Illuminations #152, Adar 5778, Parshat Ki Tisoh

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Illuminations #152, Adar 5778, Parshat Ki Tisoh

Torah Gems

Moshe Rabeinu ascended to the Heavens to receive the Torah and remained there for forty days. The Ibn Ezra at the end of Parshat Mishpatim notes that, as the Torah later testifies, Moshe did not eat or drink the entire time. This, he explains, is a great wonder (“peleh gadol”) greater than anything that ever was before. One may ask, what was so wondrous about Moshe’s actions and why was it greater than the ten makot or the splitting of the sea when the entire Jewish people crossed through on dry land? HaRav Chaim Kreiswirth zt”l suggests the following approach: We know that Moshe Rabeinu vied to serve Hashem. So much so in fact, that the medrash relates that on the last day of his life, Moshe prayed that he should be permitted to live and enter Eretz Yisroel even as a bird, just so that he could prolong his opportunity to serve Hashem, even for a short while. Yet, this same Moshe spent forty full days and nights in heaven to receive the Torah on behalf of K’lal Yisroel. Moshe gave up his own wants and needs for the needs of the k’lal. Such self-sacrifice is truly awesome – a true peleh! Indeed, one must admire those who devote their lives to public service and helping their community. They, together with their families, sacrifice peace and privacy to help others. By putting aside their personal preferences to help others, they have emulated Moshe Rabeinu’s achievement of wonders.

Parsha Pearls

The Gemara tells us that the Yetzer Hara works in a slow, incremental manner. First he tells a person to transgress a minor aveira and then he tries to convince him to do a more substantial act until ultimately, the person can be convinced to do the worst sins. Here in the parsha, we see an exception to this rule. The Jewish people had accepted the Torah on Har Sinai just 40 days ago and now they were dancing around a Golden Calf. How could they fall so quickly to do such a grave transgression? R’ Chayim Shmuelevitz Z”l explains that the Yetzer Hara has to work slowly only when a person is in good spirits. If a person is depressed, however, then the Evil Inclination can get him to do the worst sin in no time. Here, the Jewish people thought that Moshe Rabenu had died, and got into a deep depression. Therefore, they were able to commit an act of idol worship without going through the slow process of deterioration. We must always be vigilant of this principle and try our best to stay in good spirits. When things start getting us down, we should do whatever we can to bounce back into our regular self. By maintaining our spirits properly, we can have both our physical and spiritual health in the best shape possible.

Glimpses of Greatness

Reb Shlomo Zalman Aurbach lived near a small grocery store that was run by a widow. To operate such a store consumed every ounce of the woman’s strength. Delivery vans would pull up at dawn and they would deposit crates of milk and dairy products on the sidewalk. Later, the widow would drag them inside when she opened the store. One day, to her delight, she saw that the crates had been placed at the front entrance, considerably easing her workload. This continued day after day. One morning, the widow wanted to thank the drivers personally, so she arrived at the store very early. However, when the vans appeared the men deposited her delivery on the edge of the sidewalk as they had always done in the past. Perplexed, she stood on the pavement wondering how the heavy crates had transported themselves to her door, when suddenly the figure of Reb Shlomo Zalman Auerbach appeared, tallis bag under his arm. One by one, he lifted the heavy crates, deposited them in front of the grocery store, and hurried off to shul.

Halacha Weekly

Q. From where do we know that we need to have Kosher Certification? [ 1-3-180]

A. Ramah (Yoreh Deah 119-1) writes that one may not rely on purchasing any food item except from a person that one recognizes as reliable in kashruth. Taz (Ad. Loc. 3) writes that one should rule like Ramah. He specifies further that we see danger to the generation if one should not establish kashrut.  Aruch Hashulchan  (Ad. Loc. 100-11, R. Yechiel Michel Epstein, Z”L) explains this to mean [danger in regard to] his being established as being kosher. The intention is not to exclude everyone except a person who fears G-d greatly or is pious or righteous (that only they should be relied on), rather the intention is to include anyone that accustoms himself to act according to the laws of Israel (wearing tallit and tefilin and praying three times a day every day, performing netilat yadayim before eating) and accustoming the members of his household to follow Kashrut according to the laws of our holy Torah. Such a person is called one who has a reputation of being reliable in kashrut.

Darchei Teshuvah ( 119-1-7, R. Tzvi Hirsch Shapria of Munkatch Z”L) brings Taz who writes that therefore it is decreed in the decrees of the various communities [in KlalYisrael] that we do not to take a food item or wine from any Jew, even if he is established in such a reputation of kashrut, unless he has a written hechsher from a Rav who is  Head of a Rabbinical Court that establishes kashrut. If the letter is lost by him, if he has such a reputation of kashrut, he is believed to say that he has a letter of heksher.