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November 12, 2005 Volume 20, Number 6

10 Cheshvan 5766 Parshat Lech Lecha

W
True Happiness Contemporary
Halacha
hen the Torah this Pasuk quotes a verse from in our lives. We grow up Kotev and Mochek
Rav Shuki Goodman

describes the separa- the book of Mishlei: “The around religious people, and in Halacha (Part 1)
tion of Avraham and Lot, we name of the wicked shall rot” therefore we often don’t think
are told that Lot and his fami- (Proverbs 10:7). Rashi is too much about what being
Rabbi Tzvi Sinensky

ly move just beyond Sedom. teaching us that Lot and the religious really means. We T he melachot of kotev and

The Pasuk notes, “And the rest of the inhabitants of wake up, daven, say Kiddush
mochek, writing and eras-

inhabitants of Sedom were Sedom were not the holiest of on Shabbat…we go through
ing, raise many questions
which bear significant practi-
wicked and sinners to people, and would therefore the routine. When people fail
cal implications. One such

Hashem, exceedingly” end up rotting. The difficulty to see the beauty in Torah,
question flows from a seem-

(Breishit 13:13). Apparently, it with this is that we already they may even begin to see it
ing omission of the Talmud:

did not matter to Lot that know that sinners will be pun- as a burden. As a result, some
The Talmud fails to address an
instance in which a person
these people were sinful, what ished. Why does the Torah people, Lot included, are even
causes the result of ketiva or

mattered to Lot was Olam need teach us the concept of tricked into thinking that
mechika to come about,

HaZeh - this world. In the reward and punishment here? being religious means giving
either without performing

hopes of living a life filled Rather, it must be that the up their share in this world.
any act of writing or erasing
whatsoever, or by writing in a
with greater physical pleasure, Torah is coming to teach us They believe that in order to
fashion that in no way resem-

Lot was ready to sacrifice his something different, some- fully enjoy this world, one
bles the classic acts of writing

spirituality and a relationship thing more fundamental. must be less religious, G-d
and erasing. One practical
example of this would be cut-
with his creator. Sometimes we are not fortu- forbid. ting the letters made with

Rashi, in his commentary on nate enough to see the beauty But in reality, just the opposite
icing on a cake. What is the
halakha in such cases?
continued on page 3 Perhaps the seminal source

I
regarding this subject is the
TableTorah Chesed and Gevurah Magen Avraham’s commen-

n Parshas Lech Lecha (Bereishis 15:1) Avraham is best known for his trait of chesed An analogy: Parents who wish to give their
continued on page 2
David Moster

Hashem tells Avraham “Don’t worry – loving kindness. The Sfas Emes explains that children the best possible upbringing would
Avram, I will protect you.” This statement Avraham was particularly worried that the use never provide them with “unlimited kindness,”
appears to be out of context! Avraham had just of gevurah – strength – in the war would eclipse such as an unlimited bank account or lack of
defeated his enemies in a battle to rescue his his quality of chesed. Hashem assures him that supervision, which would actually harm them.
uncle Lot. Why, after such an inspiring victory the use of appropriate strength against his ene- By committing oneself to a purpose and even
and show of strength, does Avraham now mies actually furthered his ability to later using a bit of force, one is able to show more
need G-d’s reassurance and protection? bestow kindness to others. chesed than he might have otherwise.
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Avraham Avinu and Kotev and Mochek in Halacha continued from page 1
tary on Shulchan Arukh. The Practically speaking, the

T
Ahavat Hashem Magen Avraham1 rules that
one may not attach or detach
Mishneh Berurah8 rules strin-
gently like the Mordekhai, but

he Torah regards entire Talmud than to alter a


Ephraim Meth
silver letters from the shirt to is willing to rely on the Magen

Avraham Avinu as the single character trait.) How,


which they are attached, for Avraham to be lenient if the

paradigmatic theophile. He is then, can Hashem demand of


doing so would be a violation letters are written on the cake
of the melachot of kotev and itself.9 Furthermore, the
described by Yeshayahu ha- us an emotion? mochek. Others, such as R. Mishneh Berurah is lenient if
Navi as “Avraham, my lover Second, this problem is com-
Barukh ha-Levi Epstein, author one “cuts” the letters with his

