Yearly Archive: 2007

0

Halachic Process, addenda

With this post, I am closing the series (for now) with three other thoughts that came up during the Avodah discussion, but aren’t part of my core thesis. I The concept of minhag hamaqom impacts two different things — actual minhagim and local pesaqim. I’m now addressing only the latter. A community can’t survive with too much variation, so we...

1

Halachic Process, part II

So far, I’ve discussed how I think halakhah works, and how I think it doesn’t. To refresh — fitting devar Hashem into this world an our minds requires simplifying modeling, “shadows” that only capture aspects of the fuller truth. These models can conflict, leading to machloqes. It also means that living by halakhah will requires assessing conflicting priorities. Ideally this...

14

Halachic Process, interlude: What it isn’t

(I am going to do something I try to avoid when writing in public — dedicate a post to criticism. This post may someday disappear, if I ever change my mind, so read it now while you can.) The story so far: In part I, I suggested that the process of pesaq isn’t a set of rules to be followed,...

5

Halachic Process, part I

“Eilu va’eilu divrei E-lokim Chaim, vehalakhah keBeis Hillel — These and those are the words of the ‘Living’ G-d, but the halakhah is like Beis Hillel.” The voice rung out from heaven that even though the law is ruled according to Beis Hillel, Beis Shammai’s position is also the word of G-d. There is some variation in halakhah between people...

2

Halachic Change

Pesaq “changes” in a number of very different ways. I put the word in quotes, because I’m including things I do not consider an actual change in pesaq. R’ Herschel Schachter writes in a number of places of the difference between appropriate halachic innovation, “chiddush“, vs unauthorized change in established din, “shinui“. Much rests on whether one is actually changing...

5

Angry at G-d

A friend of mine wrote this morning about his three experiences with cancer in his immediate family. He was equipped to handle his wife’s bout, abut by the time he had to deal with it for the third time, he tells me that all he felt was anger, anger at G-d. His tefillos that Rosh haShanah he describes as mechanically...

0

Yisrael, Yaaqov and Beis Yaaqov

Someone asked on soc.culture.jewish: Today in my Women In Hebrew Bible class we talked about how Yaakov (Jacob) was renamed Yisrael (Israel). This was a way of redeeming him of all his past trickery. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Yaakov. He is, after all, my favorite Patriarch. But he was...

2

Anger and the Golden Mean

(I invite people to visit my analysis of the Orchos Tzadiqim’s psychological model. Among the points I discuss is the relationship between dei’os and middos. In painful brevity: a dei’ah is a feature of one’s psyche — which in turn is something performed by the soul. All people have the same set of dei’os. A middah, which literally means measure,...

3

Shemittah

( You will notice that this entry is pretty much straight lomdus rather than my usual fare. When I wrote Rafi’s bar mitzvah speech, I ran overly long. Here is an even longer earlier edition, but one that is more complete in covering my thoughts on the subject. -mi) In parashas Behar (25:18), it says: “Vesapharta lekha sheva` shabasos shanim...

0

כג אלול תשס”א

Tonight begins the 6th yahrzeit. It can be no coincidence that it is a weak before Rosh haShanah that we have the reminder of how a beautiful sunny day can, in the blink of an eye, turn into the most horrible of tragedies. …בראש השנה יכתבון, וביום צום כפור יחתמון On Rosh Hashanah they will be written, and on Yom...

0

Mi Keil Kamokha

In Tomer Devorah, Rav Moshe Cordevero explains the 13 attributes of Divine Mercy, in particular showing them as exemplars for us to follow — “just as I Am Merciful, so too you be merciful.” Rather than following the original revelation of these attributes in seifer Shemos, he uses the version in seifer Mikhah (7:18-20) which we say during tashlikh, and...

0

May only goodness and kindness pursue me

.וּבָאוּ עָלֶיךָ כָּל-הַבְּרָכוֹת הָאֵלֶּה וְהִשִּׂיגֻךָ, כִּי תִשְׁמַע בְּקוֹל ה’ אֱ-לֹהֶיךָ And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you listen to the call of Hashem your G-d. – Devarim 28:2 This verse from parashas Ki Savo recalls a line from Tehillim that we sing often: .אַךְ טוֹב וָחֶסֶד יִרְדְּפוּנִי כָּל-יְמֵי חַיָּי, וְשַׁבְתִּי בְּבֵית-ה’ לְאֹרֶךְ יָמִים May...

