Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Valuation the Torah Way

I love paradoxes.  I have always found that to be the best way to really deepen one's understanding of any subject.  Maybe the word "subject" is too small when talking about understanding life, but its all we have.  The last two halachos in the third perek (hilchos tzitzis) in Halichos Shlomo seem to be at odds with each other.
  1. An adult (gadol) may only lend his tallis to a child (koton), not give it to him.
  2. A tallis gadol may be used to make a tallis koton.
Why might one do either one of those?  The easiest answer to that is when someone buys a new tallis gadol that is nicer than the one he has now.  A father with the minhag that k'tanim wear a tallis gadol for davening, or a kohein who's son is getting old  enough to duchan may want to give the old tallis gadol to his son.  Alternatively, he may want to cut it down a bit and use it to make a very nice tallis koton.  So what's the paradox?  It is explained in the D'var Halacha that the reason a gadol may not give a koton his tallis is because it is not appropriate to lower the use of the tallis gadol from the mitzvah d'oraisa of a gadol wearing it to only the mitzvah d'rabanan of a koton wearing the tallis.  On the other hand, as brought in the Mishna Brura, it is appropriate for a man to have a tallis gadol specifically for Shabbos and it should be as nice as he can afford -- which is in line with kavod Shabbos.  If it is not in keeping with the kavod of the tallis gadol for me to give it to a minor, how is it in keeping with the kavod of that same tallis gadol to turn it into a tallis koton?

The S'porno in parshas mishpatim explains why the master gets 30 s'la'im if his eved is accidentally killed.  The eved, notes the S'porno, is chayiv in the same mitzvos that a woman his, so his value is thae same as the price fixed for someone who accepts on himself to give "erech" of a woman to the beis hamikdash.  That is, the value of a mensh is the mitzvos he can do.  The value of an article is the mitvos it can enable a person to perform.  When it comes to the tallis gadol for Shabbos, it is Shabbos that is being honored by a nice tallis.  When it come to a koton, however, the tallis itself is being used for a "lower" mitzvah (d'rabanan rather than d'oraisa).  On the other hand, since the mitzvah of tzitzis is equivalent (in some dimension) to doing all the mitzvos and a tallis koton is worn all day, the tallis koton is actually enabling more moments of fulfillment of the mitzvah of tzitzis than the tallis gadol (which is worn only for davening).  It comes out, then, that it is not only permitted but actually meritorious to convert the tallis gadol to the tallis koton!

Torah eyes just see things differently.  They see reality instead of facade.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

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…

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: Hydroponically Grown Humans... I Feel Sick

I am quite openly not at all objective about abortion in particular and the treatment of human embryos and fetuses in general.  I am, after all, the survivor of a failed abortion attempt.  Not "thought about it, but couldn't go through with it"; not "made appointment, but then chickened out at the lost moment"; but, "tried a procedure, but was unsuccessful in attempt to abort".  Nonetheless, I try very hard to listen to the liberal arguments (which I also used to chant as part of the general liberal catechism), and am genuinely empathetic to the plight of women who find themselves in that difficult position.

What I heard on NPR this morning, however, has left me feeling physically ill.  You can read about it, if you like, but here's the bottom line:  Scientists in Cambridge have achieved a new record, they fertilized a human ova and then kept it alive in vitro (that is, in a test tube/petri dish in a laboratory) for 14 days.  The scientist involve…