Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Keeping Mitzvos Lishma

As was mentioned, the issur of milk with meat only applies if both are derived from a kosher species of animal (if the animal was not slaughtered appropriately or otherwise rendered unfit).  Therefore, if a ger tzedek had ham bits and bacon grease stuck in/on his teeth from before immersing l'sheim gerus (so he did nothing wrong when eating it), then he could have a milkshake immediately upon surfacing -- even though it was less that an hour since his last treifa feast.  The question is... why in the world would he do such a thing?  (The ham and bacon, not the milkshake; it's always a good time for a milkshake, after all.)  Why, indeed...

A ma'aseh and the interpretation I heard once from R' Ezriel Tauber will provide the basis for an answer.
A chashuva rebbitzin in Eretz Yisrael needed a delicate surgery.  She refused to allow anyone to perform the surgery except one doctor; he was known as the expert in that surgery (and others), but it took months to even get an appointment.  The doctor was not religious and she didn't have months, but she could not be swayed.  Miracle of miracles, he granted her an appointment and the surgery was scheduled without delay.  As she was being prepped for surgery, she asked to see the doctor.  She told him, "You should know that I if anything goes wrong, I do not hold you responsible; the surgery is delicate, you will try your best, but the success is up to HaShem."  He was very touched.  Then she said, "You should also know that if the surgery goes well, I also don't hold you responsible; that is also up to HaShem, and only up to HaShem."
R' Tauber explained that this rebbitzin was thinking only of "how do I use this situation to serve HaShem?"  This doctor was far from yiddishkeit and was not going to waste his precious time letting some rabbi talk him into t'shuva.  She, therefore, saw her situation as an opportunity to deliver a message of emuna and b'tachon.

So our ger tzedek (not tzadik/righteous, but tzedek/correct) is making a statement:  Perhaps I am converting because I love the idea of a day off, or maybe because I love the intellectual stimulation of learning; I'll never really know.  What thing I do know: I really like ham and bacon.  When I come out of the mikveh, I will know with certainty that I am doing at least one mitzvah completely l'sheim sh'mayim.  I will refrain from eating pork, but not because I don't like pork.  I like pork, but what can I do?  My Father in Heaven said, "no".

You don't get many opportunities like that in life.  Carpe diem -- seize the moment!


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…