Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Good Midos Must Be Protected

The developers of Modern Hebrew were not among the 36 tzadikim who sustain the world.  In fact, some had significant axes to grind with the Torah world and went so far as to plant k'fira directly into the language.  One of the egregious example I recently encountered their translation of "אגדה" (agada) as "legend".  This is extraordinarily damaging to understanding Chazal.  The aggadita we have contains vitally important information about how to live a spiritually healthy life.  Calling agada "legend" is like calling nutrition "old wive's tales".  [No, honey, I don't dismiss what you say.  What?  No, of course I don't mean you are old.  I mean tales reported in the name of unlearned women of olden times; not at all like our educated and sophisticated wives now a days.  -- And you thought only Mrs. Rema looked over her husband's writings.]

One familiar agada is that Moshe Rabeinu was not allowed to hit the water of the Nile for the plague of dahm/blood, nor the dust for the plague of kinim/lice.  He was not allowed to hit those things because they had protected him early in his life, so it would not be in consonance with the hakaras hatov they were due.  Obviously, water and dust do not have feelings; so what is going on?  That question is obvious and we all know the answer: it is for the impression is makes on us.  It is supposed to inculcate a sensitivity into us.  Is that it?  Reading the story inspires us?

R' Dessler, in fact, makes the question even stronger.  The makkos of dahm and kinim were (according to the S'porno) to educated the Miztri'im in yiras HaShem.  That means that hitting the water and dust would result in a kiddush HaShem of the highest order.  What could possibly be wrong with that?

R' Dessler's answer is incisive and opens up for us what Chazal wanted us to understand.  The kiddush HaShem that would result is a noble, intellectual idea.  However, our midos are affected by the here and now.  Even though Moshe Rabeinu knew intellectually that what he was about to do would result in a kiddush HaShem, there was a present danger that his midos would be affected -- ever so slightly -- by the immediate action: hitting something that had helped him.  Water and dust have no feelings, but a person does.  The cruelty of hitting affects the hitter even when there is no damage to the recipient.  The fraction of a second between the hitting and the kiddush HaShem is not worth it; that fraction of a second could undue years of positive improvements.

Good thing to keep in mind tonight (or next week) when making kiddush over those covered challos.

Comments

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…