by Joel Rich
Al Tivtichu bnidivim (place not your trust in princes)-This week not a question but a comment - Some of my friends (well maybe I should say acquaintances) think of me as a cynic (moi?). After the events of the past few weeks, at least a few of those individuals that I care about have begun to better understand kach mkublani mbeit avi abba - kavdeihu vchashdeihu (thus was the mesorah I received from avi mori vrabbi zll"hh-treat everyone with honor and respect and realize that all humans are mortal beings subject to shortcomings so place your complete trust in HKB"H and to varying degrees -usually as little as possible- in man ) or as R'Jean Sheperd titled his book - "In God We Trust, All others Pay Cash"
Click here to read moreChochma bagoyim taamin (and how does this square with our approach-from a NY Times article) -Jonathan D. Moreno, a professor of medical ethics and the history and sociology of science at the University of Pennsylvania, thinks reactions have to do with a long tradition that goes back to Plato. The idea, he said, is that someone who is very intelligent is assumed to be “morally wise.” And that makes it hard to reconcile the actions of Amy Bishop, with her Harvard Ph.D., her mantle of scientific brilliance.(me -now erase Amy Bishop and substitute the scandal du jour)
Accommodate Rationality-Evidence from Sugyot, Rishonim, the Rav, and the Modern Poskim
The language of law (me – and statistics) can help us articulate and communicate halachic concepts [me – unless you feel chazal were being purposefully blurry so as to maintain greater flexibility?]
2 theories of law – 1) legal positivism (because I (the lawmaker) said so – end of discussion); 2) natural law (embodiment of “natural” principles. Medrashim support both approaches (but remember according to R’OYGH aggadita is often hyperbole and not subject to the rigorous coherence requirement of halacha)
Rambam is primarily a positivist (gemara too – often asks minalan – wanting to identify command)
Discussion of how to extend positivist law to new areas. Rambam based on L. Tasur (torah tells you to listen to Rabbis) based on coherent logic (his metaphysics impacts his jurisprudence) [IMHO this latter portion needed more time – hopefully R’OYGH’s forthcoming (IIUC) article will do this].
First of two. Is Kol Isha and hair covering a subjective definition? While next week R’AR will present his view (head covering for married women required), this week he presents the case for subjectivity (worth listening to for the quotes from R’YBS and R’Yitzchak simcha halevi Horowitz) [me - A very wise man once told me “every generation thinks they discovered sex for the first time (in human history)”]
Why an oral Torah in addition to the written?
1) Makes it always unique to the Jewish people
2) Flexibility for future generations/couldn’t encode everything in writing
3) Written communication is less effective than oral
4) Will require more effort to transmit/remember therefore will remember better
Very good discussion concerning the seemingly unclear Talmudic and Rishonic material on the need for a convert to accept all mitzvot. IMHO none of the approaches are so compelling as to prove the others must be wrong.
A few interesting assertions of possible positions:
1) One could argue that not accepting the mitzvot is a fatal defect, but not telling the convert is not (i.e. we accept he says I accept even if he is clueless as to what he’s accepting).
2) Bet Din doesn’t have to witness acceptance but only technicalities (e.g. immersion)
3) It’s ok as long as he doesn’t reject mitzvot (except some – like Shabbat, Kashrut!?)
4) Maybe bet din “accepts” mitzvot for a minor convert!
5) Maybe if a minor were converted and his parents weren’t frum, he needs reconversion later.
6) If minor convert rejects at bar mitzvah, it’s retroactive (I was unclear as to his position on status of converts actions between then and now – the old arrow of time dilemma)
Review of Talmudic sources (see my note above) and 19th and 20th century psak. Why he considers this part of his “modern” series (me – modern = since the emancipation).
Discussion of story of splitting the baby in half and Shlomo being the wisest of all men (vs. Moshe? Did story really show so much wisdom?) R’Angel’s take – wisdom was really fairness (i.e. he heard prostitutes’ case)
Importance of sfarim (books) and lots of nice stories about gedolim and sfarim. Importance of talmidei chachamim and need for a rebbi. Some fancy drush on R’Akiva.
He’s a big believer of nothing can stand in front of the will (IIRC so was R’YBS – till his year of triple aveilut). He says kiss sfarim but there’s an institution for those who kiss CD’s! I thank HKB”H often for my Bar Ilan CD-Rom.
Solar water heaters (dud shemesh) on Shabbat – technical discussion of physics and halacha. Summary – lenient opinion not a slam dunk but enough to rely on especially if real need.
R’A Kotler history plus 3 tshuvot. 1) accepting testimony by letter from non-frum (reflects understanding of 1930’s orthodoxy – pragmatic?!); 2) striking teachers (no – but maybe short time in an emergency); 3) taking down mechitza (no) [one argument – it’s like not listening to first builders’ wishes – me – ever visit Cong Ahavas Israel in Passaic – it went the other way!?]
Remembered as a leader by example in dress, conduct and midot.
Kiddush bmakom seudah [in the place where meal takes place] is it a requirement grounded in Kiddush or the meal? Issues and implications.
Why is the halacha that a bribe (obviously illegal) must be returned by the briber to the bribee only upon demand by bribee?
“Avad inish dina lnafshei” (take law into one’s own hands) in monetary cases. When is this applicable according to all and when is there disagreement (if no risk of loss). A technical analysis (are you acting in the place of bet din? as their emissary?) and some applications.
Analysis of “Haba bamachteret” (one who breaks into your basement). I’ve always wondered whether the concept that one would give up his life for his money is co nsidered inherent in creation or could it vary by time and place? [AIUI – this is why you can kill intruder – it’s assumed he knows this risk and would kill you]
Kli Rishon hussar (heated pot taken off the fire) – What is the level of prohibition on Shabbat? What if the pot is off the fire? What is the status of Irui (pouring off from heated pot)?
Covers a number of issues with nuanced responses – 1) drinking on Purim; 2) public media; 3) women/yoatzot; 4) meditation; 5) kol isha.
Note: Recorders – remember to turn off tape when the music’s over [and turn out the lights – per R’J Morrison] (although I love the R’YBS one where he is saying Kaddish)
Talmud brachot gives the traditional breakdown of the 18 blessings in the amidah – 3 of praise, 12 of requests and 3 of thanksgiving. But when you read them it’s not so clean.
R’Fleisher claims the amidah is a reaction to the destruction of the beit medrash.
Perhaps the first 3 brachot represent past, future and present – establishing a relationship with HKB”H.
The last bracha seems like part of birchat kohanim?
Maybe chazal were simplifying when they gave that breakdown and the real focus is acceptance of HKB”H following the “redemption” of kriat shma.
Are any damages (either to property or body) payable if one suffers a loss in a consensual sports activity? Are there any generally accepted rules of the road? Would a flagrant foul be covered?
First class in the Rama’s Zoharic second level of interpretation of Megilat Esther. The story took place but its writing was also constructed to provide for valuable life lessons for us all (which were inherent in the creation).
Elements of building of Mikdash/Mishkan as lessons for building our own lives 1) Ndivat lev – giving/involvement beyond being a duty but with a full and open heart guarantees presence of shechina; 2) Lishma – doing it for the right reasons (HKB”H) and spiritual intuition/leadership and will yield positive results.
Friday, February 26, 2010
by Joel Rich