Audio Roundup 2020:22

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by Joel Rich

Plato has Socrates describe a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall from objects passing in front of a fire behind them, and give names to these shadows. The shadows are the prisoners’ reality.

Socrates explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall are not reality at all, for he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the manufactured reality that is the shadows seen by the prisoners. The inmates of this place do not even desire to leave their prison, for they know no better life.

To me a nice explanation why it’s often hard for one side of a debate to see the other side’s reality.


In his Piskei Corona on triage, R Schachter excludes the Horiyot priorities, partially based on a R’ Moshe tshuva.

I wonder whether R’HS has a mesorah as to R’ Moshe’s thinking on why Horiyot is difficult to apply? It doesn’t seem muchrach from the flow of R’ Moshe’s tshuva and I’m pretty sure R’SZA’s makes a similar type statement also without sourcing. R’HS also quoted the Gra in hilchot tzedaka and the Yerushalmi in a flow that imho isn’t clearly being stated as to life saving. Also the extended definition of “the same time” and “knowing” that more “deserving (?)” patients will be coming are “interesante”

I have no halachic weight and certainly rely on R’HS. ISTM this tshuva is in the mode of R’YBS on chaplains’ draft in C-C-C .R’ Blidstein summarizes: Once again, the Rav began his response with a methodological pronouncement, this time longer and more detailed; it included a two-fold statement of reservations about the “objective” model of halakhic decision-making. First, every intellectual activity (including even aspects of natural science) combines formal components and human/intuitive components; in our case, he declared, his intuitive inclination was to approve the project (24-25).
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Second, one must distinguish between (but ultimately combine) “pure halakhic formalism which . . . places the problem on an ahistorical conceptual level . . .[and] applied Halakhah which transposes abstractions into central realities, theory into facts. . . . Under this aspect I gave thought not only to halakhic speculation but also to [the] concrete situation” (25).
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It is likely —though not certain—that the intuitive component of the process pertained primarily to the practical decision. In any event, it is clear that The Rav was not about to adopt the “mathematical” model of the halakhic process so admired within certain segments of Modern Orthodoxy—a model envisioned as automatically spitting out halakhic solutions solely on the basis of objective expertise.


Please direct any informal comments to [email protected].

About Joel Rich

Joel Rich is a frequent wannabee cyberspace lecturer on various Torah topics. A Yerushalmi formerly temporarily living in West Orange, NJ, his former employer and the Social Security administration support his Torah listening habits. He is a recovering consulting actuary.

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