FW: Shabbat-B'Shabbato - Parshat Mikeitz
From: Shabbat BeShabbato [mailto:shabbat.beshabbato@...]
Sent: Monday, December 03, 2007 03:54
Subject: Shabbat-B'Shabbato - Parshat Mikeitz
No 1199: 28 Kislev 5768 (8 December 2007 )
"And So They Did" - by Rabbi Amnon Bazak, Yeshivat Har Etzion
One of the most perplexing problems of commentary on the Torah appears in this
week's Torah portion. After Yosef has his brothers kept in prison for three
days, it is written, "And Yosef said to them on the third day, here is what you
should do and continue to live... Go and bring to your families the food to
break their famine. And bring your younger brother to me, to verify your words
so that you will not die. And so they did." [Bereishit 42:18-20]. What does the
last sentence mean? Does it mean that they went home and brought Binyamin? In
the next verse we are told, "One brother said to another, we are guilty with
respect to our brother" [42:21], and only much later are we told at length how
the brothers returned home and brought Binyamin back with them, after a long
delay. How can it be that this long process is described by the phrase, "And so
they did"? (It is surprising that almost none of the commentators discuss this
difficulty, except for Chizkuni. He explains that the phrase means that the
brothers promised to do as Yosef had said. However, in all other places where it
appears in the Torah the phrase refers to immediate action and not a future
To understand this, we should first note that the repentance of the brothers for
the sin of having sold Yosef into slavery is an important feature in all the
passages from this point - starting with the words "we are guilty" and
continuing to when Binyamin is brought to Egypt (Bereishit 42:21 to 43:14). This
is certainly clear in the way they explicitly express regret about the sin of
the sale, an event that caused Yosef to weep. But even later on, when Yaacov
refuses to send Binyamin to Egypt with the brothers, the fact that the brothers
are willing to take responsibility for their younger brother is also an
expression of their sorrow for what they did to Yosef. Thus, the main point of
these passages is to take note of how the brothers began to repent.
This explains the meaning of the phrase, "And so they did." It is evidently
meant to serve as a brief summary of their long journey, leading to the
fulfillment of the promise, when the brothers did in fact bring Binyamin to meet
Yosef. In effect, the Torah presents two different scenarios of what happened
after Yosef's command: The first one, the short version, indicates in a few
short words the brothers' consent to bring Binyamin, without showing their guilt
feelings and without taking any responsibility for Binyamin. In this scenario,
the brothers did not understand the significance of the events that had
occurred, and they were not involved at all in such matters as repentance and
recognizing their sin. At the same time, the Torah presents the second scenario
at length, showing how the brothers did indeed come to proper conclusions about
the spiritual meaning of the events, as explained above.
Why are there two versions in the Torah? It can be assumed that this is a way of
indicating the dual approach of the brothers. On one hand, they wanted to
quickly fulfill Yosef's command to bring Binyamin, without any hesitation or
uncertainty. On the other hand, they felt an inner spark of repentance. By
giving us both scenarios the Torah was able to teach us about the two approaches
that contended for attention in the minds of the brothers. In the end, they
repented fully, as can be seen in the affair of Yosef's goblet and the emotional
speech by Yehuda.
POINT OF VIEW
Faith and Vision, Then and Now - by Zvulun Orlev, MK
Faith Can Transform Nature into a Miracle
The common factor in the miracles of Chanukah is the victory of the few over the
many. A few Macabbees defeated many Greeks, and a small amount of oil, enough
for no more than one day, burned for eight days. Both events are defined as
miracles. From the natural point of view, it was not possible for the small
number of Macabbees to defeat a kingdom with a well trained army, to enable us
to continue hearing the voices of the opponents of the regime, especially since
those who revolted were risking national suicide. The same is true about the
vial of oil. We can almost hear the skeptic crying out in a loud voice: It is
impossible for the oil to last more than one day.
Life is not based on miracles, but there are still situations when national
decisions must be taken within a framework of faith, an ultimate goal, and a
final vision. And from this approach comes a feeling of sensitivity for the
miraculous. This means that the holiday of Chanukah instills in us the power of
faith and vision.
