Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: The Avos and the Three Festivals

I got to my regular spot on Shavuos night and sat down to learn.  A shiur was just starting, but I sat away because I find it difficult to stay up all night unless I am fully engaged.  Sitting passively and listening is a recipe for nodding off to sleepy time.  However, as the magid shiur -- R' Moshe Soloveitchik -- started speaking, I found myself becoming engaged; turning to hear another bomb question, then turning back to my sefer, then back to the shiur... finally I just turned my chair to listen.  A good shiur not only poses good questions, but also evokes even more questions in the listener.  I was fully engaged and -- though I sat silently -- we were learning b'chavrusa.

Chazal tell us that each of the shalosh regalim/three festivals correspond to one of the Avos: Pesach to Avraham, Shavuos to Yitzchak, and Sukkos to Yaakov.  Both Pesach and Sukkos have symbols and fanfare.  Shavuos doesn't even have its own date on the calendar.  Correspondingly, there are epic stories of Avraham Avinu and Yaakov Avinu, while we have barely a few words from Yitzchak Avinu.  Even the monumental Akeidas Yitchak is seen as the greatest of Avraham Avinu's ten tests; Yitchak Avinu, on the other hand, seems to have a supporting role at best.

At the end of the Tochacha (Vayikra 26:42), HaShem comforts us: I will remember my covenant with Yaakov, and even my covenant with Yitzchak, and even my covenant with Avraham I will remember; and I will remember the land.  Chazal note that the word zachor/remember is used in conjunction with Yaakov, Avraham, and even the land; but not with Yitzchak.  Yitzchak doesn't need to be remembered -- his ashes are directly under the kisei ha'kavod/the juncture between heaven and earth.

You don't need to remember something that is part of you.  You need a memorial for something that is separate from you and to which you aspire.  Avraham Avinu tore himself away from his historic roots and lived up to the ideal he had discovered.  Yaakov Avinu takes his identity and works in the world, all the time keeping himself true to his ideals.  We need constant review of the events of their lives and the manner in which they conducted themselves to strive for that kind of greatness.

Yitzchak Avninu is moser nefesh; he gives his whole life -- body and soul -- to his ideals.  Jews through the ages are known to outstanding in the every area of public service and noble causes.  That lesson has, apparently, been so incorporated into the Jewish soul that the Torah did not need to record as many events of our exalted ancestor.  Likewise, the world today since the dawning of of Torah age with Matan Torah is a different place than it was before.  The values of the Torah are so much taken for granted that those who are not constantly steeped in it's learning don't even realize that there is any other way of life.

We should only be successful this year in bring Torah so much more into the world that everything comes together and we together herald in the days of the mashiach tzidkeinu, bi'm'heira v'yameinu.

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: 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…