by Joel Rich
Question: Why is the practice (anecdotal data) to ask for mechila (forgiveness) from each other during asseret ymei Tshuva and not during Elul?
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Direct from the Vilna of Essex county! Congratulations to whomever thought up the idea of doing a plain Q&A with the Rosh Kollel! View answers as directional, not psak:
1. Kibbudim to non shomer Shabbat – generally today not an issue due to high % of non-observant. General rule for these is if 51% of the community object to someone, no good. Discusses R’Moshe’s Tshuva on chanifa – inappropriate praise (I have an IMHO good set of sources if anyone wants).
Click here for more2. Doctor’s/Shabbat/Pikuach Nefesh/allowable treatment – ouch (but then again I’m not a doctor nor do I play one on TV [what is a TV anyway]). Great article by some local products on this topic in the current issue of the Journal of Halacha and contemporary society.
3. Make your Sukkah habitable (e.g. use a heater if need be). Don’t use paper plates unless real shalom bayit (pay help if needed).
4. Alarms/time clocks on Shabbat – no music. Found Rambam commentary on Talmud which probably would have led to prohibiting time clocks but left as is! Issue of kavod Shabbat needs to be considered. No dishwasher timers (noise/closing circuit). Shouldn’t use timers just to save $.
5. Asking a 2nd Rabbi? Fine, if you tell him first. If it’s a debatable issue, 2nd should tell him to listen to the first.
6. Slide to right – yes, but earlier generations (who we need to thank for keeping orthodoxy alive) really didn’t know all the rules.
7. Ashkenaz Glatt in U.S. – really was just an excuse not to use non shomer Shabbat butchers.
8. Hebrew National – doesn’t really know about it, new machgiach assured him all is ok.
9. Electricity – all Rabbis should get together to reevaluate – assume Makeh B Patish Drabbanan.
10. Don’t use elevator heter (asking non Ben Brit) on an ongoing basis! (Hmmmm - see #2 above as well)
11. Great R’Moshe story – caller said he dreamed he davened mincha, does he still have to daven? R’Moshe responded (through son) if you dreamed you ate dinner, would you still have to eat?
12. Baal Hatanya says it’s a form of usury to say thank you. R’HS thinks it’s appropriate to say something.
13. Listerine strips – not considered eating.
14. Avoid non-Kosher vitamins if you can, else probably ok (though could be timtum halev issue).
15. Smoking is prohibited, so is eating too much junk.
16. Davening speed issues & approaches.
Talmud missing 150 years of bayit sheni compared secular sources. Who is right? Gdolim disagree. R’Schwab felt gemara was purposefully “wrong” to throw off those who would calculate end of days. (me – didn’t he recant?)
The second covenant is as a nation, thus binding on all future generations.
Jews are the only true “goy” since HKB”H set aside Israel for them.
Shechina only in galut with us when we don’t have Israel (me - get it???).
Modern psychologists don’t believe in free will.
Mitzvat ktivat sefer torah (writing a torah).
R’Schwab asked R’HS a question about what Josephus said (assumed at YU one would have read Josephus!)
Hester Panim doesn’t mean no hashgacha, just we don’t see it. (Hmmm, I’m pretty sure he didn’t hear this from his rebbi!!!).
Simcha on Rosh Hashana – Is there a requirement, what is its nature as seen through allowability of fasting, prayer text, hallel and the Rambam’s famous statement on no “simcha yeteira” (extra joy). Nice close with tie in of R’YBS of simcha being lifnei hasheim (in front of HKB”H) and Rosh Hashana is a time of closeness (in front of) HKB”H of a different kind. [me – the dialectic of Rosh Hashana as joy of coronation yet yom hadin are 2 sides of a coin, but still palpable]
Very worthwhile discussion on the development of Rosh Hashana minhagim. The Talmud discusses simanei milta (signs/practices) have impact?
The simanim on Rosh Hashana – are they to be eaten or to be looked at (sources for both).
Great discussion of the gematria of Egoz (nuts) being equal to cheit (sin) – but it’s off one. Quotes R’Sperber (we’re up to book 6 at Shalosh Seudot in Cong. Beth Israel) on Yerushalmi spelling cheit without an alef (so the gematria works!) – much better explanation IMHO of the issue then a lot of the hand waving.
Differing reasons given for not eating nuts (e.g. phlegm) and the differences based on them. Mentions some extensions quoted by halacha compendiums but not supported elsewhere (that’s what happens when someone “starts” a quote IMHO).
Interesting Meiri on why this is not nichush (divination). Perhaps because they are to inspire us to act and that’s why some say Yihi ratzon – as a prayer. Perhaps it’s like an audio visual aide (me – is it important what philosophers say it is or what people think it is?) to provide more intent. This doesn’t really explain passive ones (e.g. not eating nuts). Perhaps that’s why Maharam didn’t mention any of these.
Analysis on R’Elchanan Wasserman’s analysis of rabbinic authority to “uproot” torah requirements (e.g. not blowing shofar on Shabbat). Do they actually uproot or do they tell us to ignore? Classic differentiations include passive vs. active, as well as gavra cheftza.
Asseret Ymei tshuva (10 days on pentinence) practices and differing opinions on whether to defer Kiddush levana, marriage and court oaths. Why wouldn’t we want to do them before Yom Kippur to add to our mitzvah counts? Perhaps (quoting R’Rosensweig) because it’s not so much a matter of counting points as it is directionally what you are committed to (e.g. eating - pat yisrael during this time isn’t a “segulah” [magic?] but an attempt to be transformative).
An analysis of the issues regarding machnisei rachamim (angels who bring in prayers). Bottom line if you say it, know it’s all up to HKB”H.
Analysis of Ner Shabbat and Ner Mikdash as sources for Ner Chanukah. Chanukah is pirsumei nisa (publicize miracle) from the home. Shabbat is internalized within the home and mikdash is symbolic within HKB”H’s home.
Why no mention of Chet (sin) on Rosh Hashana if it’s part of theme? It’s inconsistent with recognizing HKB”H as King.
Discussion of Shabbat recognition and mackhut (kingship) recognition as alternative repentance tracks and relationship to pure din (judgment).
Recognition of din as part of kingship and as act of chesed (loving kindness).
Praying to angels – Rambam wouldn’t! Nice thoughts on shame as a positive driver and the need to repent concerning wasted potential (me – killing me softly with his words! – the Big D’s final summation – Great potential, still untapped).
Looking at sacrifices (karbanot) – Tamid (daily) vs. mussaf (additional), Shabbat, Yom Tov. Famous posit of Torah Temima that we should mention name of each Yom Tov in the bracha of “mkadesh Yisrael V_ _ _ _ _ “. R’YBS said he had all the right questions (but not the answers) – here R’YBS posits it’s the unity of theme of all Yom Tovim.
Limits on authority of posek? In times of gaonim (after “close” of Talmud) there were 2 trends – gathering all the talmudic sources on a topic and giving psak (rulings). There is an ongoing debate as to where the line is drawn as far as not being able to “change” halacha (is it now the mishna brura? The S”A? the gemara?).
When do societal changes change halacha? Early examples – Yibum not preferred in later Talmud times due to changes in men’s intent in act. Rashbam explaining Rashi vs. yerushalmi on people fasting due to them being weaker.
Other examples – Chatam Sofer on acceptability of a mail posted letter as evidence and the chofetz chaim on women learning. All examples of what could be called “extra halachic” influences.
Discussion of the close tie between the blowing of the shofar and the beit hamikdash. Halacha and Hashkafa of Shofar blowing (not) when Rosh Hashana falls on Shabbat.