Illuminations #171, Elul, 5778, Parshat Ki Teitzei

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Illuminations #171, Elul, 5778, Parshat Ki Teitzei

Torah Gems

“You shall surely send away the mother bird, and the fledglings take for yourself, in order that it shall be good for you and you shall live a long life” (Devarim 22:7)

The Ketav Sofer explains the reason that the Torah promises a good and long life for the commandment of sending away the mother bird. The Ramban explains that this mitzvah will implant in a person the attribute of empathy and compassion. Acting in a compassionate manner will enable you to feel empathy for all living creatures. But the Sages have said that the lives of three kinds of people are not considered as really living: those with a strong degree of compassion, those who constantly become angry, and those who are finicky. When someone empathizes strongly with the pain and suffering of others, he will suffer himself whenever he hears about the suffering of others, especially when he is unable to do anything to alleviate the other person’s suffering, as is frequently the case. Therefore, after Hashem commanded us to have compassion on birds in order that we should grow in this trait, he guarantees that through this we will still have a good and long life. For many years you will be able to help a large number of people and this will increase your days instead of shortening them. Being compassionate causes pain. But these are growing pains. You grow as a person when you feel the pain of others. A person who is apathetic and callous towards the suffering of others might think that he is making his life easier. But there is a lack of depth to such a life. The more you feel for others the more elevated you become. (Growth through Torah)

Parsha Pearls

“You must raise it with him.” (Devarim 22:4)

Our parshah states: “You shall not see the donkey of your brother or his ox falling on the road and hide yourself from them; you shall surely stand them up with him.” This verse refers to an animal that has fallen, to a burden that has fallen from it, and to an animal that has fallen with its burden still on it. The Torah adds the word “with him.” Rashi explains that if the owner helps you, you must work with him to lift the animal and burden. But, if he just sits by and says, “Whereas this is your mitzvah, if you wish to unload the animal you may do so,” and does not assist you, you are not responsible to help. The Chafetz Chayim (quoted in Torah Ladaat) said that the same is true in spiritual matters. If a person wants Divine assistance to be able to study and observe Torah, he must at least make an effort on his own to do them. If a person asks Hashem, “Veha’arev na Hashem Elokenu et divrei Toratecha befinu,” sweeten the words of Your Torah in my mouth, and “Veha’er enenu beToratecha,” enlighten our eyes to Your Torah, (which are prayers to truly enjoy and understand the Torah) and immediately after praying leaves for work or to take care of personal affairs, how can he expect Hashem to aid him? One must first put in the effort to study Torah and only then will he merit Divine help. This is a common question: “How do I get to feel the true sweetness and enjoyment of Torah study?” The answer now is twofold. Pray for it and do it and it will come.

Glimpses of Greatness

Once Rav Moshe Feinstein, z’tl, was not feeling well and his family members encouraged him to rest, and they did not allow visitors or phone calls to disturb him.  However, that evening R’ Moshe’s family went to attend a simcha, and they asked a young man to stay with Rav Moshe and attend to his needs. In the course of the evening, the phone rang, and the young man answered it.  When Rav Moshe asked who had called, the young man told him that it was a talmid chacham who was caught in a difficult predicament with several people who were harassing him, and had requested that Rav Moshe try to influence these people. Rav Moshe immediately arose and began dealing with the situation with great energy.  When  his family members returned from the simcha, and saw Rav Moshe up and about, they expressed great dismay that Rav Moshe was not resting. Rav Moshe stood up, and said with great vigor, “What did we come to this world for, if not to extend a little kindness and compassion to a suffering Jew!”

Halacha Weekly

Q. Does a child who converts require verbal acceptance of the mitzvot like an adult? [I-YD 16-337]

A. We know from the Talmud in Ketuvot (11a) that a ger katan, a child convert, goes to the mikveh under the supervision of the Rabbinical Court. When he becomes of age, becoming bar mitzvah, he must verbally accept the mitzvot.  According to the Shulchan Aruch (YD 268-67),this is only in the case where he has not been raised to practice Jewish customs. However, if he has been accustomed to practice Judaism, then in his adulthood if he simply continues to practice Judaism, from the point he comes of age onwards he is no longer allowed to protest to being Jewish.

Ketuvot (11a)  explains since he has become an adult for one hour, and has not protested then, from that point onwards he is not able to protest. Rambam (Hilchot Melachim 10-3) writes that, “If he was a child, he is able to protest in the hour that he becomes an adult, and since he does not protest in this hour, at that point he is not  able to protest (after that point).“

However, what happens if the child is raised in a home where the parents are not observant of Judaism? Minchat Yitzchak (3-79, R Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss Z”L ) writes that a boy or girl may be converted only under the condition that they stand to be raised in a home where they will be given a religious education. However, if they are educated in homes that are not shomrei Torah and mitzvot, that are not observant, it is not possible to convert them without a verbal acceptance of the mitzvot when they come of age.