Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: HaShem Gave Me Existence, So He Gets to Set My Priorities

I have a problem... fine, fine... one of the problems I have is repeating myself.  It is not a problem with aging, rather an issue I noticed a long time ago; probably early teens.  At some point the pain of hearing "yes, you told me" outweighed the pleasure of telling the story.  Since my memory was not working, I decided on a different course of action; namely, I would internally "age" stories.  Once a story was a day or two old, I would relegate it to long term memory.  Some stories are so fundamental to who I am and how I function, though, that I always look for opportunities/excuses to repeat them. Now that I this venue, things are even better.... I can do an online search to see if I've said it before.  That's how I know that I haven't mentioned my "coloring giraffes" story before.  (But if you know me, you may have heard it before...)

I was in first grade.  Mrs. Holtz (my favorite teacher ever; I had her for both 1st and 2nd grade) had set up a wheel with all our names around the circumference on a backing board divided into six sections.  The six sections were categories of games/activities we could do once we finished our seat work.  Each day the wheel would be advanced by one name, so each student would cycle though all the categories each month or so.  I was very excited that day because I was on the math game section (once a nerd, always a nerd).  The last thing I had to do on my seat work was to color a giraffe.  Coloring was not a favorite activity (one of the reasons I wear only black and white), so I took my black crayon -- one stroke up the neck, one stroke across the snout; done!  I turned in my paper on Mrs. Holtz's desk (right next to mine, as she had us seated alphabetically) and headed for the math games (oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!).  Mrs. Holtz called me back, pointed to the giraffe and said, "Do you think this is your best work?"  When I admitted it wasn't, she told me to go back to my desk.  She walked over to the wheel and put a piece if masking tape over my name.  "You don't get to do extra things unless you do a good job on your required things."  I put my head down and cried.

The Shulchan Aruch says that one must review the parasha each week: שתיים מקרא ואחד תרגום/the Hebrew text twice, Targum Onkelos once.  The Shulchan Aruch also says that if your aramaic is not up to snuff, you can substitute Rashi.  The Mishna Brura notes that since there is not a Rashi on each verse, one must at least do the Targum on those verses.  Best, though, concludes the Mishna Brura is to do Targum and Rashi on each verse.  R' Fuerst used to give a chavura on Mishna Brura each Monday night.  When we got the halacha of שתיים מקרא ואחד תרגום, I asked, "That's extra credit, right?"  R' Fuerst replied (yes, this is a direct quote), "You have to put on t'fillin each day and do שתיים מקרא ואחד תרגום each week."  Oh.  So that is how I spend 10 to 30 minutes a day, depending on the parsha.

The Mishna Brura says in another place that those poor ba'alei batim who only have three or four hours a day to learn should not spend their time entirely on gemara.  A person must first and foremost know how to act, after all.  Therefore, concludes the Mishna Brura, most of that time must be spent on halacha.  (By the way... I'd love to meet that poor ba'al ha'bayis who only learns three for four hours a day... yikes!)  So that's how I spend the bulk of whatever time I have left over for learning during the day.  I actually watch the clock to know when to close my gemara and open my Mishna Brura.

Thank you, Mrs. Holtz.


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…