proscribe? What ends do we want to see our legal systems pursue? What values and ideas do we want to privilege in our policy?
Our general contention—that these are independent sets of questions—applies equally to other legally relevant psychological phenomena such as, say, retributive punishment urges or intuitions of property ownership. Disgust happens to be an especially illustrative test case because of its prevalence and impact, but it certainly isn’t unique in its standing.
From a historical perspective, we’ve never been in a better position to undertake these tasks. For one, the framework for investigating human behavior is as advanced—both technologically and theoretically—as it has ever been. We are in an unprecedented position to answer the how and why questions of psychology that seem so mysterious to our everyday, folk-intuitionist, experiencing selves. What is more, the size and sophistication of our governmental and legal institutions have also risen to a level such that we can implement policy with a remarkable level of both force and complexity. We have our Leviathan; the question now is: What are we going to do with it?
We opened this book by discussion the slow and incremental change that’s necessary to an effective system of laws, and the balance that must take place between stability on the one hand and accounting for the advances of the behavioral sciences on the other. On the pages in between, we’ve tried to make our case that the scientific advances in the psychology of disgust have been significant, and that, because disgust is so pervasive in the law, these advances have substantial implications in the legal and political domains, and render many of the areas of law worth a fresh look—most importantly to ensure that they rely on something other than an instinctual revulsion.<hr style="border-top-width: 1px; border-top-color: black; border-top-style: solid;" />I“Do you see what (your) I (eye) see(s)” (HT – Todd Agnew). Question – If one passes a cemetery every day on their commute to work but their brain doesn’t process it (that’s how our vision actually works), do they then make a bracha when going to a cemetery for a funeral?<hr style="border-top-width: 1px; border-top-color: black; border-top-style: solid;" /><lu><li><a href="https://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/921436/rabbi-uri-orlian/r-moshe-feinsteins-surprising-opinions-about-employing-gentiles-in-hatzalah/">Rabbi Uri Orlian-R' Moshe Feinstein's Surprising Opinions About Employing Gentiles in Hatzalah</a>

Fascinating (to me) shiur on a number of levels regarding things I continue to wonder about—what level of additional risk, and how do you measure it, allows hatzalah to violate torah Shabbat prohibitions, even to care for a non ben brit? What evidence does it take for a poseik to change his mind? How far downstream do we look when evaluating the impact of our actions? How much halachic intuition is involved in Psak? [Bonus question – How would EEOC view certain suggested hiring policies?]

  • Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi- Hilchos Lulav 658-1

    Some lulav intersectionality with matanah al mnat l’hachzir.

  • Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi- Hilchos Lulav 658-2

    Is there a special requirement to go to Jerusalem (if you can) after the first day of sukkot in order to get a torah mitzvah of lulav?
    Is a lulav (or etrog) muktzeh on shabbat?

  • Rabbi Moshe Sokoloff-Lessons post Purim

    Technical analysis of doing a brit b’zmanah or shelo b’zmanah first.

  • Rabbi Yehuda Turetsky-Why Doesn’t the Torah Mention Olam HaBah? Exploring Different Approaches

    Why is there no mention of the world to come in the Torah? Traditional answers include that there is a clear mesorah (tradition), and the Torah is focused on our halachic actions in this world.
    Chassidic approaches focus on the gashmi’s (physical) world’s relationship to the spiritual world.

  • Rabbi Mordechai I. Willig-Genetics and Halacha

    This shiur covers DNA testing for various purposes including establishing lineage, who is the mother when employing varying fertility approaches and various approaches to genetic testing.

  • Rabbi Noach Isaac Oelbaum-Pele Yoetz : Part 57 – See Why The Chasam Sofer Said The Main נס of פורים Was In The Beginning Not In The End

    While the Purim story took place over a number of years, the first (and main) miracle was the whole Vashti story, which set the stage for everything that occurred thereafter.

  • Rabbi Dr. Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff-Scholarly Scientific Method
    Rabbi Jung redux. Focus in this presentation mostly on his western society focus and his “conversion” to Zionism.

  • Preparing appropriately (time-wise and philosophically) for a mitzvah can be as important as doing the mitzvah itself [me – per R’YBS-Ein kedusha bli hachanah]. Keep a balance, especially pre-Pesach! A committed (I think R’YBS called it prayerful) life should be sweet.
  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Ten Minute Halacha – Ha’arama on a D’oraysa and Selling Chameitz Gamur

    Quick introduction to haaramah (workarounds) and the specifics of selling chametz. Explains why R’YBS held it inappropriate to sell chametz gamur and why most (including his talmidim) do so anyway.

  • Rabbi Etan Moshe Berman-Human Sacrifice

    This shiur reviews the opinions of the Rambam, Ramban, and Rabbeinu Bachya as to why we have karbanot (sacrifices). Our prayers today are our sacrifices.

