Audio Roundup Special: Torah in Motion

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by Joel Rich

Three Torah-In-Motion Series

  • Dr. Marc Herman-Who Were the Geonim and Why Do They Matter
  • Yosef Lindell-The Origins of the Oral Torah
  • Mental Health

Dr. Marc Herman-Who Were the Geonim and Why Do They Matter

Part 1

The history of Jewish settlement after churban bayit sheini resulted in large numbers of Jews  under muslim rule and the two major torah academies (gaonic yeshivas) followed this demographic. R Shrira Gaon wrote about the history of the TSBP through his time. The gaonim initiated sh”ut literature and rules of adjudication but emphasized the importance of talmudic study. (vs pure codification)

Part 2

Discussion of R Sadia Gaon’s bio (outsider, tumultuous personality) and broad scope of works (jewish philosophy [especially v karaites], chumash translation, poetry …)

Part 3

The iggeret of R Shrira Gaon is our primary source in dealing with the nature of rabbinic literature and the history of the gaonic academies.  R Hai Gaon was R Shrira’s son and they composed some works together. Also dealt with were the authority of aggada and our relationship to greek wisdom/science.

Part 4

Shmuel ben Chofni Gaon (in sura) was from a gaonic family. He was very prolific but clashed philosophically with R Hai (a number of examples provided including the accuracy of rabbinic literature) and thus, was not universally accepted.

Yosef Lindell-The Origins of the Oral Torah

Part 1

How do we understand when Nach doesn’t seem consistent with TSBP? What are the various opinions on what moshe got at sinai?

(Part 2 – Introduction and What Chazal Thought about the Oral Torah)

Why is there machloket in TSBP? 1 Gaonim – transmission errors (reestablish known halachot by drash) 2 Rambam – none if given at sinai, yes in rabbinic derivations 3 Ramban – rabbis had authority to continually use sinaitic principles (continuing revelation?) 4 Ritva – some of both. Key issue – how much is transmission and how much is interpretation?

(Part 3 – The 13 Principles of Interpretation and the Challenge of the Reform Movement)

How did orthodoxy reply to the enlightenment’s contention that the rabbis made stuff up? Responses included some combination of unpacking logical principles of TSBP and

 calling for trust in chazal and the ongoing rabbinical process. 

(Part 4 – Why is Halacha Missing from Tanach?)Back to the original question – where was TSBP in Tanach times? R Kook – It was there in first temple times but in the background due to the focus on national /Godly issues. In second temple times there was more focus on the individual’s halacha. R Tzadok differentiated between prophetic (just go to the navi) and post -prophetic (when we need halacha) times.

Mental Health

Rabbi Dr. Avraham Steinberg,Debbie Akerman,Dr. Michelle Friedman-Session I – Mental Health

Judaism defines mental health deviations (shota and peti) based on functional criteria. The status could be full spectrum, limited to a particular area, or transient. What are the halachic repercussions?

Our community suffers from many addictions – what are they, how should we understand them, and how do we effectively treat them?

Rabbi Dr. Aaron Glatt,Dr. Michelle Friedman,Debbie Akerman-Session II – Option 1 Mental Health

Focus on suicide within the Jewish community – what are the statistics, how do we prevent it, and what is the aftermath?  How does halacha view suicide with regard to mourning practices? (Both from the point of view of the niftar and that of their family). Also discussed, addiction and codependence.

Richard Steinberger,Rabbi Dr. Aaron Glatt,Dr. Michelle Friedman,Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Brody,Debbie Akerman-Session VII – Mental Health in Our Community

Should a child in the medical field treat a parent if they will need to draw the blood? Should a child relinquish care for a parent whose mental capacity is so diminished that the child would not be able to treat them respectfully? How should medical professionals deal with burn out? How should we respond to community trauma and catastrophe?

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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