Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Halacha Needs to Come First

We just came through Purim, so thoughts of "hester panim" are dancing through my head.  Always looking around for comforting signs of hashgacha pratis, subtle though they may be.  Sometimes, however, you get a "Hey you!  Yes; I mean YOU!"  This morning was one of those.

I got to beis medrash a few minutes late this morning, so I needed to run in before starting up the coffee.  (That's how late I was... putting up the coffee moved down to second priority!)  I did what I needed to do and then really, really needed to get the coffee going.  However, I didn't want to run out of beis medrash without learning something.  It had to be quick (have I mentioned that the coffee was still not brewing?) and I am just in the middle of sh'ih'a and chazara (leaving a pot on the stove or returning it); so that wasn't going to be quick.  That was for my regular seder of halacha after davening (this time of year).  Fortunately, I had decided to throw a bone to the halacha of learning hilchos chag 30 days before the holiday and had brought in Halichos Shlomo on Mo'adim; book mark right there on hilchos pesach; perfect!  My plan to was learn one or two halachos a day and be yotzi my obligation so I could get back to me regularly scheduled seder.  (pun intended, in case you didn't notice)

First half of first halacha: "One should change his seder of learning 30 days before yom tov to include learning the halachos of the upcoming festival."  No problem, I am thinking... that what I have just done; boy do I feel smug.  Then I read the second half: "This includes replacing a regularly scheduled to seder in halacha."  What?!?  But I'm right in the middle of learning hilchos shabbos, and I have my fancy Dirshu edition Mishna Brura with the beautiful blue cover with silver lettering!  As much as I wanted to stay with my regular seder (pun again, get it?  "seder", hilchos pesach... I really crack me up), it just seems wrong to ignore an open halacha in order to learn halacha.  You can pull that with gemara, hiding behind "leaning lishma", but that's a much harder row to hoe when it comes to learning halacha itself.

So I put up the coffee and came back prepared to learn hilchos pesach after davening.  Besides the incredibly glatt s'varos (straight thinking) recorded in Halichos Shlomo, the footnotes give some beautiful insights into R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach as a rav.  The rosh yeshiva included regular tests on halacha from the Mishna Brura.  In fact, he told his talmidim that they needed to learn the halacha l'ma'aseh as recorded in the Mishna Brura before all other learning in halacha.  Moreover, he is quoted as often saying,  "Learning halacha not to be done in order to be lomdim, but in order to be y'hudim!"


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…