Dash – Sechita on Fruits, Vegetables

January 11, 2011

The second significant toldah of Dash is sechita.  Its application to fruits and vegetables occupies an extensive sugya in the beginning of the twenty second chapter, from 143b until the next mishna, 145b.  Here is the sugya itself (link).  Our first challenge was to distinguish grapes and olives from all other food products.  Rashi talks about the squeezing of all other fruits as simply not a normal process, while the Ran makes a formal distinction between the status of olive oil and grape juice from all other absorbed liquids.  This debate leads to a very important debate as to whether something can enter into the category of “grapes and olives” because it become normal to squeeze then or if the formal rules limit the category to “halakhik liquids.”   Here are the mekorot for this part of the shiur (link).  We also addressed the famous position of the Hazon Ish (O”H 33:5) regarding the beracha on fruit juices.

In addition, there is the important question of establishing minhagim based on the practice of your community.  This issues has been obliterated in our contemporary reality in which nearly every fuit is squeezed for its juice.  The advent of juicing bars makes shifts nearly every fruit into the category of something that is regularly squeezed.  Here are the mekorot (link).  The practice of Menashe ben Menachem was to squeeze pomegranates so that impacted all of Klal Yisrael.  There are several important pieces in the Tosafot regarding the establishment of communal minhagim.

I will add the audio shiurim tonight or tomorrow.



Hilkhot Shabbat – Eino Mitkaven Psik Reisha

November 16, 2010

The following shiurim represent the development of the ideas of eino mitkavei, psik reisha and lo nicha lei.  We began first outside of the area of Hilkhot Shabbat to show the force of intent (Nazir, Kilayim).  The fundamental conceptual question that we kept returning to was what is the nature of the ptur of eino mitkavein and how does psik reisha impact that process.  We based our discussion on the framework outline by Reb Elchanan Wasserman (see below for a brief summary).

I did not try to articulate a clear position of the Rambam.  While Reb Chaim (and the Brisker tradition) take it for granted that the Rambam held like the Aruch, the Hazon Ish was not convinced.  I am not sure that it is possible to ascertain exactly what the position of the Rambam was.  He seemed to pasken locally without ever articulating a principle regarding psik reisha d’lo nicha leih.

I am still not settled regarding the bottom line of how we pasken in a case that eino mitkaven psik reisha d’lo nicha on a drabanan. While the Rema, Magen Avraham, Rebbi Akiva Eiger, Gra and Shevitat haShabat all seem to be machmir, there are conflicting indication in the Mishna Berura, Shemirat Shabbat and Rav Ovadia.  In a terrific essay Rabbi Willig seems to be totally meikel in this case against the what appears to be the weight of Ashkenazi achronim.

I am putting six sets of mekorot as well as the five audio files of the shiurim that I gave on these topics.

  1. Sources for general introduction to Eino Mitkavein (link).
  2. Sources for general introduction to Psik Reisha (link).
  3. Sources for Psak of Tosafot and Aruch.  We worked off of the Tosafot in Shabbat 103 and not Yoma 34b/35a (link).
  4. A summary of Reb Elchanan’s Hakira regarding the heter of Psik Reisha (ki-mitkavein vs. tziruf maasim) (link).
  5. A chart that summarizes the psak of the Shulchan Aruch along with Magen Avraham and Taz, as well as Mishna Berura and Aruch ha-Shulchan in key cases (link).
  6. Though I did not  give shiur dealing directly with these mekorot, this is the material for Safek Psik Reisha (From Taz to Rav David Tzi Hoffman) (link).

Eino Mitkavein Psik Reisha – Conceptual Intro
Psik Reisha Psak – Aruch and Tosafot – #1
Psik Reisha Psak – Aruch and Tosafot – #2
Psik Reisha Lmaaseh – Shulchan Aruch
Psik Reisha Lmaaseh – Clarifying Lo Nicha Lei and Drabanan

Masechet Shabbat – Mehadrin – B”S vs. B”H

November 15, 2010

In this shiur we dealt with the famous debate of Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel regarding the nature of the appropriate hidur for the lighting of the candles.  We showed how the debate of Tosafot and Rambam can be read into the berayta itself.  We then noted the unique situation in which the Rema paskens like the Rambam and the Mechaber paskens like Tosafot (Taz there).

