Thursday, December 03, 2009

Audio Roundup LXX

by Joel Rich

Question: What would you tell a non-ben brit who asked whether HKB”H prefers he keep the 7 mitzvot or convert?

Part of an actuary’s stock-in-trade is risk/reward analysis, yet the ultimate choice needs to be located in the elusive risk tolerance/values of the decider.
My B-I-L R' David pointed me to the Rambam in hilchot milah where he discusses a delayed brit (a topic on my mind as I trigger this e-mail) “Ein malin ela vlad shein be shum choli” (we don’t do a brit except on a baby who has no illness) and “shesakanat nefashot doche hakol v’efshar lamul l'achar zman, v’e efshar l’hachzir nefesh achat myisrael” (life threatening danger pushes off all and it is possible to do the brit after time, but it is not possible to return a soul ever).

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While R’David took a Chassidic bent to the seemingly unneeded 2nd clause (including a nice riff on the retroactive nature of tshuva m’ahava [repentance from love] which is one of my favorite concepts – because I need a lot of retroactivity), I couldn’t help but think that the Rambam was directing himself to me with the word “shum”(any). How many times have we (I) in our desire to be “frum” (especially on someone else’s tab) taken “risks” to complete “our” mitzvah, yet we see the Rambam telling us to evaluate short and long term risk and reward of all parties before making your final decision (and, to me, it is not just the physical “soul” he’s talking about).
How to evaluate risk? reward? Individual? Group? It’s not a simple question, but that's the task HKB"H gave us, as my white water rafting guide once told me when I couldn't right my craft coming up to a rapid - "deal with it!"

  • R Gedalia Dov Schwartz on Hasagat Gvul: [YUTORAH???-This was taken down for editing-I'll let you know when they put it back up (but you can bother them!)!]

    A very brief theoretical introduction (e-mail me at for a fairly detailed set of maroh mkomot). Primarily focused on real life examples of competition, restrictive covenants, schools and synagogues.
    A free shout out to anyone who can correctly identify the two West Orange businesses who were involved in a non-competition type agreement (and the owners first names!)

  • Rabbi Eliyahu W. Ferrell - Fermentation: A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread, and Th’ O.U.: link

    Reminds me why despite Mr. Finkelstein’s best efforts at MTA, I knew that the only chemistry I’d study was that involved with better living (double shout out if you can identify the official and counter-culture nuance of that statement – no googling allowed).
    Interesting technical discussion of food chemistry including microorganisms taking on halachic status of what they grow on as well as bread, vinegar, spices and SCOTCH!! (of course this is THE crucial question that orthodoxy faces today).
    He also twice distinguishes between what you need to worry about today vs. 500 (or so) years ago (bread and pickles)! [me – trying to explain why we are makpid today and they weren’t without casting aspersions? (hint – we’re frummer is not the correct answer?)].
    OU doesn’t give hashgacha on anything with a trief ingredient even though it’s technically kosher/batel (“it’s not a good hashagacho, not if you are a serious rav hamachshir” – hmmm I once heard Rabbi Wein say we don’t need to be frummer than HKB”H?).

  • Rav Yisroel Belsky Rav Hershel Schachter - Cooking on Shabbos – A HOT Topic - VIDEO: link

    Some very good basic explanations of Shabbat cooking rules including hachzara (returning), mechzei kmvashol (looks like cooking), bishul (real cooking), kdeirah al gabbi kdeirah (pot on a pot)….
    Warming drawers (R’Belsky – generally no).
    Timers to heat and in general (R’Schachter – if we had the tshuvot ha Rambam which was found in the 20th century - no!).
    R’HS – if someone relies on minority opinion and you’re at their table, it’s ok to eat. Salt in soup issue explained.
    R’Belsky – IIUC doesn’t think much of kdeirah blech or the only open the oven once and take everything out opinion (but a great description of the issues). Mentions Platta, but I’m not sure if he came to a conclusion.
    Other discussion includes crock pots, watering chulent, non ben brit turning hot plates on and off and how is a refrigerator different from an oven. Generally my take is that they are personally more machmir than the current practice.

  • Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld - Oil’s Well that Ends Well: link

    Very interesting discussion concerning the OU ingredient rating system. I’d love to know how Tosfot’s eating fried fish in the marketplace would be received today. (I know – that was then). Actually several examples of where we’re concerned now for things that weren’t of concern in the past (IMHO not all are explained by changes in food technology).
    Of particular interest is a category of plants/ingredients which are accepted even though not actually certified (listen – that’s the best I can do in a few words).
    Great quote at the end concerning hashgacha on bottled water – “basically it doesn’t need hashgacho but when you have hashgacha, even on water, you’re sure there are no issues 100%”. Hmmm – makes you think about having cows MRI’d before shechita!

