catch yourself

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  • in reply to: The Empty Wagon – great book, but berating specific frum Jews is assur #1900969
    catch yourself

    I haven’t read the book (nor do I intend to; I don’t really think Zionism is the issue for today).

    That said, some quick thoughts about your question:

    1. If the people to whom he refers had taken public stances on the issue, there doesn’t seem to be a problem of Lashon Hara unless his intent is specifically to publicize the fact that they had done something [he considers] wrong.

    2. The Chofetz Chaim specifically notes that it is permitted to say, “Don’t follow the example of Ploni, who talks in Shul. He is doing the wrong thing.” Again, this heter (IIRC) is predicated on the question of intent. If, in saying so, your purpose is to use the example of Ploni as an instructional tool for your audience, you may say this. If your objective is to call attention to Ploni’s wrongdoing, you may not.

    in reply to: Frum non profit organizations disclosing financials. #1879202
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    commonsaychel, it almost seems like you deliberately took my words out of context in order to post what seemed to you like a witty rejoinder.

    Of course, what I said was that the services [these organizations] provide – not the salaries their employees earn – are the pride of our generation, which was to the point of the discussion about CEOs leading their organizations to success.

    Coca Cola doesn’t market its product by advertising the CEO’s salary. One obvious reason for this is that, even if the CEO deserves his pay, that won’t motivate the consumer to choose their product over the competitor’s. They tell the consumer what he needs to hear: “Drinking Coke will make you appear to be the coolest person on the planet. You will always be ecstatic while drinking Coke. You will be surrounded by friends and celebrities, and you will drive the best cars. Also, Coke tastes really good!”

    Likewise, a Kiruv organization shouldn’t market its CEO’s salary, no matter how well deserved. This is not what will motivate their potential donors. The marketing should be about how well they fulfill their mission, or about how cool it is to ride your bicycle to the mountains, or how great it is to play hockey, or whatever will bring in the cash.

    I suspect you knew all of this.

    To be clear, of course I think it’s important that non-profits should be fiscally responsible. Corruption is reprehensible and should have no place anywhere in our society, certainly not in Tzedaka organizations. I have no problem with people who research the financial dealings of these organizations. I think “sunlight” is healthy, and transparency is good.

    All I was saying was that I agree with CTL that there is nothing inherently wrong with employees of non-profits earning generous salaries.

    in reply to: Frum non profit organizations disclosing financials. #1879112
    catch yourself

    I’m not sure I agree that Tzedaka organizations are analogous to publicly owned companies as opposed to privately owned corporations.

    Either way, the point is that if an executive excels at his job, he deserves an excellent compensation package (just as any employee does).

    If the CEO of a Tzedaka organization delivers outstanding performance for his organization, and, in order to retain his services, they choose to compensate him accordingly, I would be very happy for them all.

    We can debate the definition of “outstanding performance,” if you’d like. I just don’t think that the executive compensation package is a good barometer in and of itself. I think all the regular questions of finance and meeting goals, delivering goods and services, etc. that you would ask of any other company are just as valid for a non-profit.

    If, for example, a Kiruv organization is financially sound, provides a robust Kiruv program, and successfully brings Jews back on to the Derech HaTorah (whatever numbers you would consider success), wouldn’t the CEO of that organization deserve a large salary and good benefits (obviously, relative to the size of the program)?

    I’m not intimately familiar with the finances of the organizations you mentioned, but I do know that they (at least some of them) provide services that are the pride of our generation. They are tremendous operations with huge budgets. If the CEO deserves to keep his job, he probably also deserves a great compensation package.

    in reply to: Frum non profit organizations disclosing financials. #1878815
    catch yourself

    I don’t remember ever agreeing so wholeheartedly with CTLawyer, but he’s absolutely correct.

    If the CEO does a great job, he deserves a great salary. I don’t remember learning that human nature changes when you work for a good cause. Doctors are credited with humanitarian motivations in addition to their lucrative earnings, and there is no reason that people involved in non-profits shouldn’t enjoy the same benefit of the doubt.

    unommin, even Moshe Rabbeinu was careful to have as much “sunlight” as possible, according to the Medrash.

    in reply to: Chukas — Yisrael’s Potential #1878101
    catch yourself

    Chazal (perhaps even quoted by Rashi, though I don’tsay that HKBH had a taina on Yaakov Avinu for “grabbing the dog’s ear,” and inciting Eisav (“He was going on his way, and you send him all these gifts, and call yourself his servant?!”)
    IIRC, the Medrash makes clear that Klal Yisrael suffered the consequences of this misstep.

    in reply to: Yeshivish Clothing #1878096
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    In response to asimpleyid

    Some people never miss an opportunity to denigrate “Others”. They are best ignored, unless there is a danger that their poison will infect the innocent.

    in reply to: Invest in the Future of America? #1878105
    catch yourself

    Little Froggie +1
    Although, if you’re playing Bavli, the rules are different…

    in reply to: What Did I do?! #1877348
    catch yourself

    What has emerged from all of this is that there is only one isolated example of any sort of Halachic preference for certain people over others, and that this is exclusively in a situation where you are forced to choose between people.