(41:8).” This means that pounded by the nature of our


of the Arukh ha-Shulchan,2 dis- teeth, as part of the process of

Avraham properly fulfilled the love’s intended recipient. It


agree, claiming that attaching eating the cake. Modern-day

mitzvah of Ahavat Hashem, would be fine if Hashem


and detaching letters does not poskim generally follow these

one of the most difficult and commanded us (as he indeed


fall under the rubric of rulings of the Mishneh

important mitzvot in the did) to love our wife, our fam-


halakhic writing. Berurah.10

Torah. Rabbeinu Tam derives ily, every Jew, or every human


In fact, it is possible to trace It should be further noted that
this question to the commen- most poskim hold that one
the boundaries of Mitzvat being. People are tangible, tary of the Mordekhai, a should avoid cutting pictures
Ahavat Hashem by analyzing observable. We can love them
medieval authority, whose col- as well11 , based on the

the scriptural and Midrashic in a concrete and definite way.


lection of the rulings of Yerushalmi12 and Rambam13

narratives about Avraham But how are we to love


German and French scholars who apply the melacha of

Avinu1 . By Hashem,
appears in the back of the kotev to drawing pictures, as

doing the
Talmud. The Mordekhai 3 well. Finally, it would seem
the intan-
same, we
quotes the Maharam mei- that one may cut in between
gible and
How are we to Rutenberg, who ruled that the letters, as long as the
can address love Hashem, the i nv i s i b l e, one may not slice letters that shape of each individual letter
some rele- who even
appear on a cake, on the basis remains intact.14
intangible and
vant issues forbids the
of the melacha of mochek.

that sur-
invisible, who
even forbids the m a nu f a c -
The Rama quotes this pesak of 1 Orach Chaim 340:s”k 10

round this
possession of any ture or
the Mordekhai in Shulchan 2 ibid., s”k 33

mitzvah.
Arukh,4 and the Gra5 and
possession
3 Masekhet Shabat, ot 369
Magen Avraham6 similarly
The com- representation of of any
4 Orach Chaim 340:3
uphold the ruling of the

mandment icon or
Maharam. The Magen 5 ibid., s.v. asur
Himself?
to love representa-
Avraham, however, does raise 6 ibid., s”k 6

Hashem (Devarim 6:5) pres- tion of Himself ?


the possibility that if the letters 7 See Taz, Dagul mei-Revava, and

ents us with two difficulties. The Rambam mentions that


are part of the cake itself – as Peri Megadim ad loc.
opposed to when they are
First, how can the Torah the study of Torah and the
8 ibid, s”k 15
written in icing, which is gen-
require us to possess an emo- study of nature can aid a per-
9 This case is to be treated more
erally added later on – there is leniently, explains the Mishnah

tion? We can force our bodies son in acquiring Ahavat


more room to rule leniently. Berurah, because the letters are

to don tefillin, we can make Hashem2. This definition


not halakhically defined as a ketiva,
Many acharonim question the

our mouths pray. We can stems from the Rambam’s


but merely as part of the cake.
ruling of the Mordekhai entire- Letters only constitute halakhic

even, with persistent effort, synonymization of love of


ly,7 for a wide range of rea- writing, according to this

divert our cognitions from G-d with knowledge of G-d.


sons. One of the considera- approach, if they are originally a

negative pursuits to positive One can know a distant


tions that is raised revisits the separate entity, and are later
question debated by the appended onto the cake.

ones. In contrast, our emo- author from his literary works, Magen Avraham and Arukh 10 Shemirat Shabat ke-Hilchata

tions spring from a source a distant sculptor from his


ha-Shulchan: Here, the act of 11:7; Rabbi Ribiat’s The 39

that is more deeply rooted in statues; one can know


Melochos vol. 3, pg. 987.
11 ibid.
“erasing” the letters on the

our being than any of these. Hashem from the Torah that
cake seemingly does not

(Reflecting on this reality, he wrote and from the world


resemble the normal act of 12 Shabat 7:2

Rabbi Yisroel Salanter said that he formed. (Thus, Rabbi


erasing. They wonder, does 13 Hilchot Shabat 11:17

that it is easier to finish the Yosef Dov Soloveitchik


this mean that one does not 14 The 39 Melochos, pg. 988
violate the melacha of mochek
in such a case?
continued on page 3

