Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Even a Ma'she'hu Has a Shiur

I once had a boss who was Canadian and atheist.  Nothing in essence wrong with either one of those, of course; one is an accident of birth, the other a lack of thinking. This guy, however, was jingoistic about both.  After just a short time he let me know that I was from the NSM.  "NSM?", I asked quizzically.  "Yes!  You guys don't speak clearly and it comes out 'Nited States 'Meirca."  I looked right back at him and said defiantly, "At least I have my two front teeth; eih!"  (I didn't really, but I wish I had.  The truth is, he could have been reacting to me referring to an American as someone from the United States, implicitly implying that Canada was not in America.)  Anyway, that tells you something about his personality.

Of course religion in general, and my religious observance in particular, was another favorite target of his "wit".  He once came gleefully bounding into my office.  "So.... you aren't allowed to eat pork, right?"  "Right."  (Obviously this was not why he had that cat-that-ate-the-canary look on his face, but I figured it was safe enough to answer that question in the affirmative.)  "You aren't allowed to eat any amount at all; right?"  (Ah... that's what we are up to.)  "Right.", I answered innocently; then added, "Of course, once it is less that one part in 60 then it is as if it is not there."  His expressoins changed to the cat-that-just-realized-it-was-his-kitten-and-not-a-canary-that-he-ate look.  He had been all ready to give me grief about how it is impossible to ensure that there isn't even one molecule of pork (not that there is anything called a pork molecule, of course) in my food and/or air.  yada yada

Just between us, though, we do have a shiur known as "ma'she'hu"; literally: whatever it may be.  (You try figuring out how to punctuate transliteration!)  During Pesach, of course, we are forbidden to eat even a ma'she'hu of chameitz.  Does that really mean "even a molecule of chameitz"? (again, there is not such thing as a molecule of chameitz, but you know what I mean.)  I have even heard seemingly crazy stories about people not drinking water from the Kineret during Pesach because of (non-frum/non-jewish) fishermen using chameitz for bait.  Does it really go that far?  Do I need to start wearing a surgical mask lest I catch a whiff of Dunkin Donuts from downtown?

I do not, says Halichos Shlomo; ma'she'hu is also a shiur.  Assur b'ma'she'hu means that in its current concentration the issur cannot be tasted.  However, if the amount is so small that it would not be detectable by normal human senses even if the issur were to be isolated, then the mixture is kosher l'chatchila.  In fact, that tiny amount of issur itself is not even assur, since it is undetectable by normal human senses.  Yet another example of lo nitna torah l'malachei ha'shareis -- the Torah was not given to ministering angels.

Too bad for the surgical mask vendors.


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…