Monday, March 09, 2009

Audio Roundup XXXII

by Joel Rich

  • Rabbi Nisson Lippa Alpert/Matan Torah and Kimu V'kiblu: link

    R’N Alpert ZT”L was a Gaon and a living example in all his interactions as to what makes a Ben Torah. He was only classifiable as Kulo Torah and mentchlichkeit. Any attempt to sub classify would be kol hamosif, goreia and going on anymore would also only detract. I only saw his back and it made an indelible impression.

    Here R’NA begins with an analysis of why state the general rule by blessings that they begin with and end with baruch when so few actually do. He draws a parallel to the Talmud's statement on deiah (wisdom) that it is great because it was sandwiched between God’s name (in a verse). Implication is that wisdom can be destructive unless we understand it came from God and must be used towards his ends. Same pattern by blessings and that’s why parshat mishpatim appears where it does - “surrounded” by matan torah (excuse me while I cry – I can still hear him 40 years ago telling us “a Jew must shake at the cash register the same way he shakes on Yom Kippur”).

    Click here to read moreWhat’s the deal with Purim as voluntary acceptance of torah vs. “forced” at Sinai? Per R’NA they accepted at Sinai but not, IIUC, as the complete definition of life (similar to air).

    Why no specific sin mentioned as deserving the events of the megilah? It wasn’t a specific sin but their willingness for Shushan to be “the capital” and not Jerusalem (R’Leibtag!) and to live in galut without the beit mikdash, almost saying who needs moshiach! (Are we listening now?)

    Then on Purim they realized the need for complete acceptance as a life’s definition.
    That’s the only way we can survive – complete commitment to the dvar Hashem in all our ways.

  • Rabbi Reich - Mishloach Manot
    In depth discussion of the mitzvah of mishloach manot – is it to supply the festive meal or to increase friendship? Lots of possible differences. Analysis of whether these differences are a slam dunk and also a third possible explanation – plus important application of one of my favorite Rambam’s – Simchat Creiso (joy of your belly) vs. true simcha (joy) which isn’t limited (me – or focused) on our ample bellies. Go to for the shiur video,source sheet and list of differences.

  • Rabbi Asher Weiss - Ask the Posek: link

    Segulot – focus on ones mentioned in Gemara and saying Tehilim; why does everyone look for exotic ones?
    Can you invite someone for Shabbat if you “know” they will drive? He allows for kiruv purposes but it’s a fine line and we shouldn’t communicate indifference to Shabbat violations.

    Chazal had “a sense” but weren’t into quantification of things like miyut hamatzui (take that you actuary you!).
    Don’t let Jewish non Sabbath observers pour wine for you but OK if touched bottle.
    Head covering for men (at work) – Nowadays seems anyone can wear anything but there are still many who don’t, must cover when making a blessing!

  • Women’s tfila group – he’s “old fashioned” ; mesorah is important.
    Shiur cuts off en medias res.
  • Rabbi H Schachter-Segulot and Halachah: link

    A rationalist guide to segulot – don’t believe post hoc ergo propter hoc (e.g. wearing a white wedding dress doesn’t make for a better marriage) { me – perhaps people who do share some other trait which does}

    Perhaps it’s the prayer or charity (e.g. chicken/kapparot) that one does with segulot that make them work.
    Generally permissible to “follow” simanim (e.g. apple and honey) but not required (sounded to me like this is one factor among many).

    His understanding (IIUC) is that many of the “segulot” in the gemara were their understanding of science and they believed efficacious (but IIUC if not rational now, don’t do). Irony is we’ve brought forward so many of these (which were thought efficacious) so that we’re more superstitious than many (exactly opposite of what torah wanted).

  • Rabbi Chaim Rapoport - Same Sex Attraction, Same Sex Marriage: How Should We Respond?: link (enter speaker name for next 3 shiurim which are pay to listen)

    Nature or nurture? Doesn’t matter (me – B’asher hu sham). While some percent may be capable of moving to a permissible hetero relationship, it’s not the answer (i.e. possible) for most. At best, can get abstinence.

