From a recent Cross-Currents on child raising link:
“FINALLY, WE NEED NOT FEAR that by turning a blind eye to our children’s failures that we are betraying Hashem, or that our children will understand us as condoning their behavior. We are doing nothing less that Moshe Rabbeinu did when he broke the first luchos, and thereby chose to relate to Klal Yisrael at a level of kedushah they were capable of absorbing.” Me- in my humble opinion, child raising, like most things in life, is not one size fits all and that each family must take into account the child and the rest of the family and try to figure out what’s best for all? (So too when you’re an educator imho)
More detail on authority with specific focus on charismatic authority. Charismatic authority can be difficult to transfer and can also be lost (me – would be interesting to study Chassidic dynasties). I was struck by Prof’s description of the Neviim as the original charismatic authorities but even more so by how much such authority is dependent on the needs of the followers. Real implications within the Orthodox world IMHO (e.g. reports of Gedolim who won’t speak out because if they do, they won’t be considered Gedolim by their followers).
Detailed discussion of Weber’s theory that in the area of legal/rational authority, bureaucracy is the most efficient administration (at least theoretically). Mostly it’s due to predictability! Interesting comment to R’YBS fans – Weber always dealt in ideal types (me – Halachic Man, Adam 1…….)!
Weber concludes that the true determinant of your life’s chances (in a legal-rational authority) is class, not status (vs. Marx). However, status can still play a role even within a class.
OTD (off the “derech”) son of a town Rabbi and the first real data driven sociologist. He looked at what evolved to hold society together throughout history – mechanical (historical) & organic (legal rational authority) solidarity.
How has the collective consciousness changed over time? The best way to measure collective consciousness is to look at legal systems which express that consciousness (me – like R’YBS deducing hashkafa from halacha?). If we look at legal systems, we find pre-modern were focused on punitive measures, whereas modern were focused on contract (making the aggrieved party whole). In the modern period there’s a higher division of labor which require a more organic model for society (each organ has a specialized function).
This transition to modernity can result in loneliness (me – as in man of faith?) and social pathologies (he took a lot of flak for calling this a pathology since pathology assumes a judgmental attitude [me – had he called it delta from societal norm would the rose smell less sweet?]). Both Anomie = absence of rules (me – or clear cultural norms) and too many rules can cause pathologies. When higher order divisions of labor occur, class conflict can become more frequent and result in a lack of clarity of roles for the individual and alienation in a new society.
A must listen! Durkheim as the first analytic data driven social scientist. Suicide rates reflect social conditions, he posits it as a multivariate function based on cultural and historical factors. The variables are religion, family and society – the more integrated you are (solidarity) the less likely to commit suicide. The other factor is the degree of regulation by your society.
In general, suicide rates are directly correlated with education and inversely with religion! Why? He posits education encourages critical thinking which questions everything and makes you less integrated with family, religion and community and thus more susceptible to egotism (so kill yourself since you don’t care about the impact of your actions on others). Jewish Puzzle – why didn’t highly educated Jews have same high suicide rate as those educated around them. Durkheim posits they were educated to reinforce the collective consciousness (i.e. Torah!).
[Me – An ah ha moment – This is what I’ve been trying to say for a while with the whole R’Farber thing – if you view the entire world based on the axioms of Torah, then the “critical” thinking only serves to reinforce the axioms and our collective consciousness]
Bottom line – The middle road is the best (me – Rambam/Shvil Hazahav sound familiar?) Then on to altruistic, fatalistic and anomie suicides.
Closing out a most enlightening course, Prof. S. moves on to (BTW – he’s now at NYU – Abu Dhabi – follow the money?) Durkheim’s foundational work in sociology. He defines social facts as those things we do as a duty/obligation to the collective consciousness (BTW, it occurs to me an interesting study would be the impact of Durkheim’s early Orthodox upbringing on his later theories and work).
He concludes that education is to teach “habits” which are really societal noms. He was also an inductionist (actuary?) who believed in the scientific method of starting with measurable facts [with no preconditions/dogma] and deduce theory from data noting that each society will have differences.
Since you can’t use the true scientific method (me – e.g. double blind studies) on real life (e.g. you can’t randomly assign people to be married or not), the best you can do is compare cultural results or use correlation of variables understanding that correlation does prove causation. Thus you need to try and find (me – really define since IMHO, it is next to impossible to prove it) a causal mechanism.
What can you read on Shabbat? Weekdays? “Parve” story reading is a subject of debate. Secular studies apparently are permitted on weekdays!
