by Joel Rich
John Kennedy said the ancient Greeks defined happiness as the full use of powers along lines of excellence.
It struck me that this was very similar to an insight I heard from Rabbi Nissan Alpert Z”L discussing Yaakov‘s blessing to Yissachar.
14 Issachar is a large-boned ass, couching down between the sheep-folds. 15 For he saw a resting-place that it was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and he bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant under task-work
How does the second half of working hard follow logically from the first half of finding a pleasant land? Rabbi Alpert commented that the Jewish definition of happiness or satisfaction is working hard to fulfill God’s will in this world.
A conversation re the future of MO:
Me- It will definitely be interesting to see. I feel that my generation (including me) was not successful in creating a MO model that would work in the United States.
Someone I respect-I agree with a diagnosis I just don’t think it was anyone’s fault I don’t believe that approach is sustainable long-term in the United States
It was a powerful and effective way of preserving post World War II Judaism facing Indescribable cultural pressure
Me- OTOH there’s the Rav’s 14th ani maamin -shekol hatora kula ychola lhiskayem bchol makom uvchol zman
- Rabbi Yoni Levin-Yisachar/Zevulun: Buying Your Way Into Olam Haba
Part I of Yissachar/Zevulun arrangements—who should take part in them, how do they work and are they a good idea?
- Rabbi Ya’akov Trump-What Happens After We Die: Understanding our Eternality
R’Trump on why HKBH created the world (me – R’Chaim would beg to differ). R’Weiderblank on why one shouldn’t or should spend time thinking about olam haba. Bottom line—we make our own olam haba.
- Rabbi Baruch Simon-Shabbos Candles and Chanukah Candles
Discussion of the interplay between neirot Shabbat and neirot Chanukah. The Magen Avraham suggests the possibility that once the Chanukah neirot requirement was moved inside the home, the prohibition of benefiting from their light was removed. TBC
- Rav Asher Weiss-אל תרגזו בדרך
Al tirgizu baderech—was Yosef’s concern limited to his brothers at that time or for all generations? What type of learning distraction was he concerned about? R’Weiss thinks it’s OK to listen to a shiur while you drive (but he doesn’t drive )
- Rabbi Reuven Brand-A New Look at the Brain Death Debate
General review of the brain death controversy plus a philosophical take on the definition of death (spiritual vs. physical).
- Rabbi Andi Yudin-Isn’t Tefila Repetitive
Tfila needs chizuk. It is about our relationship with HKBH. We try to make each tfila special but the sameness can also keep us grounded.
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Learning Aggadata Gemara
R’H Schacter estimates that the gemara has 6-1 ratio of halacha to aggadah. The aggadah is sometimes written “in code” for a number of reasons. Every word must be respected.
- Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb-Asara B’Teves: The Most Important Fast People Know the Least About
Lessons of asarah btevet—first steps are tone setting, small things add up and sinat chinam is bad.
- Rabbi Michael Taubes–Parshas Vayigash May One Appeal the Decision of a Beis Din
Was there such a thing as appealing the psak of a beit din in Sanhedric times? The evidence is mixed but tends towards no, except maybe in unusual circumstances (e.g., toeh bdvar mishna).
- Special Sicha with Rav Aharon Lopiansky
Topics included in a session with gap year student: Moshiach’s meaning; Strengths of various “orthodox” approaches; Learning, finances and an individual’s tafkid; Avoiding contentedness; Spelling of names; Women’s learning/eit laasot/motivations; Chiddush = clarity; Getting up for minyan, Parental roles; Kiruv; and Making the most of your malleable years.
- Rabbi Itamar Rosensweig-כפיה לצרכי העיר: רוב, מיעוט, תועלת העיר, וכפיה בגוף
Discussion of the public goods that the community can regulate (e.g., zoning, water). How broad is the definition in terms of the type of need and how many benefit from it?
- Rabbi Itamar Rosensweig-כח בני העיר, ז’ טובי העיר, ומשפט המלך
The Drashot Haran’s parallel track of mishpat hamelech may be the source of communal leadership’s power. (me – that’s my take) Communal leadership acts by the power of the community and maintains its scope of authority except if the community specifically limits it (or later disagrees with their decision?)
Not resolved (IMHO)—If Sanhedrin disagrees with the melech (or the community rav with askanim) who prevails in which situations? (As in when a shul’s constitution says all halachic determinations will be made by the rabbi).
- Rabbi Itamar Rosensweig-מעמד בני העיר בצרכיהם כדין בית דין וכח ראשי העיר
The seven “tovei hair” function as apitrosum. Can they go against the majority? Do they have to let the kahal know of their decisions? How specific must the delegation of authority be? Then on to the Drashot Haran.