    This is the key. If you are forced to choose, a hierarchy is required. The Titanic crew, as well, was expected to follow a specific hierarchy, albeit not the one provided in Horayos. They were supposed to rescue women first; does this prove that the British society of 1915 favored women? The millions of British women who could not vote until many years later would like a word…

    There is no debate about whether any person, from the Kohen Gadol to the Mamzer, would be treated equally if possible. This is true with regard to saving lives, as well as to all other areas of Halacha. If the Kohen Gadol and the Mamzer were opposing litigants in a Beis Din, neither of them would have any sort of preference in the way they were treated, or any sort of presumption of credibility.

    The Torah is absolutely egalitarian.

    in reply to: If you’re curious about the board game “Bavli,” here you go #1877339
    catch yourself

    I was curious about this game even though I never heard of it. Thanks!

    in reply to: What Did I do?! #1875666
    catch yourself

    commonsaychal, the Halachos you point to are evidence that the Torah is non-egalitarian only on the most superficial level. The key point here is (and this is where most of contemporary society, including Avi Weiss, gets it wrong) that “equality” of necessity does not mean “sameness”. This is not the venue for a comprehensive review of the subject, but here is a basic synopsis of the general idea advanced by the Meforshim, as I remember it:

    The Torah recognizes the different roles of men, women, Kohanim, Leviim, Yisraelim, etc., and, based on these roles, assigns each person different responsibilities. This explains witnesses and Avodas Beis HaMikdash.

    Resources are allocated by the Torah with respect to the roles and responsibilities of each person. Inheritance is much more than simply assuming the estate of the departed. Inheritance symbolizes the continuation of the personality of the departed, and the furtherance of his earthly mission. This, of course, necessitates that the closest living relative be the one to inherit. The role of the Woman in the Torah’s society is complementary to her that of her husband, and so a son is better able to continue the legacy of his father than would be a daughter.

    None of this reflects any sort of bigoted or biased attitude, and, in fact, the Torah repeats many times the idea of equality. תורה אחת ומשפט אחד is the standard by which we are to evaluate our system.
    לא תטה משפט, לא תשא פנים, לא תגורו מפני איש, the list goes on and on. There is no question that the Torah expects us to treat all people equally and fairly, regardless of who they are.

    in reply to: What Did I do?! #1875672
    catch yourself

    I’ve learned Parshas Noach with Rashi many times. Which Rashi specifically are you referring to?

    Here, again, are your definitions of egalitarianism, from Merriam-Webster:
    1: a belief in human equality especially with respect to social, political, and economic affairs
    2: a social philosophy advocating the removal of inequalities among people

    You say, “Both of them fail when you consider your own words in your previous comment regarding Halacha.”

    Only if you think “equality” means the same thing as “uniformity” could you make this mistake.

    in reply to: What Did I do?! #1875593
    catch yourself

    Yserbius123 – I don’t understand your post. To be clear, I think registration is a much bigger problem in the United States than many posters here realize it are willing to admit. This conversation was specifically about anti-black racism, but the same is true (to a lesser extent, I think) of antisemitism.

    Joseph – I already explained that this Halacha itself proves that all people enjoy equal rights, and only in extreme circumstances when we are only able to save one person is there a hierarchy. This hierarchy is NOT based on any inherent superiority of certain types of people, as evidenced by the rules of Mamzer Talmid Chacham. Priority is given in this case to the person whose position provides greatest opportunity for Avodas Hashem (men have more Mitzvos, etc.).

    In EVERY instance where the rights of two people are in conflict, NO preference is given on the basis of anything akin to race. The claim of a black Ger Tzedek is on equal standing to that of Moshe Rabbeinu himself.

    in reply to: A basic Torah Hashkafa unknown to some. #1875425
    catch yourself

    In Parshas Mishpatim (23:4), the Torah introduces the Mitzvah of Hashavas Aveida by characterizing the owner of the lost animal as “אויבך”, your enemy. Similarly, in the next Pasuk, the Mitzvah of P’rika (unloading), the owner is referred to as “שונאך”, someone you hate.

