Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Know Your Issurim

We have a game at home (I believe brought in by my son when he was a teen).  It is a box of cards that offer choices.  The rules are simple: each person draws a card and must choose one of the alternatives.  The alternatives are designed to be roughly equally bad, such as: Would you rather wear wet socks or socks with pebbles in them all day?  (Of course, being as the purpose of this game is to entertain teenage boy who are in the mood to be revolted, the real choices are quite a bit more revolting.)  I bring this up only because I have a chavrusa who also likes to propose wild choices.  Not to be revolting, of course, but to bring clarity to complicated halachik issues.

Imagine our hero, Berol, is in a situation of piku'ach nefesh and must eat one k'zayis of food.  His choices are: cheese burger (1/2 k'zayis of cheese, 1/2 k'zayis of ground beef, no bun), beef stroganoff (1/3 kazayis cream, 1/3 kazayis beef, 1/3 kazayis noodles), ham and cheese (1/2 kazayis of each, thoroughly mixed and inseparable), fresh broccoli florets (unchecked).  All meat (except the ham) is glatt, chasidishe sh'chita.  All dairy is chalav yisrael.  Pasta is yoshon.  Quite a menu, eh?

The cheese burger, of course, is the obvious worst choice (but not the actual worst choice, as we shall see).  The cheese burger is, after all, the real deal: basar v'chalav cooked together and a whole k'zayis.  Even though we pasken that it is assur m'd'oraiso to eat even less than a k'zayis, it is certainly worse to eat a whole k'zayis.  What's next worse?

Ham and cheese is bad, but not as bad as the beef stroganoff.  First, the issur of milk and meat only applies to meat from kosher animals (even if not shechted properly), so the ham and cheese is only 1/2 k'zayis of issur.  The stroganoff, on the other hand is at least 2/3 k'zayis of issur.  (Whether the noodles are consider issur themselves or only a place holder is a matter of some halachik debate.  The precise term is "chaticha na'ase n'veila", or simply "chanan". )  So even though ham is repugnant, Berol only needs to eat 1/2 k'zayis of issur instead of the 2/3 engendered by the stroganoff.

"But there's brocolli -- fresh vegetable matter!", you exclaim.  Yep... and unchecked, so it certainly contains bugs.  Bugs, being whole, are assur even when they are smaller than a k'zayis.  In fact, depending on the bug, it could be 4, 5, or 6 d'oraiso violations for each bug!  There may be dozens of bugs -- that's hundreds of torah violations -- in that k'zayis helping of brocolli florets.  Really, really bad news.  Really bad.

In the merit of participating in this thought experiment, may Berol never be in this situation.  Amein.

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…