by Joel Rich
Minhag is one of those Humpty Dumpty words ([like Chazakah?] “When I use a word, Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, ‘It means just what I choose it to mean—neither more or less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be the master—that’s all”). This point was driven home to me by a shiur (way too long to summarize maareh mkomot available) I put together on the minhag of some women not to do mlacha (“work” TBD—another Humpty Dumpty word?) on Rosh Chodesh. The Yerushalmi (Taanit 1:6) is the only Talmudic source specifically mentioning this practice in a list of practices some of which are considered “minhagim” and some not. [I assumed the practical application is whether one needs to be matir neder to stop]. In comparing this practice with mlacha on chol hamoed and during Chanukah candles, I reached the following tentative conclusions:
1. There is not always a strong mesorah for the source of minhagim.
2. Later, authorities use what data they can collect related to the specific minhag to establish a narrative for the original practice (which can include when and why) in order to determine current applications. I’m not sure how much they take into account alternative possible narratives.
3. The narratives may also be impacted by a desire to cohere definitions and/or rules amongst multiple tangentially related practices (e.g., mlacha, candle lighting).
4. Halachic intuition plays a very strong role in determining “good” and “not so good” minhagim. (Maybe of the nature of “what would I have seen/done if I were a poseik back when the minhag was forming?”)
From: Religion in the University
The author makes the case for religious voices in the University, but warns, “Some religious persons will refuse to engage in this grand pluralistic multifaceted dialogue: they are convinced that nothing is to be gained by listening or speaking to those outside the faith. Such people have no place in the university that undertakes to be representative; they reject its fundamental ethos. The representative pluralist university is not neutral with respect to the ethic of dialogic pluralism; it is committed to it.
- Prof. Lawrence Kaplan-Introduction to Rav Soloveitchik’s Thought- Professor Kaplan
Very nicely done review of some of the major themes in the thought of R’YBS including: The relationship between prayer and learning (both are elements of the conversation with HKB”H); Objective vs. subjective; Rational vs. experiential; Kiyum vs maaseh; Fear vs. love. In the end, does halacha defeat philosophy
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Eruvin 347-2
Handing from reshut hayachid to reshut harabim—when is it duraita, drabanan or simply lifnei iver? Then on to lending objects which may be used in Sabbath violation.
- Rabbi Andi Yudin-Emunas Chachamim : Clarity and Perspective
You need someone saturated in Torah values with no negiot (biases) to help direct you. (Me – someone with no blind spots-do they really exist?)
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Ten Minute Halacha – Fulfilling a Commitment to Buy a Raffle Ticket
What do you owe if you commit to a random # contribution tzedaka drawing and don’t participate? (I’d think it would require an umdna of what people mstama think they’re committing to in such a situation.)
- Rabbi Alex Israel-Biblical Scholarship and Emunah- Rav Alex and Rav Grumet
How should young folks deal with biblical criticism in its many flavors? Some interesting Q&A on their challenges and opportunities. Interesting question to me—when do we tell folks that the popular “no letter has changed” belief is not accepted by the Talmud itself.
- Rabbi Moshe Taragin-The Two Great Miracles of 1967- Military Triumph and the Return to History
R’Taragin recounts how the 6 Day War changed the Jewish world (a cosmic change). [Me – I still think you need to take into account the changes that the 60’s ushered in under the heading of “different strokes for different folks” (HT – Sly and the Family Stone)].
- Rabbi Uri Orlian-Chazara #2 for Contemporary Halacha Spring 2019: Shechita, International Dateline, Brain Death, Mikvaos, Mechiras Chametz
Smicha shiurim review including: Shechita (R’HS); Brain Death (R’Reichman); International Date Line (R’Simon); Mikvaot (R’Sobolofsky), and Mchirat Chametz
- Rabbi Shay Schachter-May One Visit the Har HaBayis Today
There are a number of meta-halachic reasons to go up to har habayit but a number of technical concerns, which may make it inappropriate to do so. Appreciate it in any event!
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Ten Minute Halacha – Which Parsha To Lain When Bnei Eretz Yisrael and Bnei Chutz L’aretz Are Together
Which parsha do you read if it’s a time when there is a disconnect between the Torah readings in aretz and ch”ul and you have a mixed group of bnai aretz and ch”ul in a boat?
There could be a complex algorithm or just use common sense and it’s probably OK.
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter-Bechukosai 5779 – The Tochecha, Ameilus BaTorah without a Nervous Breakdown, Arachin, Sdei Miknah
Parsha insights including but not limited to: Takanat Ezra – timing for reading the tochecha; Ameilut btorah; Kedushat mikdash; Areivut; verbal commitments; temurah; Pidyon habein and mitzvah kiyumit.