In our generation, it is not easy to view both the creation of the State of
Israel and the return of the Jews to their land after two thousand years of
exile as purely natural occurrences. It was highly improbable that a nation
which had just suffered such a terrible Holocaust would be able to gather its
strength and fight, the few against the many, win a war, and establish a
vigorous sovereign state. The leadership of the time must have been infused with
a mighty "Macabbeean" spirit, full of a vision and faith. To these few goes the
credit for the establishment of the State of Israel.
On Chanukah we are reminded that not only is it important to operate from a
sense of faith and vision, but without these elements it is not possible to
achieve national goals and objectives. One can go even further and come to
understand that a combination of faith and vision are an inseparable part of
nature - they serve as a link between the material and the metaphysical, between
body and soul, between matter and spirit.
"If vision is lacking, a nation will lose its restraint, but one who observes
the Torah can be happy" [Mishlei 29:18]. In modern times, just as in past days,
we can see the heavy price paid by the nation for a lack of vision and a lack of
faith among the leaders who rule the land. The great difference between the
vision of the Macabbees and the vain images of the Annapolis conference is plain
for all to see. The same is true of the difference between the resounding faith
that rose as a result of the miracle of the oil and the denial and erosion of
the vision of a Jewish state, with a need to maintain our rights over Jerusalem
and Eretz Yisrael. We would not have been able to reach the spiritual and
material achievements of the era of the Macabbees if the leaders at the time had
followed the same path as our current leaders. A weak spirit would have
prevented the Macabbees from combining the material and the spiritual in a
"To Add More" and "Not to Complain"
Rabbi A.Y. Kook wrote, "Completely righteous people do not complain about evil.
Rather, they increase righteousness. They do not complain about apostasy, they
increase the faith. They do not complain about illiteracy, they increase the
wisdom." [Orot Re'iyhah 79, 27-28). This is the way that religious Zionism chose
to act from its very inception. We cannot accept criticism and opposition as a
way of life - no matter how successful it is, no matter how important it seems.
Rather, we must make every effort to take over the reigns of leadership, where
we can play in a role of "those who cause an increase."
Rabeinu Bechayei teaches us that in principle "A small portion of truth will
conquer a lot of untruths, just like a small light can overpower a large amount
of darkness" ["Chemdat Halevavot", Volume on Dedicated Actions, Chapter 5]. This
idea is not simply a poetic statement, it is an important principle for the
nationalistic, moral, and spiritual life of a nation. It is yet another example
of the victory of the "few" over the "many." Even though for the time being we
are few, we cannot free ourselves of the obligation and live under a cloud of a
lack of positive action. Even though we are few in number, we have a task to
perform, expanding the knowledge of such ideas as Judaism, Zionism, social
values, and love for the nation, the Torah, and the land. Our approach can drive
away a great deal of the darkness established by the proponents of neo-liberal
and global secularism.
Our movement has demonstrated this principle during its many years of existence,
and we have managed to influence the Jewish character of Israel. Mainly we have
done this through a broad range of laws which serve as a basis for all of our
yearning. Our movement also influenced the educational system and was able to
establish the range of the new settlements in Eretz Yisrael. We were especially
privileged to establish and maintain the complex systems needed to guarantee a
religious Zionist life style from birth to death.
Traveling along the Main Road and not on the Sidelines
We did not travel on the shoulders of the road but along the main lane of the
highway. Instead of remaining at the edges of the legal system, we have played
an important role in fashioning the rules of public law and order. We did not
expend our energies and our efforts in illegal activities but in shaping the law
itself. The values of religious Zionism and its approach have enough power and
strength to modify the way of life of the systems in the country in a
straightforward way, without any need for guile and intrigue. We have arrived at
our position by traveling along the main road. Our strength does not stem from
divisiveness and refusal to join the others but rather from being directly
involved in national and social institutions, without avoiding any attempt to
convince the others in a pleasant way, in discussions and cooperation with the
secular leadership of the county.
