by Joel Rich
During a recent talk to gap year students, the speaker praised their courage in deciding to remain in Israel. I’m sure the language was appreciated by the students and their parents, but I cannot help but think that it’s only courageous if you take the western liberal view of the primary importance of the individual. There is, however, a view that we are the eternal people with an eternal destiny, and we will each be judged on how we play our role in that destiny. In that case it seems to me that the default decision is to be part of the Jewish people in the land of Israel, and you would have to find another term for those who choose to leave.
A fascinating insight from the Alei Tamar( Rabbi Yissachar b. Zvi Tamar 1886-1982) on the Jerusalem Talmud chapter 5, halacha 4)
He posits the reason why there is no daily birchat cohanim outside of Israel on the fact that, in order for the blessing to be given, it must be done with full joy, full love of the Jewish people, with complete, full intent and equanimity of mind with the best of voices.
He thus explains a report of a practice in Italy that when the Cohanim went up to the duchen, only one would say the birchat cohanim (either the greatest of them or with the one with the best voice.) While this practice seems to be inconsistent with the Talmud, he posits that it’s an ancient practice, and they were so worried that they would not be able to do it right that they selected only the greatest to say it the others would get credit through him.
The kicker is that over the years it went from being the most qualified cohen to the one with the best voice. Insert your own commentary here.
- Rav Asher Weiss- Waging War on Shabbos During wartime life must go on but in a more subdued manner. Some questions regarding wartime shabbat and kashrut issues also discussed. R Weiss doesn’t believe bnai yeshiva should take time from their learning to dig graves. Each of us should feel responsible, realize we are all one, and not ask why but rather ask what (we need to do).
- R’ Shmuel Fuerst-Interesting Shailos presented to the Dayan: seudas bris, neglected repairs, inheritance, and more Q & A including not staying for a brit/meal, bracha on an inheritance, ponzi scheme reporting (yes), lone women making havdala, kiddush levana (how much light), shidduch when a sibling is OTD (OK lechatchila), sheital from one’s own hair waterfall bracha, and lace sheitals.
- R’ Yitzchak Breitowitz-Q&A: Leaving Israel, Hostages & Conditional Divorce Q & A including kiruv of parents (by example), tehillim saying, leaving eretz yisrael, balance simcha and sadness, army service (as long as others can do it, its ok for you not to?!?!), power of yishmael, hostage ransom, interpreting breishit, lashon hara, and soldiers conditional divorce.
- Rabbi Daniel Z. Feldman-Achdus and Pursuing Zechuyos in Conflict with Each Other: Fighting Over Mitzvos Don’t fight over mitzvot (me-amen)
- Rabbi Hershel Schachter-Megillah Shiur#1 YCQ Topics including: taryag mitzvot, drashot of tsbp, tanya/tanu rabann (freestanding) v tana (commenting on earlier braita), sit or stand for megila reading, need minyan for megila reading, aliyot/hosafot, bracha on minhag (chazal made optional??), our claim to eretz Yisrael, and steps towards geula.
- Rabbi Yona Reiss-From the Dayan’s Desk #125: She’elos in Shaimos Review of the rules for unwanted “sheimos” including tashmishei kedusha. Focus on the CRC guidelines. Some specific issues include: sheimos in foreign languages, grama, intention when written, newspapers, double wrapping, and recycling.
- Rabbi Shalom Rosner-אלו ואילו דברי א-ליקים חיים Three approaches to eilu veilu: One is true, the other is a foil; there are multiple equal truths; and there are psak truths and general truths.
- R’ Asher Weiss-המצווה לא לפחד בשעת מלחמה Is it a mitzvah not to fear in battle or rather a havtacha? As in general emuna, must one believe they will survive or should they just be content that whatever happens HKBH has their back.
Can Gaza be besieged? (yes) Rules of war on shabbat also discussed.
- Rabbi Daniel Hartstein-Justified Stealing In War What’s the unwritten contract concerning ownership of “left overs” at a hotel caterer? Remember achar hapeulot nimshach halevavot.
- Rabbi Moshe Taragin-Responses to the Tragedy in Israel- Part 4 Antisemitism won’t disappear. You can battle it on social media but set aside time for your own internal processing. Build your relationship with the geulah taking place in eretz yisrael.
- Rabbi Shraga Kallus-Timtum Halev 1: Is The Paramedic Allowed To Eat Treif? When a transgression must be violated (eg one “starving” on shabbat – should he eat treif or cook kosher), how do you decide which to violate? Considerations discussed include hutra v dchuya, level of onesh, and timtum haleiv.
- Rabbi Yehuda Turetsky-Talmud Torah’s Relationship to Tefilla: חיי שעה and חיי עולם How do we understand that one who is torato emunato is “exempt” from tfila? Possibilities include: prayer is olam hazeh type rachamim and they are all in for olam haba, and tora is an avodah much like tfila (they are both transformative).
