Shabbos page 12: A New Understanding of Shabbos

Shabbos 12 contains a perplexing Braisa that says one may not visit the sick on Shabbos.  The Talmud  cuts back on this and explains that if one does visit the sick, one should say: May the shabos heal you or  peace be with you. One would think that this is the highest level of a shabbos experience.

Due to the current circumstances, the SD heard the shiur online from Rabbi Grossman (Z’l).  Rabbi Grossman explains that visiting the sick, calling  out with the sick in prayer is an intense physical and emotional experience.  According to Rabbi Grossman, it appears that the Talmud envisioned a visit with intense prayer, intense conversation… all of which the Rabbis felt was only appropriate for weekday behavior and not for shabbos behavior. Even Rashi says that such actions will call pain.

This is a radical change  in how we view Shabbos and shabbos activities.  It is common in the SD community for people walk to hospital and nursing homes and spend literally hours visiting the sick.  It is such a foreign idea to the SD that such behavior would not be appropriate for Shabbat.

The answer lies in our understanding of Shabbos.    Clearly the Rabbis of the Talmud and Mishna envisioned a day of intense introspection, quiet, peace, tranquility. They must have envisioned a day of not much  physical commotion or walking. A day of true re-invigoration of the self.

The second element is that the Rabbis saw visiting the sick as a weekday event.   Many of us work and might say we don’t have time to do this during the week and need Shabbos to do bikur cholim. The answer the Rabbis are saying is that just as we work, do laundry, go the gym on weekdays, we must find time to do bikur cholim as well.  We cannot say I will have time on Shabbos to do this.  We must make time during the week for concern of others.

This Braisa is both a new look at Shabbos and a new look at how we view our weekday events.

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Shabbos Page 12: Esoteric Debates with Graphic Facts

Shabbos page 12 has the famous debate between Rabbi Yehuda and Rebbi Shimon about  whether an act violates shabbos under the concept of a physical act which causes unintended consequences.  It is a difficult concept to explain. Rabbi Judah says if you do an act which causes an unintended consequences you violate the Sabbath. Rabbi Shimon says that if you do an act which causes unintended consequences you do not violate Shabbos.

The example is a person with  a spiritual disease known as a Zav. A Zav has an uncontrolled emission of fluid from his male organ.   The discussion is whether a Zav (the person with this disease) violates the Sabbath if he puts on a pouch around his male organ and then walks out into the public domain.  The real intention of wearing this pouch is to keep his clothes clean and spare embarrasement.  The unintended consequence is carrying somthing on Shabbos from one domain to another and therefore violates Shabbos. Rabbi Yehuda says liable and Rabbi. Rabbi shimon reasons, he wants to keep clean and not be embarrassed. He dosent want to carry.

Why did the Talmud have to take such a beautiful, theoretical  and esoteric debate and use such a gross disgusting example to illuminate. Clearly there a tons of otherr scenarios that the Talmud could have used.  Why this one?

The Shikkerdovid can answer the question from a shiur he heard Rabbi David Aron of Yeshiva orayata give in January.  The Shiur was on the Ashar Yatzar prayer that we say after relieving ourselves and leaving the lavatory.  Rabbi Aron said that in that prayer we mention “the seat of kavod” for Gd.  Rabbi Aron says we juxtapose hashem’s throne to this lowly act of man to show that the universe is seamless. There is no boundary or distinction between spiritual – lofty and physical. All is from Hashem. All is Torah.  HASHEM created us with needs, bodily functions and they too are holy.

The answer to why this esoteric debat uses this gross  example is the same. All intelletual and esoteric ideas are Torah along with the graphic, the disgusting, the extemely physical nature of man. Torah is not binary.  Torah encompasses the lofty and the lowly.

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Shabbos Page 10: The Talmudic Three Martini Lunch:

The Mishna on page 9 of shabbos lists activities that people should not start close to the time of mincha, however, if they start, they may continue. One of the these activities  is lunch.   The Talmud is concerned on page 10 of drinking during lunch and inebriation lest somone get drunk and forgets to daven mincha.   The Talmud says that there is no concern for such drunkeness at lunch because  Mincha (unlike Maariv) is fixed and required and therefore somone would not  get overly drunk and then fail to fulfill his requirement of prayer.

The SD would like to weigh in.  This is the beauty of being a Torah Jew.  WE are allowed to partake in this world. We are required to eat, drink, be merry, enjoy ourselves, but we always have an eye on the clock. We are always aware that just around the corner is an obligation which does not allow to indulge beyond our ability to do the full will of hashem.  While we are allowed to indulge, we can only do so if it does not inhibit our encroach upon our Avodas Hashem

Therefore, have the three martini lunch provided it does not weaken your ability to do the will of Hashem… Well maybe just two.