"Even a small amount of truth will defeat a large amount of evil." Our way is a
way of truth, and it is strong enough to give us faith in ourselves, and to
allow us to lead the nation and the country in our generation, just as the
Macabbees did in theirs.
The end of the "Al Hanissim" prayer refers to the miracles "which You performed
for our fathers, in those days and at this time." Just as the path of the
Macabbees succeeded in ancient times, so we can hope and have faith that the
same approach will succeed today.
RESPONSA FOR OUR TIMES
Chanukah Lights in a Dormitory, a House, or a Hotel - by Rabbi Re'eim Hacohen,
Rosh Yeshiva and Chief Rabbi, Otniel
Question: Where should a student living in a yeshiva dormitory light candles on
Chanukah? Is the yeshiva his home, or is he included in the candles lit by the
family at home?
The Law of a Guest
The Talmud discusses the laws pertaining to a guest (Shabbat 23a). Rabbi
Sheishet rules that a guest, either in somebody else's home or in a hotel, must
light his own Chanukah candles. Rabbi Zaira adds that a guest can share the
owner's expense, and that if he is married his wife can light for him at home.
(This is also true for a single man who is included in the candles lit by his
parents - a situation that was evidently not very common in Rabbi Zaira's time.)
Rashi notes that this definition includes one who has left home in order to
study Torah (the same ruling appears in the "Machzor Vitri," which was written
by Rashi's students). The Shulchan Aruch agrees (777:1), adding that if the
guest has a separate entrance he must light his own candles.
The Blessing on the Candles
It would seem obvious that a guest who lights his own candles should recite the
blessings. Terumat Hadeshen (101), the Maharil (145), and the TAZ in fact ruled
that if candles are lit in the home for someone who is a guest in another place
he can recite the blessings where he is. But the Beit Yosef ruled that this is
unnecessary and the blessings should not be recited, and this was accepted by
the Maharshal and Pri Chadash.
In my humble opinion, this dispute is related to the famous argument if the
decree to light Chanukah candles is to light a single lamp for every house (as
in the Shulchan Aruch, and as practiced by the Sephardim to this day) or to have
everybody light his own candles (the Ashkenazim, following the ruling of the
RAMA). This would imply that yeshiva students whose custom in the home is to
light once for the home, and whose parents light for them, should not light
candles in the yeshiva. This corresponds to rulings by Rabbis Ovadia Yosef
(Yechaveh Daat 6:43 ) and Mordechai Eliyahu (Midkra'ei Kodesh 9:93).
A Yeshiva Student Living in a Dormitory
Even for those who follow the approach of the Shulchan Aruch, lighting only one
candle per house, the status of a yeshiva student who spends most of his time
away from home is not clear. Perhaps he should be considered as one who no
longer eats at his father's table and is therefore not included in the candles
lit at home (this would correspond to the opinions of Rabbi Yitzchak Abuhav and
Orchot Chaim, as quoted by the Beit Yosef). It should be noted that things have
changed since the times of most of the commentators, in two ways. First of all,
yeshiva students in previous times, even if they were very far from their homes,
did not live in a well organized dormitory with good rooms and regularly
scheduled meals. In addition, in modern times, when a student leaves his
parents' house but has not yet established his own home, he has two legal
addresses - one at his parents' house and the other in the dormitory where he
spends most of his time.
In view of this new reality, two prominent rabbis of our generation did not
agree about the status of a yeshiva student. Rabbi Avraham Shapiro ruled that
even students who follow the Shulchan Aruch should light in the yeshiva, since
it is their home, as opposed to their parents' home, which they only visit at
rare intervals. On the other hand, Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu is quoted as ruling
that the fact that a student returns home if he gets sick shows that his
parents' home is still his own home, and that such a student should not light
candles in the yeshiva.
In summary: In my humble opinion, a yeshiva student who spends most of the year
in the yeshiva and regularly eats there should consider it as his home, and he
should therefore light Chanukah candles in the dormitory, even if the custom of
his parents is to light only a single candle in their home.
