by Joel Rich
A caterer recently told me that a segula for parnassa is to wrap leftover bread separately for disposal. Anyone know the source (I couldn’t find it) although I’m guessing it’s based on Chulin 105b (getting rid of even crumbs directly can cause poverty – at least in certain cases). So should all bread (food?) be treated like tashmishei mitzvah for disposal? Is bread different from other foods (and why?) ( Is kzayit a dividing line (and why)? )
The Rabbi’s Brain – Mystics, Moderns and the Science of Jewish Thinking – Andrew Newberg MD, Rabbi David Halpern MD
Our current knowledge of the brain reminds me very much of Steve Martin’s classic Theodoric of York (see here for the video YouTube link, the key line: “Well, I’ll do everything humanly possible. Unfortunately, we barbers aren’t gods. You know, medicine is not an exact science, but we are learning all the time. Why, just fifty years ago, they thought a disease like your daughter’s was caused by demonic possession or witchcraft. But nowadays we know that Isabelle is suffering from an imbalance of bodily humors, perhaps caused by a toad or a small dwarf living in her stomach.”).
With many basic issues up for grabs (how do we differentiate, if at all, between the mind and the brain? What is consciousness? Does free will exist? How do we measure happiness? Does the arrow of time only flow in one direction?) this book attempts to put a stake in the ground concerning neurotheology (the linkage of the neurosciences with religion and theology). It includes lots of definitions and survey results of 160 Rabbis (from all streams of Judaism)
Since the brain (mind) is the organ through which we experience the world, all our experiences (including religious/spiritual/scientific/physical…[you get the idea]), can be viewed through the lens of neurotheology. This book gives details of current thinking in this arena.
To me the best questions was the final one “How does the Brain know Reality?” I’d simply add for now that perhaps Descartes’ “I think therefore I am” (meaning all we really “know” is our thoughts), allows the degree of free will required for those who choose to believe, or not believe, to do so.
Check back in a decade to see to where neuroscience and neurotheology have evolved.
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Ten Minute Halacha – Having a Non-Jew Wash Your Tallis
Some general rules concerning bizui mitzvah and tashmishei kedusha. It’s probably ok today to give the talit to a cleaner (me-did amcha make this decision for the Rabbis?)
- Rabbi Isaac Rice-Amongst My People I Sit: Working With and For the Community
It’s important to be involved in communal activities.
- Rabbi Larry Rothwachs-In the Still of the Night: Why Selichot Are Recited When Everyone Else is Sleeping
Slichot time is time to “wake up” to do tshuva (sleep some other time)
- Rabbi Baruch Simon-Dorm talks: Guidance through the YU experience
R’Simon talks to YU guys about RIETS rabbeim of old, the YU library, balancing their time and making connections while at YU.
- Rabbi Yehuda Turetsky-Maximizing Halacha Seder: Some Brief Thoughts
How should bnai yeshiva most effectively study halacha? You need to prioritize – it’s probably best to focus on practical halacha (e.g. what’s likely to come up, contemporary issues). A surprising result is also worth looking into and one should try to differentiate between what’s mikar hadin and what’s not.
- Rav Asher Weiss-גרם מחיקת ה’
Is plastering over HKBH’s name equivalent to erasing it? Is indirect causation of erasure a problem? What’s the status of non-Hebrew equivalents of HKBH’s? Is indirect causation defined and applied in the same manner across all halachic applications? (e.g. damages vs. Shabbat violation!)
- Ezer Diena-Contemporary Halacha: Mikvah for Men – Halacha, Minhag or Neither?
There are various practices of men going to mikveh – are they minhag, din or midat chassidut? Erev Yom Kippur seems the strongest – perhaps it’s all about new beginnings!
- Ari Wasserman, Rabbi Efrem Goldberg ,Rabbi Yona Reiss, Avi Steinlauf ,Harry Rothenberg-9/21/19 -Show 238 – Financial challenges of the workplace, and how to stay out of the “headlines”.
Does the employer or employee get to keep the frequent flyer miles, is bathroom time on the clock, how sick do you need to be to take a “sick day,” taking personal calls on company time, using the company printer, and much more
Workplace halacha redux! Be mkadeish shem shamayim (sanctifying HKBH’s name) in the workplace and know the specifics of your employer’s expectations as well as generally accepted rules of the road in your business/geography….
- Rabbi Ashie Schreier-End of Life: Striving for the Optimum
You need a Rav who knows End of Life (E-O-L) issues and there needs to be clear communications between doctor/proxy/rav. On site representation of all parties is best. Every case is unique!
- Rabbi Yoni Levin-The Working Jew (3): The Blessing of Cultivating Hashem’s World
Working can be l’chatchila.
