Illuminations #146, Shvat 5778, Parshat Bo

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Illuminations #146, Shvat 5778, Parshat Bo

Torah Gems

This week’s Parsha brings the mitzvah of Tefillin. One of the things we think about when putting on Teffillin is Yichud Hashem – Hashem’s Oneness. This is not the only time we focus on Hashem’s Oneness. Twice a day when we say Shema Yisroel Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad, we focus on the fact that Hashem is the Only One. The truth is that this is one of the Six Constant Mitzvos that we should constantly be focusing on. What does Hashem’s Oneness mean and how can we apply it to our daily lives?

In short, Yichud Hashem requires that we realize that everything that happens to us comes from Hashem and that Hashem is responsible for the good and what we perceive as evil. Often we feel two forces inside of us. One force wants us to grow in spirituality while the other wants us to take a carefree, ‘fun and games’ approach to life. Our long term goals usually focus on growth, but we get distracted with our short term goals and lose focus of our long term ideals. Rabbi Yitzchak Berkowitz brings down in the sefer, The Six Constant Mitzvos, an enlightening explanation of the Yetzer Hara. Hashem gave us a seductive force called the Yetzer Hara in order to overcome challenges and ultimately bask in Hashem’s presence. When we overcome the Yetzer Hara we earn our reward. Without earning it we would not enjoy it. The Yetzer Hara’s purpose is not to distract us from serving Hashem, but to help us grow. He sells the ticket to eternal pleasure. Another aspect is realizing that when we have obstacles that get in our way of life like illness, car trouble, or work problems they are also from Hashem. People may desire to develop their spirituality but find constant hurdles in their path. With Yichud Hashem we realize that these situations create different ways for us to cultivate and perfect our character which you cannot do in a more refined environment. In every situation you can serve Hashem. When we say Shema, put on Tefillin, or just walk down the street, let’s look at Hashem’s beautiful world with a different perspective.

Parsha Pearls

The Passuk says, “And when your son will ask you tomorrow saying what is this? And you will answer him, it was with a Mighty Hand that Hashem took us out of Egypt, from the House of Bondage.” Rashi explains that this verse is mentioned four times in the Torah referring to four different personalities, the wise son, the wicked son, the simple son, and the one that does not know how to ask.  Each one must be answered according to his level. Similarly, each one of us may have part of each son’s question. For example, the wicked son asks regarding the Korban Pesach, “What is this service for you?” The Haggadah notes that he asks “for you” and not “for me.” The wicked son is not letting the topic at hand affect him. Unfortunately, many of us may be guilty of the same.  How often do we learn something in Halachah or Hashkafah and tell ourselves, “That was nice.” Do we make it practical? It says in Mesilas Yesharim that we are here to attain perfection. Do we take it to heart and think how could we improve ourselves or do we say “For you,” but this is not for me, I am comfortable the way I am. When we learn Shmiras Halashon does it change our speech habits? If the answer is no, we have not truly done our job in learning, rather it’s like any other book that you read and forgot about. We must try to remove the wickedness inside each of us and become more like the wise son.

Glimpses of Greatness

Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, Rosh Yeshiva of Mir, was always careful that his students’ learning sessions should never be canceled. Once a student in the yeshiva had a flight booked that would cause him to miss part of the last day of the term. Changing the flight would cost him $400. He asked the Rosh HaYeshiva what to do. The Rosh HaYeshiva responded that he should change his flight. Rabbi Finkel gave the boy $400 and explained that because it was he that asked the boy to stay he felt it was his business to cover the expense of changing the flight.

Halacha Weekly

Q. Is it permitted to eat kosher food in a non-kosher restaurant?[II-14-453]

A. Chashukei Chemed (pesachim 456, R. Yiztchok Ziblerstein) writes whether it is permitted for a steward that works in a restaurant  which serves non-Jews to eat there  from kosher permitted foods which belong to him. Would it be prohibited because of the suspicion that since he is eating in a non-Kosher establishment that he appears to be eating no-Kosher food?  He answers that there is a concern  regarding marit Ayin (the appearance of impropriety) and it is not permitted.

Igros Moshe (Orech Chaim 2-40,R. Moshe Feinstein Z”L) writes whether it is permitted to eat in a dairy restaurant owned by non-observant Jews. He writes that to enter there even to eat things which are unquestionably permitted is forbidden because of the suspicion of impropriety (Cheshed) and Marit Ayin (the appearance of impropriety).  If he is suffering  (e.g. from hunger), he is permitted to enter and eat in private because the Rabbis did not decree in the situation of suffering and loss (as we find in Ketuvot (60a)), and if anyone is there who knows him (outside or inside) he must explain to them his situation of need.