EINAYIM L’TORAH • 2
vhv, ohn, Avinu and Ahavat Hashem continued from page 2
Avraham
pointed out that women, who are and teach Torah. Thus, Avraham explicat- love and Rabbeinu Tam’s emphasis on the
exempt from studying Torah for its own ed the tenets of monotheism and dissem- manifestations of love do not displace the
sake, might still study it in order to inated them amongst his entire genera- feeling and emotion that lies at the mitz-
acquire Ahavat Hashem.) The Rambam, tion, as the Torah testifies in no fewer vah’s core. Nor are their explanations
then, does not identify the command- than three places3. It similarly leads him to mutually exclusive. However, they do help
ment to love Hashem with an emotion. endure calamities and insults with calm- us understand not only what Hashem
Rather, he believes that it binds us to ness and stoicism. Therefore, the Midrash asks of us in this difficult commandment,
pursue those actions that condition such records Avraham’s tranquil acceptance of but also how he asks it of us.
emotions in man. Nimrod’s horrific punishment for
Rather than focus on the causes of destroying his father’s idols4. Our charge, 1 Cited in Shenei Luchot ha-Berit, Derashot 3-4.
2 Sefer ha-Mitzvot, Positive Commandment 3, Hilchot
Ahavat Hashem, Rabbeinu Tam focuses then, is not simply to love Hashem. It is Yesodei ha-Torah 2:1-3, Hilchot Teshuvah 10:1-3.
on its results. Love of G-d, says Rabbeinu to act as we would if we loved Hashem. 3 Bereishit 12:8,13:4, 21:33.
Tam, imbues man with the desire to learn Both the Rambam’s focus on the roots of 4 Yalkut Shimoni 14.

True Happiness continued from page 1


is true. Hashem gave us the Torah piness that he always sees at Orthodox aren’t drunk. The only other time he sees
because he wants us to enjoy this world. weddings. But he said that the most people this excited and this happy is
And the surest way to get the most out amazing part of it all, what impresses when they’re drunk!
of our stay here is by constantly moving Have we ever thought about a wedding in
closer and closer toward Him. this light? Do we think about the hun-
After a wedding I was at in Pittsburgh, dreds of people who came to this wed-
The only other
Pennsylvania, I started talking to the ding, simply because they’re happy for the
time he sees
photographer, who happened not to be people this bride and groom? The next time we for-
Jewish. I asked him if this was the first excited and this get how lucky we truly are, how the great-
Orthodox wedding he had attended. He happy is when est gift in the world is being Jewish, let us
replied that it was not, and that in fact, remember –“Ashreinu, Mah Tov Chelkeinu”
he had done quite a few before. - “How fortunate are we, and how great is
they’re drunk!
Nevertheless, he said that he continues our lot!” We are the luckiest people on the
him so much each and every time—is
to express his amazement at the level of planet, because we have Torah and
that all these people who are so happy
Simcha—the incredible amount of hap- Mitzvot. Let us never forget it.

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PARSHAT LECH LECHA • 3


Parsha Points in Lech Lecha
Ephriam Meth
• Hashem instructs Avraham to travel to Israel. He promises Israel to Avraham’s descendants.
• Avraham and company depart for Egypt to avoid famine in Israel. Pharaoh captures Sarai.
When Hashem miraculously punishes him, Pharaoh sends them away with riches. Einayim L’Torah
• Lot’s shepherds quarrel with Avraham’s shepherds, so Avraham proposes separation to avoid 500 W. 185th Street
argument. Lot moves to Sodom, and Avraham to Chevron. New York, NY 10033
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• The king of Eilam captures Lot in a war against Sodom. Avraham musters his household and
editor@einayim.org
rescues Lot (and Sodom) from Eilam and its allies.

• In the Berit Bein ha-Betarim, covenant between the pieces, Hashem informs Avraham of his
descendants’ 400 year exile in foreign-held lands. Only the fourth generation will return to
Israel. Editors In Chief
Pinchas Friedman
• Sarai encourages Avraham to marry her maidservant, Hagar. Hagar becomes pregnant, disre-
Yehuda Brand
spectful, and oppressed. She absconds to the desert, where an angel informs her that her child
Yishmael will be a wild man. Executive Editors
• Hashem commands Avraham to circumcise every male in his household. Hashem informs him Zev Koller
that Yitzchak will soon be born. Yitzchak, not Yishmael, will share Avraham’s G-d-given responsi- Dovid Skversky
bilities and privileges.
Associative Editor
Josh Weinberg

Literary Editors
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Yosef Lindell

Public Relations
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Ephraim Meth

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EINAYIM L’TORAH • 4 PARSHAT LECH LECHA