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Thought for the Day: Tiny Details Add Up -- Both in Damages and Avodas HaShem

While it is always a z'chus and point of pride to make a siyum, I made a siyum last week on Bava Kamma that was a particular point of pride for me.  For one thing, this siyum was on my most recent "when my chavrusa doesn't show up or is late" masechta.  This is the fourth such masechta I have finished.  That's not the particular point of pride, however.  Another thing that made this special was being able to provide a siyum so first born Jews wouldn't have to fast erev Pesach.  Still, as cool as that was, there was something even more thrilling about this siyum.
Aside: Why do the first born fast on erev Pesach?  There are several explanations, one of which is that they were fasting to have the merit to live through מכת בכורות, which was scheduled for that night.  One of the heintige poskim (ooohh... so religious!) says that it seems logical that first born resident aliens (aka, גרי צדק) would have also fasted that day; which I only learned this year.  No one suggests that they should actually fast, but attending a siyum is a good idea.  Being a first born גר צדק, therefore, I also thought that was pretty cool.  Still, though, that wasn't the main reason this was so special to me.
What was so special, then?  Not so fast... we need a d'var Torah first.

The siyum was on Bava Kamma, which is the main source of laws regarding torts (ie, civil liabilities for damages).  The masechta starts with "These are the four granddaddy categories of damages" (free translation).  With a start like that, you are expecting a big finish, right?  The big finish is a discussion of who owns the fuzz that comes off clothing during laundering and the spent hops after making beer.  Not inspired yet?  Well, let me tell you, sometimes it depends on which city you were in when you collected the fuzz or made the beer.  Really?  That's it?  FOUR CATEGORIES OF DAMAGES who gets the fuzz, man?

Yes; that's the big finish.  Because how righteous you are is not dependent on how you deal with big, obvious losses.  It's how you deal with the little stuff.  The real hallmark of how you turn out depends on thousands of tiny decisions.  Each decision setting you up for the next trial.  I and my children are frum because of a serious of decisions made over the last several decades.  A major influence on those decisions was R' Rodin and his family from Dallas.  He had that family because his father-in-law, R' Chaim Yachnes was a talmid chaver of the R' Henoch Liebowitz.  R' Yachnes became involved with Chafeitz Chaim because his father hired a shochet to teach him a trade that would not require him to work on Shabbos on Yom Tov.  R' Yachnes learned more than sh'chita and decided to attend yeshiva, where he decided to become a rav.  The rest, as they say, is history.

That decision of R' Yachnes's father to hire a shochet, R' Yachnes's decision to go to learn with R' Henoch, R' Yachnes's decisions and trials as a rav (in his first appointment as a young rav, R' Yachnes had to tell the ba'al ha'batim that their shul sukkah was pasul), etc... eventually led to me making a siyum in Orlando for a young rav (who himself is a first born) and his shul.  That young rav is a grandson of R' Yachnes; that is what made this siyum so special.

The particular thrill I felt at this siyyum was that I had the zchus to make a siyum to help a grandson of the rav who made it possible for me to make a siyum.


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