by Joel Rich
This makes a lot more sense than what I was taught (that the Karaites had no mesorah):
“There are, however, other ordinances in the observance of which we have been raised since the days of our fathers, and their fathers before them, and which are a matter of custom with us, which are not recorded in the Torah but have become as second nature; . . . (Karaite) tradition, however, is not like the tradition in which the Rabbanites believe, since they add to and subtract from Scripture and say that tradition overcomes (the biblical text). . . .(Karaite) tradition, on the other hand, is what is acknowledged by all Israel, and it does not go against that which is recorded in the Writ of divine truth; and our scholars have said that every tradition which does not go against Scripture, does not add to what is stated in Scripture, is acknowledged by all Israel, and has (indirect) support in Scripture, is to be called (genuine) tradition, and we must accept it.”
From a Hamodia interview – to me speaks volumes that the quote could not be made bsheim omro: I spoke with the head of a major chinuch organization in Boro Park, who explained to me: “Do you think we were kalei daas — lightheaded — about the inyan of pikuach nefesh? We understood exactly what we were dealing with and decided that the possible downside of not living life normally far outweighed opening up.” (Me-I don’t recall being asked about the downside for me of your doing that?)
- Rabbi Dr. Aaron Rakeffet-Rothkoff-Rabbi Shubow’s Descendants. Yeshiva Torah Vodaath Topics: Graduates, College, Chassidut, The Dominance of Lithuania, An Introduction to Rav Dovid Leibowitz. The Importance of the Brisker Method in the U.S. And Ridbaz’ Opposition to It
R’J Sasson’s chance glance at the memorial plaques at Kolel Avreichim of Passaic (located of course in Clifton, N.J.!) brings R’Rakeffet full circle with R’Shubow’s (conservative Rabbi/friend of R’YBS) frum descendants in Eretz Yisrael.
Also covered – Torah Vdass graduates, rabbeim, openness to college, openness to chassidut and the brisker derech [me – if one accepts the assertion that R’Chaim’s analytic approach “saved” learning for those exposed to the intellectual discipline of the academy, then perhaps we should expect an evolution reflecting current modes of thinking (AI, quantum computers, multiverses et al)?]
- Rabbi Zev Smith-אהללה ד’ בחיי
Live a life of kiddush hashem (me – kiddush hashem should be the result of living the proper life, not the initial goal). R’Smith understands that the chareidi community did the right thing in Covid times opening schools, shuls and having smachot but now must “recapture” the aura of kiddush hashem. (me – I’ve always thought that it’s when under pressure that people show their true colors)
- Rabbi Mayer E. Twersky-Ahavas Hashem
Ahava and yirah are inextricably bound up with each other through yichud hashem. Our emotions need to be actively redeemed.
- Rabbi Zev Smith-Zecher L’Churbin in Halacha
Discussion of a number of different practices zecher lchurban with focus on maintaining an unfinished spot in one’s home.
- Rabbi Menachem Genack,Rabbi Mayer E. Twersky-28th Yartzeit of Rav Soloveitchik
On seder night the kiddush, sippur, matzah, seudah are all intertwined. RYBS was all about transmitting the mesorah.
- Rabbi Zev Smith-Halachot of a Small Minyan
Rubo kkulo – when does it apply and when not (e.g. we don’t say half a kzait is enough)? Perhaps it’s really rubo mkulo. The applications for minyan (e.g. tfila btzibbur vs chazarat hashatz vs kriat hatorah) may differ. Generally it’s best to be stringent but it depends on the cost.
- Rabbi Zev Smith-What Terminates a Beracha?
When does a bracha rishona expire? Bracha achrona is limited by shaas ikul but, in theory, bracha rishona isn’t. What constitutes a hefsek for bracha rishona purposes? A number of examples discussed.
- Rabbi Zev Smith-Eating on a Fast Day. Who, What, When?
Focus on public fasts other than yom kippur and tisha bav – what are the rules for choleh, yoledet and women. The whole idea of taanit shaot/pachot mkshiur is only by yom kippur.
- Rabbi Zev Smith-When is it Assur to Learn Torah: Taanis
Is the prohibition against most learning on tisha bav focused on minimizing distractions from mourning or minimizing simcha (joy)? Is learning prohibited or simply more focused? Specifics discussed plus an interesting rationalization of the famous Rogatchover learning on tisha bav story. Is the prohibition the same in the case of personal mourning?
- Rabbi Zev Smith-Challenging Lifnei Iver Issues
Major focus on safeik lfnei iver – how much of a safeik triggers a concern for lifnei iver? Specific applications discussed including giving food to a non-bracha maker, web/vending machines on Shabbat and disciplining children.
- Rabbi Zev Smith-Challanging Ma’aser Kesafim Questions
Differentiating between the source, philosophy (help poor vs. help self) and force of tzedaka and maaser ksafim. Focus on which inflows are maaserable and which outflows qualify for us of maaser funds.
- Rabbi Zev Smith-“Uvda D’Chol” – When Does It Apply?
Three categories of uvda dchol: Looks like mlacha; Leads to mlacha; and tircha yteira. Some focus on avsha milta/hashmaat kol.
- Rabbi Zev Smith-Which Foods Require a New Beracha?
