Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Chesed -- No Detail Too Small

Hebrew lesson for the day.  The verb shin-beis-suf has no denotation nor connotation of resting or relaxing; it means cessation.  In Modern Hebrew (a simplified and regularized derivative of Lashon HaKadosh) the noun "shvita" means a labor strike.  Just saying.

As noted (difference between ba-omer and la-omer, machlokes whether to say ba-omer or la-omer), the korban omer is at the center of very big things.  R' Dessler brings out an additional dimension from the way the Torah tells us about the korban omer.  First, "mi'macharas ha'shabas yanifenu" -- "from the day after Shabbos (ie, Chag haPesach) you shall wave it" (Vayikra 23:9).  Then, "ad mi'macharas ha'shabas ha'sh'vi'is tisp'ru chamishim yom" -- "until the day after the seventh Shabbos (ie, week) count 50 days" (Vayikra 23:16).  So the description of bringing the omer and counting the omer uses the word Shabbos twice; once to mean "Chag haPesach" and once to mean "week".  The Oral Torah tells us to interpret that two uses of the word shabbos that way.  Great.  No problem.  So here's R' Dessler's bomb question: Why not just say "mi'macharas ha'chag" and "mi'macharas ha'shavu'a"?  Baruch HaShem we have the Oral Torah and our Chazal to tell us how to read and understand our Holy Written Torah.  But for goodness sake; can't it just say what it means?

Says R' Dessler, the Written Torah is saying precisely what it means.  It's just doing it in the most compact and perfect way possible (you can do that when you are G-d).  The period of time between Pesach and Shavuos is all about preparing to receive the Torah.  The preparation requires us to become new people.  Not cleaned up people.  Not the same old people with polished up midos.  New people.  The old has to be removed and destroyed.  There has to be a cessation -- a sh'visa.  We start on Pesach with biur chameitz and obliterate every bit of physical chameitz; assur b'ma sh'hu -- the smallest amount is assur.  Then we work for 49 days to obliterate the spiritual chameitz -- the smallest amount is assur.

How do you do that?  I would like to suggest, based on what we have learned from the Ramban, that we work on our mida of chesed.  And here I would like to also suggest that the reason we keep mentioning the measure (omer) which is really so small compared to what it permits, that the smallest chesed is worth while.  My wife and I have a daily routine that helps us in that endeavor.  We both like to have a cup of coffee in the morning.  I get up earlier than she does.  We have acquired a one cup coffee maker and every night she prepares the machine to produce on cup of coffee for me.  I get up in the morning and as soon as my coffee is brewed, I prepare the machine to make one cup of coffee for her.

It's a small thing.  I could spend the same amount of time making a cup for myself and she could spend the same amount of time making a cup for herself.  Or we could get a (much cheaper, by the way) four cup brewer and be much more efficient.  But then that powerful little shot of chesed would turn into a destructive kernel of selfishness.

One more thing.... I didn't want that one cup brewer; it's expensive and inefficient.  Sorry, honey.  I was wrong, you were right; it's been one of the best investments of our life.


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…