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Thought for the Day: K'doshim T'hiyu -- A Statement of Fact

I have had the z'chus to both ask R' Fuerst, shlita, sh'eilos (much more frum than questions) and also to hear him answer sh'eilos.  There is a lot to learn even from the way the rav answers the questions; afilu sichas chulin shel talmidei chachamim tz’richa talmud.  I once heard someone asking the following three questions: (1) Does a woman who lights an extra Shabbos candle as as k'nas (fine) for having forgotten to light one Friday night need to light that extra candle even when she is eating out (and therefore not lighting at home)?  (Answer: yes)  (2)  A towel was left on the stove Friday night and caught fire.  I pulled it off the stove, put it on the floor, poured water around it, then slid a cookie sheet underneath to keep the floor from burning.  Was that ok?  (Answer: Yes.  In fact, added the rav, I would have put it in the sink.)  (3) Are you allowed to put seasoned salt on cholent?  (Answer:  Davar gush... that's a problem.)

What impressed me the most (I am beyond being impressed by the the fact that he answers instantaneously -- with source; I've just come to expect that) was the tone of the answers.  Both were given the same serious consideration, both were answered calmly.  Whether it is minhag, conflagration, or cooking on Shabbos; halacha addresses the issue, a posek can clarify, and Jews ask.

This morning, 14 Iyar, we didn't say tachanun.  Why not?  Pesach sheini.  Hmm... therefore what?  Because if someone was tamei on pesach they got a make up day, I don't say tachanun?  The Shulchan Aruch doesn't mention it.  The Mishna Brura barely mentions it.  My sidder, T'filas Yosef, adds a note at the end of the list of day when we don't say tachanun that some places don't say tachanun on Peasch Sheini.  (Some places?  I don't remember the last time I was somewhere that they did say it!  Of course, I also don't remember the last time I was somewhere that didn't start shmoneh esrei precisely at ha'neitz ha'chama, either.)  It gives list of references; a Pri Chadash, a Pri Megadim, and a Sha'arei Tshuva; all of which just noted the minhag, but gave no explanation.

What is Pesach Sheini, anyway?  There were Jews in the midbar who were tamei l'meis on Pesach, so they came to Moshe Rabbeinu and asked for a make up.  Hang on here... what about "anus rachmana patrei"/the Torah exempts one who is prevented by unavoidable circumstances from performing a mitzvah.  More than that... how were they tamei l'meis?  No one was dying in the midbar except on Tisha b'Av.  Chazal say they were either dealing with the bones of the sh'vatim or the m'kosheish; either was it was a mitzvah.  What happened to "oseik b'mitzvah, patur min ha'mitzvah"/the Torah doesn't require nor desire that you stop doing one mitzvah to do another; the same Torah that commanded this commanded that.

Simple: a mitzvah is an opportunity to connect with HaShem.  Jews don't want out of that.  Especially the mitzvah that forged us into Klal Yisrael, the action by which we turned away from being just another nation to the Am haNivchar -- the Chosen People.  K'doshim T'hiyu is a commandment, but HaShem knows His customers.  To whom can you command to be holy?  To those who strive to be holy.

I think I'll have some matzah tonight.

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