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Thought for the Day: Asei L'cha Rav - Bein l'Chumra Bein l'Kula

Selma, after hearing a disturbing traffic report, calls her husband on his cell phone, "Sammy!  I just heard some nut is driving the wrong way on Route 89 and I know you sometimes take that home.  Are you ok?"  Sam, frantic, yells back at her, "One nut?  Good Lord, everyone is driving the wrong way!"

Despite my (admittedly earned) reputation for having a tendency toward extremes, I really do try to stay in the main stream.  Having become observant as an adult, I obviously cannot rely on what we did in my home growing up.  Since moving to Chicago, we have relied on R' Fuerst to guide us in what is normative practice.  While R' Fuerst will tell you he does not have time to be one's family rav, in fact those short conversations (usually delayed by, "one moment, other line") are packed with information.  You just have to listen carefully.  I then follow his counsel, bein l'chumra bein l'kula.

The importance of this attitude is exemplified by the gemara found in Bei'ah, 36b.  There was a leak in the roof of Abaya's flour mill and rain water was pouring in one Shabbos.  The mill stones, which were held in place by dry mud, were in danger of becoming damaged.  However, since the mill stones are kelim sh'melachtem l'issur, they were muktza and could not be moved to a dry area.  Moreover, Abaya did not have enough buckets to catch the water (which was coming in from too many places).  Not knowing what he could do, Abaya ran to his rav, Raba.  Raba told Abaya that he could bring a bed into the room with the mill stones.  Since the mill stones were getting wet and yucky (mi'yus), he would then be allowed to remove the mill stones because of not wanting to have yucky stuff in his bedroom.  This is the heter of removing a "graf shel r'i" (chamber pot) from one's bedroom, dining room, etc.  Abaya walked home but didn't immediately take Raba's advice because he was worried because he know that one in not allowed to make a graf shel r'i l'chatchila.  That is, if something becomes yucky in your bedroom, you are allowed to remove it, but you are generally not allowed to but your bed into a room where there is something yucky just to remove it.  Anyway... while Abaya was thinking, his mill stones collapsed; a total loss.  Abaya is quoted as saying, "It was coming to me because I transgressed the p'sak of the rav."  That's wild!  The gemara reads like Raba was giving Abaya the option to be meikel; not paskening a halacha.  None the less, not availing himself of that kula was consider a transgressing the words of the rav.

I once asked R' Fuerst about putting t'fillin on while in beis medrash.  The Shulchan Aruch says to put on t'fillin outside the beis k'nesses to enter already dressed for business.  My question was that I am learning in beis medrash before it is time to put on t'fillin, so should I go out to don my t'fillin and then come back.  R' Fuerst told me (and this really is a quote), "R' Moshe put on t'fillin in beis medrash.  If it was good enough for him, it is good enough for you."

Yes, sir.

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