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Thought for the Day: The Avos Kept the Entire Torah

There is a joke for parsha Chayei Sara: Rivka says to her parents, "I want to go with that man to marry Avraham's son."  "Rivky, sweety; you are only three years old!", said her aghast parents.  "I know," said Rivka, "but I am in the parsha." ba-dump-bump

The Maharal has explained how and why Shimon married Dina, while at the same time maintaining that the Avos kept the entire Torah.  That is, this is not a case of special circumstances requiring violation of the Torah.  Moreover, the Maharal absolutely rejects the Ramban's explanation that the Avos kept the Torah only in Eretz Yisrael.  (The Maharal is quite passionate about this point.)

The Maharal's point of view is as follows: How did Yaakov know that it is forbidden to marry two sisters?  He knew through ruach hakodesh.  How did Yaakov know he was supposed to marry Leah and Rochel?  He knew through ruach hakodesh.  This is absolutely not a  matter of Yaakov did whatever he wanted, chas v'shalom.  Rather, explains the Maharal (beautifully, in my humble opinion), "הפה שאסר, הוא הפה שהתיר" (K'subos 22a) -- the same source that said it was forbidden to marry two sisters also said it was permitted for him to marry Leah and Rochel.  In fact, it was still forbidden for Yaakov to marry to other sisters; he he was permitted to marry Leah and Rochel.  More broadly: Yehuda would not have performed yibum with another daughter-in-law; he performed yibum in the case that necessitated it.  Amram would not have married another aunt; he married the only aunt he was supposed to marry.

This shouldn't be too shocking, we have many examples.  The Torah says it is forbidden to do malacha on Shabbos.  The same Torah says that you are permittted to cook on Shabbos for a Jew who is deathly ill and needs that particular cooked food.  The Torah says to blow shofar on Rosh HaShana.  The same Torah tells us to listen to Chazal and not blow shofar on a Rosh HaShana that falls on Shabbos (even though no malacha would be performed).  I am sure you can think of many more examples.  These are not "exceptions"; they just mean that the simple rules (such as no cooking on Shabbos) are over generalizations.  The truth is that some cooking is permitted on Shabbos and some is not.  Cooking for an ill Jew on Shabbos is not an exception, it is simply a detail.  In fact, cooking something for that same Jew that he doesn't need, or even cooking more than he needs, is also forbidden.

The bottom line, then, is that the rules of determining what is permitted and what is forbidden depends on the epoch.  Before Matan Torah is one epoch.  From Matan Torah till the close of the gemara and end of s'micha is another epoch.  From then till now, a third.  The rules are suited to the needs of each epoch, while the Torah remains immutable.


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