    The Gemara famously explains that the “hated / enemy” must be a sinner whom we are permitted to hate.

    It should be obvious that this must be a deliberate sinner, not a Tinok Shenishbah, or a Shogeg, or even a Chotei L’teiavon. We may only hate someone who is חוטא להכעיס. Nobody else can be described as משנאיך השם.

    In Parshas Ki Seitzei (22:1-4), in the repetition of these Mitzvos, the owners are both referred to as “אחיך”, your brother.

    The Meshech Chochma asks, how did my “hated / enemy” become my “brother”?

    He says that permission to hate others on account of their sins is granted only to someone whose own record is without blemish. Parshas Mishpatim addresses Klal Yisrael prior to the Chet HaEigel, and so refers to the “hated / enemy”. Parshas Ki Seitzei addresses us after the Chet HaEigel, and so we may recognize only our “brother”.

    So according to the Meshech Chochma, only an unblemished Tzadik may fulfill משנאיך השם אשנא. To the rest of us, ALL Jews are “brothers”.

    After all, by what right do I consider myself superior to him? Do I in fact know that my own failings are of any less gravity than his? I don’t know what he’s done, or what mitigating factors may be considered on his behalf. But I am familiar enough with my own record…

    in reply to: What Did I do?! #1875427
    catch yourself

    The Torah is absolutely egalitarian.

    Here is the definition of egalitarian from Oxford Dictionary:
    “Relating to or believing in the principle that all people are equal and deserve equal rights and opportunities.”

    The various stations of Kohen, Levi, Yisrael are not about “rights and opportunities.”

    Even the Halacha of Kedima mentioned by some refers not to the absolute question of rights, but to a specific situation in which one must choose – for utterly practical considerations – only one person whose rights to uphold. It is implicit in the ruling that “Talmid Chacham kodem L’am Ha’aretz” that both enjoy the same rights, but that if circumstances allow us to save only one of them, the Talmid Chacham has priority.

    The Torah reiterates numerous times that the Law is to be applied equally to all, regardless of any consideration whatsoever. There is to be absolutely no preference in Beis Din for the revered scholar, nor any empathy for the predicament of the indigent defendant.

    I submit to you that there exists no more egalitarian system of justice than that of our Torah.

    in reply to: Are Law abiding minorities affected by police racism? #1872384
    catch yourself

    Please, relax. CTL was responding to the insinuation that he didn’t respond because he had no response.

    I don’t know about CTL or anyone else, but I come here for a short of outlet, so it doesn’t matter what other work I do all day and for how much money; I get what I want from the CR.

    Let’s not make this a place of personal attacks and vitrio

    in reply to: Are Law abiding minorities affected by police racism? #1872207
    catch yourself

    som1 –

    “of course there is going to be a few racist cops, just like there are a small percentage of racist civilians.”

    Do you really think there is a “small percentage of racist civilians?”

    in reply to: Shimshon by: Torahvision #1870867
    catch yourself

    Try professortorah dot com

    in reply to: What is anti Semitism? Just imagine if… #1870455
    catch yourself

    Reb Eliezer – a small, but, I think, important adjustment:

    I don’t have the Klei Yakar with me at the moment, but if I remember correctly, his point was more about avoiding ostentatious displays of wealth than about the jealousy itself.

    For people who do not work on their character (which includes the vast majority of humanity), jealousy is a normal emotion, especially when other people flaunt their riches. We cannot control the natural tendencies of the masses.

    What we can control is our own behavior. The Klei Yakar interprets the Pasuk as advice for surviving Galus: Don’t incite the jealousy of the other nations.

    The Klei Yakar is not saying, “the other nations persecute us because they’re jealous.” This would be a statement of an irrevocable fate.

    He is giving us guidance for how to deal with exile: “If you don’t want the other nations to bother you, make sure not to poke them in the eye.”

    Now if only we would listen…

    in reply to: Census ( brings) magefa R’L and Bracha leaves #1869607
    catch yourself

    “As you haven’t responded… based upon the principle of Shtika K’hodaah…”

    Shtika in Beis Din is one thing. Shtika in the CR is something else. Often, one may choose not to reply because the salient points have already been made, and there is little value in spinning the wheels.

    in reply to: Census ( brings) magefa R’L and Bracha leaves #1868747
    catch yourself

    Old Crown Heights –
    I agree with your main points. I just think that the “highest magnitude” is excessive hyperbole, and Halachically incorrect. The Chillul Hashem would have to be of a higher magnitude when it involves deliberately violating a Mitzvah in public.

    It’s silly (at best) to impute our own logic to HKBH. One reason people might do so is to comfort themselves.

    Not participating in the census is, for some people, validation of what they were doing anyway.