    Obliged to marry (is it halachically required for “confirmed” cases)? Case by case but many - no (listen for his halachik justification based on what do we require one to give up for a commandment?).

    How should we treat them? He doesn’t like labels; compassion but not acceptance/validation.
    Me - Does HKB”H give some people obstacles that he knows they can’t overcome??? (I’d appreciate hearing opinions/sources.)

  • Rabbi David Bigman - Structure as a Tool for Understanding Talmud Case Study:Prosbol - Was it Really Instituted to Solve Halachic Problem

    Brief introduction to Revadim methodology (Willie the councilor K – listen for his description of learning with a finger in the gemara and in Rashi – reminds me of our discussions over the years). He then analyzes prozbol and presents his theory – it didn’t begin related to the shmita (7th year) but rather a methodology to make loans into a maaseh bet din (formal court document).

  • Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir - Case Studies in Business Ethics: Competitive Intelligence or Industrial Espionage?

    Talmudic sources on what is allowable.

  • Rabbi Y RimonTora/Tefila (Hebrew): link

    What to do when synagogue has members with different nuschaot? Usual rule is original nusach stays even if more members now come from different background (me – no chozer v’niur?). Can all agree to compromise nusach? Can certain non-essentials be changed (e.g. say both bameh madlikin and kgavna).

  • Rabbi Y Kahn-kriat-hatorah: link

    R’YBS on the michayev (creating obligation) and mafkea (releasing from obligation) for blessings on the torah – they are the opening and closing of the torah.

  • Rabbi Yitzchak Blau - Does the Talmud Have a Sense of Humor?: link

    See Tifferet Yisrael on mishneh in avot 3:10, relaxing conversation OK in the right measure and with the people of appropriate stature because there is value in those conversations. It can also lessen stress, help in conflict resolution and aid in learning, as well as long as it doesn’t detract from the seriousness of purpose.

    Important side points: 1) Real learning requires struggle, modernity tries to make things “easy”. 2) Netziv on anavah (humility), it’s about being aware of your abilities and not needing kavod (honor)/recognition. [Kach mkublani mbet avi abba and imi morati]

  • Rabbi JB Soloveitchik - Purim: link

    Opening comments - Every Jew has a share in the mesora no matter what level of learning – HKB”H measures by effort not results! Then worthwhile Purim insights.

    The difference between Megillat Esther as an Iggeret (letter) vs. Sefer (book) in the Bible is the difference between non permanent and permanence as relevant lessons for generations.

    R’YBS articulates his tradition (from R’-Chaim) that one can change personality (here from cruel to be kind in the right measure – see either Nick Lowe or Hamlet 3:4).

    The central lesson of the Megila is sacrificing oneself for the community (story of man ben man who did so in Vilna to avoid a community wide punishment without awaiting a psak-psak was from Megila!).

  • Pluralism: Defense of Religious Exclusivism Alvin Plantinga: link

    Hat tip – R’Gil. Interesting discussion very rational (reminds me of Rabbi Dr. Roth’s logic class back at the oldest and largest). It’s interesting to hear another “believer”. My bottom line – read Uvikashtem Misham (newly available in English).

  • Rabbi Shalom Rosner - Teruma: link

    The beit hamikdash is very physical (e.g. Karbanot) yet spiritual (Aron didn’t take up physical space). We are also both gashmi (physical) and ruchani (spiritual).

    What is the essence of the beit hamikdash – sacrifices/prayer or a place for the shechina? (Me – what about our synagogues? Does the galut function as a social center take away from the spiritual?)

  • Rabbi Daniel Feldman - Lifnei Evair So Sitein Michshol: link

    Good discussions of source (duraita or drabbanan) of not placing a stumbling block and classification of prohibition (general or related to specific prohibition you caused tripping over). Detailed discussion of applicability and work arounds (Me-but should you??? Is there an ethic independent of halacha?).

  • Rabbi I Oron - halacha-refua (Hebrew): link

    Continuing discussion of artificial insemination focus on if husband’s zerah is used but wife’s fertile period does not coincide with ymei taharah (pure days). Is the act of insemination considered a maaseh biyah (surprise – opinions both ways) and what are the halachik implications.

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