Skip to main content

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.


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: 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…

Thought for the Day: Prayer II -- How?

Now that we know that the obligation to pray is nothing more (nor less!) than a divine decree, we are going to also need instructions from heaven on how to implement that decree.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to have instruction from heaven how to implement heavenly decrees.  One only needs to look at the shambles that one modern ism has made of the very important Torah principle of תיקון עולם/improving and fixing the world.  They have taken words out of context and used them to support their own nefarious schemes.  (To the point that Google Translate actually translates -- not transliterates -- תיקון עולם as Tikkun Olam.  Amelia Bedelia would be proud; we are not amused.

The Torah teaches us how to pray in two complementary fashions.  One is the way in which the concept is presented as an obligation, the other is by giving us examples of how to practically implement those instructions.

The obligation is introduced in the second paragraph of "sh'ma" -- וּלְ…