    If the reason for our current suffering were something else, that might affect their lives dramatically. Imagine if, for example, they would have to start actually keeping Hilchos Lashon Hara. This would represent a huge change for many people, one which they may not feel ready to undertake.

    It’s easier if the problem is simple, like the census.

    It’s exactly the same thing as blaming people who aren’t Torah observant. If it’s their fault, I don’t have to do anything to fix it, I just have to make it clear how terrible they are.

    in reply to: No evidence it was racially motivated. #1867825
    catch yourself

    Health – Of course, not all the evidence is in yet, and there is presumption of innocence, but based on what appears to have happened as of right now, yes, he was murdered. I’m not getting into the specific legal terminology and distinctions between “murder” and “manslaughter”, I’m just using common parlance. It may not have been premeditated, but George Floyd was murdered.

    Someone in Monsey – I read Besalel’s first post in this topic several times. It seems to me to be perfectly coherent, spot-on, not radical in the least, and very much על פי תורה. It also appears to be apolitical. It actually compares rather favorably to your own posts. Can you point to the specific parts of it which you think are problematic?

    In any case, even supposing that he is precisely your opposite in terms of his political philosophy, you have no right to level personal attacks. You most certainly are wrong to claim that someone being on the wrong side of an issue process they aren’t really Jewish.

    in reply to: No evidence it was racially motivated. #1867631
    catch yourself

    Schnitzel Bigot –

    I agree (as I posted earlier) with your general point about the mistreatment of blacks by law enforcement in our society. I, too, have anecdotal evidence to support it. As you say, anyone who talks to some black people will hear that this problem is so ubiquitous that it is a fact of life for them, והמפורסם אינו צריך ראייה.

    Nevertheless, as I understand it, George Floyd was arrested for passing counterfeit money. This was not an unwarranted traffic stop gone awry. The police were called by the victims of the fraud, and they responded to the call. If it would have been a simple arrest, there would be no questions. I’m not blaming Floyd for what happened to him; I’m simply responding to your remarks about the facts of the case.

    in reply to: No evidence it was racially motivated. #1867567
    catch yourself

    TLIK – The “thugs” (to quote President GHWB) who are rioting deserve to prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Overwhelming force should be used to put a stop to the riots, looting, et al.

    This does not address the other egregious issue at hand, which is racism.

    We can and should deal with both of these problems at the same time.

    in reply to: No evidence it was racially motivated. #1867577
    catch yourself

    Someone in Monsey –

    What could justify questioning someone’s Jewish lineage? עיין רש”י על הפסוק אכן נודע הדבר

    Do you so strongly identify with your American political views that they define for you the meaning of Jewish identity? If so, you need to reexamine your life.

    in reply to: No evidence it was racially motivated. #1867503
    catch yourself

    Wow, so if we don’t like someone’s comment, we can question their lineage?
    Even the חפץ חיים only imagined people impugning others’ frumkeit. He didn’t anticipate us asserting about each other that we are literally not עמיתך.
    I can’t help but recall the Gemara, כל הפוסל וכו…
    Anyway, as if it were necessary, a brief perusal of some of Besalel’s past work pretty much proves he is Jewish.

    in reply to: No evidence it was racially motivated. #1867471
    catch yourself

    “Racially motiated?” Of course not! I don’t think anyone believes that the police officer thought to himself, “I’m gonna kill this <African American>!” as he put and held his knee on Floyd’s neck. Presumably, that officer had countless opportunities to kill people prior to this event.

    What happened to Floyd wasn’t racially motivated. It wasn’t a lynching. But it may well have been a result of racism. We probably will never know for sure whether this specific cop has racist attitudes, and whether he treated all citizens equally under the law. This is not the point.

    The point is that there is a racist attitude which permeates all interactions between police and black people. Horror stories such as Floyd are the most outrageous expressions of this attitude, but the protest is about every incident of anti-black conduct. It’s about the demeaning treatment they suffer at routine traffic stops. It’s about the presumption of fault against them at minor accidents. It’s about the way they are treated every day of their lives. Sure, it’s about the murder of George Floyd, but it’s also about the relentless abuse of huge numbers of people.

    Of course, there is no justification at all for the riots, violence, looting, etc that is currently going on. These people are criminals taking advantage of an opportunity. But this should not blind us to the truth of what happened.

