Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Explicitly Expressed in the Torah Includes Halacha l'Moshe Mi'Sinai

I took German in while in graduate school in Salt Lake City.  German was the language used in many seminal articles in physics from about the turn of the century (yike!  I guess I mean the previous century, don't I) till 2nd World War.  (The Nazi's made everyone skittish about using anything German for a while, so the language of science became American.)  Our TAs were usually returned missionaries who had done there stint in Germany, and so I also learned some of the jokes they seasoned missionaries played on the newbies. One was to send the newbie into a bakery to get a yummy "davon" and to be insistent not to accept the vastly inferior "wovon".  This led to great mirth among the seasoned veterans watching the escalating and sometimes heated exchange between newbie and baker.  "Davon", you see, means (colloquially) "that one"; "wovon" mean "which one?"

If you don't know the vocabulary, communication is very difficult no matter how well you can read the words.  While that seems obvious, anyone who wants to claim he accepts the Torah sh'bichtav but not the Torah sh'b'al pe is missing that very obvious fact.  You only know what words mean because you have an oral tradition about their meaning.  As far as I know, everyone is born with no more communication skills than crying and the occasional smile.  During the first few years of life, the skills get augmented with speech; learned, of course, as an oral tradition from their environment.  That's just for normal communication.  For the Torah nation, however, the the time required to master the entire oral tradition of meaning can take a lifetime.

This shows up in a fascination biur halacha in siman 276, which discusses the topic of a what benefit and under what conditions benefit may be derived from candle lit by a non-Jew on Shabbos in particular, and malacha done by a non-Jew in general.  (Run on sentence, you say.  Read it again, I say.)  In general, if a non-Jew does a malacha whose issur is mi'd'rabanan for a particular Jew, then other Jews (not that one) may benefit.  The worry is that if you can benefit from the malacha you'll start asking your non-Jewish friend to do you favors in the future.  If the malacha is assur mi'd'oraisa, however, then no Jew is permitted benefit (on that Shabbos and until after Shabbos for the amount of time it takes to do the malacha).

The biur halacha notes that if the malacha is bringing things from outside the t'chum -- even the t'chum of 12 mil, and even according to those who hold that is d'oraisa -- then benefit may be derived by a Jew who was not the intended recipient.  Why?  Because the issur of t'chum is not explicit in the Torah.  On the other hand, if the malacha is transporting in a r'shus ha'rabim more than four amos, then no benefit may be derived by any Jew.  Why?  Because that issur is a halacha l'moshe mi'sinai and hence d'oraisa.  What about about the fact that it isn't written or even hinted to by any pasuk in the Written Torah?  How, then, can one call it "explicit"?  Explains the biur halacha (based on a Pri M'gadan), a halacha l'moshe mi'sinai has the same status of the simple meaning of the words.  Just at the meaning of the words is not written in the text (obviously), so to many details of exactly what those words mean are also not written in the text.  Meaning, again obviously, that you can't get that information except through an oral tradition.

So there.

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: 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…

Thought for the Day: Prayer II -- How?

Now that we know that the obligation to pray is nothing more (nor less!) than a divine decree, we are going to also need instructions from heaven on how to implement that decree.  I cannot stress enough how important it is to have instruction from heaven how to implement heavenly decrees.  One only needs to look at the shambles that one modern ism has made of the very important Torah principle of תיקון עולם/improving and fixing the world.  They have taken words out of context and used them to support their own nefarious schemes.  (To the point that Google Translate actually translates -- not transliterates -- תיקון עולם as Tikkun Olam.  Amelia Bedelia would be proud; we are not amused.

The Torah teaches us how to pray in two complementary fashions.  One is the way in which the concept is presented as an obligation, the other is by giving us examples of how to practically implement those instructions.

The obligation is introduced in the second paragraph of "sh'ma" -- וּלְ…