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Thought for the Day: Ha'aros from CCK Yarchei Kallah 5771, Day One

While these notes have often been mussar related, a d'var torah is a d'var torah.  I always get a lot out of the Yarchei Kallah run every year by the Chicago Community Kollel and I thought it would be worth sharing some of the chidushim.  Note: I discuss and confirm these with R' Zucker, the Rosh Kollel and magid shiur.

First Day's Chidush
"p'sik reisha" -- literally "sever the head".  The expression comes from the (seemingly bizarre) custom they had to use a chicken head for a toy.  The gemara notes, "p'sik reisha lo yamus?!" -- if you sever the [chicken's] head, won't it die?  The term "p'sik reisha" is used in halacha regarding a malacha that was done as a side effect of another malacha.  The standard example is dragging a bench across hard ground on Shabbos.  If the bench is light, then the dragging may or may not cause a furrow, which would be the malacha of plowing if done with intention.  We pasken that since the furrow was an unintentional side effect of dragging the bench, dragging a light bench is permitted.  Why specifically a light bench?  If the bench is heavy, the dragging will certainly cause a furrow to be dug; ie, the furrow is said to be a "p'sik reisha".  In that case, since the malacha is an inevitable (albeit unintended) consequence of the action, then the action is forbidden.  There is one exception: the "famous" position of the Aruch, that even though an result is inevitable, if the result is undesirable ("lo nicha lei"), then the Auch holds that the primary action is still permitted.  That being the case, we can make an interesting distinction in our case of cutting off a chicken's head to make a toy.  If the chicken is a laying hen, then the death of the chicken is certainly undesirable.  If, on the other hand, the chicken is destined for a Friday night s'uda anyway, its death is a side benefit.  It would come out, according to the Aruch, that if the kid really needs a new toy on Shabbos and all you have available is two chickens, pick the laying hen.  While we don't really paken like the Aruch, we do use him as a "snif" -- an extra reason to permit something.  Good thing to know if the kid is really throwing a world class tantrum and your wife is away at a shiur.

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