0

The Desire to Desire

I must confess that I find mussaf (and many parts of the rest of davening) very difficult. Frankly, I am unable to feel a longing for a restoration of animal sacrifice. I know I’m supposed to, but I don’t. My work-around is to make that very lack the focus of my intent during the tefillah. Rather than thinking about qorbanos...

3

Saving One’s Own First

On Areivim, we’re discussing how history remembers or should remember Rudolf Kasztner. Yad Vashem is trying to rehabilitate his memory. Here is some of the metzi’us behind the question, from The Star: Kasztner … headed the Relief and Rescue Committee, a small Jewish group that negotiated with Nazi officials to rescue Hungarian Jews in exchange for money, goods and military...

0

Something Else to Throw into the Bonfire

Saul Mashbaum wrote the following back during the “should we burn the wigs?” period a few years ago. I think it’s still quite apropos, a reminder of our priorities. SOMETHING ELSE TO THROW INTO THE BONFIRE Sources close to several major poskim have claimed that they have declared a new chovat biur. “After examining the situation carefully, we have come...

0

The Last Tish’ah be’Av

I recall one year I had just started a new camp. I was davening in the evening, at the very beginning of Tish’ah be’Av, and I heard a shofar blow. After a moment, I realized it was the PA system, that this was the camp’s “siren” marking the beginning of the fast. I have no idea how deep my belief...

0

Hilkhos Mashiach

On Avodah, Saul Newman gave the following summary of halakhos related to bi’as hamashiach from an article in the Yated. I found that the pragmatic halachic discussion gave some mamashus (tangibility) to the idea. In conclusion, we may recite a total of eight special brachos when Moshiach arrives, in the following order: When we first hear from a reliable source...

0

Hashem is Righteous

Eli Turkel summarized some thoughts from the 100 pages introduction to the sefer “The Lord is Righteous in All His Ways”, from the notes of R’ JB Soloveitchikzt”l. The format isn’t the usual for this blog, being more like his notes, but then, it wasn’t written for this blog either. Questions: Many things are missing from the Tisha Ba’av tefila:...

9

Safeiq deRabbanan

R’ Aharon Rakeffet has a 10 year series on responsa literature and the art of making a halachic rulings. The classes are available on YUTorah.org. The following is primarily from his shiur of Dec. 19th, 1994 “Safek from Torah or Rabbanan” (starting at around 52 min. in). As is my norm, I add bits here and there. The Rama writes...

0

TIDE, variants on a theme

In an earlier post, I raised one very fundamental difference between Rav Hirsch’s “Torah im Derekh Eretz” (Torah with culture, hereafter “TIDE”) and Rav JB Soloveitchik’s attitude toward the secular, which YU titles “Torah uMadda” (Torah and other knowledge, “TuM”). TIDE is a lifestyle that is wholly Torah and wholly derekh eretz, in that the Torah is what gives form...

0

Noach and the Use of Wine

We were discussing on Avodah the origins of the idea of Qiddush. I argued that the notion of celebrating or thanking G-d with wine would seem to be one people would stumble upon naturally, arguing from Noach’s instinct to plant a vineyard. Rn Toby Katz noted that I was making an unsupported assumption: “Celebrating”? as Noach celebrating the “human condition”...

5

Benching Gomel

I just wrote the following in an email to some friends. I thought it might interest others. First, note that it’s called “gomel“, from a key word in the text of the berakhah. But it’s the same /גמל/ as “gemillus chasadim“. It means to support over time, rather than a single moment of loving-kindness. (The same root yields “gamal“, “camel”.)...

2

Be a Jew Through and Through

Another guest entry. The following was originally submitted to (but not picked up by) Hamodia. Rav Hirsch’s quoted words are clearly the predecessor of R’ Breuer’s talk on “Glatt Yoshor“, which was also posted to this blog from an email by R’ Dr Levine. -micha Be A Jew Through and Through! Dr. Yitzchok Levine Department of Mathematical Sciences Stevens Institute...

2

Rebbe

Here is another guest post. This time, two biographies. Hopefully be”H work will slow down to the point where I can return to writing. Today is the 14th yahrzeit of Rav Dovid Lifshitz, a man who tried so hard to be my rebbe despite by inability to really listen to what he was telling me… (Some say he was niftar...

0

Dear Graduate

Reprinted from Am Echad Resources. -mi DEAR GRADUATES Rabbi Avi Shafran [I was recently privileged to address the commencement ceremony of Bais Yaakov of Baltimore, an Orthodox girls school founded in 1942. Below is an edited version of my remarks to the more than 100 high school graduates, their families and friends.] Back in the day — the day when...