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!"

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: 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…