by Joel Rich
“One of the basic limitations of interpreting ancient text, lies, and comprehending the cultural references. When it comes to the meaning of physical gestures, biblical interpreters, engage in a good deal speculation, most of which means unsubstantiated.”
This is a footnote in Dr. Yael Ziegler’s book on Lamentations (Iyov), but to me it’s a comment that reflects our everyday learning of both commentaries on Tanach and Halacha throughout the generations. When is it a tradition and when is it intelligent people looking at texts, and making their best guess based on their total life study and experience?
In “Rabbi school” the R Chaim Pesach four cups of milk question (he realized that the question implied the questioner couldn’t afford meat) is used as an example of needing to identify the unasked question (per R D Feldman).
Me – this is a basic life skill especially for consultants (when I was employed as one, we spent a lot of time trying to teach this competency)
- Rabbi Yona Reiss-From the Dayan’s Desk #113 Teshuvot of HaRav Schwartz Even Haezer #6
More R Schwartz tshuvot including: rules for how many days of sheva brachot are celebrated if the man has previously been married and the woman is a convert or not a betula, errors in gittin (tofes v body), spelling/description of new cities in gittin, davening facing a memorial in a shul, and giving a reform congregation a separate section in an orthodox cemetery.
- Rabbi Netanel Wiederblank-Hilchos Pesach Part 1: Shloshim Yom, Kimcha D’Pischa, and A Woman’s Obligations at the Seder
Does the learning 30 days prior to the chag rule apply to all the chagim or just pesach? Is it mandatory or a question of giving priority? Issues regarding maot chitim: money or food and how much? Why only pesach? Also discussed – womens’ chiyuv in the mitzva of matza, 4 cups and sippur yetziat mitzraim.
- Rabbi Daniel Z. Feldman-The History and Controversy of Mechiras Chametz Part 3
Review of first shiur and then an analysis is of the evolution of mchirat chametz from each individual transacting on his own to our current day practices – measures for workarounds’ appropriateness include considering the letter and spirit of the law, sincerity and need.
- Rabbi Moshe Taragin-My Yom Kippur with Willis Reed and Rav Amital
Willis Reed, R Amital and R Lichtenstein. Nuff said!
- Rabbi Daniel Fridman-The Obligation of Bnei Noach in Kiddush Hashem
Does the concept of kiddush hashem apply to non-Jews? Would they always be yaavor val yehareg?
- Rabbi Shay Schachter-Why We Offer Korbanos in the Service of Hashem
Rishonim gave different “reasons” for karbanot. What is impact, if any, of these “reasons” on today’s practices or thoughts?
- Rabbi Zev Smith-Challenging Duchaning Questions
Duchening is a daily torah mitzvah (kiyumit?) both in aretz and chutz. It is generated on the cohanim by calling them up.We should try to engender the chiyu unless there is good reason not to. Discussion specific applications (eg avel, infirm, drank).
- Rabbi Eliakim Koenigsberg-Halacha Topics – Shailos in Davar She’eino Miskavein and Psik Reisha
Review of shabbat related concept of mlachot machshevet, grama, psik reisha (dlo nich lei = dlo ichpat lei?) Stringing together opinions on those issues with the level of violation involved and applying them to opening refrigerators and motion sensors.
- Rabbi Shay Schachter-Hilchos Bishul B’Shabbos – Part 3
Shabbat bishul issues including bisul achar afia, hagasa and opening and reclosing/recovering closed heating appliances.
- Rabbi Jonathan Ziring-Overview of Hilchot Challah
Challa issues including: one mitzvah or two (separation, give to cohain, eretz yisrael v chul, volume or weight measure, which grains (oats?), and rules regarding mitztareif and mchaleik.
- Rabbi Aaron Goldscheider-Rabbi Soloveitchik’s 30th Yahrzeit: 7 Remarkable Teachings
Lessons from R YBS including: creativity and imitato dei, individual’s mission, surrender to halacha/HKBH, shma in light and in dark times, religious Zionism, and kittel at the seder.
- Rabbi Daniel Roselaar-Halachot and Minhagim of the Afikoman
The how, when, what and why of afikomen.
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Ten Minute Halacha – A Ben Eretz Yisrael in Chutz L’Aretz for Yom Tov Sheini
Ben eretz yisrael in chul 2nd day practices (private and public) both positive and negative commandments. If there is a permitted way for a ben chul to do them, then maybe OK.