    As Yidden, we should understand better than most people the suffering of African-Americans. After all, we’ve been there many times in our history. We should recognize that this is wrong, and we should say so. The Torah, long before the U.S. Constitution, taught us that “all men are created equal,” and enjoy rights “endowed by their Creator.” There is no place in Hashem’s creation for racism in any form.

    in reply to: Post Corona: The New Frum Community #1862826
    catch yourself

    Chaim Shulem –

    1) Of course, no system is perfect. Schools and educators are constantly evolving and working to make the educational experience best suited for every student. For some students, online education is truly the answer. In fact, one of my current students was barely passing until the lockdown, and has flourished in our distance learning. However, he is an exception. For the overwhelming majority, the opposite is the case. Online learning does not present them with the same education as learning in person.

    2) Without question, given significant investment and training, schools can create an online learning experience far superior to what we have scrambled together in this situation. Again, the difference between learning in person or online is qualitative, not quantitative. It is impossible to create the same relationship with Zoom that I can in person. Adult education such as your degree is irrelevant to this discussion, just as General Studies education is immaterial to Limudei Kodesh.

    3) In Torah Education, we invest much time, effort, and resources to ensure not just social interaction but healthy social interaction which is guided and inspired by Torah values. I am skeptical that this can be replaced in another setting.

    in reply to: Post Corona: The New Frum Community #1862689
    catch yourself

    As a Rebbe, I can tell you that, while distance learning has been better than nothing during this crisis, it has also proven that homeschooling can not replace the school experience.

    As many have noted, social interaction is a tremendous part of childhood and of education, and homeschooled children are deficient in this part of their growth. This is true even in the best circumstances, in a vibrant community and many neighbors, and with proactive parents who make it a priority to provide opportunities for social interaction for their children.

    Moreover, the real key to teaching Torah is the relationship a Rebbe builds with his Talmid, and this is exponentially more difficult to achieve through distance learning, if not impossible. If the Torah education of your children is one of your top priorities, I do not think you should even consider putting them in a position where they will not be in real contact with their Rebbeim and Moros.

    in reply to: Dr Vadimir “Zev” Zelenko being investigated #1856432
    catch yourself

    Charlie hall,

    I’m not a physician, and I know nothing about the physicians desk reference.
    I do know that when I was hospitalized with covid19, they treated me with hcq and azithromycin. This was in a very well respected hospital outside of the new York area.

    in reply to: A Possible Explanation #1854862
    catch yourself


    “Torah is studied” – for sure
    “The question is how do I approach what I do not understand” – I don’t think we disagree about this, either. If I understand correctly, we both agree that Divrei Chazal should be accorded the utmost respect, and when we don’t understand something, we recognize that it is our own shortcoming, not a flaw in Divrei Chazal, whose greatness is incomprehensible to us.

    “We seem to agree that we accept what is uncomfortable to us” – Insofar as the fact of the discomfort is not, in and of itself, a logical reason not to accept it.

    Our debate is about whether the Divrei Chazal in Midrashim (and perhaps Agadeta Gemaros) has the status of being part of the immutable Torah Shebaal Peh that Moshe Rabbeinu received at Har Sinai. According to those who hold the negative opinion, we are permitted to disbelieve these Divrei Chazal, though we do so at our own peril. (I personally think that any Ma’amar Chazal which seems incredible in the literal sense presumably was intended to teach a lesson, discernable though the lesson may be to me as yet).

    Did I get that right?

    in reply to: A Possible Explanation #1854700
    catch yourself

    As I said in my first post in this thread, I am not commenting on this particular Medrash, just on the general question of whether we are obliged to accept every Medrash as part of the Torah.
    According to the opinion of the Ramban et al, one doesn’t need specific permission for each statement of the Medrash. However, I agree that it feeling uncomfortable is not a logical reason not to accept it. This is especially true if, as I understand it, this Medrash is intended to teach a lesson rather than to be taken literally.

    in reply to: A Possible Explanation #1854561
    catch yourself

    Milhouse –
    Due to the constraints of time, shorthand responses point by point:

    1. I understand it may be surprising, even shocking. I was also startled when I first saw it. I know this is not what we learned in Yeshiva. Nevertheless, it is abundantly clear to the objective researcher that many Rishonim and Acharonim held this way. Are you labelling Rav Shamshon Rafael Hirsch an apikorus?

    2. The Rambam labels both of the first two groups fools, but does not label either one of them as heretics. He does label as heretics those who deny Torah Min Hashomayim, including both Oral and Written Torah, but seems to define Oral Torah as the “explanation of the Written Torah, such as how to [perform the Mitzvos],” which is precisely the definition given by the Ramban. I do not defend heretics. I am merely presenting the view (which is widely held among the greatest authorities) that Midrash (and, according to many, Agadeta) are not part of the Torah which was given to Moshe at Har Sinai.

