Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Learning is So Fun and Here's an Example: Why Eiruv Tavshilin Requires an Oral Declaration

I was in a play in 9th grade.  An in-class play, but I had a big role.  During one of the rehearsals I was holding a pencil during one of the more dramatic speeches and the teacher noted that my performance was much improved.  After discussion, it seemed that holding the pencil helped to give my hands something important to do and so kept me more focussed.  (Yes, I know that "focussed" is technically the British spelling, not American; it looks better to me, so deal.)  Her words made an impression and I started applying that principle wherever I could.  Now you know why I hold a pencil when I learn.

I am on a mission to finish learning the entire Mishna Brura; all six volumes.  I was actually on track to finish for my 55th birthday, but that plan was derailed when a set of Dirshu Mishna Brura appeared mysteriously at my doorstep one day.  (Technically, the appearance wasn't so mysterious -- delivered by UPS in a plain brown box; but I hadn't ordered it; that's the mysterious part.)  I took that as a sign from above that I should stop rushing and actually start learning.  My new plan is to finish by the time I am 60  (a goal about which I am cautiously optimistic).  I am mostly proceeding straight through, but detour before holidays and other halichic situations in order to have (at least once) the relevant halachos more fresh in my mind.

I have just finished most of the 5th volume (thank you; yes, I do feel it is an accomplishment).  Most, because I still need to finish the laws of baking matzah, which I plan to learn the month or so before Pesach.  The last bit of volume five (which is hilchos Pesach and Yom Tov) discusses eiruv tavshilin.  Interestingly, I saw a stray pencil mark in the Dirshu notes.  "Hmm," I thought (yes, I think "hmm"), "I must have accidentally/absent-mindedly made a pencil mark.  Funny, though, that it's just where I would put a mark to break up a long sentence while learning...."  Then I looked to the next few pages and saw lots of appropriately placed pencil marks.  I experienced the chilling realization  that I had been here before.  I then dimly remembered that I had learned this once before when a holiday was approaching for which we needed to make an eiruv tavshilin.  I can even tell you roughly when it was: a few days before May 23, 2014 CE, when I published a TftD on the matter.

Distress enough that I forgot having learned it... more distressing was that I found myself learning things I thought were big enough chidushim that I should write a TftD on them... final distressing straw was seeing that I had already written a TftD on one of those chidushim.  Ah well.

So here is one chidush that I did not (eg, forgot to, sigh...) mention before.  Rav Ashi and Rava argue about the main reason for the requirement of eiruv tavshilin; Rav Ashi says it is so that your cooking for Shabbos on Friday is not a new activity, but the continuation of an activity started before Yom Tov; Rava says it is so that you choose something particularly nice for Shabbos.  We pasken the halacha is like Rav Ashi (as noted in another TftF), but we like to be sensitive to Rava's reason as well.  It is because of Rava's reason that the declaration "With this eiruv, we are permitted to cook and bake and insulate and manipulate fire, etc" is in integral part of the eiruv tavshilin.  We think of the food as the main thing; obviously you need the food.  In addition, however, if one forgets the declaration or even part, such as "permitted to bake", then one needs to go back and make (or add) the appropriate declaration.  (If not, see the Mishna Brura and Dirshu notes for what to do.)

What's the "take away" from all this? (Besides the halachic basis for the declaration being an integral part of the mitzvah of eiruv tavshilin, of course.)  First, review is not just a "nice thing"; it's nearly the whole thing.  Second, the Ohr Chayim HaKodesh relates (at the begining of parshas b'chukosai) that learning -- especially the first time learning a new idea -- is so fun, that HaShem, in His magnificent kindness, gave us the character trait of forgetfulness.  That way we can keep learning and learning and learning, and always feel that geshmakiet of learning something for the first time.  I guess that's why I'm so jovial.

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: 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…