- Rav Soloveitchik- Pesach: Writing a Story upon a People
We eternalize the transmission of torah by writing it on each generation’s heart. This is the essence of sippur yetziat mitzraim.
- Rabbi Yitzchak Breitowitz-Kashrut Series #3: Meat & Milk (Part 2)
Continuation of kashrut series with focus on: davar charif, cutting boards, stoves, bread and fish/meat prohibition.
- Rabbi Baruch Simon-How much do you have to spend on mitzvot?
Spending on aseh/lo taaseh – are there different limits on different mitzvot (eg karet)? What about non-monetary costs (eg get sick)?
- Rabbi Shay Schachter-Hilchos Bishul B’Shabbos – Part 4
Last in the series – with focus on shihiya and hachzara. How do we deal with concerns of shema ychateh and/or mechzei kmvashel?
- Rabbi Shay Schachter-Our Communal Focus on Charity Before Yom Tov & Making Sure it is From Kosher Funds
Tzedekah is very important but not if the source of your funds is treif.
- Rabbi Yitzchak Breitowitz-When Chilul Shabbos Isn’t Chilul Shabbos
Pikuach nefesh is doche shabbat as well as other prohibitions – but are they hutra or dchuya. Is spiritual pikuach nefesh included?
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Eating Matzah on Erev Pesach and Manufacturing Big Moments
Lessons of no matza on erev pesach: self-control and do exactly what HKBH says in a recognizable way. Allow our story to resonate across generations.
- Rabbi Doniel Osher Kleinman-Parshas Vayikra: Do You Say Korbanos?
There may be a chiyuv to say the karban tamid daily and an “inyan” to say the rest of the korbanot as well. Unclear why many people don’t do so.
- Rabbi Shay Schachter-ואת ערום ועריה: Pesach & Shir Hashirim – An Independent Love Even When Feeling Devoid of Spirituality
R YBS on the importance of Tanach study as a source of guidance (and seeing oneself in Tanach personalities).
Shir hashirim is about (as my friend R Oy Glickman Z”L said) being God intoxicated.
Interesting comment about R H Schachter and R A Weiss not being enamored with the “new” study of Tanach (literary analysis?)
- Rabbi Levi Landa,Willie Rapfogel, Ms. Rochel Van Etten-3/25/23 – Shiur 413 – How not to go to jail
The US incarcerates a higher percentage of its population than other countries and prosecuters can force plea deals. Many people are ignorant of the law or are under financial pressure and make mistakes.
My take – a more balanced approach would not only talk about specific convicts in a sympathetic way but also about specific victims and their pain.
- Rabbi Daniel Z. Feldman-The Nature of the Mitzvah of Daled Kosos
Four cups on Pesach – duraita or drabanan, focus on drinking or on brachot? A number of possible nafka minas (eg shomea koneh, importance of ability to intoxicate) discussed.
- Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky-What’s That Under The Couch?! What To Do If You Find Chometz On Pesach
From the finding chometz on pesach case files. Worst cases are if the chametz was acquired on pesach and it’s not easily disposed of through burning.
Is chametz assur bmashehu due to the onesh being karet and lo bdilei (most of the year it’s fine) or because of davar sheyeish bo matirin.
- Rabbi Jonathan Muskat-Rav Aharon Kotler and Rav Soloveitchik: The Dream of Lakewood and the Dream of YU
History of R AK and R YBS and their approaches to interacting with modernity.
- Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz-Ten Minute Halacha – Public Displays of Affection (Under the Chuppah)
In general PDAs (personal displays of affection) are discouraged. There is a practice of chatan/kala holding hands leaving the chupa and it may even be OK in one’s home, even with your kids around.
- Rabbi Netanel Wiederblank-Why is there so much machlokes?
Continuation of the discussion of the rambam’s position on the source of machloket in the Ttalmud. Includes questions on his approach and possible answers. Why did sanhedrin stop resolving disputes along with was there a possible benefit to having disputes unresolved?
- Rabbi Zev Smith-Insects Found in Food – Now What?
Fly in the soup (bugs in the cholent …) issues including: timtum halev, ein mvatlin issur lechatchila, beriah, defining infestation and possible problem workarounds.
- Rabbi Etan Schnall-The Unique Bentching During the Month of Nissan
Why don’t we say tachanun during nisan. There are implications for saying shir hamalot before birchat hamazon (me – and why do so few say al naharot bavel the rest of the year?)
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