Monday, October 27, 2008

Audio Roundup - Special Edition I

by Joel Rich

I’m selfishly posting this single shiur (actually Q&A or press conference) summary because I’d like to generate some discussion on a shiur where a torah authority (I shy away from using titles like gadol or giant for personal reasons) discusses provocative issues.

  • Rabbi Dr. Aharon Lichtenstein - Q and A 5769 #01: link
    Click here to read more
    1. The first major topic was R’YBS
      1. He was concerned about interfaith dialogue for a number of reasons including:
        1. Massive shmad efforts by the Church
        2. Jews looking for spirituality would get it from non-Jewish sources if Jewish sources were not available
        3. Uneven playing field – we focus on halacha, they focus on theology [me-interesting question – why is halachik man not concerned with theology?]
      2. R’YBS not easily classified and some things he wanted were not always totally compatible on a practical or ideological basis. An example was the letter on RIETS curriculum (IIUC R'AL is referring to the letter in Community, Covenant and Commitment). AIUI R’AL feels that people who attended shuls led by Rabbis who would’ve been produced by this approach would not have come as R’YBS would have wanted [I’d appreciate it if anyone with Gush ties could get a little more texture on what R'AL had in mind here].
      3. R’YBS was more likely to make changes when he was younger (e.g. shmoneh esrai of Rosh Hashana when he was younger) less likely when older. It’s hard to classify exactly when and where, liberal or conservative, it depends on the issue.
      4. On women’s issues, R’YBS 1) might have held somewhat different opinions today, but who knows. 2) He was extremely positive (in fact demanded) advanced women’s education. 3) Was clearly against women’s aliyot; hakafot and women’s tfilla groups likely as well.
      5. Many today try to recast R’YBS in their image (parallel to Sridei Eish's body being fought over for burial) [me-read R’M Shapiro’s works – it’s enough to make you cry).
    2. General discussion of divergent themes of Rosh Hashana
    3. Out of Town Positions – good or not?
      1. Laudable in theory, in practice can be issues. Would be most effective if could have core group of 15-20 couples going (we call it critical mass) and some do this and “take over” community and institutions in their mold. {Me- Hopefully they are upfront about this with the community]
      2. Challenge if no central authority to evaluate if individual goes on "mission" without local support (me-e.g.. your kid is the only one who doesn't get to play ball on shabbat or can't eat at anyone else's home - BTW I think this happens "in-town as well) and when to call them back (e.g. Rabbi Revel, Lubavitcher Rebbi). Biggest problem is chinuch for your kids and is sending away to tough. As an individual is the price too high, how do “we” take into account community needs (e.g. there are many smaller U.S. communities in New England and the south that have or are disappearing – who services them? Should we care?)
      3. Similar type calculus re: staying in the U.S. versus making aliyah and for going into chinuch vs. business (me – physical and/or spiritual galut implies perhaps less societal consensus and incentives towards aspirational visions - with no general, who decides how many infantrymen we need)
    4. Kashrut
      1. In Israel especially an issue. In theory there should be 2 separate questions – 1) what shitot and deyot are you choshesh for? 2) How careful are you about following your principles? (IIUC can you rely on the individual who is certifying to 1?). Mehadrin should be about 1) but not 2) ,but doesn’t always work that way. Bnai torah may be more makpid on certain elements of 1) (IIUC it’s not boolean - Yes/ No kosher).
      2. No one relies on Shulchan aruch anymore (e.g. sfek sfeika, rov…) and he understands those who feel this way – comparison to medical field and AIDS – why take a chance, they want certitude even though not halachically required – It’s a question of hashkafa yet there is a communal price – both in fights over hechsherim and also dollars – an ani comes to collect because he want to buy (me) glatt chicken at $2 more a pound. R’AL ran out of time but L’AD this last point is one that I assume community leaders are aware of but I never hear articulated. In addition, what is the dividing line on certitude? Why not do DNA testing for parentage or the third piece of meat? Why not MRI every milk cow……?

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