Audio Roundup Special: Three Series

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by Joel Rich

Three Audio Series of Interest

  • Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Brody-Ethical Dilemmas in End-of-Life Care
  • Rabbi Netanel Wiederblank-Halakhic Man
  • e-TiM: Judaism Encounters the World: A December 25th Online Yom Iyyun



Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Brody-Ethical Dilemmas in End-of-Life Care

(Part 1)

There are differing opinions concerning how quality of life should be reflected in medical decisions. While the value of life is infinite, R Brody believes talmudic sources allow for end-of-life decisions to reflect quality of life. Maybe prayers for death are acceptable for (and from) certain individuals in certain circumstances, but it’s always appropriate to pray for rachamin (me -life in general).

(Part 2)

Dementia raises a number of halachic issues especially for children taking care of a parent. The best thing is to be sure you have discussions well in advance so the parent’s intentions are clear. The usual e-o-l quality of life issues are exacerbated by dementia issues.

(Part 3)

The halachic viability of organ transplantation of all kinds is dependent on how halacha (not doctors) define death (eg brain stem death). Traditionally some element of irreversibility has been included but technical advances have made even irreversibility a subjective definition.

(Part 4)

It’s especially important to have advance arrangements when the children/spouse differ on legitimate halachic alternatives. Clearly anti-halachic alternatives are problematic and not easy to deal with.

Medically assisted death is becoming more common (and clearly anti-halachic), can an orthodox health professional be directly or indirectly involved?



Rabbi Netanel Wiederblank-Halakhic Man


Part 1

The Rav wrote Halachic Man (HM) in order to introduce the typology of a man (Halachic) to an audience unfamiliar with such a person (not driven by psychological or kabalistic considerations, only halachic). It doesn’t mean HM doesn’t have emotions, only that emotions are controlled by halacha. Other typologies which we will see are cognitive man and religious man.


Part 2

HM can draw what he needs to do both from halacha and from seemingly non-halachic “stories” in the tora (me-as in R A Weiss’ “ratzon hatora). Religious man seeks to transcend this world, HM is this world focused. One reason HM rejects religious man is that religious man tends to forget the needs of those in this world.


Part 3

HM rejects cognitive man (too material) and religious man (too escapist) but balances elements of both. Classic examples HM sees a beautiful sunset through halachic lens (time of shkia). He sees the importance of chiddush creatively in learning as revealing hidden truths. Everyone can be HM at their own level.



e-TiM: Judaism Encounters the World: A December 25th Online Yom Iyyun

Rabbi Dr. Yakov Nagen-Healing Jewish-Muslim Relations

Religion can be both a positive and a negative in communal relations. The real question is how we relate to “the other” in our hearts and our heads. It’s an ongoing process (eg Catholicism, there since 1960s).

Dr. David Berger-Classic Halachic Evaluations of Christianity and their Modern Consequences

What is the avoda zara status of christiaity (for them and for us)? The Rambam is clear that christianity is avodah zara. Ashkenaz records a number of non-halachic sources against it and the baalei tosfot tried to undo some related inter-faith prohibitions without reassessing the underlying religion.

The baalei tosfot created the idea that you could cause a christian to take an oath because their belief was shituf (HKBH and something else). Did they mean this as an exemption only for the oath rule or as a general statement on their religion?

Rabbi Dr. Alon Goshen-Gottstein-The Theological Issues that Judaism Must Confront as it Considers Other Religions

There are dangers in establishing your “theology” based on not being the other (eg over simplifying others’ beliefs and then saying we’re superior). Three approaches to dealing with other religions are exclusivism (we have the only truth), inclusionism (they are a part of our truths and pluralism {all are valid}. The meiri seems a pluralist (if you are moral) you must be serving the same master. Nowadays the issues are identity, particularity (choseness) and defining avoda zara. We need to discuss what unique elements we bring to the table.

Rabbi Dr. Martin Lockshin-Christian Influences on Jewish Biblical Interpretation

Parshanut (eg Rashbam) was clearly affected as parshanim related to other religions readings (eg christian interpretations of Tanach) but did parshan imo learn from christian scholars? Maybe.

Dr. Shai Secunda-The Talmud’s Encounter with Zoroastrianism

Sassanian/Zoroastrian/Babylonian culture interreacted with Talmudic/Jewish culture in a number of ways described here. Key elements of interaction were its kings, priests, focus on fire, focus on purity, and dualism (god of good, god of bad).

Dr. Marc Shapiro-Judaism and Islam: Some Historical and Halakhic Perspectives

What is our attitude toward islam (the Rambam required a maaseh avodat zara to triage yehareig v’al yaavor (and Islam doesn’t have it). The Ritva is concerned with denial of torah (and thus islam requires our martyrdom). Other issues discussed include the status of a mosques (vs a church) and selling of land in Israel.

Dr. Malka Z. Simkovich-Catholic-Jewish Relations Today

The catholic church’s issuance of “I n our time” in 1965 was a huge step forward in retracting its position on deicide. Post 1985 there were many positive gestures from the church but less in the way of doctrinal changes (eg is there a divine rejection of the jewish/what is the jews relationship with the master of the universe),


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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