by Joel Rich
Note: I’m still unsure of who at Cross-Currents approves or leaves posts in moderation purgatory. I guess the volume must be such that they can’t let posters know what the find objectionable so they can change their evil ways? Sad – since every word I say is true and I’m getting tired of waiting and fooling around – I suppose I’ll find some blog who won’t make me feel like a clown.
Kudos to Dr. Ed Berliner for returning the Vilna of Essex County (West Orange) to the center of the intellectual map with his 3 part Café Khochma series. The give and take with the audience allowed for some sharp focus on important issues (hmmm – guess who was giving and talking).
Rabbi Dr. Moshe Bernsrtein opened with some background on why academic study of Tanach was/is opposed within the orthodox community (agenda). However, many study it for the same reason we do – connection to Tanach – which isn’t intrinsically antithetical to our position.
Click here for moreMany Rabbis paskin on this study without knowing much about it. The goal of academic study is systemization versus ad-hoc approach. Medrash is ad-hoc, but that’s fine since it has a different purpose.
So why study academic “pshat” if it has little or no halachic/medrashic implications? It’s the dvar hashem (HKB”H’s word) and we use all the tools at our disposal to understand it.
This was the approach used by Rashbam et at. The challenge is when some of the tools/material are not traditionally found in the bet Medrash – it makes some people uncomfortable (calling Colonel Jessup?).
There are some red lines for the orthodox bible scholar. Primary one is Torah Misinai (note there are some orthoprax scholars who may be “soft” on this). R Dr B would react to scholarship results that question this axiom with, “HKB”H why are you testing me?” It’s an issue of emunah. He limits the areas he’ll study to avoid a “double truth” issue (me – it seems you get this in any event).
The study of pshat is ongoing – current literary approaches can be used with our values. There is a real need to distinguish pshat from drash – read the unfiltered word of HKB”H.
Sometime Tzarich Iyun Gadol (it bears great study) is an answer.
Hard to listen to R’AW reflect on the loss of a grandchild. Some things we must just accept, we’re not meant to understand, and it is not a lack of emunah to cry. He felt an incredible closeness to HKB”H (me-interesting how tragedy can drive different people to different extremes). That night he started shiur with lulai toratcha (were it not for your torah), I empathize – I hummed that the entire span of my aveilut for avi mori vrabbi Zll”HH
Moshe – going back to Egypt – HKB”H says go because all those who were out to kill you are dead. Meschech Chochma implies that else don’t have to put yourself in danger to save others (even nation). Halachic opinions as to whether must put self into danger to save others range from can’t to permissible to forbidden. Interesting issue on the one canteen of water question – how do you “know” that they’ll both definitely die if they share it?
Sources and practical application. Discussion of the usual suspects – canned tuna, sushi, mashed potatoes, potato chips, french fries.
Question: Who is likely to marry the factory owner’s daughter?
All in the 3rd person. Two parts – first half is the suffering of children (why do the righteous sufer?) The second half talks to the destruction. Outlines parallels between Chapter 2 and Chapter 4.
Crockpots! R’SZA’s last Tshuva (never signed) dealt with this issue (I’m surprised no one said it was min hashamayim that he was niftar without a final psak here). Very technical discussion and analysis – Lmaaseh as well.
When can you build a breakaway shul? (me – empirical answer – when your brogez!) Is there a difference lchatchila or bdieved (if someone else did it inappropriately; can you daven there?). Is there a presumption of brov am (greater glory in #’s)? R’AW thinks R’M Feinsteins tshuva which turned on yored lumnat chaviero (unfair economic competition) is a chiddush (me – many shuls seem to be businesses).
Good summary of sources (although as R’AL points out, the issur is misnamed – odd, wonder how that happened?)
Chazal generally pro free competition , but it is a bit difficult to reconcile all the sources to one theory of everything.
The Rambam on Kabbalat ol mitzvot – clarified.
Re-enactment of Sanhedrin declaring new month (Ravyah/R’YBS) or early version of twitter? Sources on how long must one wait and other details.
While many of the acts required or prohibited are the same on Tisha B’AV and Yom Kippur, the reasons for them are primarily different – yet each has aspects of the other (e.g. theme of repentance on Tisha B’AV).
Aliyah and the message of Tisha B’AV (yes, we can). May we all be zoche to fulfill this message bderech hateva (I can’t think of many areas where Freud’s “all men are geniuses at rationalization” is more applicable).
Yael and Esther! Can you do an aveirah to save all Klal Yisrael (how defined?); a large group? another individual? or only if ruach hakodesh tells you to?
What about the implications – prohibited to husband? (me – is your soul stained anyway?) Fascinating range of opinions.
Some halachic examples where aveirah I’shma (sinning for reason of mitzvah?) comes into play.
An interesting Tshuvot Harashba – bet din could determine not to punish guilty in order to be mekarev the sinner. R’AW heart tells him this was only after destruction of temple (perhaps when bet din was acting through king’s power to assure civil order). [me – so what’s the chiddush?]
Be satisfied with what you have mussar. Worthwhile if only for the tag line – but not on Tisha B’AV!!!
Tisha B’av mussar (really applicable year round).
Chazal imbued the forum of each bracha with the ability to inform us of the nature and halachot related to the particular mitzvah.