by Joel Rich
Râ€™Reisman Special Edition â€“ Sefer Yehoshua (Hat Tip to Councilor K)
My latest Cross Currents rejection! Râ€™J Rosenblum posted a depressing piece (to me â€“ see here) in which he said: â€śThe new coalition agreement catapulted the chareidi community into an entirely new relationship with the broader Israeli society. In the past, chareidi political representatives were primarily engaged in political horse-trading. Their task was to safeguard the status quo on the draft deferment for those in full-time learning and to try to gain as much possible funding for communal educational institutions. Both tasks primarily depended on testing to what extent chareidi coalition support could be leveraged.
â€śThe arts of persuasion â€“ showing an understanding of the other sideâ€™s point of view, searching for win-win solutions â€“ had little to do with it. Primarily this was a matter of power politics. But chareidi MKs have now been stripped of their most powerful bargaining chip â€“ the threat of leaving the coalition.â€ť
To me this seems to be admitting that religious parties used brute force and only cared about their own agendas but now theyâ€™ll need to persuade others not to do so. Shortly thereafter he posted a piece (link) which tried to persuade others to give Chareidim a soft landing (also seemed to be anti daat Torah but thatâ€™s another story). I commented that the second piece seemed to me to be an opening salvo in the charm offensive called for in the first piece (I said it much nicer than that). My comment awaited moderation for less than an hour (I think) and then disappeared into cyberspace purgatory.
Two early disputants on the rules of the Hebrew language. Thrust was to emphasize the positive use of disputes for growth.
*Shlah understood that Hebrew was the â€śoriginalâ€ť language, all others are â€śoffshootsâ€ť (me â€“ or else how could we learn halacha from Totafot = tat catfei)
*we â€śtookâ€ť poetry forms from Arabic culture (me â€“ I thought they took everything from us?)
In war sometimes you canâ€™t always be merciful (story of the lamed hei (35) Israeli soldiers killed because they wouldnâ€™t kill â€ściviliansâ€ť but only tied them up). In certain situations the Torah requires what seems to be cruelty as an antidote to the natural Jewish mercy.
So too in war against evil inclination, we must take advantage of the major opportunities for change that war creates. Be sure to use lessons of war in this context.
Why does the Shulchan Aruch bring down brachot about Lotâ€™s wife and the place of crossing Yam Suf if we donâ€™t know where they are?
Why doesnâ€™t Mâ€ťB count asher yatzar when trying to reach 100 brachot on Shabbat?
Why donâ€™t people make a bracha on smelling tabak (some kind of snuff)?
Why does bracha contain language of â€śher fruitâ€ť if weâ€™re not supposed to plant fruit trees in Jerusalem?
In yehi ratzon before surgery why is the language that HKBâ€ťH is rofeh chinam (doctor who doesnâ€™t charge)? [me â€“ perhaps it means you heal the â€śundeservingâ€ť).
Bracha on earthquake?
Viennese table issues â€“ â€śsiluk shulchanâ€ť (removing table) issues for brachot (me â€“ didnâ€™t mention Roman triclinium which I was taught was source).
Business yehi ratzon â€“ isnâ€™t it forbidden praying for something thatâ€™s already occurred? [me â€“ Bava Metziah 42a â€“ samui min haayin?]
Is it better to do a mitzvah without a bracha than not to do a mitzvah at all?
A bit sad that the expectation was his audience would not know the history of the Rosetta Stone. Message of the stones/covenant of Joshua is that â€śthese circumstances are differentâ€ť is not an excuse (i.e. canâ€™t say â€śwhen I was back there in seminary schoolâ€ť (cue The Doors) mincha btzibbur was important, not how). For those interested Iâ€™d suggest Clayton Christensenâ€™s (a frum Mormon Harvard Business School Professor who like me doesnâ€™t believe a 3 credit course in ethics does much) â€śHow Do You Measure Your Lifeâ€ť which makes the same point with a personal story very similar to â€śChariots of Fireâ€ť (same reason why I didnâ€™t go to the NBA, in addition to lack of talent).
Râ€™Reismanâ€™s take on listening to ELAL staff on davening with minyan in the back of the plane was disappointing to me.
This would have been a great kick-off for a discussion of daat Torah, the role of the klal (community) in psak, HKBâ€ťHâ€™s psak through history and the efficacy of not participating with those you disagree (me â€“ e.g. UTJ and the Tal law committee).