  • Rabbi Yehoshua Grunstein-Assimilation & Rav Moshe Feinstein

    A review of a few of R’Moshe’s response concerning:
    • Having a Zevulun/Yissachar agreement with a Sabbath violator
    • Giving honors to a Sabbath violator
    • Inviting someone on Shabbat who you “know” will violate Shabbat in order to come

  • Rabbi Dr. Moshe Sokol-Rav Kahana Dies and Rav Yochanan Seeks Forgiveness – Part 1

    Part 1 of R’Kahana’s interaction with Rav in Bavel and his flight to Eretz Yisrael and interactions there with R’Yochanan and Reish Lakish. Some thoughts on R’Kahana’ personality included as well.

  • Rabbi Dr. Moshe Sokol-Rav Kahana Dies and Rav Yochanan Seeks Forgiveness – Part 2

    Part 2 – What was the impact of these interactions on both R’Kahana and R’Yochanan? Was this medrash a metaphor for the evolution of the relationship between Israel and Bavel (Torah leadership)? Some thoughts on the comparative value of brilliance and middot.

  • Rabbi Dr. Moshe SokolThe Making of Rabbi Eliezer (Part 1)

    Part 1 of R’Eliezer ben Hurkanus’s life story. He came from a wealthy farming family but just wanted to learn Torah. He eventually met R’Yochanan be Zakkai, who modeled the best in the Rebbi/Talmid relationship.

  • Rabbi Dr. Moshe SokolThe Making of Rabbi Eliezer (Part 2)

    R’Eliezer exhibited a strong fidelity to tradition and had a strong will. He had the talent to be creative but kept it in check due to his commitment to tradition.

  • Rabbi Moshe Taragin-Sichat Mussar for Shemini: Controlling Anger; Admitting Mistakes; Strength of Silence

    Mussar on various topics including anger, saying “I don’t know”, and “I’m sorry

  • Rabbi Hershel Schachter-Shemini 5779 – Kashruts of Zebu, King Clip, Sturgeon, and Humans, The Distraction of Drinking, Birkas Kohanim, Machshirin

    Rules for determination of kashrut status of animals fish and birds—when do you need a mesorah (tradition)? Various contemporary controversies reviewed.
    Some insights into: mikveh; ritzeih reflecting karban tzibbur (R’YBS) and are you better off eating pig meat or human flesh?

  • Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman-Shen biReshus haRabim: Navigating the Complexity of Communal Space

    Insights into Bava Kamma damage rules. Meta message is how to live together sharing the public space. Not every hefsed (loss) is a hezek (damage) [me – contrary to our society’s current thinking]. [Me – more generally, every society has to have civil law to function (see sefer hachinuch)]. The question is what meta message is HKB”H sending us by the way halacha allocates responsibility.

  • Rabbi Moshe Sokoloff-Understanding The Halachos Of Kashering Utensils

    First in a series concerning hagala and koshering keilim, especially for Pesach.

  • Rabbi Uri Orlian-Zippering GAP Sweatshirt, Split Paroches & Making Puzzles on Shabbos

    When are splitting or joining letters and/or pictures together on Shabbat a problem? A number of common situations discussed.

  • Rabbi Azarya Berzon-Contemporary Halacha for Pesach: His chometz is in one part of the world, he’s in another

    Do the prohibitions on chametz go by where the owner is or where the chametz is?

  • Rabbi Eli Belizon-It’s Not Just Neo Vs. Not-Neo

    We don’t decide how to best serve HKB”H, he does!

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-From The Rabbi’s Desk – Illustrated Matzah (Serikin Hametzuyarin)

    Matzah is being marketed with messages on them. Could there be a problem with regards to chametz, ingredients or destroying writing? (Yes, but we can probably be lenient [me – but why bother?])

  • Rabbi Ari Kahn-Nadav and Avah- Sinners or Saints?

    Review of the range of opinions as to why Nadav and Avihu lost their lives. R’Kahn thinks well of them.

  • Rabbi Dr. Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff-Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein
    R’Moshe’s hard line on kiruv/shabbat invitations was not followed by R’A Lichtenstein or R’M Sternbuch.
  • Rabbi Asher Weiss-When Kitniyos Are Permitted on Pesach

    History of kitniyot – Including is it gzeirah or minhag (and does it make a difference)? When has it been suspended and why?

  • Rabbi Avishai David-גדרים בהלכות מראית העין

    Some insights into maarit ayin, lfnei iver and making a minyan on an airplaneן

  • Rabbi Shloime Pollak-The Zebu Controversy- Do All Animals Need A Mesorah?

    A brief halachic history of angus, zebu, and hybrid meats, including insights into the positions of the Shach, Chochmat Adam and Orech Hashulchan.

  • Rabbi Daniel Stein-Grape Juice for Kiddush and the Daled Kosos

    Our grape juice differs from that in the time of Chazal and the same is true for yayin mvushal. How, if at all, does all that impact use for Kiddush, arba kosot, or the appropriate bracha?

  • Please direct any informal comments to [email protected].

    About Joel Rich

    Joel Rich is a frequent local lecturer on various Torah topics in West Orange, NJ and supports his Torah listening habits by working as a consulting actuary.

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