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The Medresh Rabbah in Parshas Bereishis comments on the possuk that describes the division of the upper and lower waters. When this separation took place, the lower waters that were destined to inhabit earth, burst into bitter cries. Why were they overcome with deep sadness?

Looking closer at the Medresh, we find that the Medresh inquires why the phrase of “Ki tov” is omitted from the second day of creation. The answer given is because there was argument- machlokes on that day. When Hashem split the waters and designated some of the waters to stay in the heavens and designated the other waters to go down to earth, the descending waters began to cry, arguing, “Why should we be compelled to inhabit a place of tumah and impurities distant from the divine presence while the other waters are privileged to remain in a place of taharah in close proximity to the Eibershter”? Because of this argument, the words “Ki tov” were not included on that day of brias haolam.

To assuage the feelings of these waters, Hashem assured them that there will be one week during the year, on Sukkos, when the mitzvah of nisuch hamayim, the pouring of the water on the mizbeach, will be performed with their waters.

 The Be’er Yosef points out that this Medresh contains an amazing revelation with regard to properly assessing the worth of every individual mitzvah. The waters complained that they were banished to a place of tumah for eternity. Hashem was able to pacify them that it was totally worth enduring their fate since in three thousand years’ time, water would be drawn from their reservoir to perform the mitzvah of nisuch hamayim once annually. Mind you, the mitzvah water amounts to all of approximately two liters of water!

Can you imagine?! The lower waters contain billions of liters of water and they were mollified by being convinced that two of its’ liters would be used for a mitzvah in three thousand years!

Clearly, it may be inferred that it is worthwhile to remain below on planet Earth with all its’ impurities, light years’ distance from Hashem, just to experience the opportunity to be the receptacle for the performance of one, lone mitzvah.

What an eye-opener! This newly found disclosure should awaken us to begin amassing mitzvos. What better time than Chodesh Elul to do so and tilt the scale to the zechusim side in order to merit a ksivah vachasimah tova

Kashering utensils on Yom Tov

A utensil that absorbs non-kosher flavors must be kashered. There are two forms of kasheringhagalah (using hot water to draw out the forbidden flavors) and libun (applying direct heat to burn out the forbidden flavors). Kashering can also be employed to allow a dairy utensil to be used for meat or vice versa. On Yom Tov, heating up water for hagalah is a form of machshirei ochel nefesh. Therefore, it is only permitted if a utensil absorbed the forbidden flavors on Yom Tov or if one was unaware before Yom Tov that a utensil was not kosher. This leniency may not be publicized; it is one of the cases subject to the restriction against publicizing lenient rulings regarding machshirei ochel nefesh. If a person already had hot water that was heated up for another purpose, a ruling may be issued permitting him to kasher a utensil that became non-kosher on Yom Tov.

[שו"ע תקט, ה, משנ"ב כו, ושעה"צ לא; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 23]

Libun on Yom Tov

There are two methods of kashering with libun. The first method is called libun kal (light libun). This form of libun entails heating a utensil to the degree that a piece of straw would burn if it touched the outside of the utensil. This method may only be used to expunge permissible flavors (meat or dairy). The second method of libun is called libun gamur (complete libun). With this method, the utensil is heated to the degree that sparks fly from the area where the heat is being applied. Libun gamur is necessary to burn forbidden flavors out of a utensil.

On Yom Tov, in the course of heating a utensil for cooking, the heat may reach the level of libun kal. This would allow one to use a dairy utensil for meat or vice versa. Kashering through libun gamur, however, is forbidden, since that is a form of fixing the utensil. (Libun kal does not appear to be fixing the utensil, since it is heated to a similar level that is used for cooking). According to some poskim, libun gamur is only forbidden on the grounds of being a form of machshirei ochel nefesh that was able to be done before Yom Tov. This view holds that if a utensil became non-kosher on Yom Tov, libun gamur would be permitted.

[שו"ע תקט, ה, ומשנ"ב כד-כה]

Owning one set of pots

According to the basic halacha, it is permissible to use the same pot for dairy and meat as long as it is kashered between uses – from dairy to meat and meat to dairy. However, the accepted practice is not to use the same pot for dairy and meat. Two reasons are offered for this custom: 1) If a person was permitted to own just one set of cooking utensils which were constantly being kashered, it could lead to confusion over a utensil’s current status. It would be easy to accidentally use the utensil for the wrong type of food. 2) One is obligated to wait a day to kasher a pot after it was last used. If a person only owns one set of utensils, he might inadvertently kasher it on the same day that it was last used.

If a utensil is being kashered for a different reason, its designation may then be switched from dairy to meat or meat to dairy. Thus, if a person is kashering a utensil before Pesach in order to remove the chometz flavors, he may reverse the utensil’s designation (dairy to meat or meat to dairy). A person who wishes to change the designation of his utensil may intentionally use it for a non-kosher food, which would compel him to kasher the utensil. He would then be able to switch its designation from meat to dairy or vice versa.

[משנ"ב תקט, כה; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 20-19 ;וראה שם תנא, 19-18]
  • Rema rules that if a spit breaks on Yom Tov and is rendered unusable, it may be fixed. Nevertheless, he states that this ruling should not be publicized; otherwise, people might extrapolate that fixing a spit is permitted even if it breaks before Yom Tov.

  • Sharpening a knife is considered machshirei ochel nefesh. It is therefore subject to certain restrictions, such as only sharpening it on wood or clay but not on its designated sharpening stone. Also, it may only be sharpened if one was unable to sharpen it before Yom Tov.

  • Under certain circumstances, it is forbidden to issue a lenient ruling regarding machshirei ochel nefesh. This applies to rulings issued both in public and private settings. It also applies when ruling for one’s students.

  • Opening cans of food on Yom Tov

  • Toiveling utensils on Yom Tov

  • Using a utensil on Shabbos that was not toiveled
PLEASE NOTE: The information in this email is for learning purposes only. Please review the Mishna Berura and Biurim U'Musafim before making a halachic decision. Hebrew words are occasionally transliterated to enable a smoother reading of the text. Common Ashkenazi pronunciation is generally used in these cases.
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