Râ€™Reisman discusses the holiness of the Hebrew language and some ironies of modern Hebrew.
Râ€™Reisman discusses the philosophical Chareidi opposition (2 types) to Ben Yehudaâ€™s revival of the Hebrew language (1) impure source; 2) should not be a central value). He posits that â€śweâ€ť lost this battle as people â€śvoted with their mouthsâ€ť (me â€“ against daat Torah?) and the battlefront changed (then it was maskilim, now itâ€™s against general foolishness). HKBâ€ťH paskined through history so non-frum will know Hebrew and have a connection (me â€“ so the medinah has value?).
Interesting quote from Râ€™YCS that it may have been a mistake not to adopt Hebrew immediately so as to have an impact on development,
Interesting insight â€“ most of â€śour boysâ€ť now learn secular subjects (me â€“ why is this allowed?).
Most important insight: Donâ€™t keep fighting the last war!!!
Two approaches to areivim (joint responsibility) â€“ (i) connected to the individual mitzvah or (ii) connected to each individual. Some examples of differentiations.
Some important insights into why this concept is associated with Yehoshua and Klal Yisraelâ€™s entry into Israel and the â€śpartnershipâ€ť with the land of Israel. It also means sometimes giving up your own spiritual advancement to help others (Iâ€™d say that is actually spiritual advancement!).
Thereâ€™s a big difference between kavod chitzoni (formal outer trappings of respect) and kavod pnimi (inherent respect) â€“ [or as we say true respect is earned, not demanded].
We need to have more respect of the latter kind for gedolim so that they have an impact on us even when weâ€™re not in their presence (me â€“ parents too!).
Fascinating story of how even when the Chofeitz Chaim would come to town there would be big crowds but by the time he gave shiur most people disappeared.
Lessons of the piyut (poem) Shoshanas Yaakov â€“ Things can turn around very quickly and HKBâ€ťH is soveil (he will act for us with even a little effort on our part).
Lessons about what it takes to move to Israel and why throughout time we, as a people, havenâ€™t moved en masse!?! The Kuzariâ€™s â€śashamtiâ€ť (I have (am a) sinned(er)) in response to the kingâ€™s question as to why he isnâ€™t in Israel resonates deeply in my soul.
Râ€™Reismanâ€™s advice for going: 1) It must be for the right reasons, because all your calculations will meet a different reality; 2) you have to feel part of something (in America itâ€™s enough to be Orthodox but for immigrants to a different culture you need more) and realize the reality there is different; 3) make a fresh start and understand youâ€™ll need to change (less compromise there) [me â€“ IIUC the implication is that less compromise is better, Iâ€™d submit that compromise is important when mediating conflicting priorities â€“ e.g. is it bad â€ścompromiseâ€ť to go to the store for a spouse once in a while?]
Only excuse not to be there is if youâ€™re not ready for the challenges and your avodat hashem is better here (me â€“ just remember who the true judge of intention is!)
Relationship with HKBâ€ťH to every individual is an important lesson, seize the moment of inspiration and translate them into actions. The closer you are to HKBâ€ťH, the more natural mitzvot get for you
Various halachic issues that come up with regard to the actual physical act of circumcision.
Connection of the nature of the individualâ€™s neshama with the day of the brit (thatâ€™s why name given then).
How many days after the brit can you make a seudah if none was made on that day?
Unusual medrash as to why metal is used for brit and not stone (has to do with Goliathâ€™s helmet and Davidâ€™s rock).
All about Rashiâ€™s approach â€“ he generally uses old French translations generally to answer a question. Rashi is generally pshat (simple local understanding) vs. Tosfot being more sevara (logic). Beit Yosef says because of this Rashi is not counted as a poseik (unless he specifically states something as psak). Then some family history and comments on how gedolim are always renewing selves.
Geulah (redemption) really denotes closeness, for Pesach itâ€™s closeness to HKBâ€ťH but this extends to all our brothers and sisters (no matter which headcovering!). Separate responsibilities doesnâ€™t mean better or worse, it means weâ€™re all equal in the eyes of HKBâ€ťH but each has their own task (I may have projected a bit there).
8 examples, all of which basically donâ€™t apply today. Then mussar on putting aside personal satisfaction when mitzvah involves negatives â€“ an example is giving negative information concerning another person when necessary, e.g. matchmaking (me â€“ I would have gone with killing in war, but I can see why Râ€™Reisman wouldnâ€™t).
No excuses for not learning more; dream great dreams!