    3. The passage in Sefer HaVikuach is quoted by some of the greatest Acharonim, including, for example, Chasam Sofer in Teshuvos, none of whom (to my knowledge) advanced your argument. It is true that, there are some recent Rabanim who take your approach and discount any points made in a Vikuach. To me, this is an outrage. Do you really mean to allege that the Ramban promulgated apikorsus in defense of our Torah?! (Quite aside from the fact that his opponent in that debate was an apostate Jew who was rather learned and would have been able to destroy that particular argument if it was not the real truth). This is very different from the Gemaros you reference, for obvious reasons.

    4. It’s rather clear that the Ibn Ezra, Ramban, Radak, and many others have no problem disputing the historical facts asserted in Midrashim. If you want to say, “Well, Vashti didn’t literally have a tail, but the Gemara is teaching us a lesson in Middos,” that’s absolutely fine. It is, to paraphrase the Ramban, just like when a Darshan embellishes a story in Chumash to teach a lesson. We are free to accept it or not to, each according to his understanding. Of course, this is not to say that the lesson is not valuable; just that the Derashos of Rav Tanchuma in his day were not (according to this opinion) any more Torah Min HaShomayim than those of Rav Shalom Schwadron in his day. I am not saying it isn’t true in the sense that it is instructive, or relevant in the sense that it addresses us, just that this opinion holds that it isn’t an “inherent part of the Torah.” I am not stupid enough to pretend for a moment that I approach the greatness of intellect of Chazal. Of course, when they speak, we should listen. It is the foolishness of the Rambam’s second group to think that we are on anything approaching equal footing with Chazal. That is not the question at hand. Our discussion is about whether Midrash is part and parcel of Torah Min HaShomayim, not whether we should learn the lessons it teaches.

    I notice that you did not address Rav Shmuel HaNagid or the RItva.

    For the record, if I recall correctly, the Chasam Sofer accepts the Ramban implicitly, and only enters into discussion about whether the Ramban meant to include Agadeta Gemaros with Midrashim, or if he held those were part of the Oral Torah.

    There are those who attempted to sweep the letter from Rav Hirsch under the rug by disputing its veracity, but they ultimately had to acknowledge that there is no question that the letter was accurate. When pressed about it, they reputedly responded, “Rav Hirsch iz nisht fuhn unzer Beis Medrash.” This to me is rather telling about their own intellectual dishonesty, but not at all about the actual discussion.

    in reply to: Coronavirus davening at home #1854114
    catch yourself

    I don’t know about the anecdote of Rav Moshe davening at home, but I do know that he was asked precisely the question whether it was permissible to daven at home with better concentration. His answer, printed in Igros Moshe, was an emphatic “no”; Tefila Btzibur is not negotiable.

    in reply to: A Possible Explanation #1854065
    catch yourself

    Well, to start, the Ramban says so explicitly in Seder HaVikuach, and so does Rav Shmuel HaNagid in Mevo HaTalmud. (It’s worth noting that, although not a Rishon, Rav Hirsch followed this view as well, as he writes in Collected Writings)
    The Ibn Ezra disagrees with Midrashim countless times in his Peirush on Chumash, as does the Ramban, as well as the Radak in his Peirush on Nach.

    The Ritva says that the whole story of what happened during the debate about Tanur Shel Achnai didn’t really happen.

    The Rambam in his commentary to Mishnayos writes that whoever thinks that everything Chazal say must be taken literally is a fool who makes the Chachamim seen like fools.

    The list goes on.

    I know there are those who argue, and that’s fine. Just don’t pretend this isn’t a mainstream opinion.

    in reply to: A Possible Explanation #1854008
    catch yourself

    To be sure, many (perhaps most) Rishonim say that we are not required what is stated in the Midrash.
    I am not commenting on this or any other Ma’amar Chazal in particular, just on the general question of whether we are beholden to believe everything that is written in Midrashim (or, for that matter, according to many, in Aggadeta Gemaros).

    in reply to: Things we managed to live without #1852945
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    Your vitriol deserves no response.

    I will say only that suffering through a very difficult situation (which we all are, although it is certainly possible that you are more severely affected than most) understandably can make a person upset and even bitter. It does not excuse many of the things you have said.

    I think you would benefit from some counseling. Many communities have organizations which can arrange for this, free of charge.

    in reply to: Things we managed to live without #1852487
    catch yourself

    unommin –

    The OP did not assert that the current crises happened “to teach us this lesson,” or in any way arrogate to himself (herself?) the ability to discern Hashem’s reason for it. All it said was that there is a particular lesson which we, through hard experience (which the OP specifically acknowledged and did not minimize), have learned. Your bitterness is certainly understandable, but there is no reason to lash out at commonsaychel (in my opinion). The OP did not claim that we are now “living in Gan Eden.” The point (I think) was only that a thinking person should utilize the opportunity for growth, and specified one particular facet of how this experience could engender that growth.

