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: 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…

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: Hydroponically Grown Humans... I Feel Sick

I am quite openly not at all objective about abortion in particular and the treatment of human embryos and fetuses in general.  I am, after all, the survivor of a failed abortion attempt.  Not "thought about it, but couldn't go through with it"; not "made appointment, but then chickened out at the lost moment"; but, "tried a procedure, but was unsuccessful in attempt to abort".  Nonetheless, I try very hard to listen to the liberal arguments (which I also used to chant as part of the general liberal catechism), and am genuinely empathetic to the plight of women who find themselves in that difficult position.

What I heard on NPR this morning, however, has left me feeling physically ill.  You can read about it, if you like, but here's the bottom line:  Scientists in Cambridge have achieved a new record, they fertilized a human ova and then kept it alive in vitro (that is, in a test tube/petri dish in a laboratory) for 14 days.  The scientist involve…