by Joel Rich
The number 40 has a mystical ring to it (flood, years in the desert, ytzirat havlad). “Because we’ve got to find our way back to the garden” – Joni Mitchell was maseach lfi tumah as to our roles in life (Garden = Eden [not= MSG]). As I look back over 40 years since Woodstock (Bethel) [I missed it due to my allergic reaction to sitting in traffic] I can’t help but think “what a long, strange trip it’s been" – Grateful Dead. Interesting is – one forgotten performance (Bert Sommer) of Paul Simon’s America captures one goal of mine – “I’m aching, I’m empty and I don’t know why” – I think now I might be beginning to know (but as we move from the 3 weeks/tisha bav into Elul, it's incumbent on all of us to be thinking about this)
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Worthwhile listening for the general approach more so than the specific application.
A review of the taamei dkra (do we assign reason for mitzvot and act upon them) debate. Some say we only do it when there is a practical halachic difference, others only when there is not! R’Klapper points out that when new situations arise one must either speculate as to rationale or flip a coin.
So, if there is no precedent, we try to understand purpose based on halachic tradition [he gets at a problem that a TOE (theory of everything) Brisker must address – if the prior data points (halachic decisions) are generated by multiple functions (“committee” type process) there may not be one clear consistent explanation of the data points(other than a n+1 degree curve) if we can’t recreate the original functions .
R’Klapper proposes we ought to understand these "functions" consistent with the past in a way that yields salutary results in the future (no one theory will explain all).
Discussion of why fish is special for Shabbat (especially gefilte fish). Gives some “scientific” explanations of fish/meat problems. Some discussion of fish and chicken. Further analysis needed of the issue of gzeirot due to danger and how such a prohibition evolves over time.
Rambam’s take on Iyov. Follows the opinion that it is a parable. The friends reaction to Iyov reflect various takes on hashgacha pratit and clalit (HKB”H’s intervention in human affairs). The writing of these reactions is opaque because it’s not for the masses. They are:
1) Iyov was punished for his sins (“traditional” approach); 2) Iyov was punished because that’s what HKB”H wants; 3) Iyov was punished to be rewarded in world to come.
Rambam’s take – HKB”H really concerned about klalit (species) not so much on individuals. In the end Iyov comes out ok because he used his own mind to comprehend HKB”H’s full hashgacha when he’s fully intellectually connected to HKB”H.
Rambam – prayer is a torah requirement – different psukim as sources. R’YBS on Rambam s. Ramban (see last audio roundup).
Secular philosophy posits 2 requirements for a just war 1) just cause (eg WWII); 2) responsibly fought (e.g. minimize collateral damage).
Rambam – Milchemet Rshut (voluntary war) requires consent of sanhedrin (R’Brander – implication= checks and balances). R’M Feinstein says even milchemet mitzvah (involuntary war) requires Sanhedrin consent (except if attacked) [me-Gulf of Tonkin?]
Perhaps ecological requirements as well.
Insight from R’YBS – King David couldn’t build Beit hamikdash not because of general concern of blood on his hands but rather because he prosecuted wars of expansion before appropriate!
Discussion of classical Kiddush issues including why VaYihi Erev, Drabanan being motzi Duraita….
Count the number of possible chumra’s! [me – listening to some of the chumrah’s and when they were articulated makes me wonder when the mimetic/textual rubicon was crossed].
Review of the choni hamaagal stories in Bavli compared with Yerushalmi (where it has a happier ending) and some good mussar regarding seeing beyond your indivisual scorecard/performance appraisal.
Part II of discussion of prayer – focus on issues of rabbinic or torah sources.
Discussion of making a bracha in adverse cases (e.g. not Kosher food, doing a mitzvah with non-halachically obtained items….) Good mussar on avoiding machlokot.
Why written in poetry (difficult to understand) and prose with sarcasm and irony?
Interesting comments on daughters, Iyov possibly projecting and HKB”H kavayachol speaking lashon hara. Discussion on the need for free will.
Review of Talmudic texts on theodicy and resolving the paradoxical answers.
R’YBS insight that Iyov’s problem was not expanding his circle of care outside his.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
by Joel Rich