    I have seen some posts which carry the undertone that the current crisis would not be “worth it” if its objective was the lesson in the OP of this thread (Of course, nobody wrote that in so many words, but it’s there all the same, in between the lines). This idea, to my mind, is disturbing.

    Many Rabanim have expressed the opinion that the idea that we (as a society, and in the case of many, perhaps most, individuals) have become so entrenched in our materialistic lifestyles that we “cannot just behave like normal people, maintain lives of value, materialism in balance, spirituality appropriate,” represents a dereliction of our duty to live as Torah-Jews which recalls the behavior of the 80% who did not leave Mitzrayim. Suppose that this upheaval would serve to restore us to the proper relationship with Hashem and His Torah, preserving our chance at Geulah. Would it not then be worthwhile?

    in reply to: Things we managed to live without #1852425
    catch yourself

    I absolutely agree with the main point of the OP.

    But I think it’s necessary to point out that the fact that we are still alive without having done things quite the way we are accustomed to does not, by definition, mean that we “managed to live without.”

    The true meaning of your post is that we should learn from current experience to recalibrate our value system.

    For example, nobody who at least pretends to be an Orthodox Jew would add Tefila B’tzibur, Tefila B’veis Hakneses, Kerias HaTorah, Birkas Kohanim, or Tefilas Tal to this list. We all understand that there is a tremendous cost to the fact that we unfortunately find ourselves without these things.

    in reply to: Liability of persons who infect others with coronavirus #1848922
    catch yourself

    I don’t know for sure, but I imagine it would depend on whether he exercised due diligence as per the guidance of medical and Halachic authorities.

    in reply to: How Corona Taught Klal Yisroel to Make Small Simchas #1841474
    catch yourself

    Joseph +1

    I don’t know if this is the primary intended message (I hope it isn’t), but it certainly is one that we should learn.

    The median family income in the United States is just over $63,000 a year. Even if someone earns twice that, it is absurd to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a wedding (including all the ancillary expenses such as clothing, travel, etc.). We should take this opportunity to change the culture for weddings and other Simchos.

    in reply to: How Was Vashti Killed? #1838874
    catch yourself

    My comment on the related issue of the proper place of Agadeta was also posted earlier but is now missing.

    in reply to: Hashkafah on watching the Super Bowl #1837608
    catch yourself

    klugeryid –

    Without getting involved in the personal fight, I think there is an important point to be made.

    You said, “Did you read the piece I quoted from the Chafetz Chaim?
    If you substitute schmoozing between mincha and Mariv for watching the Superbowl it is indistinguishable from Josefs comment.”

    Here is the quote from the Chofetz Chaim:
    ח”ח פתיחה, עשין אות ו, בהגהה
    וכל שגן לפי מה שמצוי בעוונותינו הרבים בשבת קודש אחר סעודה שלישית, שיש כמה כיתות אנשים, הלומדי תורה מסתמא משיחין בדברי אלקים חיים –ושארי אנשים” מסתמא!!” משיחין בענין הבלי העולם. ובוודאי מתגנדר על לשונם דברי לשה”ר והוללות וליצנות. אם כן מי שפורש מהבעלי תורה והוללות ומטה אזנו לחברה הרעה הזאת כדי לשמור מהם סיפוריהם ההבלים עובר על מצוות עשה זו לבד מה שכובר על לא תהיה אחרי רבים לראות… ע”ש

    Joseph said, “People rationalize all sorts of aveiros; so expect a litany of excuses here why this aveira is okay and why this aveira (pritzus and whole list of worse things) “really” isn’t such an aveira. Or that one day a year is okay to take a break from not doing aveiros.”

    There is a world of difference between the two. The Chofetz Chaim was saying לתועלת that a person must be aware of what goes on in the various groups so that he will know how important it is to steer clear of the wrong crowd.

    Joseph’s comment appears to be a cynical indictment of any number of people with no apparent תועלת.

    in reply to: Hashkafah on watching the Super Bowl #1837588
    catch yourself

    @coffee addict
    “There’s a family I know that their son liked watching soccer so when I asked the father why he lets him the father replied “you got to pick your battles”

    The kid isn’t Frum now”

    It is absolutely impossible to draw conclusions from this type of anecdotal evidence. For every such story, there is at least one where the parents did not allow the children to watch or follow sports, apparently (eventually) driving their children OTD, and another story where allowing the children to watch/follow sports apparently kept them Frum.