A LESSON FOR THE CHILDREN
The Strength of a Child (Part 1) - by Rabbi Yikhat Rozen, Merkaz Neria, Kiryat
The following events took place in England during the Second World War. German
airplanes flew in the sky every night, dropping bombs and spreading destruction
in the cities and the small towns. This is the story of a young boy who studied
in a "cheder" during that time.
We studied in the area of the main synagogue of the city, a new building which
had been built a short time before on a very large plot of land. In the corner
of the land was an old building two stories high. On the top floor there was a
Beit Midrash where the Jews would pray during the week, while on Shabbat and
holidays the prayers would be held in the new synagogue. The rooms of our cheder
were on the ground floor of the old building. We also had a cellar which served
as an air-raid shelter, where we would go when the sirens would sound.
Chanukah arrived, the happy festival of lights. But we had been warned that no
single ray of light should ever be visible outside at night, in order not to
show the German pilots where our houses were. We were very sad that because of
the horrid Germans we could not put our candles on the window sills, as was the
regular custom. But we recited the blessings over the candles which we put on
the table, after covering the windows with black paper. We hoped with all our
hearts that we would witness a repeat of the miracle of Chanukah, and that the
German enemy would be defeated, just as Antiochus had been vanquished in ancient
On the fifth night of Chanukah, all the students of the cheder gathered in the
main synagogue to light the candles and to enjoy a cheerful Chanukah party.
However, as purposely to upset us, the sirens immediately began to wail,
announcing an air-raid. We were well prepared for such an event. Without showing
any signs of fear, we organized into straight lines and went to the Beit
Midrash, where steps led down to the shelter. But this time, before we managed
to reach the old building, we heard the terrible sounds of explosions. The
distance between the two buildings was not great and it only took a moment to
cross from one to the other. But this moment appeared to us as an eternity.
Finally, we reached the other building and descended the stairs, and we all took
our places in the shelter, as we had done many times before. Our teacher read
off our names from a list to make sure that everybody was there, and then he
taught us a new Chanukah song. We all sang as loud as we could, as if we wanted
the Germans to hear us and blow themselves up.
"And now, children, we will light the Chanukah candles and continue with the
party that was interrupted," our teacher said. But then he remembered that we
had left the candles in the synagogue. This upset us very much, but there was
nothing we could do. "Just as without an etrog we cannot recite the appropriate
blessing, without candles there is nothing for us to light. Let us pray to G-d
that He will accept our desire to observe the mitzva of lighting the candles as
if we had actually performed it," the teacher said.
But I refused to accept this. I was overcome by a strong urge to go to the
synagogue and retrieve the Chanukah candles. This was very dangerous, but I
still wanted to do it. My only question was whether I should ask the teacher for
permission - and he would certainly refuse - or simply sneak out without
attracting any attention. I finally decided to take responsibility for my own
actions without asking anybody else. I remembered what we had been taught by our
sages, "a messenger performing a mitzva is never harmed." So, without losing a
moment I managed to sneak away and climb the stairs.
(To be continued...)
Reactions and Suggestions for Stories: <mailto:yikhat1@...>
TOURING THE LAND
Following the Macabbees to Beit Zecharia - by the Kefar Etzion Field School
On the occasion of Chanukah, we will travel to Mount Chevron , in the footsteps
of the fifth battle fought by Yehuda Hamacabbee - the battle of Beit Zecharia.
Lizius, the Greek warrior, approached Yehuda from south of Beit Tzur with a
large armored force - "The army numbered 100 thousand foot soldiers with 20
thousand horses and thirty-two elephants trained for war. They went through the
land of Edom and camped near Beit Tzur." [Chashmona'im 1:6,30-31]. Yehuda left
Jerusalem to meet Lizius and camped opposite him in Beit Zecharia. "Yehuda left
Chakra and camped near Beit Zecharia, opposite the king's camp" [ 6:32].
