Parshas Mishpatim 5778
Candle Lighting Time: 5:11 pm
February 9, 2018
Volume 14 Issue 6
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Dvar Torah

By Rabbi Yosef Prupas  
How are we to serve Hashem properly in the days of Moshiach, a time when clarity of the existence of G-d will make free choice a thing of the past? To resolve this question, Rav Yitzchak Hutner zt"l brings a famous Rashi found in this week's Parsha. The verse states (21:13) "And one who did not lie in ambush and Hashem brought about to his hand..." Rashi comments,

Why would such a thing go forth from before him? This what [King] David said, "As the proverb of the Primeval One says, "Evil comes forth from the evil ones." The proverb of the Primeval One is the Torah, for it is the parable of Hakadosh Boruch Hu, Who [is referred to as the Primeval One because He] is the forerunner of the world. And where did the Torah say, "Evil comes forth from evil"? "And Hashem brought about to his hand". About what is the verse speaking? About two people one of whom killed intentionally and one of whom killed unintentionally, and there were no witnesses to [either] matter who could testify... Hakadosh Baruch Hu summons them together to the same inn. The one who killed intentionally sits beneath the ladder and the one who killed unintentionally ascends the ladder and falls on the one killed intentionally and kills him, and witnesses testify about him [who fell] and makes him liable for exile. It thus happened that this one [earlier] killed unintentionally goes to exile, and this one who [earlier] killed intentionally is killed.

Torah, prior to the world's existence, during the world existence, and in the days of Moshiach, manifests itself on different levels (An in-depth explanation of this is beyond the scope of this Dvar Torah). The source for this is a verse found in Malochim Aleph (5:12). When enumerating the blessings that came as a result of the blessing of wisdom that Hashem bestowed upon King Shlomo, the verse states "He spoke three thousand proverbs". Rav Hutner explains that each stage in the history of the universe, based on the Torah, is a parable for the stage afterwards, and at the same time a realization of the parable of the stage before. The nature of a parable is such that within it exists a hint to, the explanation that is to follow. The same applies to the timeline of the universe/Torah history. Every stage includes elements of what is to follow.

The above quoted verse with Rashi's commentary reveals to us that even today there exits within Torah the possibility of lack of free choice. This serves as a parable to the Torah of the end of times, an era without free choice. How our fulfillment of Torah will be possible in the time of Moshiach remains to be seen, but what is important to understand is the likelihood of events occurring, despite our greatest efforts to prevent them from occurring. Often we try repeatedly to avoid certain spiritually and ethically perilous situations, yet they always seem to find us. Instead of losing hope, we should realize Hashem's direct hand prodding us to grow from each stumbling block. Such is the will of Hashem. The fact that the trying situation that one is trying to avoid happens again is no fault of his own. May we never lose focus of our ultimate goals and may we merit the time where making the right choice is no longer needed.

Dvar Halacha
PECO Cholent
Laws of Bishul Akum 
part 5
Based on the  Sunday Morning Halacha Shiur given 
by Rabbi Y. Biberfeld, Rosh Kollel

Written by: Ovadia Gowar

A Jew goes out to work, but before he does, he puts on a crockpot with a stew. As soon as he steps out the door, there is a blackout. The utility company restores the electricity, and the crockpot then cooks the food. What is the status of the food? Technically, the non-Jew at the utility company cooked the food (i.e. turned on the fire/heating source), not the Jew. Do we have a problem of bishul akum?
We mentioned in an earlier issue the Gemara in Avodah Zara 36a. A non-Jew set flame to a marsh, and afterwards they found roasted grasshoppers all around. The Gemara says that the grasshoppers are forbidden. Why? The initial proposal is that since it was the non-Jew who cooked the grasshoppers they are forbidden because of bishul akum.
The Gemara questions this from another case. A non-Jew had an animal head and wanted to remove the hairs. He put it into a fire momentarily and singed the hairs off. The ruling is that you're allowed to eat the meat from the animal head, even from the "tips of the ears". Rashi says that the tips of the ears are very soft and are cooked quickly from the flames. Why is it mutar (permissible)? Because the non-Jew's kavana (intention) was to remove the hairs, not to cook. So too, says the Gemara, in our case the non-Jew's kavana was to clear the field, not to cook. The Gemara concedes and re-concludes that the reason the grasshoppers are forbidden is because they were burnt beyond recognition and it wasn't clear if they were a kosher variety or not.
The Gemara brings one more case. A Jew puts his food into the oven, before it was lit. A non-Jew lights the oven because he wants to harden a wooden peg for use on his ship. The Jew's food gets cooked at the same time. Can the Jew still eat the food? Yes, he can, the non-Jew did not have kavana to cook. Says the Gemara, pshita (i.e. this is obvious, we already know this from the previous case). The Gemara says that you might have thought the non-Jew's kavana was to cook the peg (i.e. to soften the wood fibers to make them pliable). In this case the food as well would've been forbidden. The Gemara tells us that we can assume the non-Jew's kavana was to harden the peg. We see from this that it is only considered bishul akum when the non-Jew has intent on cooking.           
What was the PECO worker's kavana? Presumably he was simply doing his job and restored the electricity, without thinking about what it would be used for. Based on the above cases, there would be no problem of bishul akum.
[Bonus:] Tosfos and the Ran ask a kasha (difficulty) on the peg case. The Gemara in Shabbos already says that if somebody puts a peg into an oven on Shabbos, they are chayav (guilty) because of bishul on Shabbos. Why? Because the peg softens in the fire first, before hardening. So there is always a cooking component. So why do we say that there is no bishul in the bishul akum case, but there is in Shabbos? The answer is that in Shabbos, we have the halacha of psik reisha, where if an action happens inevitably, we disregard the person's kavana and assume that he meant to do it. In bishul akum, there is no concept of psik reisha, his actual kavana always matters. Since his kavana was only to harden the peg, this is all that matters and takes away the bishul akum. 

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