by Joel Rich
Just finished R’Dr. C. Soloveitchik’s collected essays III concerning chasidei ashkenaz and the raavad. The sociology of the chasidei ashkenaz, their host communities (both Jewish and not) and the interaction with French baalei tosfot is fascinating. The creativity/originality/personality/boldness… of the raavad (and rabbeinu tam) is noteworthy (enough said) I guess a true Brisker would say it only matters how the chochmei hamesora understood these issues, but it does make me think!
In their words –“Captain Renault: What in heaven’s name brought you to Casablanca?
Rick: My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.
Captain Renault: The waters? What waters? We’re in the desert.
Rick: I was misinformed.”
For those of us who were told that the reason for mziga (watering down the wine) was due to them fermenting it to a higher alcohol content:
Encyclopedia of Jewish Food Gil Marks (HT Shuli Mishkin)
After the biblical period, the character of Israeli wine changed with the widespread adoption of the Greek style of winemaking, which produced wines that were so concentrated that they needed to be diluted with water in order to be palatable. In the Greek method, fully ripe grapes were spread out on straw mats in the vineyard to dry in the sun for about a week, concentrating the sugar. Evaporation during storage in earthenware amphorae resulted in a thick, sweet, concentrated wine. The Greek style, which was already common in Greece by the time of Homer (c. eighth century BCE), probably developed because high-alcohol, high-sugar wines last much longer than low-alcohol ones, and are also much easier to transport. Before the Greek period, watered-down wine was considered by Jews to be corrupted, but by the time of the Talmud, wine that did not require three parts of water to dilute it was “not considered wine” and was deemed unfit for consumption.<hr style="border-top-width: 1px; border-top-color: black; border-top-style: solid;" /><ul><li><a href="https://www.podbean.com/site/EpisodeDownload/PB101FAB04B7TE">Ari Wasserman,Rabbi Yitzchok Berkowitz, Rabbi Yosef Greenwald, Naftoli Horowitz,Shmuli Margulies,Rabbi Berel Wein-5/8/21 – Show 321 – Are there Halachic ways to eliminate debt?</a>
Avoid bad debt! Have bitachon but do your hishtadlut (there’s help available). Listen for the living within your means segment including the inability to “buy” a good chatan!!
All your (students) reactions to tragedy are normal as we’ve all experienced the trauma of Meron. The key is connection and reaching out.
Meron was HKBH’s gzeirah on all of us – Remember life is short so take advantage of every moment, appreciate the importance of family and engage with HKB”H.
Do we view cemeteries as a makom tumah or kedusha? Prayer at a cemetery seems problematic but there are sources for it. Specific times to visit graves as well as some restrictions are discussed.
Specific applications of vnishmartem including: Fish/meat; Fish/milk; obesity; olives and other possibly dangerous food./li>
(1) Guarding trumah, is it in order to eat it or to keep it from chillul? (2) Shalosh seudot erev Pesach shechal bshabbat – is this gemara the source for requiring the third meal after mincha (or is that just sevara)? Discussion of practical psak in this situation.
Robo-financial advisor (AI) – who bears responsibility for mishaps. Is it an extension of the owner? grama? property damages? (me – halacha will evolve based on posek’s gut intuition).
Questions submitted concerning random ethical topics including: Hochacha; Mshaneh mpnei hashalom; Ignoring bad behavior; Bal tomar; Lashon hara; Employment issues and other ethical situations.
Is any onaah assur but only some repayable? In general, when is there a chiyuv to return “ill gotten” gains?
If you’re going to do a misheberach, make sure to give tzedaka. Else the whole thing is really questionable (but it’s a great fundraiser so it continues).
Family planning – what factors can/should be taken into account in determining when can/should one stop having children? What methods can be adopted? (order of priority)
We want to encourage shalom bayit but, if not, move on to get (issue=what if one party doesn’t want the divorce?) Should the get be given as soon as it’s clear that the divorce will take place or when all issues are settled? There are reasons for each approach.
Tzedaka includes some positive and negative commandments. When there’s a case of doubt (e.g. you’re not sure if the person really is deserving), what do you do? It certainly is better if there’s some kind of verifications system, but it’s still best to give something (or help them get a job!)
Buying stuff before the baby comes – it’s a question of how seriously you take ayin hara (vs. the extra pressure of not having anything ready!)
Some understand ayin hara as a real physical force, others as jealousy. R’YBS said it’s when you define yourself by how others think of you!
General history of kaddish. Prayer is always good for deserving individuals.
A dead relative was a known thief who left porno among his “yerusha”. The inheritors can use the rest of his yerusha but don’t have to sell the porno [me – at the cost of his debtors – is this rshut or required?] to settle his debts (they should trash it).
How do we differentiate between permitted sevara using kavanat hamitzvot (e.g. tzaar baalei chaim) and prohibited use of darshinin taama dkra? The former is internal to the mitzvah, the latter external. Sometimes you need to submit rather than reinterpret (me – who has the franchise?)
Topics include: Meron (fix); Woman Rabbis (bad); Israeli politics (bad); shaving (good); R’Moshe on chukat haakum; and R’OY on shalom bayit vs bracha lvatala.
Bnai bayshan vs mar ukva – when can you change minhagim? Family minhagim are of less concern than community ones. Greenery (community) vs eating dairy (family) on Shavuot as examples.
Continued discussion of shabbat/erev pesach saving two meals gemara. When does the issur of eating matzah on erev pesach start and which types of matza are included?
Fun fact – before indoor plumbing, getting rid of chametz on shabbat wasn’t so easy.
Shema yirbeh issues – who, what and when?
While it’s a mitzvah to speak hebrew, R’Grunstein thinks speaking English in Israel is preferred because it’s hakarat hatov to prior generations, a celebration of diversity and brings in the best of other cultures. (I’m not sure all this is from speaking English or Anglo aliyah)
Ongoing Talmud shiur. Topics covered include: Women’s roles; Chatan saying kriat shma; and Meito mutal lfanav.
Tmimot is only found by sfira. Does accepting yom tov early make it yom tov for kiddush purposes? TBC
Hallel on Yom Yerushalayim – what are the halachic source to consider? (e.g. Purim, Chanukah). Hashkafically Yerushalayim represents both bein adam lamakom and l’chaveiro. R’Willig also presents his personal experience in Israel and Jerusalem in 1967.
Is one permitted to take one’s own life (or someone else’s) to avoid forced chillul hashem? It’s all about vhalachta bdrachav.
When does a hesech hadaat take place requiring a new bracha on tfillin?
Parsha insights including: Redeeming residential vs. commercial real estate; Recognizing that anywhere outside of aretz is a temporary residence; Developing a torah compass; and When to go to the doctor (or when to rely on HKB”H)
Is the prohibition of marital relations in times of famine a paradigm for how we act when others are suffering or only specific to the famine case? Whatever the specific halacha, the hashkafa is clear!
Summary of year-long chaburah on the specifics of choshen mishpat and our general interactions with the outside world.
Please direct any informal comments to [email protected].