- Rabbi Michael Taubes-A Nation in Pain: Why We Recite Tehillim (with a look at Mizmor 27) Why isn’t saying tehillim in a time of need considered forbidden incantation? The gemara allows defensive saying of Tehillim, perhaps because they help improve oneself and/or awaken us to our dependence, and improve our connection, to HKBH. But then how does it work when we say for others? Their fate impacts us! Ldavid hashem analyzed in this context.
- Rabbi Shay Schachter-“The Love For My Nation Is Greater Than the Love For My Son” – We Are All Capable Of Putting The Klal First Put the needs of the klal ahead of your personal needs (me-including chul parents not bringing their kids “home” to USA?)
- R’ Zev Smith-Contemporary Foods and their Bercha Acharona There are four possible brachot (rishona) on wheat products depending on the preparation (eg maaseh kdeira). The appropriate bracha achronas (lchatchila and bdieved) also discussed. Specific applications include: granola, bran muffin, schnitzel and kasha.
- Rabbi Moshe Shulman -KOHELET! The Sphinx of Scriptures (Part 9) Esav learned from Yaakov about the importance of olam hazeh but not of HKBH’s centrality (Yaakov learned through the akeida). In society, who has responsibility for accountability? TBC. If it’s all in olam haba, what’s the meaning of this world?
- R’ Shraga Kallus-Hilchos Bitachon Part 1 – Is A Jew Allowed To Be Scared? Permitted and prohibited fears in light of how you define emunah and bitachon.
- Rabbi Shraga Kallus-I Love Reb Moshe’s TeshuvosTshuvot from R M Feinstein including: status of one who thinks he’s moshiach, giving psak when ill, ahs v mb, amen to birchat Cohanim (needed to be yotzei), standing for talmid chacham, and it’s worse to do aveirot on shabbat
- Rabbi Eliav Silverman-The Nature of Isru Chag Is isru chag inherently attached to the chag (eg kavod, lina, yom tov sheni) or does it have an independent status? Nakfa minas discussed.
- Rabbi Yoni Levin-Business Halacha Series: Real Cases (1) – Who Keeps the Tip?(Me-chazal made rules in choshen mishpat based on logic and their perception of what “mistama” people’s intent is, so do current dayanim). Specifics in “tipping” cases discussed.
- Rabbi Daniel Hartstein-Gomel By A Child Saved From The Simchat Torah Massacre If a child underwent a dangerous experience, does he say birchat hagomel? If not, does his father? (me, no primarily because he can’t say chayavim).
- Rabbi Daniel Z. Feldman-Murderers and The Death Penalty While the sanhedrin rarely imposed the death penalty, that doesn’t necessarily inform on what’s right for mishpat malechk or batei din of bnai noach.
- Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb-Tefillah B’Eis Tzarah: Personal Reflections and Practical Suggestions Tfila tips including: take baby step, don’t give up, have emuna in your tfila, and prepare and use techniques that work for you (prep, eyes closed/open…)
- Rabbi Jonathan Ziring-Pesikat Halacha B’Shaat Hadechak (1) Shaat hadchak in halacha – how it is determined? It must be in areas that are built into the system. When do we say you can’t rely on a minority opinion even bshaat dchak? (rejected by the gemara later poskim?)
- Rabbi Yona Reiss-From the Dayan’s Desk #126 – Selling a Shul-Whither? (Part 1) Under what circumstances can you sell a shul. Considerations include: what type of shul (kfar or krach TBD), who authorized (7 tuvei?), what will proceeds be used for? …
- Rabbi Daniel Hartstein-Where Is My Money Going? Dishonest Tzedekahs More of a discussion of the importance of yashrut in individuals and organizations.
- Rabbi Daniel Z. Feldman-The Ethics of War and Civilian Casualties War elevates pikuach nefesh and rodef to national level. There’s a tension between the rules of war and other values (eg how to treat on “indirect rodeif” (civilian population supporting genocide)
- Rabbi Yossi Katz-The Rav on Talmud Torah R YBS drew his philosophy from halacha. Talmud torah was at the center of his life and was a religious experience for him.
- Rabbi Ike Sultan,Rabbi Dan Cohen-Remembering Hakham Ovadia Yosef – 10 Years Later with Rabbi David Shelby Memories of Rav Ovadya including his halachic comprehensiveness and clarity, sfardic pride, devotion in prayer and concern for others.
- Rabbi Shay Schachter-May a Soldier Sacrifice His Own Life to Save the Loves of Others? General discussion of the trade-off between lo taamod al dam reecha and ushmartem et nafshoteichem. While suicide is prohibited, the laws of war allow much broader discretion for the war effort.
Please direct any informal comments to [email protected].