Monday, July 21, 2008

Audio Roundup VI

by Joel Rich

Torah Web is also an excellent source of topical Shiurim. Some that I remember as interesting were on the internet, shall I call the police, the role of personal initiative and how much is too much work life balance?? One pet peeve of mine on this last topic, as well as practical Halacha in the workplace type shiurim, is that sponsors don't seem to consider having someone who is in the field rather than just advisors. (I recall one such presentation where the advice was to avoid shaking a woman's hand by blowing your nose into your own with a used hanky.)

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  • Marc Shapiro - Authority of Moroccan Rabbinate: link
    Marc Shapiro discusses the differences between the traditional Sfardi and Ashkenazi halachic approaches and how the Ashkenazi approach has crowded out the Sfardi. He also posits that much of the Ashkenazi stringency is a reaction to the reform movement because we cannot be seen as giving in (hmmmm, can’t imagine how that happened). He contrasts this reaction with a Moroccan community where there was no reform movement, thus no denominations. The Moroccan Rabbis had to be community leaders for the entire community since they controlled inheritance, divorce, etc. He discusses Moroccan Takanot made in 1947 which were based on recognizing modernity where not in conflict was Halacha vs. what he describes as the Charedi approach of our generation not being worthy of making changes. A specific example was regarding inheritance for unmarried daughters. He also discusses at length the limud zchut approach and awareness of specific situations. He mentions that the Sfardi approach to conversion was much more lenient than the Ashkanazi (shades of current blogs!) One reference in the Shiur concerning past practice in West Orange was derech guzma.

  • Rabbi Y. Barth - Torah Umedina: link (Go there and follow directions for Hebrew site)
    This first in the series in easy Hebrew (any Hebrew I understand) discusses how Halacha interacts with changes in modern society. This shiur deals with Tcheilet and includes a comprehensive review of the sources, opinions and some of the give and take surrounding use of Tcheilet in our time. I strongly recommend Rabbi Barth’s series on Halacha and technology which I found to be one of the best presentations I've heard dealing with the intersection of modern technology and Halacha.

  • Dr. Shira Weiss - Tehillim: link
    Differing philosophical classifications and understandings of faith/emunah based on Tehilim. Here a discussion of rational vs. emotional components.

    Question: It seems there are dangers to “the group” (albeit to different individuals within the group) in both allowing and forbidding philosophical inquiry. How should leadership address this issue on a macro basis?

  • Rabbi Hershel Schachter - Asking Shailos in Halacha: link
    A wide ranging discussion of the role of the Rabbi modeled after the responsibilities of the Melech. A number of interesting specific issues such as practical halacha related to Kedushat Kohen, bringing the Torah into the women’s section and when minhagim can be changed. In general, a very pragmatic approach to “practical” Halacha.

  • Rabbi J.B. Soloveitchik - Tcheilet: link
    A discussion of the symbolism of Tcheilet with some Halacha thrown in as well. The white strings represent the rational side which reflects clarity and certitude, the Tcheilet represents distance, complexity and items beyond our control. The Rav also points out that the Rambam defines Tchelit based on the permanency of the dye, much like the permanence required of our people. Some really interesting, if dated, historical references to Vietnam and the Holocaust.

  • Rabbi M. Taragin - Character and Ethics: link
    In the 8th of this series, Rabbi Taragin discusses the requirement of lifelong zerizut in our Avodat Hashem. In the 9th he discusses sharing others’ pain even if you can’t alleviate it.

  • Rabbi J.B. Soloveitchik - Esther: link
    Rabbi Soleveitchik compares the laws regarding handing over a member of the city in order that raiders not kill all the inhabitants of the city and the story of Esther. His general take is that you can’t give the enemy what he really wants(makes you think). Other lessons from Esther include the concept of a common Jewish destiny and that an individual can’t save himself at the cost of the Jewish people. He also comments on Mordechai’s historical sensitivity – His realization that the choice of Esther as Queen was not coincidental and thus, he stayed by the court because he “knew” that something would happen.

  • Rabbi D. Linzer - Values Independent of Jewish Tradition: link
    Discussion of “is there an ethic outside of Halacha?” Lots of interesting discussion although clearly it is always possible to say that any ethic reflected in Halacha came from Halacha. The give and take amongst the teacher and students is instructive.

  • Rabbi Z. Cinamon - What Smells?: Birchas HaRaiach: link
    A general review of Brachot Hareiach.

  • Rabbi Dani Rapp -13 Ikarim - Introduction: link
    I suppose trying to stay in Marc Shapiro’s good graces, Rabbi Rapp says that the Rambam’s 13 principles are “somewhat” universally accepted and if you don’t believe even one “it’s bad”. This shiur, as part of a series, discusses in detail the first essential and notes that according to the Ramban, an axe murderer who believed would have a place in the world to come but not somebody who lived a good life but just was not a believer. (The famous Nebach of R’Chalm?)

  • Rabbi Ally Ehrman - Rabbinic Authority: link
    Describes a number of approaches as to the requirement to listen to earlier authorities based on R’ Sholom Fischer. The first is quoted in the name of the Kesef Mishanah who says it was a kabala by later authorities not to argue with earlier ones and, therefore, only applies to practical Halacha, not Agada or Taamim. He understands this to mean an Amora can interpret a statement of a Tanna to be limited to a particular case, even if that’s not what the Tanna meant! (R’Gil – how about a post on original intent vs. later understandings.)

    Kiryat Sefer is quoted as using Halacha Moshe Misinai as a source (doesn’t say from where). The Chazon Ish is quoted to understand earlier generations knew better and that is why they must be listened to and in particular the Talmud was at the end of the 2000 years of Torah and therefore must be listened to. Rabbi Elchanan Wasserman is quoted as saying the Mishna and then later the Gemara were Kibbutz Chachmei Yisrael and thus had to be accepted.

  • R’ Tzadok - R' Yitzchak Blau: link
    This is part of a series on modern Rabbinical thought. R Tzadok’s approach is characterized as omni significance; that is, every detail in Shas is filled with deeper meaning. This includes the placement, as well as details, of medrashim.

    No mention of what I consider his biggest chiddush – the switchover from prophets to Rabbis as the source of direction (see R' Angel's Tradition article).

  • Erev Shabbat Parshat Balak , by Rav Yonatan Snowbell with Rav Binyamin Tabory on Rav Maimon z"l: link
    Weekly podcast with lessons from the parsha and a biography of a Jewish thinker. This week focuses on R’Maimon, the first Minister of Religion in Israel.

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