The attack began early in the morning, with the Greek army coming from the south
and having an advantage. "When the sun rose on the gold and copper shields, the
hills glowed because of them and burned as if heated by torches" [6:39]. But in
spite of the strength of the enemy and the glaring sun which blinded them,
Yehuda and his warriors managed to strike about 600 of the enemy's forward
force, led by Yehuda's brother, Elazar. "Elazar, from Choron, saw one of the
armored beasts belonging to the king... And he ran to it courageously...
striking to his left and to his right... Then he went under the elephant,
stabbed it and killed it. And the elephant fell on him, pushing him to the
ground and killing him." [Kadmoniyot Hayehudim 12].
Elazar's heroism and the courage of Yehuda's warriors were not sufficient in
this battle, and Yehuda was forced to retreat to the Gofna Mountains. Some of
his fighters fled to Jerusalem, to struggle against a harsh blockade set by
Lizius. "There was no food in the storehouses, because it was the year of
Shemitta" [Chashmona'im 6:53 ]. Because of a power struggle in Antiochia, Lizius
returned to that city, removing the blockade around Jerusalem . The day that the
blockade was lifted was made into a holiday. "On the twenty-eighth of Shevat
King Antiochus left Jerusalem " [Megilat Taanit].
We will start our tour at Chirbat Zecharia, at the site of Beit Zecharia from
the time of the Second Temple , which served as an important outpost in Gush
Etzion during the War of Independence.
How Do We Get There?
At the Gush Etzion Junction we turn west toward Kefar Etzion. After about 2 km ,
we turn north at the Alon Shevut Junction towards Rosh Tzurim. About 1 km from
there we turn right, to Chirbat Zecharia. We continue on foot for about 700
meters to a lone oak tree, where we have a view of the battlefield - the Shevut
riverbed, which separates Kefar Etzion from the army base to the east and the
west and links Beit Tzur in the south to Beit Zecharia in the north.
Starting at the oak tree, we descend to the south through Chirbat Balut,
crossing the main road and continuing through the vineyards to the Shevut
riverbed. After about 300 meters, we reach the gate of Kefar Etzion on the
right, and we enter this kibbutz. We end our visit with the view from the roof
of the German monastery (where the audio-visual exhibition has been installed),
with a view of Beit Tzur, which is near the town of Karmei Tzur , north of
(Written by: Areleh Meitlis)
Throughout the entire holiday of Chanukah, the Field School will sponsor hikes
and trips for the whole family to the following sites: Wadi Kelt, the Og
Riverbed, Herodion, the Chariton Cave, Wadi Puchin, Ein Kerem, Nachalaot, and
1-2 Tevet (10-11 December): The Jewish settlers in Yehuda during the War of
Independence - Aryeh Rotenberg
Contact: Kefar Etzion Field School , 02-9935133, www.k-etzion.co.il
MEN OF YISRAEL
"He Did Not Give Anything to the Sons of Kehat, They Were Responsible for the
Holiest Labors" - by Rabbi Uri Dasberg, Machon Zomet
This week's subject was not a Chassidic rabbi, in fact not an ordained rabbi at
all, and he was not a formal public leader. Rather, he was a Bnei Akiva
counselor and a bank clerk. But in spite of this he was the master of the Mishna
in that he wrote its most popular commentary. How well known is his commentary?
One time, when entry into Russia was only possible by finding a crack in the
Iron Curtain, a Jew arrived at the Moscow airport. As an activist supporting the
Jews in Russia , he had in his suitcase everything needed to live as a Jew -
prayer books of all kinds, talitot, and tefillin. The Russian customs agent did
not allow him to take the items with him, and then he asked, "Do you have a copy
The original plan was for the commentary on the Mishna to be written by a group
of Torah scholars, and that our subject would only be responsible for organizing
the enterprise. But after several failed attempts to organize the project, he
said to himself: If I managed to compose several tunes, the Almighty will help
me write a commentary on the Mishna. The success of his work can be seen from
the fact that it is used both by prominent rabbis and yeshiva heads and also by
young children, who use it to study the Mishna on their own, as if to say: Using
Kehati, anybody can study.
