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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!"

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