Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happenings at the Yeshiva

In the Yeshiva this week, the Yoreh Deah students wrapped up siman 92, which lays out the fundamental principles of chatikha na'aseit neveila, of when permissible food which absorbed forbidden food is considered to have transformed into forbidden food itself.  Years 1 and 2, who are learning Shabbat, are moving from the d'orraitas of cooking to the rabbinic prohibitions, including the major issue of leaving food on the fire before Shabbat and returning for to the fire on Shabbat.

This last Monday night we had a special night seder at the Yeshiva.   Rabbi Dr. Maoz Kahana, a Tikvah Scholar with expertise in the Achronim and the Noda BiYehudah, joined us for our night seder, and gave a chaburah on the topic of Purim in the world of psak.   It was a wonderful shiur, intertwining both classic halakhic sources and an aggadic/chasidic approach.  We hope to see more of Rabbi Dr. Kahana in our beit midrash on an ongoing basis!

Night seder ended with a very moving chevre event arranged by Avram Mlotek.  Avram, who has a very strong background in Yiddish and Yiddish culture, taught the students some Yiddish niggunim, and we spent some precious minutes together eating herring and singing Yiddish folk songs.  It was a true high and a beautiful way to end the evening.

We were fortunate to have a number of additional guest speakers this week.  Rabbi Chanokh Waxman, from Yeshivat HaMivtar visited us on Wednesday, and gave a shiur over lunch on the topic of "Make Your Ears Like a Funnel: Conflict, Truth and the Forty Nine Faces of the Torah."  And then, on Thursday, Rabbi Yitzi Blau, the Rosh Kollel of Yeshivat Shvilei HaTorah in Israel, gave a chaburah on the Aggadatas regarding Wicked People in Tanakh.    We were thrilled to have these visiting rabbis from Israel, to hear their Torah, and to strengthen our connection with them and with their respective yeshivot.

On Thursday, our Visiting Scholars program continued, and Dr. Effie Shoham, Tikvah Fellow and Professor of Jewish History at Ben Gurion University, spoke on the topic of his first book - Physical Disability and Acute Illness: A View from Medieval Sources.  Dr. Shoham gave a fascinating lecture on how the Rishonim made a point of protecting disable people, and in particular lepers, from legal and societal marginalization.   He also showed the hidden Christian polemics in some of the sources, contrasting how the Jewish society deal with such people to how they were dealt with by their neighbors.   Dr. Shoham mentioned how meaningful it was for him to be giving this lecture to the yeshiva, as this was the first time in his career that he had been invited inside the beit midrash of a yeshiva to give a lecture on his work.  We were truly the beneficiaries, and we look forward to welcoming Dr. Shoham again next week when he will continue to explore with us this important topic.

We were thrilled this week to welcome back to our regular staff Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Milgram.  Rabbi Milgram will be function as a shoel u'maishiv in the Beit Midrash on Thursdays, for general questions and in particular to answer questions related to academic Talmud or academic Judaic studies.  He will also be giving a chaburah to students on the topic of his upcoming book - Laws of Inheritance in Halakha, with a particular focus on the tannaitic material and comparison to other contemporary legal systems.  It is so wonderful to have Rabbi Milgram back on our staff, connecting with the guys, and sharing his wisdom and expertise with all of us.

In the world of the daf yomi we are  nearing the end of Zevachim.  We will be finishing on March  10th, and starting Menachot a week from today, on Friday March 11.  For those of you who have considered doing the daf yomi, why not start now with Menachot?  You can participate live or listen to the recorded shiur, on video or audio.  Visit the Daily Daf or the Daf page on the Yeshiva's website for information on how to participate in the daf!
Finally, I would like to express hakarot hatov to the YCT students for buying the faculty and staff lunch yesterday. We were touched by this thoughtful gesture!

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