loving torah and your fellow jew come together

29 08 2013

A thought for the Parsha.
‘Moshe’s final message-Loving Torah and your fellow Jew come together.’
On the last day of his life, Moshe leaves Am Yisrael with a message: The Torah is open to all, whether rich or poor, educated or ignorant and we all have a responsibility to teach and share our knowledge with others.

Rashi on pasuk 12, comments that Moshe’s intention in establishing this covenant at the beginning of this week’s Parsha, was because G-d and Am Yisrael are inextricably bound to one another, as G-d had sworn to the Avot. G-d wanted Am Yisrael to accept these oaths, and not ignore or disregard them.

Moshe gathers every member of Am Yisrael-from the leaders of the tribes, elders and officers to the hewers of wood and water drawers, and initiates them into the covenant of G-d. The Sforno states, that the reason pasuk 10 says ‘Tapchem’-your small children, is to indicate that the elders were responsible to assure the children would be raised as Jews.

On pasuk 9, on the phrase ‘ Atem Nitzavim’-you are standing, the Ramban comments, that the people were standing before G-d, because the purpose of the covenant was to bind them to G-d’s Torah or he meant to say that they were standing before the Ark of G-d.

Pasuk 14 even says this covenant is binding on unborn generations who were no yet alive to enter it. Rabbenu Bachaya says that all Jewish souls were present at this covenant, just as they were at Har Sinai, when the Torah was given. Only the bodies were not born yet.

According to the Gur Aryeh, future generations were bound because of the principle that an inferior court cannot overrule a court greater than itself. So, too, the court of Moshe and the nation entered into the covenant that no longer generations can annul.

What was new about this covenant?p>

The concept of ‘Areyvut’, responsibility.

Every Jew was now responsible to help others observe and learn the Torah and to restrain them from violating it. The Or HaChaim says this is why Moshe lists all the different groups of people in front of him. Everyone is responsible according to how many others he can influence. Leaders may be able to affect masses of people; women, their immediate families and neighbours; children, only a few friends and classmates; common labourers, hardly anyone, apart from common people on their level. G-d does not demand more than is possible, but G-d is not satisfied with less.

Despite the fact that we should be loyal to the Torah, we also need to care about our fellow Jew, whatever their background and religious level and level of observance. We are to accept people for who they are, not who we want them to be.

In Israel, it is tragic that these two values of loving Torah and loving your fellow Jew cannot be balanced more successfully. If only there would be more unity here and all the different sectors and communities of Jews here could get on and respect each other more, then we would be a much healthier and productive society.

Shabbat Shalom,

Benjy.

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teimah/ masiach lfi tumo

29 08 2013

I already covered this topic 2 days ago, in the ‘Kfeilah’ post, but I just wanted to clarify 2 things:

1) Teimah: A Jew tasting food you are unsure of.

It is not permitted for a Jew to taste food you are unsure of if it’s kosher. You need to rely on Bitul B’Shishim.

2) Masiach L’Fi Tumo: If a non-Jew dosen’t realize his words have Halachik significance.

Sometimes you can rely on someone who is usually unfit to give testimony, if he is unaware of the fact that his testimony matters and has halachik significance.

The Gemarah in Bava Kama says that Masiach L’Fi Tumo only works for Halachot that are D’Rabbanan.

The Shulchan Aruch in Yoreh Deah 98:1, rules that a non-Jew is relied upon to taste food to determine whether or not it contains non-kosher taste. This bothers many Poskim, as Kashrut is D’Oraita.





kfeilah-nonjewish chef

28 08 2013

Can you rely upon a non-Jew/ non-Jewish chef to sample food you are unsure about if it’s kosher or not?

Example:

If you ask a non-Jew/ non-Jewish chef to taste:

a) meat to see if the taste of milk has been absorbed in it making the meat assur to eat,

b) vegetables to see if the taste of neveilah has been absorbed in them making the vegetables treif,

or

c) vegetables to see if they have a meaty taste and therefore can’t be eaten with milk,
Can you rely on him?
The Rishonim:

1) Rashi and Rosh: The sampler must be a professional chef. He also cannot be aware that his testimony has any relevance with regard to the Halacha.