  • Rabbi Yona Reiss - Can An Ethical Jew be a Lawyer: link

    Review of source texts concerning lawyers ranging (like other professions?) from positive to negative. R’Reiss’s take – there’s a dynamic tension between negative (“do what it takes”) and positive (“open the mouth of the silent”). So, if you’re good and can do good, go for it.
    [Me – {Mycroft – control yourself J} so doctors and lawyers both sound like professions that have greater challenges (unlike boring actuaries)]. How do halacha and hashkafa evaluate the risks/rewards on an individual and communal basis???]

  • Rav Binyamin Tabory - She'elot uTeshuvot - Harav Uziel - Mishpetei Uziel: link

    Next in the series. R’Uziel deals with the census, human run elevators, gittin spelling, milking cows and is Gaza part of Eretz Yisrael (for 2nd day Yom Tov).

  • Rav Kalman Neuman -Society and Halakha #4- To Appoint a King Part 3: link

    How a posek views the state (here – of Israel) will impact his psak. Is the state just a large tzibbur? (poli sci memories?)

  • Rabbi Daniel Z. Feldman - Fasting on One's Wedding Day: link

    Fasting on the wedding day is a minhag, albeit a strong one. It may be due to the concept of all sins forgiven or the more prosaic who wants a drunk kiddushin. Some possible implications discussed.

  • All TIM (Torah in Motion) audios can be found here: link
  • Mr. Dan Rabinowitz - Forgeries and Censorship in Jewish Literature and Jewish Tradition (Part 1)

    1st in a series. Sometimes tshuvot are misattributed due to copies of others letters being left in the same pile.
    Fascinating discussion and examples of call of forgery based on “he couldn’t logically have said that” rather than trying to reconcile. [me – didn’t quote gemara (which I never understood) that you can misattribute to give your opinion greater weight].

  • Mrs.Daphna Fishman Secunda - Eight Great Medieval Jewish Philosophers (Part 1)

    First in series. Controversy in the 1300’s over philosophical works in Judaism. Should masses read this or stick to simple belief (did I say 1300’s, I probably meant 2000’s).
    Interesting assertion that R’Dessler incorporated some of Dale Carnegie (Reader’s Digest version) into Michtav Meliyahu! (Hmmm – I heard similar assertions concerning Ben Franklin and mussar).
    There was a symbiotic relationship between Jewish and Islamic philosophy as they studied (Aristotle/Plato) Greeks and wrestled with Faith vs. Reason, theodicy and anthropromorphism.
    R’Sadia wrote Emunot Vdeot because of doubts being raised.

  • Dr. Shai Secunda -The Talmud and its World (Part 1)

    Academic study of Talmud could be looked at as just another derech halimud (way of studying Talmud), each of which has its own set of shared assumptions.
    Given the historical association with haskala, it’s got a strike against it but truth is it is a non-traditional approach with more of an emphasis on evolution of text, analysis of “best” text (may not be the traditional text) and that personalities and history matter. He feels “Lo bashamayim hi” supports this type of approach. [me – the debate is over the rules of the game - see earlier Hirhurim debates on the word “ahistorical”].

  • Dr. Shira Weiss -Philosophical Themes in Tanakh (Part 1)

    Series will deal with four philosophically challenging texts (2 classes each). First is personal autonomy vs. rabbinic authority.

  • Rav Kalman Neuman - Society and Halakha #04- To Appoint a King Part: link

    Continuation on monarchy. Netziv’s position that “mitzvah” to have King is only if people want it. Discussion of powers of King (Talmud – was Shmuel’s warning for real or just a scare tactic; other examples in Nach).

  • Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz - Eating on Erev Shabbos: link

    Hmmm – I thought it was a davar pashut that one had to eat Shabbat meals with an appetite. What can you have Friday afternoon or at a Shabbat Kiddush?? (dangerous territory!)

  • Rabbi Dr. Aharon Lichtenstein - English Literature and its Effects on Hashkafa: link

    Literature – does it enable and/or ennoble? Sounds like Eilu V’eilu but certainly understanding HKB”H creation (man) seems worthwhile. If so – how much and when?

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