Skip to main content

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.


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: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…