by Joel Rich
The Talmud (e.g. horiyot 12b) discusses cases of forbidden nichush (divination) (e.g. a black cat implies don’t do business today) and permitted simanim (good omens? – e.g., dip the apple in the honey). The commentators strive to extract an underlying rule to differentiate the cases.
1. I’d like to propose the rule that any time you seek to totally subcontract your free will, it’s forbidden nichush – (example – you can determine whether to marry someone based on a sign of their kindness, but not on whether the Yankees win today). Comments?
2. Does the following article help explain the rationalist approach to ayin hara and segulot? If so, do we do a disservice to those who believe on a non-rationalistic basis in them by showing them the article? link
Starts with a paen to Richard Joel, Rabbi D. Berger and BRGS.
Then some interesting statements – Rashi was a real person, commentator’s thinking is influenced by events around them, can’t appreciate their commentary without this information.
Then focus on Rambam “commentary” on Torah (yes, I meant Rambam not Ramban). Goes through sources (e.g. moreh nevuchim, Iyov…) in order to study Rambam’s approach. In some cases, we have Rambam’s original text with his edits! [me – imagine the insight, it must be like reading my rough handwritten drafts of audio roundup and seeing where I cross out the cynicism!]
Further discussion of Rambam’s philosophy of parshanut and its sources.
A gem of an all too short find! R’Aron being interviewed by an uninitiated interviewer on the West Coast. Most impressively, he went to address an NCSY group when asked by one of his talmidim.
Women’s issues? The differences are due to men’s inferior nature and need to be kept busy.
HTC – He left due to differences with the board (me – anyone know the nature?).
Yeshiva’s Brisk – a real TUM place at its founding (me – anyone know what it is like now?).
Historical reflections on Yom Haatzmaut and analysis of issues regarding hallel including the nature of the requirement (e.g. rabbinic?) and on whom (individual vs. tzibbur).
Very interesting kick off to a series on Chassidism. Some analysis of the geographic and political issues surrounding the era and the possible role they played [me – a Rabbi, sociologist, actuary, economist, historian, psychologist, anthropologist all walk into a room and try to explain anything – how many explanations will there be and how much will be similar to looking for a dime under the streetlight rather than where you dropped it?]
Some explanations include a religious reaction to instability which led to a break away from the religious establishment and/or those who were vulnerable not finding solace in halacha.
Based on actual historical record, R’Mintz concludes 1st two generations were part of the establishment, later generations reimagined these earlier generations in their own image (me – unheard of, unthinkable!).
Thesis – when chassidut moved out of Poland to Vilna the opposition began in earnest. There was involvement of the Russian government. Focus here on the Rizhiner – thesis – he was approachable figure but his political clout (unclear how gained) was key.
The pre-destiners get their hearing this week but this is a minority view [me – philosophically perhaps, but tell it to the “it’s bashert” crowd]. [Kach mkublani mbeit avi abba – act as if it’s all up to you, accept as if it’s all predestined]
First in a series (Hebrew) – Focus here on torah commanded brachot. All agree on Birchat Hamazon, discussion of status and nature of birchat hatorah (learning vs. relationship with HKB”H).
Why the differing types of battles in tanach? The ideal one involves a recognition that HKB”H is with us, that our temporal leader is ideal and that people have faith in both. If all are not present, miraculous victory route may be needed. A number of examples presented.
Another magical mystery tour – I sometimes wish he’d stop at some of the sites to allow us to get off the bus and inspect them in more detail!
Stops here include:
*Why 3 times is for emphasis (vs. tzedokim)
*How we know Chashmonaim didn’t “invent” the heter of pikuach nefesh
*Not allowed to show any interest in avoda zarah without special permit
*No favoritism in psak (“Litvich” chut hameshulah R’Chaim V’olozhiner – go against S”A, if you’re convinced)
*Ramban – differentiate between brotherly love (chovat haevarim – judge on actions) vs. love of HKB”H (chovat halev – must feel it)
Sounds like something “bad” happened in the community.
Some practical advice on how to be of help.
Spiritual advice – listen to wiser men’s insights on related issues/causes
*do more mitzvot, less aveirot
*realize we don’t understand
*stay away from random segulot
R’Aryeh – 1) were you loath to call it chukat haakum due to sensitivities or do “segulot” without clear sources not fall in this category? 2) People want to have a sense of control (I think this must be hard wired). I wish I knew what to say other than drawing on the parent analogy which doesn’t work for everyone.
Retrospectively – Shtikah (acceptance), prospectively (what does HKB”H want of us – a’la R’YBS). We don’t really have right to Taanot (claims)/complaints; need to live life to eternalize, realize that HKB”H is completely chesed.
Analysis of sources and purpose of rebuke. I agree – it’s probably the most difficult mitzvah to perform appropriately (and to know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em, when you can change someone and when you have to make a statement).
Be a role model for your children, give them the opportunity to do themselves, discuss choices with them (me – this applies to the totality of our lives imho).
Academic Jewish studies cover a broader spectrum of materials than the beit medrash and also have a different priority on intellectual (historical) honesty. It can allow for a broader perspective on how halacha is impacted (subconsciously, of course) by economic and intellectual trends – [me – but of course once you’ve identified with it, your pasul for psak]
Most poskim are against women singing zmirot with men but there are enough who say it’s ok that you shouldn’t give rebuke to those who do it. May not even have to leave the table. [Me - would be interesting study on “non slam dunk” issues. What is the % of shut that are lenient vs. strict. Sub-cuts – time, place. Then provide working theory as to why]
History of written Kabbalistic texts and debate on what concerns were about writing them!
Discussion takanot (better living through regulation) and gzeirot (preventative measures). Bottom line – no new ones for everyone.
1. Chazal made mistakes! [misjudged whether people would “accept” certain enactments – especially commemorating temple].
2. Meikar hadin these were a good idea and we see their echoes (e.g., no wine – week of tisha b’av, no non-ben brit bread – 10 days of repentance, go to mikvah – yom kippur)
3. Long discussion of statement re having kids (not).
4. Me – so is there an “inyan” of keeping all the “failed” takanot all year long?