Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: When You Are Doing a Mitzvah, You Are Doing the Lord's Work

While I do not go out of my way to make a point of going to pray in the middle of the day, I also do not avoid mentioning it.  (By the way, that is a huge step forward for me.)  That is, if someone makes note of me wearing a tie/jacket/hat in the afternoon, I will volunteer that I am going to (or returning from) afternoon prayers.  This once happened while I was putting on my tie; since this particular coworker is Jewish (not yet frum) I volunteered a bit more info: that I only have one tie at work because it is important to be dressed properly for prayer, but I don't think G-d cares that it is the same tie every day.  Her response was to question if G-d cares about me wearing a tie at all. To her I just said, "Yes, because I would wear a tie to an important meeting, so it speaks to my attitude about prayer."  To you, my dear reader, I have a bit more to say on that topic.

Film (remember that?) was basically a plastic substrate smeared with a substance that contained minute amounts of silver.  People made businesses, in fact, in reclaiming the silver from the chemicals that had been used to develop the film.  One might think to apply a similar principle to making tzitzis.  One could, for example, go into a field where sheep graze (with the permission of the owner, of course) to collect up the little bits of wool that has been snagged by thistles, thorns, fences, etc.  Before he starts, our entrepreneur would even declare, "Behold!  I stand ready and prepared to collect tufts of wool from thorns, thistles, and what have you; all with the intent that those tufts be used to make tzitzis!"  Or, a garment factory owner could declare, "Behold!  All wool that is used in the manufacture of garments that is cut off as part of finishing the garment shall be used to make tzitzis!"

The technical name for such declarations is "declaration l'vatala".  The Shulchan Aruch (OC 11:5) says not to do that.  The Mishna Brura (sk 25) explains that this is not just good advice; even after the fact such wool is pasul to be used in the manufacture of tzitzis.  Why?  Because of "bi'zu'i mitzvah"... because it is not treating the performance of a mitzvah with proper respect.

Think about that.  You can't tell the source of the wool by looking at the tzitzis, nor can you discern the kavanos of the workers.  Yet, if one acquired such tzitzis and attached them to a garment, he would be met with a very rude surprise when he gets to the Olam shel Emes.  Not only was he m'vatel a mitzvas asei m'di'oraisa for years, he also have thousands of brachos l'vatala added to his balance sheet.  Talk about "oops".


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: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…