In general, he is not the original source of the commentary. He was preceded by
such commentators as Rashi, Rambam, Tosafot Yom Tov, and Rabbi Akiva Eiger. But
in spite of this, he is often quoted as if he were one of the early
commentators. His well organized sentence structure, his Hebrew renditions of
words, and his translations into understandable Hebrew made his commentary the
most prominent one.
One common difficulty in study is that it is often necessary to remember
previous items in order to understand the current text. Sometimes this situation
can be solved with a cross-reference. In our subject's commentary on the Mishna,
the student is not required to rely on memory - instead, every concept and term
is redefined in an introduction to every specific Mishna or to the chapter. What
then is missing from the commentary? Here is one example: A reader once wrote
that he had reached the chapter in Shabbat about a heated pot. "Your commentary
is beautiful," he wrote, "but why don't you also tell us how to prepare cholent?
In my house, the cholent is always burnt..."
Who is Our Subject?
Just in case there remain a few readers who have still not identified this
week's subject in spite of the many clues in the above paragraphs: He is Pinchas
Kehati, the author of the famous commentary on the Mishna, who passed away on
the first of Tevet 5737 (1976). His work on the Mishna, which was not the only
large project on which he worked, started out as a series of weekly notes
written as a guide for counselors of the Bnei Akiva youth movement, and was then
published as a twelve-volume set of commentary, printed in several different
editions. This commentary, which Pinchas worked on very hard but which was
completed in a very short time, was described by the author as follows: "I work
very hard so that others will be able to study with ease." We owe you a great
debt of thanks, Pinchas Kehati.
Words of Torah by our Subject:
It is written in this week's Torah portion, "And one of them opened his sack to
give his donkey food in the hotel" [Bereishit 42:27]. This indicates a high
level of dedication. Expensive food that was meant for human beings was given to
a donkey. That is the path of Judaism, which teaches us to be as kind to animals
as we are to people. But if this is the case, it is hard to understand the
comment of Rabbi Yair Bachrach, author of Chavat Yair, with respect to the
mitzva of "shiluach haken" - sending away the mother before taking young birds
or eggs out of a nest. He writes that this is a positive mitzva which should be
fulfilled even if the person does not need the young chicks or the eggs for
himself. Isn't this approach even worse than that of a person who at least wants
the eggs or the birds for his own use? (As it happens, Rabbi Yair also passed
away on the first of Tevet, in the year 5602, 1701).
Pinchas Kehati gives the following answer to this question: The verse tells us,
"If a bird's nest happens to be along your path" [Devarim 22:6]. The mother is
mature and can protect herself from danger, but what can the poor young birds
do? In order to protect the species it is indeed necessary to chase the mother
away, but then it is absolutely necessary for the person to take the young
chicks home with him, in order to give them food and to help them to continue to
(Source: a book of memories printed in honor of Pinchas Kehati)
HOLY AND SECULAR
Taking Booty - by Rabbi Amichai Gordin, Yeshivat Har Etzion and Shaalvim High
Chaim Tzipori was a battalion commander during the Six Day War. In the book "To
Belong" which was published in his memory, Nachum Barnea (today a well known
journalist who writes in Yediot Acharonot) tells a remarkable story.
* * * * * *
At the end of the war we were on the Golan Heights . The shooting had ended and
looting had begun. The lust for souvenirs was so great that even threats of
being shot for insubordination had no effect. The men took everything: straw
mats, old bicycles, a sewing machine, and a huge radio receiver made of wood.
All of this and more was hidden in our vehicles.
When we received our orders to return to Israel to be released from reserve
duty, Tzipori decided to end the war with what appeared at first to be a
sightseeing trip. It was a terrible day. Every so often a tire would blow up
from the extreme heat and the entire convoy would grind to a halt. In this
nerve-wracking atmosphere, Tzipori commanded the convoy to leave the road. This
happened near Jericho . I thought that he wanted to show the ruins of ancient
Jericho to us. It would be a good opportunity for an illustrated history lesson.
