Hilkhot Shabbat – Daber Davar #1 – Yeshivat Maharat

August 31, 2010

This is the opening shiur of our year long study of Hilkhot Shabbat.  We addressed the specific question of daber davar – appropriate speech on Shabbat. This was an opening for a more general discussion of the concept of shevut and the way that plays out in Halakhik literature.  It will also open the door to the next sugya, amira l’nochri.

We discussed the exciting teshuva of the Terumat ha-deshen that addresses talking about politics in shul.  While he permits, the Rema and the Taz limit the scope in certain ways.  This lead to a fascinating discussion about what might be an appropriate sermon for Shabbat or Yontif (with apologies to Rabbi Weiss).

When dealing with the question of speech we are setting up a certain way of relating to the day of Shabbat.  We also had reference to a more ascetic type of approach that appears in the Yerushalmi, Vayikra Rabba and Zohar which attempts to limit speech in a more fundamental way.  This Zohar will come back in the Magen Avraham’s citation of the Sefer Chasidim.

You can see the mekorot for this shiur at this link.

There were some technical difficulties with the video conference which distract from the audio, but I am posting regardless so that you can review if needed.

Daber Davar (1)

Daber Davar (2)


Alei Shur – Mussar Shiur #2 – Yeshivat Maharat

August 31, 2010

Rav Wolbe moves us forward in the building of the theme is individuality.  He quotes the famous gemara where the term kivnei maron is defined.  (You can see the gemara with its attendant commentaries at this link.)  All three definitions describe a process of judgement whereby the human being passes before hashem by him or herself.  This can be a terrifying notion.  However, Rav Wolbe uses this sense of being alone as a model for finding our own path and simply being stam adam – any person.

You can listen to the audio below:

Alei Shur – v2 shaar 3 chapter 12 – hodesh harachamim (2)

Yoma 86a – Matya ben Charash – 4 Levels of Attonement

August 30, 2010

In this shiur we discussed the famous gemara that outlines the four levels of kapara.  We also looked at the various parallel sugyot:

  1. Avot d’Rebbi Natan (nusach a) chapter 29
  2. Tosefta, Yoma (Lieberman) chapter 4:6-8
  3. Mechilata d’Rebbi Yishmael, Yitro – Masechta d’Bachodesh – 7
  4. Yerushalmi, Yoma, Chapter 8:4, Page 45b

You can see all those texts at this link.

We discussed at length both the function of suffering as well as the significance of the location of this discussion.  Why would Rebbe Matya ben Charash go to Rome to learn about teshuva?  Why might the Yerushalmi have changed the location simply to “the yeshiva?”  Clearly the Yerushalmi was trying to communicate something significant about the location by making this shift.

We also began a discussion about the gemara’s definition of hillul hashem.  That text can be found at this link.

You can hear the audio at the link below:

Yoma 86a – Rav Matya ben Charash in Rome – the four division of repentance

Alei Shur – Mussar Shiur #1 – Yeshivat Mahrat

August 30, 2010

This is the first mussar schmooze of the year at Yeshivat Maharat.  This year we are learning the monumental work Alei Shur by Rav Shlomo Wolbe.  We will be focusing on the second volume in which Rav Wolbe does his serious personality development in the va’adim.

We started with a piece about the month of Elul (v.2 sha’ar 3, ch. 12 – hodesh harachamim).  Here Rav Wolbe talks about the opportunities of personal renewal that are given to us at this time of year, the time of the creation of the world.  Just as human beings are renewed, so is the kingdom of heaven renewed through that same process.  Rav Wolbe adds a third piece of the puzzle for this time of the year which is teshuva.

By referring to the liturgy of Rosh haShana as the day of the creation of the world, Rav Wolbe is reminding us of an important debate surrounding the question of the creation of mankind.  The beautiful midrash describing the first hours of the creation of the world is attached below (Pesikta dRavv Kehana and Vayikra Rabba).  In this midrash man sins within one hour of being created.  Just one hour later he is excused with a full pardon.  As the Ran explains, we daven on Rosh haShana to receive a similarly favorable judgement.

You can see the extra material that I gave out at this link.

In addition, you can hear the audio of the shiur at the link below:

Alei Shur – v2 shaar 3 chapter 12 – hodesh harachamim

Cute songs for Rosh ha-Shanna & Shabbat

August 26, 2010

These folks are having fun and teaching Torah – what could be better…

Shabbat’s Gonna be a good night:

A Rabbi, a Priest and and Imam…

August 25, 2010

…discuss the question of a Mosque / Community Center near Ground Zero.


It seems to me that building a Mosque / Community Center near Ground Zero is exactly the right response for New York.  By re-committing ourselves to pluralism we are saying that the radical moslems who flew those planes can not claim victory.

J. K. Rowling – Harvard Commencement – 2008

August 24, 2010

J.K. Rowling spoke at the Harvard commencement in 2008 about the benefits of failure and the importance of imagination.  At this time of year we all must take a look at our past failures and imagine a future that is different and better.  May you be blessed to be able to see the world with a vision for what might be.

Here is the video.

Here is the text.

Thank you to Rabbi Neil Zuckerman for teaching this text over the summer.