The comments of the Beit haLevi begin the process of moving away from the miracle of the oil as the central event of the Holiday.

Here are the mekorot that worked with in shiur (link).

Ner Ish u’Beito – Mehadrin

Masechet Shabbat – Source of #39

November 15, 2010

This is the final installation of the series on Avot and Toldot.  In this shiur we brought together the various sources that attempt to find a source for the number 39.  We note that clear that the content of the 39 is clearly based on a mesora of the Oral Law.  However, the number 39 itself may come from careful Rabbinic commentary.  This shiur also gave us the opportunity to again discuss the broader question of what the concept of Avot teaches us in terms of the nature of Shabbat.

Rav Yoel bin Nun has a very important article that appears on Reb Menachem Liebtag’s website trying to understand the depth of the derashot that find the #39 (link).

Here are the mekorot that we worked with (link).

And here is the audio:

Kulan Melacha Achat – Zoreh Borer Meraked – Source of #39 – Mann


Masechet Shabbat – Rav Gustman – Ikar hamelacha

November 15, 2010

In our continuing series on Masechet Shabbat we began to bring together some of the bigger issues as it relates to Av / Tolda / Mishkan.  Rav Gustman, in a brilliant essay on Bava Kama, summarizes beautifully the three approaches to Mishkan and Importance (chashivut).  He then presents us with a classic distinction between siman (sign) and sibah (reason) as it relates to the Avot of Shabbat.  What Rav Gustman offers us is the attractive idea that the Avot as a category are actually meant to be pointing us in the direction of what he calls, “ikar ha-melacha (the essence of labor).”  The concept made a link for me back to the notion of malacha as it appears in the beginning of the second chapter of Bereishit.  By describing the list of 39 in Shabbat 7:2 as simply a siman and not a sibah Rav Gustman forces us to think about what that list might be seeking to accomplish in the world.

Rav Gustman on Av and Mishkan – Ikar hamelacha – Mann

Alei Shur – Mussar Shiur #4 Kivnei Maron

September 28, 2010

This shiur functions as the background for the next Alei Shur shiur.  It also stands by itself as a foundational set of texts and ideas relating to Rosh ha-Shanna.  The gemara contains a basic contradiction regarding the nature of the judgment that takes place at this time of the year.  On the one hand we pass before hashem as sheep before the shepherd – one at a time.  On the other hand, God looks at all of us with a single gaze.  In certain respects we stand in judgment alone as individuals and in certain respects we stand with a community behind us.  This fundamental paradox describes, for me, some of the anxiety of these days.  To what extent do we feel like we can withstand such an intimate type of encounter with hashem?  Do we feel that our community will protect us along the way?

Another, deeper question is to what extent do we put ourselves out in front of the community in an attempt to lead people in a direction that we think they ought to take.  And, perhaps the hardest question – what is our community?  How broadly do we want to draw the boundaries around the people whom we think of as part of “our community?”  Do we mean only those who observe mitzvot like us?  What about those who daven in non-Orthodox shuls and are shomer shabbat?  What about the rest of world Jewry for whom the intricacies of Halakha are nothing more than foolish folk ways – are they part of my community?  What about non-Jews?

Here are the classic sources.

Here is the audio:

Alei Shur – Kivnei Maron – Individual & collective

The Mother of Sisera and the Shofar

September 3, 2010

In this shiur we analyzed the foundational Gemara that links the sounds of the Shofar to the crying of the mother of Sisera.  It is important to note that there are other ways to translate the phrase “vateyabev em sisera” and therefore Hazal were not forced to link the Targum of terua to her crying.

Rashi quotes three different explanations of the terms and Radak cites the Targum Yonatan as well which is a variation on Rashi.  The powerful image of a woman anxiously awaiting her son’s return from the army is very evocative. This passage has been interpreted in a number of different ways.  In the attached document you can click through to see an artist’s rendering (Albert Moore) as well as a poem by the Israeli poet Chaim Gouri (Many thanks to Dr. Carol Diament for sharing this poem with me).  Gouri’s language evokes several different Biblical narratives including: Moshe coming down the mountain, Sara’s midrashic response to the akeida among others.

Below is the audio:

The Mother of Sisera