- Rabbi Zev Smith-Electric Lights in Mitzvos
One needs to look separately at each application of ner (e.g., Shabbat, yahrtzeit, havdala, chanuka, bdika). To determine whether an electric light (and which type) suffice (lchatchila, bdieved). Do you need light or fire (me – is it maaseh or tozah)?
- Rabbi Jeremy Wieder-Sichah – Poreish min Hatzibbur
Haod avi chai—importance of haroeh et hanolad.
- Rabbi Yona Reiss-From the Dayan’s Desk #80- Adoption Issues #2
Continuation of geirut series focusing on adoption. There can be issues (discussed in last session) of confirming “Jewishness” of a “Jewish” baby’s adoption. OTOH is “converting” a non-Jewish infant always a zchut (what point(s) in time do we consider?)? The host mother vs. egg mother issue also can cause problems down the road.
- Rabbi Zev Smith-Mitzvot That Can’t Be Done on Shabbat
Is changing something’s existential state considered a prohibited tikkun on Shabbat. (Is toveiling a kli the same as fixing a broken drain?) In which circumstances are concerned with nireh kmitakein which might prevent a workaround? (e.g., Can I “toveil” a kiddush cup by taking a drink of water from the mikveh?) If I use a workaround do I make a bracha
- Rabbi Moshe Sokoloff-Nosain Taam Bar Nosain Taam & Washing Dishes
Not bar not lheteira continuation—putting it all together to discuss dishwasher status.
- Rabbi Jeremy Wieder-Sichah – Your Habits Become Your Character
One who doesn’t participation in communal challenges shows he doesn’t understand that: Klal Yisrael is a single unit; It could be you (or your kids); and We are commanded in imitato dei. There are different levels of disconnect but the result is an inability to do tshuva (especially with the tzibbur).
- Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky-The Mitzvah Of Talmud Torah, A Mitzvah or Hechser Mitzvah
Is the question as to whether a woman makes a bracha on birchat hatora the same as any other mitzvat asei shehazman grama or is birchat hatora a fundamentally different bracha? Halachic and hashkafic implications discussed.
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter,Rabbi Jacob Bernstein-The Bones of The Nile
The mesora is truth, our religion is about truth and eilu veilu works in tandem with HKBH’s guidance to give correct psak in each generation/place.
- Rabbi Itamar Rosensweig-משפט המלך וצרכי תיקון המדינה
Expanding on Drashot Haran. The mishpat hamelech is about running a society (no different than other countries?). “Torah” mishpat is about shefa eloki. Where is the dividing line? [We agree that dina dmalchuta and many bet din powers flow from the mishpat hamelech.]
- Rabbi Jeremy Wieder-Sichah – Titen Emet leYa’akov
Our primary objective is to be mkadeish sheim shamayim through being anshei emet.
- Rabbi Mordechai Torczyner-Jews & Numerology 2: Gematria – Messages from G-d, Messages from us
Continuation of lucky numbers (TBC!) illustrating the three primary exceptions to nichush (from HKB”H, meaningful event, psychological boost).
- Rabbi Shmuel Lesher-Do We Believe A Dog Is A Man’s Best Friend? The Torah Perspective on Pets
Pets are OK as long as you train them (so they’re not dangerous) and use them for positive purposes. There can be issues with shabbat, pesach, basar vchalav and neutering. (Me – be sure you have your resource priorities straight).
- Rabbi Shay Schachter-“Rabbis & Responsa” – Changing the Name of a Choleh & Then Updating Their Kesubah
Changing names is to change mazal which really means a change in mindset, thus it should be done when person is cognizant. (Me – is this common practice? Or do we also do it to give others a sense they are doing something to help).
Changing a ketuba would require that the name change has been used for more than 30 days. Just adding one name may not be considered a change.
- Rabbi Shay Schachter-Amirah L’Akum for a Choleh and for a Mitzvah
Defining different categories of choleh, mitzvot and hefsed merubah for purposes of allowing exceptions to the rule of not asking a non-ben brit to do mlacha on Shabbat
- Rav Asher Weiss-ברוך שם כבוד מלכותו לעולם ועד
Why do we say baruch sheim after kriat shma? (and why in a low voice?) Depending on the reason, does it mean we should always say it in a low voice?
I try to always think of the Targum Y’s = Yhei shmei!
- Rabbi Isaac Rice-Purchasing Burial Plots: A Bad Omen or A Segulah for a Long Life?
Sources on buying/digging a kever in your lifetime—most say it’s OK.
- Rabbi Keith Flaks B’simcha-Halachah and Kabballah intertwined
Examples of where kabala impacts halacha (me – more where various practices are based on kabalistic reasons).
Please direct any informal comments to [email protected].