Illuminations #176, Tishrei, 5779, Parshat Bareishit

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Illuminations #176, Tishrei, 5779, Parshat Bareishit

Torah Gems

When the pesukim describe the purpose of the sun and moon, the Torah first mentions how they are to be Otot – signs for us and the world to improve ourselves, and umoadim – to know when rosh chodesh and the yomim tovim will be (1:14), and then the Torah mentions vehayu limeorot – they should be to light up the world. Says Rashi, veod zos – an additional point (1:15). Meaning, the primary purpose and tachlit of the sun, moon and the rest of the stars is for us! It is to give us remazim to improve ourselves, and for us to be able to know when the yomim tovim will be so that we can serve Hashem. It just happens to be that they also give light to the world! We must internalize and never forget that everything Hashem created He created for us and our avodat Hashem!  There is another penetrating lesson for us to learn from here as well. The Chofetz Chaim teaches that we see from here just how diverse the Torah’s outlook on life is from that of the typical person. Anyone you would ask what the primary purpose of the sun is would tell you that the sun was created to give light and warmth, for without it the world couldn’t exist. But from here we learn that this is not at all the main purpose! (Chofetz Chaim al HaTorah). The Chofetz Chaim also used to say that one who possesses the proper 100%, untainted Torah outlook on life can solve all the problems of the world on every level! This was indeed seen with many of the Torah leaders throughout the generations.

Parsha Pearls

The first Rashi in Chumash begins by quoting a question posed by Rav Yitzchak. Who was this Rav Yitzchak? The sefer Divrei Dovid writes that there is not actually a Midrash or Gemara citing this question in his name; rather, it refers to Rashi’s father whose name was Rav Yitzchak. In order to honor his father, Rashi asked him to pose a question with which he could begin his commentary. From this simple example we can learn from Rashi how to honor our parents. Rashi went out of his way to honor his father even though according to the letter of the law there was no obligation to do so. How much more so must we be careful in honoring our parents in the proper way. Chazal (Kiddushin 30b) explain that Hakadosh Baruch Hu equates His honor and fear to the honor and fear of one’s parents. Chazal also quote Hakadosh Baruch Hu as saying, “When a person honors his father and mother I consider it as if I have dwelt between them and I have been honored.” In fact, Chazal further relate that for this reason, Rabbi Yosef would say, “I have to stand for the Shechinah is coming,” when he would hear his mother coming (Maharsha ad loc.).

Glimpses of Greatness

One Rosh Hashanah, Rabbi Dovid of Lelov was at the court of the Seer of Lublin. It was time to blow the shofar, but Rabbi Dovid was missing and the Seer did not want the shofar sounded until Rabbi Dovid was present. Eventually someone found him in a barn, with a sack of oats. He was feeding the horses, whose owners had gone to shul for the services and neglected their responsibilities to care for their animals.

In another situation, Rabbi Dovid of Lelov carried this one step further. He once saw a driver whip his horse. He said to him, “If you only knew how to communicate with your horse, you would have no need to hit him. Is it fair and just to whip the horse because of your ignorance?” He went on to tell the man that one day the horse would take him before the Heavenly Tribunal, for having caused him needless pain.  “Will you not be embarrassed to have to go to trial with a horse?”

Halacha Weekly

Q . How can one invite non-observant family as guests on Yom Tov? [Miluim II-1]

A. The Talmud in tractate Beiah (21b)-cites Mar Shmuel who says that one may not invite a non-Jew  on a Festival as a preventative measure  so that one will not come to cook more [food than is necessary] for his sake. ( If one cooks food for a non-Jew he will be performing a forbidden melachah on Yom Tov, because it is not for the sake of Yom Tov that he is cooking the food.) There is a concern regarding non-observant guests as well, because the food they eat will not be cooked for the sake of one observing Yom Tov.

Teshuvaot V’hanhagot (5-111-4, R. Moshe Sternbach) notes a concern about hazmanah (inviting non-observant guests). Chut HaShani (Hilchot Yom Tov, 4-65) adds that if there is a basis on which to say the guest is a tinok shenishba (one who was raised in captivity and is ignorant of Jewish observance), then it is permitted to invite them. This is because it only results in a doubt regarding a Rabbinical prohibition. Only if one cooked the food for these guests in a separate pot for them specifically would this involve a Torah prohibition, and would be prohibited. One should be careful to cook all the food together so everyone eats from the same pot.

Chut HaShani (Ad. Loc. 5-6) says also  it is permitted in the case of a baal teshuva who wants to invite his parents who are secular on Yom Tov, for it is possible that they will turn to the good through this [observance] , and similarly it is permitted to invite them for Yom Tov and the night of the Seder for they are involving themselves in turning to do good. Also see Maharsham (1-121, R. Shalom Mordechai Shwadron Z”L) who writes similarly.