We climbed to an exposed hilltop from which we could look at the city. He told
us to park the vehicles in a circle, with the men lined up in front of them, in
military formation. When we quieted down, Tzipori took a copy of the Tanach from
his pocket and began to read, slowly and carefully: "And the city (of Jericho )
shall be banned, the city and all that is within it... Beware of the ban, lest
you yourselves be destroyed... and you will cause the camp of Yisrael to be
destroyed and make it ugly." [Yehoshua 6:17-18].
And when Tzipori had finished reading from chapter 6, he continued with chapter
7, the affair of Achan. "Bnei Yisrael violated the ban... and G-d was angry with
Bnei Yisrael" [7:1-2]. Even those who were not so wise began to understand that
the commander was not giving a history lesson about the conquest of Jericho but
that he was talking about his own men. He reviewed the awesome process of
selection that Bnei Yisrael experienced until Achan, the guilty person, was
When he finished reading, Tzipori put the Tanach back in his pocket and
announced that anybody who had any souvenirs should take them out and put them
in the middle of the circle. Then he would check the insides of the vehicles. If
he found anything, he would put the offenders on trial.
One by one the men turned around and climbed onto their vehicles. They took out
an amazing collection of items, from weapons and ammunition to stools made of
straw. Ever so slowly, the disposal of the booty was transformed into the
equivalent of an ancient ritual.
At that moment I felt an irresistible urge to be part of the proceedings. In my
pocket, I had an ID card of a Syrian soldier that I had found near his dead
body. I went to the middle of the circle and put the card on the pile. All at
once I felt at peace, at last I was part of the action.
Tzipori commanded us to separate the material into two piles. One, with military
equipment, was returned to one of the trucks. He then commanded us to pour
gasoline over the other pile. I had the feeling that we felt the same way that
the faithful used to feel when they brought a sacrifice in the Temple .
Tzipori did not do any more searching. There was no need. In the fervor of the
proceedings, people would have given the shirts off their backs. In any case,
perhaps he did not want to spoil the great lesson that he had taught.
* * * * * *
I learned many things from the above story about Chaim Tzipori. One lesson is
that true ethics can only be learned from one who struggled with a difficult
dilemma (such as Yehoshua Bin Nun and Tzipori himself) and not from self
righteous people who have never been put through a true test.
I also learned how true ethics is deeply ingrained in every single Jew, and how
much inner good every one of us possesses.
I learned how right our sages were when they said that in today's world there is
almost nobody who knows how to rebuke others. If we all knew how to criticize
like Chaim Tzipori did in the story, if we had his patience, his cunning, and
his sensitivity, perhaps we would all be more successful in our attempts to
I also learned that the mitzva of eradicating evil from our midst must be
performed without seething anger but out of a deep spiritual need to be pure
before the Almighty.
A CHASSIDIC THREAD
Game Theory - by Rabbi Shlomo Shok, teacher in Yeshivat Siach and Nokdim
Yosef's brothers are far away from home, at the mercy of the master of a foreign
land. We can all imagine just how we would feel under similar circumstances.
When "the master" - who in fact is Yosef - turns to the brothers and says, "Here
is how I will know that you speak the truth: Leave one brother with me and take
the food needed for the hunger in your houses" [Bereishit 42:33], he is hinting
that he is able to overcome the fact that they miss their homes. This is the
same home that has been full of sadness and mourning ever since Yosef was sent
More than any other place in the world, the home can provide us with inner light
and warmth that are so missing today in our lives. In the cold and dark nights
of winter it is more important than ever to remain at home, and it is then that
we are faced with the question: Is this really a home? Has this house been
successful in fulfilling our personal need for a home?
A cold house is one that gives us our material needs, completely functional,
providing the basic physical requirements of those who enter it and leave but
where nothing else ever happens.
If the members of the household would find the time to play with each other now
and then, the functional seriousness of the house might dissipate somewhat, and
the residents might begin to live with each other instead of alongside each
Who among my readers never had the urge to play with matches when he or she was
young? Now, on Chanukah, not only is this permitted, the prohibition to play
with matches has been transformed into a mitzva. All the members of the house
play with matches and with candles, thereby opening a new season of games. The
family loses its serious outlook and everybody is ready to sit on the floor,
playing with "dreidles" and coins, and exchanging warm looks with other members
of the family.
