Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Reshelve S'farim After Use

I ran across this really cool and interesting gemara.  (I know, I know... what gemara isn't totally cool and interesting, right?  Take it as poetic license.)    It has everything: theft, court room drama, suspense, and a final surprise ending!  By the time you get to the two dots you're emotionally drained and feeling that kind of deep exhaustion that comes from any hard won victory.  Of course, I really want to shout all about this from the roof tops.  Well... e-shout from my blog, anyway.

Of course, I don't want to do that until I have a really good understanding, so my chavrusa and I sat down to the three or four Tosofoses (Tosofosim?) on the subject.  We felt we had a good chance because each Tosofos was huge; only a small section of the daf was dedicated to gemara and Rashi.  Usually when the tosofos is large you (I, that is) have a better chance because it means Tosofos was feeling chatty that day and put in all the details.  Unfortunately, Tosofos never in his collective wildest dreams expected to be talking to someone like me who doesn't have Shas on his fingertips.  So Tosofos starts out setting up the question by quoting the one line in a complex discussion in another masechta that he needs.

Fortunately (again, for and my ilk), we have a complete set of Art Scroll Shas in the back of the Brisk beis medrash.  Also fortunately, we (being all Briskers and/or k'Vasikiners) keep them in order.  Unfortunately, the one I needed was missing.  I saw the place it should have been... now forlorn and empty.  I scoured the beis medrash; no luck.  My chavrusa took a look; no dice.  I am sure a total of five or more minutes of quality learning time were lost forever.  Dejected, we sat down to move on, but with that uneasy feeling that we hadn't completely gotten p'shat.  Also dejected that I wouldn't be able to write up this awesome gemara.

We finally did find it, by the way.  It was in the lunch room, where I had gone to refill my coffee cup.  Apparently someone had been learning there and then left.  Unconcerned that someone else might need that gemara.  In fact, he may have even felt that he was saving himself precious minutes of having to walk to the shelf to put the gemara back when he would just need it again the next time he chanced by the beid medrash.  Or, he may have felt that if he put it back on the shelf someone else might use it and then it wouldn't be available to him.

Anyway... since we did find the gemara (eventually), I can now write about it.  Or, rather, I could have written about it, but I've run out of time and space for today.

R' Yisrael Salanter, ztz"l, was once asked what was the single most important action one needed to take after learning mussar to be sure the lessons became fixed in his soul and not just relegated to another fleeting feeling of inspiration.  He answered with all seriousness, "Put the sefer back on the shelf."


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…