- Rabbi Ezra Schwartz-Concepts of Lashon Hara
Is the focus on the speaker (midot) or the target (damage)?
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Eruvin 349-1
Whose 4 amot are we measuring?
- Ezer Diena-Leisure in Halacha 3: The Halachot of Arts and Crafts
It’s all about leading a purposeful life. There are some specific artistic prohibitions
- Rabbi Elli Fischer-Rav Eliezer Melamed’s “Civilizational” Approach to Halakha
R’Melamed views halacha as a building block of Jewish civilization and has a holistic approach to how individuals should balance priorities (Torah learning, family, school, army . . .)
- Rav Asher Weiss- When Do We Include A Few Mitzvos In One Berocho And When Do We Dedicate A Berocho For Each Mitzvah
What is the nature of the kdushat beit knesset/beit medrash and what are the implications for their use?
- Rabbi Michael Taubes-Parshas Bechukosai Do Mitzvos Require Kavannah? The Question Revisited
What type of cavannah, if any, is needed for mitzvoth?
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Eruvin 349-2
More detail on when it’s appropriate to transfer objects on Shabbat less than 4 amot. Then on to the implications of overlapping parties’ 4 amot.
- Rav Asher Weiss- Bechukosai
When there are separate related mitzvot, should/can they be covered by a single- compound bracha? Interesting explanation of why R’Weiss is comfortable paskining against certain achronim but not others.
- Rabbi Jonathan Ziring-Introduction to Yeshayahu
Yeshayahu’s message is one of holistic integrity. You can’t buy HKB”H off with sacrifices and you can’t just worry about interpersonal relations.
- Mrs. Michal Horowitz-Appreciating and Embracing the Unique Role of Women in Torah and Mesorah
Women rule! The mitzveh aseih shehazman grama exemption reflects women’s greater fervor.
- Rabbi Yosef Gavriel Bechoffer,Rabbi Yehuda Aaron Horovitz ,Dr. Paul Offit ,Rabbi Yitzchok Feldheim, Rabbi Shmuel Yaakov Klein-6/1/19 Extremist groups and extreme Chumros in Halacha and Haskafa and historically
Extremism is bad except when it isn’t. Different people have different definitions (only mine is correct ).
- Rabbi Dovi Fischer-A Comprehensive Halachic Overview Of Aninus & Aveilus
Quick review of the basic rules for aninut and aveilut.
- Rabbi Jonathan Ziring-Introduction to Yirmiyahu
The message of Yirmiyahu is not to draw the wrong lesson from HKB”H’s not allowing Sancherev to destroy the Beit Mikdash. Get your act together on interpersonal and ritual before it’s too late!
- Rabbi Dr. Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff-“Billy Sunday”
R’Goldstein as a kiruv Rabbi and builder of institutions. Includes extended discussion of the issue of mixed dancing in the U.S.
- Rabbi Nosson Rich-Mishna Berura Yomi: Hilchos Eruvin 349-3 and 350-1
More analysis of when you can and can’t carry less than 4 amot on Shabbat. Then on to moving something in another rshut from the one you are in, without moving it into yours.
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter-Bamidbar 5779 – Counting Jews and Going to War
Parsha thoughts focusing on who serves in the army; redemption (levites, peter chamor); packing/seeing mishkan contents; and kdushat cohain and levi.
- Rabbi Zvi Romm-When did Rus Convert?
Two imaginative approaches to explain the seemingly contradictory sources concerning the timing of Naomi’s (and Oorpah’s) conversion 1.) They were converted as minors (so it was only a true conversion [retroactively?] if they accepted at age of majority [after husbands’ deaths]) 2.) Similar but original step was tvilah and latter was acceptance of mitzvot.
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter-Shavuos 2019 YCQ
Focus on the Rambam’s analysis of mitzvot including: L’chatchila vs bdieved implies drabanan; Taamei mitzvot; Darshinan taamah dkra; Ktiv vs kri; Mitzvah kiyamit; Nature of bein hashmashot; Minhag; Asmachta; Hilchita l’mishicha; Adam chashuv shani . . .
- Rabbi Evan Hoffman-The Regime and Demise of Ehud Barak and Knesset Elections of 2001
Ehud Barak’s peace negotiations (unfortunately they didn’t work)
- Rabbi Kenny Schiowitz-R. K. Schiowitz The Evolving Meaning of Sefiras Haomer 5-30-19
It’s not really about R’Akiva or his students, it’s about us, optimism and the beit hamikdash not yet being rebuilt.
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