    Here is an observation I have had about some families where the parents use the rationalization of “you got to pick your battles.” This is a pattern of behavior I (as a Rebbe) have seen for years, sometimes throughout the whole family, sometimes in reference to only some of the children.

    Parents use this mantra to excuse themselves from the hard work of parenting. In each particular case, when asked, they take the high road of “picking battles”, but in reality, they just don’t want to have to discipline their children. The message these children get is that their parents don’t really stand for anything, that they have no principles other than personal convenience. If this is the case, it certainly understandable that the children may end up OTD.

    in reply to: New York: Time to Say Goodbye #1837242
    catch yourself

    @ Pro Schnapps
    “Also today they are coming after out bags tomorrow chas vshalom they will come after worse things. U think it ends with this??? No. Ymach shimom.”

    I totally agree. It’s a very slippery slope from plastic bags to Milah, Torah, Shabbos, and Rosh Chodesh. This is clearly a Hellenistic decree designed to force us into total assimilation, and we should risk our lives to battle against it. Let’s go to war against the NYS National Guard over the Kedushas Minhag Plastic Bags!

    in reply to: Keeping up with the Jonessess #1836241
    catch yourself

    I find it hard to believe this story.
    My son in Seventh Grade in an out of town school has a good number of classmates who do not have a phone/iPod/iPad/etc.

    in reply to: Trump morality #1834917
    catch yourself

    This is not a comment on you personally. I do not mean to impugn your integrity. This is merely an observation of the behavior of our political leadership and media talking heads, which is mimicked by many people.

    In general there is absolute transparency when it comes to this discussion. Historically, it has always been this way. Members of the President’s party say, “As long as <my guy> is doing a good job as President, who cares about his character/morality?” At the same time, members of the opposing party decry the damage <this lowlife> is doing to the Presidency, and, by extension, to Western Democracy itself.

    We need only to remember the late 1990’s to see everyone wearing their shoes on the other feet, as was in fact documented on the record during the Trump impeachment trial.

    So forgive me for yawning at this as politics as usual.

    in reply to: Why doesn’t coffee have it’s own ברכה? #1834801
    catch yourself

    “IIRC, according to some ראשונים (specifically, I think, the רמב”ם), all fruit juices are מכשיר לקבל טומאה, but only שבעת מיני משקים can themselves become טמא (although I might have this distinction exactly backwards).”

    Turns out I had it backwards and inside out. Everyone agrees that only שבעת מיני משקין are מכשיר לקבל טומאה (which is a משנה מפורשת). The רמב”ם holds that they are also the only ones which can themselves become טמא, and the ראב”ד disagrees and holds that מי פירות הנסחטים הם עיקר הפרי ומקבלין טומאה (but מי פירות היוצאים מעצמן are זיעה בעלמא ואינם מקבלים טומאה).

    I guess that Rav says מודה אני by heart.

    in reply to: Why doesn’t coffee have it’s own ברכה? #1834726
    catch yourself

    A very choshuve Rav in New York told me once, before Shacharis, with his coffee in his hand, “It’s the first thing in the Siddur.”

    in reply to: Why doesn’t coffee have it’s own ברכה? #1834563
    catch yourself

    Rav Shlomo Zalman ZT”L leaves as צ”ע the question of why nowadays we do not say בורא פרי העץ on orange juice. I have seen some Poskim extend this question to coffee. Nevertheless, of course, the accepted פסק is to say שהכל.
    IIRC, according to some ראשונים (specifically, I think, the רמב”ם), all fruit juices are מכשיר לקבל טומאה, but only שבעת מיני משקים can themselves become טמא (although I might have this distinction exactly backwards).
    Without question, Reb Eliezer is right that we should have coffee in mind while saying המעביר שינה, since this is one of the ways of “removing sleep from our eyes” which הקב”ה ברוב חסדו implanted in the בריאה.

    in reply to: Why was trump impeached??? #1831674
    catch yourself

    @klugeryid thinks I supported the impeachment…I did not

    @ jackk thinks I am a Trump supporter…I am not, and never have been

    @chash understood that I meant merely to point out the true underlying reason for the impeachment, which @MDG puts so succinctly as, “hatred”.

    I think Senator Murkowski was correct in saying that as an institution, Congress had failed because the pure partisan nature of the Representatives and Senators on both sides precluded any possibility for a fair and honest trial.

    I also think that Senator Alexander was correct in saying that, even conceding that the President did what the Democrats alleged, his conduct, though wrong, did not warrant removal from office.

    I would take it the step further that the entire impeachment was unwarranted, repulsive though one may find Mr. Trump’s character to be.

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