by Joel Rich
Does “Kabel et haemet…” (accept the truth from wherever it comes) include: 1) Yoshvei kranot (corner sitters – the not positive definition); 2) baalei batim; 3) people with university training; 4) academics; 5) academics with Judaic studies degrees; 6) people with other hashkafot; 7) people who disagree with me?
The Talmud in two places asks “hilchata lmashicha” which pretty much means why come to a halachic conclusion if there is no immediate application? I’m looking for possible theories as to why coming to a halachic conclusion on such issues might trouble the Talmud (I have a few but don’t want to prejudice anyone).
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Ma Nomar (what can we say?) That he died way too young? That he was a prolific and creative thinker and giver of shiurim? That he was charming, athletic and a broad thinker? That his hasmadah was as legendary as his wit? That he was R’Moshe’s talmid muvhak? That his tapping out of bitachon in his last hours taught a lesson in bitachon (IMHO it’s that whatever the result, HKB”H has my back)? That even a wretch like me would be indelibly affected by having seen him from behind and to this day when I have some time to learn at YU, I go to the old beit medrash to learn so I can look at the spot where he would sit with his black briefcase writing continuously?
There’s a choshuv rav who was a rather energetic talmid who always had is hand up (in those days, before he fully engaged his mind) in R’Alpert’s face calling out and interrupting the shiur. Once towards the end of the year he said “rebbi, I know this might not make sense but”, R’Alpert with his gentle smile cut in with “Avos, it never stopped you before” –
Perhaps most of all, when one Talmid asked him why HKB”H would create a system that one could not possibly complete without error, he responded in a heartbeat “who says you can’t?” and meant it! Yehei Zichro Baruch
Bni Bchori (and his brothers probably too) would say – “This is a Daddy shiur” - Exploration of the role of Nach in general and in the halachic system in particular. Seemingly contradictory sources as to whether Nach was a required part of our destiny and what, if any, halachic force it has (and why drashot from it have any halachic force). There is a broad spectrum of answers to the questions and practical differences may flow from them.
Even minimalists agree there are important lessons to be learned from Nach!
Another Daddy shiur. Certain concepts were instituted logically by “early chazal” (Moshe?) – klachar yad, derech asiyatan [doing things in an unusual manner implies no culpability]. Is this a function of time and place (similar to batla dato etzel kol adam = abnormal actions)? R’AW says yes but some takanot of chazal (eg derech bishul) are fixed. New applications will require a Rashba (someone with extremely broad shoulders)
Great start to another Daddy series. (Warning – includes some outside chochma!). Is it good because HKB”H commanded it or did HKB”H command it because it was good? (Is there an ethic outside of halacha?) [why didn’t Avraham just say “thanks for the heads up” when HKB”H told him about destroying Sodom]. Kdoshim tihyu, Vasita hatov vhayashar (be holy, do what’s right) as examples, some other examples and possible counter examples.
Some people seem to be wearing Tfillin more of the day than in the past. Discussion of the issue based on the nature of the mitzvah (me – I guess people are at a higher level and no concern of mshum yuhara?)
Review of alternative explanations of free will and the Pharoh’s seeming lack thereof (me – alternatives based on mesora or smart people using logic?)
My favorite is the one seemingly parallel to part of the storyline in Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy (of course his was a pircha to this!)
Making 100 brachot a day – Is it a torah/rabbinic mitzvah or just a nice practice? Creative attempts at explaining where 100 comes from including a discussion of the famous “close enough” (credit: Abba Warshaw) rule (off by 1 is ok – but no real explanation of source of this rule).
Discussion of time bound rabbinic commandments (are women commanded in these) [me – is any violation of a rabbinic command simply a violation of Lo tasur (i.e. all equal)? Would the Rabbis “violate” kol dtakun rabannan kein duraita takun for something so basic?]
R’Sternbach – it’s designed to reinforce you doing what you’re suppose to do. [me – but do people get the causation? Reminds me of common (IMHO) problem – a client reads that the main predictor of employee retention is if they have a best friend at work so he mandates every employee to have a best friend at work)]
Understanding why the Talmud prefers lech lshalom to lech bshalom (and can use of the wrong one harm anyone? – perhaps only if you believe it will!)
Tzeitzchem lshalom to the angels? (me – if you sing it (hey, I’m a rationalist but still sing it)
Discussion of kri/ktiv (in Tanach when word is written in one way and pronounced another). How did this happen and what do we take away from it? Radak (R' Nosson Aryeh-found in critical works section of sfarim sale??) – In the aftermath of destruction of bayit rishon (1st temple) some traditions lost and had to be resurrected through logic. Where Anshei Knesset Hagedolah couldn’t do this, put kri and ktiv. Others – it notes later changes in grammar – other still, it was all halacha moshe misinai.
Why? – Pshat vs. drash? Other?
The Rambams 3 categories (fools, idiots and him?) and how do deal with your kids whose teachers don’t get it (no easy answers – trust me, I know this one! R’Yisroel of Passaic has strong feelings on this as well.)
Some TUM mussar then analysis of evolution and how it is evolving towards the eventual torah truth. It’s HKB”H who is behind all the “laws” of nature. (me – and when string theory finally uncovers the TOE, HKB”H will be there smiling and saying either nitzchuni banai (my children’s have eternalized me) or what took you so long?)
The Rambam representing all encompassing knowledge as a goal.
General schmooze on Tfila (prayer) as service of the heart and recognition that all depends on HKB”H yet we need to understand his “system” and do our part (both prayer and hishtadlut (practical effort)).
Tie in mazalot (astrological signs) for shvat and tribe of Asher and Yaakov’s blessings – water and oil. Water is representative of torah, oil of chochma (wisdom). Is the latter of torah or broader, can /should you do both, etc. [different strokes for different folks and so on and so on and Scooby dooby do – we’ve got to live together!?] Mussar on relationship between the two.
A potpourri of related topics. Do you make a shechiyanu on new fruits if they are available all year long? On new suits if you buy them with some frequency? (R’Sobolofsky is a big Syms bash fan) ordering of brachot on fruit, shmita rules as well.
Q&A discussion of women’s haircovering and tzniut (modesty) for what sounds like a beginners type group. Interesting analysis of the presenters views on what’s normative.
Her understanding of sheitel – women like them less than their own hair (even if better looking?), it’s how it makes you feel and act differently, not how it looks.
A posek in Toronto. Can you start a new shul if a new group moved into a community? (generally yes). Can you assume a holocaust torah was written by a kosher sofer? (generally yes – me – see recent news reports). Can you have a 50th anniversary celebration (yes – with torah and praise, no chuppa or brachot)
Thursday, February 04, 2010
by Joel Rich