Yosef shows that he also understands the connection between make-believe and
family links that can be formed in its wake. Yosef's game of hide-and-seek leads
to a warmer atmosphere, and the desire for a warm home increases, reaching the
epitome in a new family game: "The man in whose possession the goblet was found
will remain with me as a slave, and the rest of you may return in peace to your
In next week's Torah portion, Yosef indeed shatters the hunger of the family for
closer intimacy, and uses his game of hide-and-seek to bring about a new higher
level of cooperation within the family: "And Yosef could no longer restrain
himself... So he kissed all of his brothers... And afterwards, his brother spoke
to him" [45:1,15].
HALACHA FROM THE SOURCE
Removing Cucumber from a Salad - by Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Rimon, Rabbi of Southern
Alon Shevut and a teacher in Yeshivat Har Etzion
Is the prohibition of "borair" - selecting waste from food - relevant only with
respect to actual waste material, or does it include a case where two different
foods are mixed together?
In the Talmud it is written, "If one has two types of food in front of him, he
can select what he wants to eat and leave the other type behind. But he should
not select the other one, and if he does he is required to atone by bringing a
Chatat sacrifice." [Shabbat 74a]. Rashi writes that the text should not be "two
types of food" but rather "types of food," without a specific number. The second
version implies that the unwanted material is in fact waste, and the person is
selecting the food from the waste, which is permitted. The text "two types of
food," on the other hand, implies that there is no real waste present.
Evidently Rashi feels that it is not prohibited to select unwanted food from
another type of food but only from waste material. It seems that Tosafot also
understood the different versions of the text in the same way. This is the way
the Eglei Tal understood the passage (Borair 24). However, the Magen Avraham and
Pri Megadim felt that Rashi also forbids selecting from two different types of
However, the Tosafot rule that the prohibition of borair includes selecting from
two foods, and they therefore insist that the correct text is "two types of
food." However, as we have seen the main prohibition of borair refers to
removing waste material from food. What is the definition of waste if both types
of material are foods? The Tosafot write, "What the person does not want to eat
is considered waste with respect to the other food, which he wants." Thus, the
food that he wants to eat is considered "food" while the other one is considered
This can also be understood differently. It may be that the prohibition of
borair - selecting - is defined as the act of separating the items, because this
separation is a way of preparing one of the types of material present to be used
In the Talmud Yerushalmi, this subject appears as an explicit dispute. "If one
selects one food from another one, Chizkiya says he is obligated (to bring a
sacrifice) and Rabbi Yochanan says he is not" [Shabbat 7:2].
The Biur Halacha writes that the prohibition to select one food from another is
related to the fact that this act prepares the food - each type of food is
improved by the fact that the other one is removed (319:3). He concludes that
there is no prohibition of borair if one type is lying on top of the other one
and the bottom one cannot be reached without removing the top one, since each
type exists in its final form and the only problem is to reach the bottom layer.
In view of these considerations, if there is a pile of clothing lying one item
on the others (not mixed together) or a rack with coats on hangers, one behind
the other, there is no problem in removing the top item in order to reach one
that we want to take. This action is not defined as borair, since the items are
not mixed together, and this is permitted even if the clothing is not needed
immediately. (see Shemirat Shabbat K'Hilchata 3:43, and the note quoting Rabbi
In summary: The prohibition of borair - selecting - is relevant in principle for
two foods or two types of garments that are mixed together. The type of item
that is not wanted is considered "waste," and one is therefore only allowed to
remove the type that he or she is interested in, for immediate use. However, if
two different types of items are lying separately, one on top of the other (not
mixed together), the top layer may be removed to reach the bottom one, even if
it is not needed for immediate use.
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SHABBAT-ZOMET is an extract from SHABBAT-B'SHABBATO, a weekly bulletin
distributed free of charge in hundreds of synagogues in Israel . It is
published by the Zomet Institute of Alon Shevut, Israel , under the auspices
of the National Religious Party.
Translated by: Moshe Goldberg
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