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Thought for the Day: M'chadeish B'chol Yom Ma'aseh B'reishis

People love to say, "minhag spelled backwards is gehinom."  Maybe, but all that means is that you better keep your minhagim in order.  Yet, Hillel was once asked how to handle a difficult situation and he answered, "I heard the halacha but I forgot it.  [Regarding what to do, however:] Leave it to klal yisrael; though they may not be prophets, they are descended from prophets!"  (P'sachim 66b)  So minhag certainly plays on important role in determining halacha.  In fact,
what?  But I am right in the middle of a TftD already.  Oh?  Wow; that is cool!  Ok then.
This just in; we interrupt today's planned TftD to bring you this very cool other idea that I just saw this morning.  (Yes, smart guy; sometimes these are planned.  Ahem.)

Everyone knows (from their earliest parsha sheets), that there is a machlokes about the meaning of  "chadash"/new in: "v'yakam melech chadash"/A new king arose (Sh'mos 1:8).  "Rav u'Shmuel; chad amar chadah mamash, v'chad amar sh'nischadshu g'zeirosav" -- Rav and Shmuel; one says actually new, one says that he innovated [evil] decrees.  Ok; seems to be a semi-interesting linguistic discussion about when do we use the word "new" when it comes to description of historical events.  Do we mean the source of the change was new, or the results were new?  More of a topic for Point/Counterpoint than Rav and Shmuel if you had asked me.  And why in the world tell us the disagreeing parties if we can't know who says what?

Comes the Toras Chaim on Eruvin (brought by the Halichos Shlomo) to tell us that this is not a matter of historical interest only.  It it, in fact, a machlokes about what the word "chadash"/new really means and how that relates to halacha.  For example, the Torah tells us that if someone has built a new house but not yet taken up residence, then he is exempt from some military service.  Does that mean literally new or simply significant renovations?  Same question for making the bracha of shehecheyanu on acquiring a new house; literally new or simply significant renovations?  Why do I care about who is involved in this discussion?  Because in a machlokes Rav and Shmuel we pasken like Rav for issur v'heter (ritual matters) and Shmuel for dinei mamanos (monetary disputes).  Not knowing who holds which side is going to play into how the p'sak is finally rendered.

Now to wax philosophical, one may contemplate how this affects our understanding of HaShem renewing the work of His creation each and every moment.  So much for a "simple" Rashi.

Minhagim and halacha?  Sure... soon... bli neder, im yirtzeh HaShem, b'ezras HaShem.


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