- Rabbi Eliakim Koenigsberg-Halacha Topics – Hilchos Slichos
What’s the best time to say slichot and what isn’t. If time is an issue, stay focused on the 13 midot, not the piyutim (poems).
- Rabbi Jonathan Ziring-The Importance of Eloquence in Prayer, Tefillah in Other Languages
The Rambam believed tfila must reflect our talking to the king so we need eloquent language (vs. mishna of bchol lashon which implies only meaning counts)
- Rabbi Shay Schachter-“Placebo Buttons” & Finding Meaning in the Gift of Life
What we decide to do each day is key to our judgement. We do many things to maintain a feeling of control (red bendel?) but the key test is does our act it deepen our relationship with HKB”H?
- Rabbi Jonathan Muskat-Contemporary Applications of Chukat HaGoyim: Theaters and Stadiums, Walking Without a Yarmulka, Standing for the Siren on Yom Hashoah, Placing Flowers on a Grave, Celebrating Thanksgiving, Musical Instruments in a Synagogue and Yoga
Standard Maharik/GRA on what qualifies as chukat hagoyim. Then onto specific applications.
- Rabbi Dani Schreiber-Discussing Judaism’s Biggest Questions: Artificial Intelligence in Halacha – Self-Driving Cars – Part I
Part I – standard “halachic” approaches to trolleyology priorities.
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter-Parshas Ki Savo
Tochecha centric parsha with lots of stops along the way.
- Rabbi Menachem Penner-Hashiveinu Avinu: How to Use Tefillah to Get to Teshuva
How can one pray to HKB”H to accomplish tshuva? Prayer opens the relationship with HKB”H and it will affect you (it is considered doing something) and restore your free will.
- Rabbi Michael Rosensweig-Hirhurei Aveira and Development of a Religious Personality
There is a combination of maaseh (actions) and machshava (thought) – commentaries focus on them in differing proportions. Why are hirhurei tshuva called kasheh?
- Rabbi Daniel Stein-The Proper Time for Saying Selichos
There are a number of reasons given for various slichot practices (talit, timing, continuation of shatz for shacharit). The 13 midot are key. R’Stein isn’t sympathetic to 10 PM slichot.
- Rabbi Dr. Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff-The Rav Describes RAMAZ
Day schools in the U.S. were not a forgone conclusion. Ramaz is great and R’YBS counseled R’Lookstein not to let “them” pull him to the right.
- Rabbi Yehoshua Grunstein-Annoying or Amazing? 4 comments on being a succsesful Chazzan
Chazan shouldn’t: say too may kadishim, use inappropriate tunes, repeat words needlessly, be a tircha (burden). In a word, be a shliach tzibbur (representative of the congregation)
- Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb-The “Opportunity Cost” of NOT Doing Teshuva
Din = punishment of actual violation, Cheshbon = punishment for opportunity cost of positive you could’ve done instead. Scary!
- Rabbi Jonathan Ziring-Bias in Psak
When can or can’t you paskin for yourself? When are there bias concerns?
- Rabbi Jonathan Bienenfeld-Practical Halachos of Rosh Hashana
Miscellaneous Rosh Hashana topics: simanim, sleeping, not doing something else prior to a mitzvah.
- Rabbi Moshe Taragin-שפת אמת לראש השנה: שלשה רמזים של קול השופר-קול בלתי מחולק, קול הפנימי של כל יהודי, קול של גלות
Sfat emet on implications of words Rosh and Kol. There’s a focus on geulah (redemption) and we should be concerned about the heavenly yoke.
- Rabbi Moshe Taragin-Explanation of the 13 Middot of Mercy
What are the specific messages of the individual 13 midot. We should focus on Imitato dei (it’s not a segula)
- Ezer Diena-Did It Really Happen?: Aleinu Leshabeach
Who wrote aleinu (and why were there various attributions) and how did its placement in various prayers evolve.
- Rabbi Shaul Robinson-WHO WILL LIVE AND WHO WILL DIE? Rambam and Rav Kook on what really gets decided on Rosh Hashanah.
Is our fate really sealed on Yom Kippur? How do we deal with theodicy? Perhaps tshuva and Yom Kippur are about future possibilities yet to be actuated.
- Rabbi Azarya Berzon-Halacha for the mitzva of הצלה: must I endanger my life for his
Taking risks – how to balance chayecha kodmin (your life comes first) and lo taamod (don’t stand idly by). R’Zylberstein extrapolates a 1/6 chance from onaah to this type of decision making!
- Rav Asher Weiss-What is Kosher Shofar
Discussion of what animals’ horns can be used for a shofar. Also discussed – the number of days we say selichot and what we’re really asking for
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