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Taanis 3: Gd does not withhold what the world needs

The Shikkerdovid’s son has returned from his gap year early due to the Corona Virus.  Obviously, the SD and the rest of the world is anxious, nervous, and full of trepidation for the future. It is scary when faced with the unknown.  The son of the SD took upon himself to learn Taanis while he is home so the SD is following along.

On page 3 there is a fascinating discussion: “The Sages did not obligate to mention dew and winds, but if one wants to, one may mention them” (in your amidah).  The answer for not requiring is as follows: According to Rabbi Chanina they are not withheld because the world could not survive without them.

At this time in history with corona virus shaking up our daily lives, radically altering our routine so that even  schools,shuls  and all institutions are afraid to open, it is a comforting message that Hashem would not withhold something that the world needs to survive.

Today, the Emuna Daily in a personal email to the SD assured him that since everyone’s parnassah has been already determined and that we are all under the will of Hashem all will be good.

Let us hope that learning, acts of chesed and loving kindness shall get us through along with the belief that hashem would not restrain or with hold the basic ingredients for our survivial.


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Parsha Tetzaveh: Clothes

In parsha Tetzaveh, chapter 28 pasuk  2, the torah tells us “to make holy clothes for your brother Aron to honor and glory. For whose honor and whose glory?

The Ramban starts by saying that the clothes of the kohan are like clothes of the king, majestic, royal.  This would seem that it is to honor the person -kohan.  But then he changes his direction and says, according to Kabbalah. The clothes are to honor and glory Hashem.

Cleary honoring  Hashem  is a better answer. So why dosent the Torah make it explicit. Why the ambiguuous language?   Clothing is ambiguous.  Clothes have the potential to mask or hide  who we really are.   Clothing can hide imperfections.

Purim is next weeek.  It is customary to put on costumes or dress flamboyantly.  It is demonstrate on Purim we are different or changed. We hide who we really are in outlandish costumes.  It is to remind us that one day a year we can be different, dress like a bear or a clown- be a little ambiguous.

The rest of the year there can be no ambiguity. We have to be real, honest and not hide behind things like clothes or affectations.  We cannot allow the flashy bling of clothes hide our true self.

All we have should  be for the honor and glory of Hashem.


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Brachos 55 A- Too Much Prayer?

The ShikkerDovid used to say that he  wakes  up every morning and gooes  to shul and says to Hashem:  “Hashem, please don’t kick me in the head today.”  Some days you go to shul and feel like you are literally begging for your existence. You go to shul with a grocery list and implore Gd to fill the list.

The Talmud tells us, this does not work.  On Page 55A, (at the top) the Talmud tells us those who prolong or extend their prayers, in the end will come to heart ache.  The Talmud cites a phrase “Prolong prayer makes the heart sick.”

How is that possible? How can prolonged and spiritually infused prayer cause heartache. The answer is the type of prayers or the  “grocery list” prayers.  When we come to shul with an agenda and our “wants”.   That there are no promises. As the Rosh Yeshiva of Oraitya says famously, the prayer is “Shma Kolanu” or hear our voices, it does not say, hear our requests and grant them.

Frankly, this is tough stuff. Easy to write. Hard to digest. If Hashem really loves me, he will not want me to suffer, lose sleep, walk around with my stomach in knots because life is so overwhelming.  THere is no answer.  So do we spill our guts and soul when we pray? do you do some perfunctory, distanced prayers?   Maybe the answer is in the work “prolonged”  (maarech).  Our prayers dont need to be long to be effective.  Maybe prayer is like pate or frois gros: short, small portions, rich and intense.  Who knows? If somone figures out the secrete-please tell me.

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Brachos 49: No Multi Tasking

In Talmud Brachos page 49 there is a discussion about the phrasing of the end of a bracha. There is an opinion that we do not conclude a bracha with two concepts. That each bracha ends with mentioning one idea.   Rashi and the Talmud cites the idea that we don’t “bundle mitzos” or we dont do multiple mitzos together.

Of course this is challenged showing that we do sometimes, end a bracha with two ideas, ie shabbos and yomtov etc.  Then distinctions are drawn.

The Shikerdovid would like to ask a question: What would be so horrible  mentioning two things?  The answer: Multi tasking.

The SD could go on and on about our post modern age, the horrors of the deluge data and  information  that we struggle to organize, contain, shield from others. We spend half our time organizing data. We enter data, we file data. Whole industries are about collecting data and information.   We are busy with too many facts, figures, information.

What is lost is Thinking. Reflection. Listening. Anaylsis  We are engrossed in the collection and management of tons of information. WE love when someone calls, we can hit a few butttons and see all the information.  We are missing the one idea or concept at a time.  The Shikker dovid loves the old Carey Grant movies when people sit behind a large elegant  with no computer. No massess of papers and printouts.  They sit behind the desk, think and listen. One thing at at time.

When making a bracha we should be cognizant of each and every gift hashem is giving us. One gift at a time.

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