by Joel Rich
Report on Your Comments and My Response
First - the summary of my original mission statement / R' Gil contract (without the performance bonus clauses) -
Introductory Thoughts on Tapes
I’m sure there are a lot of good websites out there for tapes. The ones I most frequently go to are yutorah.org, Har Etzion, and the OU radio. I’ve also used Yeshiva Gedolah of West Hempstead and www.613org. I don’t see a tremendous value in simply listing the new Shiurim that come up on these sites, as it is easy enough for anyone to just go visit the websites themselves. As a result, this column will be basically brief notes on Shiurim that I’ve actually listened to based on my own taste and what I think is noteworthy based on what I know and what I like. In summary, and I suppose this is particularly appropriate for an actuary, this will be a semi random walk which is a function of my predilections, time, effort, mood, and the like. Any errors in the communication are strictly mine, and I don’t warranty anything.
Now to your input:
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R’Reisman gives an extremely popular motzai Shabbat (Saturday night) class in Tanach (Torah, Neviim and Ketubim). These are available on CDs.
IMHO (In my humble opinion) it is better described as a halacha (law) and mussar (ethics) shiur (class) which keys off of something mentioned in Tanach (e.g. compare to R’Menachem Leibtag of Yeshivat Har Etzion and you’d be surprised that they were looking at the same text). An entertaining presentation and a birds eye view of the attitudes of at least a segment of Brooklyn Orthodoxy.
In shiur #155 R’Reisman presents his opinion on the attitudes (and science) of modern archeology towards orthodoxy (hint – it’s not overly positive). He provides examples of what IMHO (in my humble opinion) we all do to some extent – decide on a narrative and fit the “facts” into it (e.g. – not used here – were the texts found at Qumran there because it was a sheimos (discarded, perhaps due to inaccuracy) pile or correct texts?).
In #160 he deals with how one who is in the U.S. should think (positively towards those involved) and act (deny yourself something, pray more…) at a time of war in Israel.
Another magical mystery tour – Stops include Morasha vs. Yerusha (inheritance), our kinyan (ownership) in Eretz Yisrael, the Berditchiver’s position on whether Moshe received all the Torah word for word (halacha – yes; other – no), how could Rav and Shmuel argue on what they heard from R’Yehuda Hanasi (Meiri on lst Mishna in Bava Kama), Hakarat Hatov (thanks) to inanimate objects – as a training device, kavod av (respect for parents), President Obama’s loss of his free will upon his election and why we say amod (stand) 3 times for chatanim on simchat torah (it’s an honor, like leading prayers, which one should refuse initially – yup, you heard me right – is this the common practice in your shul (synagogue)?).
Reminds me of a famous critique of R’YBS – he didn’t say anything that his grandfather wouldn’t say. He discusses how the (halachik) mind becomes attuned to how “the Torah” thinks through learning the specifics. Also focus on the importance of humility in general and for learning even more so (it’s not about you being right, it’s about discerning what God thinks you should think is right).
General discussion of Rosh Chodesh (new moon). Lots of topics covered including the famous R’YBS insight on the 2 roles of Sanhedrin (supreme court) – judgment and representative of Jewish people.
Interesting insight of the sridei eish that real smicha (ordination) had to be public since it was granted on behalf of and for all the Jewish people.
Summary of R’YBS on covenants of faith (Avot / forefathers) and destiny (Yeud). If you haven’t heard it before, well worth listening – may we move forward together towards that destiny.
Excellent (but too brief!) discussion of Rabbinic Takanot (ordinances) and under what circumstances they can be undone in whole or in part. Includes issues of change in facts and definition of original scope of Takana. Takana itself may include reasons for its promulgation which, if no longer applicable, may cause takana to be inoperative. But what about ones with unstated reasons? Usually not - either because we don’t know real reason for sure or who are we to say?
However the famous Tosfot on musical instrument repair? (No reason given in Takana yet it was modified?)
Intersting Meiri (Beitzah 5) says that if Takana makers never thought reason might disappear, then we can’t abrogate, however, if they would have foreseen possible changes, we can (it’s like they included this provision).
By Shabbat medicine – since we no longer compound medicines at home, it’s generally treated as a takana, but not a strong one.
Good Lmaaseh (practical application) discussions of vitamins, painkillers and continuing medication doses.
A new series on Tfila (prayer). This first session discusses the issue of Nusach (text used). Here begins discussion of why no written siddurim till time of Gaonim (R’Amram) and whether specific text is important or is it concepts.
Discussion of differing reasons given by Talmud Bavli (just plain no) and Yerushalmi (Tircha = “bother”) for no supplications on Shabbat (e.g. in Amida) [we actually see there are supplications – e.g. Ykum Purkan – so these need explanation]. 3 explanations of Tircha:
1. Too much time (tell that to anyone who has sat for 3+ hours Shabbat morning)
2. Supplications bring sad thoughts which are to be avoided
3. On Shabbat we are commanded to feel as if “hakol asui” (all is done=no weekday concerns), supplications would contradict this.
[me – I was taught asking for rachamim (mercy) from the master of mercy is always in season]
Discussion of Torah as a blueprint for nature and all around us. The study of all around us reveals the divine wisdom.
Discussion of halachic issues regarding permissibility of giving up one’s life al Kiddush hashem (for glorification of God’s name) – in particular if you could have avoided the situation.
Analysis of the concepts in Yedid Nefesh (a very soul full song). (Me – the tunes may be beautiful but it’s much more meaningful IMHO when you know what you’re singing about).
A wide-ranging discussion of practices for kriat hatorah (reading of the Torah) including number of aliyot (call ups), who when, what to do as individual, as reader, as member of community listening, hagbah (raising the Torah) and glilah (wrapping the Torah). [me – you can tell a lot about someone by their hagbah!]
Main message – be iconoclastic like him. Labels (e.g. M.O.) are useful for surveys not real life. You don’t need to ask a question for everything – be a free man and a slave (more taste/less filling?). Interesting story on how R’Julius Berman became officer at the orthodox union many years ago.
Discussion of practical laws of Tu bshvat (15th of shvat) including blessings of shehechiyanu (do you say it on a new suit?) what purchase really excites you? and eating fruits of the land of Israel (practical & philosophic issues) (hint – Yes!!!).
Thursday, February 05, 2009
by Joel Rich