More on what you may ask or hint a non-ben brit to do on Shabbat. Also discusses some restrictions if the work is done by the non-ben brit after an inappropriate request from a ben brit.
Analysis of the implications of the halachic nature of eidim zomemim – is it a chiddush (outlier data point not to be taken into account for determining probability distribution function)? How does it compare to “normal” witness defects? Pretty detailed.
Discussion of mitzvah of writing a sefer Torah. The essence is learning Torah (me – kdarko bakodesh everything leads back to this). Contemporary applications discussed.
Continued analysis of Ritva’s question on tziruf (joining together of [2 pairs of] witnesses). In our Shabbat study group, we concluded the act of testifying to tziruf is not an act of Testimony (as defined in halacha).
Starts with power and responsibility of the King to maintain a dynamic society vs. the responsibility of Sanhedrin to enforce technical halacha and how this power of the King may default to the court when there is no king. Then on to R’YBS on the two roles of Sanhedrin (pure judicial determinations and acting as the representative of Jewish people).
An introductory class in chakiras (investigatory hypothesis?) and nafka minas (differential results). Reviews a number of examples including the classic covering of the challah on the Shabbat table – is it covered because of a precedence of brachot rules conflict with practice(we take challah before wine) or as a remembrance of the manna? Doesn’t address my usual questions – why are we sure that there can’t be elements of both reasons and how do you know if a reason is descriptive or prescriptive(i.e. a nice story vs. an actionable trigger)?
Kiruv lecture. Spirituality is being aware of one’s soul/higher purpose. One needs to develop a spiritual awareness and connect to HKB”H.
Interesting insight from the Maharam M’Rutenberg – the determination of when testimony of seeing the detail of an act is required for acceptable halacha. Testimony (e.g. murder) vs. when seeing a more generic circumstance leading you to believe an act took place (e.g. Kidushei Biah), was given over to the Chachamim. I’d be interested to know if they were given any parameters.
Understanding the scope of Lo Tasur (don’t deviate, but from what?) according to the Rambam and Ramban. Interesting distinction – when you follow your Rabbi’s directive, is that specific act the will of HKB”H or not?
Chazal saw messages of:
*desire for an intellectual and emotional relationship with HKB”H
*allowance for us to reorient ourselves to our true will and potential
Muktzeh due to chisaron kis (too valuable to let anyone use). Note that this status [MCK] determination is subjective based on the individual’s perception (me – what if joint ownership – is it a quantum state?).
General reasons for muktzeh prohibitions and standard categories with some examples/issues.
MCK includes merchandize you intend to sell. Discussion of some other debatable examples as well as what you can/must do with muktzeh items you are in contact with on Shabbat.
Even “permitted” (i.e. not muktzeh) items are forbidden if there’s no purpose in you holding them – review of specific examples.
Follow up on Lo Tasur (don’t deviate) debate (Rambam/Ramban). Major focus on the concept of “Ruach Hatorah” (spirit of the Torah – familiar to R’Asher Weiss fans) as “inherent” in certain verses which is higher level than pure Drabbanan (Rabbinic ordinance). Sometimes pure logic is at the level of a Torah ordinance.
Be forgiving – just like HKB”H.
More on the muktzeh status on various broken items – the status is a function of when it’s broken, it’s possible post-break uses and the subjective perception of its use.
In evaluating proper response to “improper” desires, take into account the impact on others if you carry them out and understand at its root whether it is/can be spiritual or crass. You will then know if it can be properly redirected or you need to sublimate/control the desire.
Employer/employee termination issues. Key issues include employee or contractor status and whether any loss or reduced profit occurred. Major focus on meaning of “Tarumot” (complaints?) which are sometimes allowed in a termination case even though monetary compensation is not payable.
History helps you understand Talmud in many ways (me – but of course no impact on psak). Examples include:
*change in Babylonian dynasties (some more or less intrusive in internal Jewish affairs/practices)
*Realia (e.g. how things actually were actually made) informs on what halacha (and everyone else) knew [e.g. doors constructed with reach throughs]
*attitudes between Babylonian and Palestinian Jews
Kedusha (holiness) is bridging/infusing/elevating the physical to the divine.
Introductory lecture – our minds integrate information about the outside world based on our individual perspective, context and expectations. We have limited memories and use a lot of heuristics (shortcuts).
Defining chalos (the change in status caused by an act) and bar data (one who is capable of intent?). Then on to the status of a cherish (deaf mute) today vs. in time of Chazal and the possible impact of that status on the brachot under the chuppah (whose brachot are those anyway?)
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