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Thought for the Day: Being G-d Fearing Means Doing the Right Thing, Regardless of Whether It Is a Leniency or a Stringency

I was looking at a book about the human body with my five year old granddaughter and her four year old brother after the recent ברית מילה of their newest brother.  Of course, they had both asked about why he had one and she didn't.  I, being the grandfather, answered straight and let their parents deal with any embarrassing follow on questions.  In any case, we turned to the nervous system and my grandson, with the confidence and certainty that only a four year old boy can muster, declared, "Boys do not have brains."  His sister, in that tone of voice that will some day be used to once again explain to her husband that no, he can't wear that tie with that suit, said, "Of course boys have brains; if they didn't have brains they couldn't think and they would just kick and hit all the time."  I am not really sure who won that argument...

I recently heard a shiur from R' Yisroel Reisman given on the occasion of a siyum for a daf yomi completing Bava Basra.  He related that as a new rav, he got a call one Thursday evening from a lady who had been preparing something or other for the Shabbos meal and had made some sort of error; she now wanted to know if she could use that dish for Shabbos dinner or needed to start over again.  R' Reisman was relieved that it was a straightforward question form Yoreh Deiah and he told her straight away:  מקיל יש מי לסמוך עליו, יראי שמים יחמיר עליו there is support for being lenient, but a G-d Fearing person (who is stringent) is worthy to receive a blessing.  The lady, using that voice she uses when telling her husband that no, he can't wear that tie with that suit, said, "But can we use it for Shabbos or not?"  R' Reisman, feeling that he had not been clear, described the logic behind המקיל יש מי לסמוך עליו, יראי שמים יחמיר עליו.  The lady, now her voice a little threatening (being used to men, who are -- after all -- just big boys that still love to kick and fight), said, "I'll have my husband call you."

But what does the HaShem want from us in situations like that?  Beethoven never wrote a score that said, "Here play whatever you want."; every moment and movement is accounted for.  How is it possible that the Creator of the world, the Author of reality, doesn't have as tight a production?  Says the Chovos HaLevavos: it's not possible and it's not true: there is always -- without exception -- a correct behaviour (or belief).  And halachos such as this Shabbos dish question?  There are some things that are obligations; kiddush Friday night, eating matzah on the first night of Passover, putting on t'fillin daily, etc.  There are certain things that are forbidden: eating non-kosher food, driving a car on Shabbos, wearing sha'atnez, etc.  Those two categories are easy; those things are required or forbidden, respectively; nothing to talk about.  Then there is the third -- and by far largest -- category: it depends on your situation.  For me, the classic example is chalav yisrael in America.  All cow's milk produced on big dairy farms in America is certainly kosher.  What about milk products marked as chalav yisrael; is it appropriate to buy on that milk?  It depends.  It depends on your financial situation (chalav yisrael is more expensive), it depends on the frequency of your need (chalav yisrael tends to spoil faster -- do you and/or your wife have time to run to the store more often while holding down two jobs and rearing six children?).  It depends on if you are FFB or BT  (is it good to take on yet another thing right now?).

To determine what is the correct answer for you requires an investment of time and commitment.  I would like to propose that the statement: המקיל יש מי לסמוך עליו, יראי שמים יחמיר עליו (at least דרך דרוש) has nothing to do with whether you serve the dish on Shabbos or not.  The Shulchan Aruch means: if you want to be lenient and not invest time into researching the correct answer for you, then no matter what you do, there is support for your decision.  However, if you are a יראי שמים and invest the time and energy into determining what HaShem really wants from you at this moment, then -- again regardless of your conclusion about serving the dish on Shabbos -- תבוא עליו ברכה

By the way, R' Reisman said he asked his congregation how they would like him to answer in such situations and one person finally (after some silence) called out: If it's a broccoli kugel, be stringent and throw it out; if it's a potato kugel, then be lenient and serve it.  All I can figure is that the אור היום was spending Shabbos in New York that weekend.

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