2) Ran : A non-Jewish amateur cannot be trusted to provide reliable information. A professional non-Jewish chef can be believed.

3) Rashba : A non-Jewish chef is trusted as long as he is unaware of the importance of his testimony.

4) Rambam : Any non-Jew can be trusted to sample the mixture or forbidden food.

The Halacha: We don’t rely upon a non-Jew /non-Jewish chef, and only on Bitul B’Shishim – the taste of treif food or meat in milk, needs to be have been absorbed in at least 60 times as much kosher, permitted food, to be kosher.

Hope that’s clear,

Benjy.

Tags: kfeilah, Today’s halacha





chatzi shiur

28 08 2013

Kazayit/Revi’it and Kdei Achilat Pras:

As I’ve discussed already, to be chayav from a halachik perspective you need to have consumed a certain amount -usually a kazayit (an olive size), within a specific time period – ‘kdei achilat pras’- 4 minutes.

Exceptions are on Yom Kippur. Check the previous posts on ‘Shiurim’ to learn about this topic in more detail.

Argument between R’Y and R’L:

There is a famous argument between R’Yochanan and Resh Lakish, in Masechet Yoma 74, whether ‘chatzi shiur’ is forbidden on a D’Oraita or D’Rabbanan level.

The Halacha:

The Halacha is that chatzi shiur (half the required amount) is assur on a D’Oraita level – ‘Chatzi Shiur Assur Min Ha’Torah’.

Punishment – Not Malkot:

So, even if you eat a minute amount of non-kosher food, you have transgressed an issur D’Oraita. You aren’t chayav malkot-lashes though. Also, if you don’t eat the forbidden food within ‘kdei achilat pras’, you have still violated an issur D’Oraita.

Nice short post today,

Benjy.





ellul-fear or joy

27 08 2013

Here is a summary in my words, of the shiur R’Alex Israel gave last night, as part of our 3 week Ellul Programme:

Ellul: Fear or Joy?

We often see the month of Ellul as a time of fear and trepidation.

We can see it another perspective though – as a time of joy and engagement.

In traditional Yeshivah circles, Ellul is seen as a time of ‘cheshbon hanefesh’, intensity and reflection, which isn’t surprising as Rosh Hashanah is a time of Din.

This first approach can be seen in the Tur, who quotes the Pirkei D’Rabbi Eliezer, who says that we blow the Shofar from Rosh Chodesh Ellul to warn and put fear into us, so we do Teshuva. A shofar was sounded in the camp on Rosh Chodesh Ellul, when Moshe was going up to get the 2nd Luchot, to warn them not to sin again- not to build another Egel.

The other way of looking at Ellul, is seeing it as a time of creativity, fusion, optimism and involvement. We see this second approach in the Tenach.

We know that Moshe went up to Har Sinai for 3 times of 40 days. Rashi in Shemot 33:11 breaks down the 3 blocks of time: From 7th Sivan until 17th Tamuz (when the Luchot were smashed after the Egel Hazahav), from 18th Tammz until 29th Av, and from 30th Av until 10th Tishrei.

The first and third periods of 40 days, are known as days of ‘Rachamim’ – mercy, and the middle 40 days were known as times of ‘Kaas’ – anger.

So we see in the Tenach, the month of Ellul is a time of ‘Rachamim’ – mercy, a time of forgiveness, dialogue and communication, not a time of fear and angst – which is in fact the middle 40 days.

Rav Shneur Zalman of Liadi, in Likkutei Torah, talks about how in the month of Ellul, the King is in the field, ready to meet and engage with us. He leaves the confines of his palace. He even takes the initiative and first steps and wants to meet us and talk. You don’t need a special appointment or be part of the elite to be able to meet with the King.

