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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!"

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