What is covered by a bracha rishona (in birchat hanehenin)? It’s a function of your intent and what’s in front of you. Can you make a general tnai that any bracha you make includes all members of the set?
- Rabbi Zev Smith-The Yahrtzeit in Halacha
Properly observing a parent’s yahrtzeit benefits both the parent (aliyat neshama) and the child (since roa mazleih). Which day is the yahrtzeit can sometimes be a subject of debate. Kaddish, davening, aliyah and candle lighting issues abound. (My general rule – figure out what you can do to give HKB”H nachas on that day and all year long).
- Rabbi Zev Smith-Frumkeit Vs. Krumkeit
Don’t be frum at someone else’s expense. The rest is commentary.
- Rabbi Zev Smith-Timezones and Shabbat/Yomtov
When it’s not Shabbat (time zone, extended time) for one (ben brit or non) can he ask (or have work done and VV) by) another (ben brit or non) to do work where it is (or will be) Shabbat?
- Rabbi Zev Smith-Yomtov Sheni for the Israeli in Chutz La’aretz
What are the Yom Tov Sheini limitations for a ben eretz yisrael in chu”l? Is the issue one of appearing different or lack of respect for Yom Tov Sheini? (me – or both?) Lots of specifics discussed. (me – one might have some difficulty extrapolating the general rules from the known specific applications)
- Rabbi Yehuda Turetsky-Zionism, Anti-Zionism, and the Legacy of the Chasam Sofer
The Chatam Sefer was against changes in religious practice (me – might one posit this as a function of time and place?). He was very in favor of practical yishuv eretz yisrael and of our realizing that the current situation, no matter how comfortable, is unredeemed.
- Rabbi Zev Smith-Kavod Sefer Torah – A Halachic Prospective
Issues of kavod sefer torah include: Turning your back on it; Transporting it; Haftarah – where stand?; Sit for hakafot?; Seats between aron kodesh and bima; and, Ten tfachim a separate rshut?
- Rabbi Moshe Kurtz-Is Jewish (Pop) Music Muttar?
Does the talmud bar making verses into songs only for shir hashirim or for all of tanach? Is it a function of why you’re singing (and what happened to the churban ban?) It’s all OK – eit laasot!
- Rabbi Zev Smith-To What Extent,and at What Costs, do we have to do Mitzvot?
Of course we go out of our way to do mitzvot but how much tircha/discomfort/$ loss do we need to accept to do mitzvot? Issues include: Aseih vs lo taaseh (me = shev val taaseh – e.g. Lo taamod); Cash/property vs bodily function; Duraita vs drabanan; and Sukkah (mitztaer) vs. 4 kosot headache story as a paradigm.
Interesting side point – the Bsamim Rosh was not OTD!
- Rabbi Zev Smith-Sefer Torah That Fell R”L- What Should Be Done?
There are no direct sources in the talmud or rishonim for fasting when a sefer torah falls but sh”ut literature gives six or seven reasons to do so. Depending on which reason you accept, who fasts and under which circumstances they fast will differ. Generally think of it as a message of tshuva.
- Rabbi Zev Smith-Must one always Follow Family Minhagim
Minhagim are very important and may have a greater force then rabbinic requirements. Maybe you can change minhagim upon leaving your home/community.
- Rabbi Zev Smith-Giving Gifts – A Halachik Overview
Gift giving can be broken down into two categories – investment and free will. Most gifts fall into the first category as they are “expected” or hakarat hatov. Gifting issues discussed include: Issurei hanaah; Lo tchaneim; Gneivat data; Yayin nesech; and Schorah btreifut.
- Rabbi Zev Smith-Halachot of Kaddish
Kaddish is very important! Discussion of the four types (shalem, chatzi, rabanan and yatom) and a number of practical applications. R’Smith seems partial towards saying a number of kaddeishim even without mourners.
- Rabbi Zev Smith-Tzedakah Money Mishaps
Should we look at cases of doubt in tzedaka as grounded in monetary (hamotzi mchaveiro) or issur (tie goes to tzedaka). Practical applications abound.
- Rabbi Moshe Sokoloff-Other Than Davening in Shuls, Are Mechitzos Really Required
R’Moshe vs the Satmer Rav on the purpose of a mechitza in shul and applications thereof. Sridei Eish on the application of the need for a law of mechitza outside of the shul (not) and the role of habituation. Possible outside shul applications (speeches, weddings, funerals….) also discussed.
- Rabbi Isaac Rice-An Overview of Orchos Tzadikim – Remembering and Forgetting
30 things to remember (make a part of yourself) to enhance your relationship with HKB”H.
- Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky-” Mitvas Tosefes Shabbos”
First in a series on making early Shabbat – is there actually a mitzvah of tosefet Shabbat? (Rambam/GRA [no] vs. everyone else)?
- Rabbi Assaf Bednarsh-Pesachim perek 1 shiur 50 (בדיקה אחר המועד, חמץ שעבר עליו הפסח)
Focus on a specific application (Chametz/Pesach) of a fascinating (to me) general question: when chazal instituted a knas, what algorithm did they apply to determine the knas’s force and scope? (e.g. broad vs narrow vs unique severity!)
Please direct any informal comments to [email protected].