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Thought for the Day: Shomer Mitzvos Means More Than Simply Keeping Mitzvos

You are not going to find a mishna or gemara that says straight out that pork is not kosher.  Why not?  Simple: Duh!  Of course it isn't kosher.  The mishna and gemara is interested in packing as much information into as small a space as possible.  The most efficient way to do that is to tell you boundaries.  Which, of course, as the old joke goes: and that's when the fight started.  To a certain degree, the same is true of halacha.  Interestingly enough, I find that looking at boundaries and trade offs in halacha is a fertile territory for clarifying very basic hashkafa issues.

Halichos Shlomo makes the following p'sak about someone who is so sick that they have a heter to eat pachos pachos min ha'shiur on Yom Kippur.  If going to shul would increase the likelihood that he would have to eat or drink more often -- even still well within the heter -- then don't go to shul.  Whether its the walk or the heat or the cold or the dryness; just stay home and eat/drink as little as possible. In the d'var halacha he explains that this is even according to the Ohr Zaru'a who holds that one may put himself into a position having to violate shabbos at a later time by an action now.

Let's do that last bit a little slower.  One is allowed to violate shabbos to save a Jewish life (piku'ach nefesh).  That includes, of course, one's own life.  The case of the Ohr Zaru'a is where someone is embarking on a sea voyage that starts off safe (and 100% mutar), but will dollars to donuts put him into a position of needing to violate Shabbos in order to save his own skin at some point.  The Ohr Zaru'a holds that even he is allowed to leave even on Shabbos itself, because right now there is no issur and the future is the future.

Even according to that opinion of the Ohr Zaru, opines the Halichos Shlomo, it will still be assur to go to shul on Yom Kippur if that could lead to eating or drinking more often; though completely within the heter of piku'ach nefesh.  Why?  Because fasting is the mitzvah of the day for Yom Kippur.  Shabbos is not about not avoiding malachos, rather it is about recognizing that HaShem created and runs the world.  Avoiding malacha is a result of that avoda, but the avoda itself.  If you go to sleep immediately after Kiddush on Friday night and sleep till Saturday night, you won't violate any malachos, but you also won't really be keeping Shabbos.  On the other hand, sleeping through Yom Kippur still accomplishes the mitzvah of the day -- you did fast.

Shomer mitzvos, then, requires more than just doing it.  It entails knowing exactly what the mitzvah is and also planning an environment that will protect and nurture it.

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