Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: More on Offering Food to Non-Frum Jews

I was learning with one of my favorite chavrusos last night (ok... all my chavrusos are my favorite, each in his own way), and he related an interesting event that gave me some insight about why we are so quick to offer food to Jews who don't make brachos.

He is a ba'al tshuva and one of his first interactions with Orthodox Jews was to have a whiskey taken out of his hand and poured down the sink.  What happened?  He was becoming more involved with an Orthodox girl (whom he later married) and went to meet her family.  They offered him a l'chaim, to which he readily agreed.  (Besides being enough of a whiskey fan to have gone on a tour or bourbon distilleries, meeting the girl's family is always a good time for a drink!)   He had the shot poured and sitting in front of him.  Suddenly, someone exclaimed, "Wait!  That's the bottle from Aunt SuzyQ and she didn't sell it before pesach!"  The glass was snatched away and he looked on (more than a little nonplussed)  as that and the rest of the bottle was poured down the sink.

I think we all would have done the same thing.  Chameitz sh'avar alav pesach is a serious issur and we all recognize that.  So... lets think about all those excuses we use to permit ourselves offering food to a Jew who doesn't make brachos:
  • What will he think of Orthodox Jews if I don't offer something to eat or drink?
  • It's only rabbinic.
  • He doesn't know about brachos and/or doesn't believe in them.
  • At least he's eating kosher food.
  • and so on...
All those excuses apply equally well to my friend's situation.  Yet, we all agree that you can't offer a non-frum Jew chameitz sh'avar alav pesach.  It seems to me the issue is not with our non-frum guests.  It is with us.  We don't appreciate how important brachos are and how really bad it is not to make them.  By the way, the Avudraham says that since the Torah HaK'dosha tells us directly to bentch after eating (the one bracha everyone agrees is d'oraisa), that is is a logical conclusion that all the more so one must make a bracha before eating!  So, yes, making the brachos with the nusach we have is d'rabanan, but the fact that one must make a bracha before may be d'oraisa.

R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, z"tzl, was certainly not meikel in his ahavas yisrael.  In fact, one could argue it was precisely because of his abounding love for all Jews coupled with his deep understanding of how awful it is for a Jew to eat with out making brachos that led him to be machmir in this area.  I am thinking we could all improve in both areas.  Have I mentioned the importance of learning mussar?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…