Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: You Shall Live by the Torah

One of the charges leveled against Torah Judaism is that it isn't livable.  "Your old testament [sic] G-d is vengeful; not like our gentle as a lamb, sweet, loving god in the new testament [sic]."  So let's leave aside the horrifying tortures and massacres of the Crusades, Inquisition. Tat v'Tat, and all the pogroms throughout history; all in the name of that gentle as a lamb, sweet, loving god in the new testament [sick].  Leaving all that aside we do, in fact, find that they have a point.  In fact, this point was already made by Chazal.  "sh'noson lanu toras emes"/Who gave us a Torah of Truth -- this is the torah sh'bichtave/The Written Law.  "v'chayei olam nata b'socheinu"/and planted within us eternal life -- zeh torah sh'b'al'peh/The Oral Law.  The goyim only have (well, stole) the written law, which truly is unlivable.  It is the Oral Law, with it's drash of "v'chai ba'hem"/you shall live by them; that fuses Divine Will and human aspiration to produce greatness.

I heard this from R' Wiener who runs a kollel that delves into sh'eilos involving the most difficult and agonizing of decisions that must be made regarding medical treatment options.  For years R' Wiener had a weekly meeting with R' Elyashiv, z"tzl, to discuss the most difficult of these issues.  R' Wiener told us several of the sh'eilos he had fielded over the years from all over the world.  One of the stories was on the one hand mundane and on the other struck right to the core of our relationship with our g'dolim and our torah.

A woman in Panama had needed a CT scan to rule out a certain condition.  Of course they checked if she was pregnant; the test came back negative.  The test results were good.  Then she discovered that she was pregnant and had been just two weeks pregnant when the CT scan had been done.  (The pregnancy test had given a false negative.)  The (goyish) doctors unanimously recommended (actually prescribed) an abortion.  The sh'eila came to R' Wiener via her rav.  R' Wiener consulted his experts who reviewed the tests.  The decision was that if any damage had been suffered by the embryo at that early stage, the body would naturally abort; aka, she would have a miscarriage.  If there were no damage, the pregnancy would run to term normally.  Bottom line, no abortion necessary; which R' Wiener communicated back to the rav.

That p'sak lay heavily on R' Wiener and thrice daily, in sh'ma koleinu, he pleaded for her to have a healthy pregnancy.  Months went by, but there was no further communication from Panama.  R' Wiener then had occasion to travel to Panama and sought out the couple.  They were thrilled to see him and showed off their beautiful baby girl; the girl who was alive because of R' Wiener's p'sak.  The woman said, "Rabbi, you should know that once I got your p'sak, I was calm for the entire pregnancy."  R' Wiener replied, "Tiyere schvester, you should know that I was nervous enough for both of us!"


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…