We see this piece of Likkutei Torah, is very much a reflection of how the Torah sees the month of Ellul – a time when G-d and Moshe prepared to greet Am Yisrael and give them another chance with the 2nd Luchot, which were given on Yom Kippur- which is why chassidut sees Yom Kippur as a day of chessed.

The Ha’Emek Davar, the Netziv, in Shemot 34:1 distinguishes between the 1st and 2nd Luchot. Unlike the 1st Luchot, which were dictated by G-d, the 2nd Luchot was a result of a joint project between G-d and Am Yisrael. Unlike the 1st Luchot which were entirely written by G-d, the 2nd Luchot allowed far more room for creativity and input from Am Yisrael. The 2nd Luchot were the product of a fruitful dialogue between G-d and Am Yisrael.

The 2nd Luchot were written in the month of Ellul, again showing us that Ellul is a time of chessed on G-d’s part.

So, Ellul as well as being a time of reflection and intensity-which is natural, as Rosh Hashanah is a day of ‘Din’, is also a time of joy and engagement, which is in fact a more accurate reflection of how the Tenach sees the time period- as a period of ‘Rachamim’, culminating in Yom Kippur- a day of ‘Chessed’, when the 2nd Luchot were given.

I guess the idea is to balance between the joy and fear.

Thanks R’Alex!

Benjy.





Kfeilah

27 08 2013

Can you rely upon a non-Jew/ non-Jewish chef to sample food you are unsure about if it’s kosher or not?

Example:

If you ask a non-Jew/ non-Jewish chef to taste:

a) meat to see if the taste of milk has been absorbed in it making the meat assur to eat,

b) vegetables to see if the taste of neveilah has been absorbed in them making the vegetables treif,

or

c) vegetables to see if they have a meaty taste and therefore can’t be eaten with milk,
Can you rely on him?
The Rishonim:

1) Rashi and Rosh: The sampler must be a professional chef. He also cannot be aware that his testimony has any relevance with regard to the Halacha.

2) Ran : A non-Jewish amateur cannot be trusted to provide reliable information. A professional non-Jewish chef can be believed.

3) Rashba : A non-Jewish chef is trusted as long as he is unaware of the importance of his testimony.

4) Rambam : Any non-Jew can be trusted to sample the mixture or forbidden food.

The Halacha: We don’t rely upon a non-Jew /non-Jewish chef, and only on Bitul B’Shishim – the taste of treif food or meat in milk, needs to be have been absorbed in at least 60 times as much kosher, permitted food, to be kosher.

Hope that’s clear,

Benjy.





kavush ke’mevushal

26 08 2013

Kavush Ke’Mevushal, literally means, ‘soaking is the equivalent of boiling’.

Any food that has been soaked in a liquid effects the same transfer of taste that occurs when the two are cooked together.

Thus, if a non-kosher food soaked in a kosher liquid or a kosher food soaked in a non-kosher liquid, the kosher liquid or food absorbs the non-kosher taste. A kosher food that soaked in a liquid in which a non-kosher food previously soaked or is presently soaking, is likewise affected by the non-kosher taste.

Similarly, if a non-kosher liquid is contained in a kosher kli for 12 or 24 hours (it’s an argument for how long), the kli absorbs the non-kosher taste.

Soaking must be continual:

The soaking of 24 hours effects the transfer of taste. The 24 hour soaking must be consecutive. If, the food is removed from the liquid, even momentarily, and then returned, no transfer of taste can occur, even if the total soaking time was 24 hours.

Practical examples:

1) Treif and kosher food: If you have kosher meat soaking in treif gravy, if it has been left in the gravy for a certain amount of time ( all night or 24 hours), then it is as though the kosher meat has been cooked in the treif gravy, and the meat is now assur to eat.

2) Basar B’Chalav: If you have a piece of meat in milk. If the meat has soaked in the milk for a certain amount of time (12 or 24 hours), it is as though the meat has been cooked in the milk and it’s assur.

Note – soaking creates a transfer of taste even if the meat is regular and not for example a davar charif.

Tommorow, I’ll carry on with this topic,