Parshas Beshalach 5778
Candle Lighting Time: 4:54 pm
January 26, 2018
Volume 14 Issue 4
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Dvar Torah

A Moment of Sincerity 
By Rabbi Yedidya Kaganoff  
As the Jewish Nation stands at the Red Sea and looks back at the approaching Egyptians, the Torah says they cried out to Hashem. They then complained to Moshe, "Is there a shortage of graves in Egypt?". Rashi explains that they cried out in a time of need just as their forefathers had. To quote, "They are grabbing on to the traits of their father". Many Commentaries clarify Rashi, that their tefilla was a beautiful and sincere prayer that Hashem answered. The Maharal in his Sefer Gur Aryeh asks, if this was a righteous and sincere tefilla, why do they follow up with, "Are there not enough graves in Egypt?" This seems to suggest that their prayer was not considered sincere but rather as a criticism of Hashem. "Why drag us out here to the desert, if your intention is not to save us. You should have had a plan, knowing that the Egyptians would chase us." The Maharal explains that Rashi is saying that it was not a virtuous prayer. Rather, it was a habitual, robotic prayer that remained ingrained in them from childhood. They cried out when in dire need. Since they had seized on a trait their forefathers had imparted to them, this prayer was not really genuine. When someone prays out of habit and doesn't internalize what he's saying, his tefillos do not have optimum effect. The Maharal further explains that since the tefilla was not "real". As soon as they did not get an immediate response, they began to gripe "Are there not enough graves in Egypt"? Of course, an insincere tefilla is still tefilla and carries weight with Hashem, but when someone prays with "kavanah" the difference it can make is significant. We find many people when they are desperate and don't have any other solution to a problem, they are able to genuinely pray. If only we would pray with meaning and seriousness every time, maybe we could avoid misfortune and tragedy, like preventative medicine.
R' Shimshon Pincus Zt"l in his masterful work Shearim B'Tifilla (on tefilla), augments this idea. In the Gemora Temura 16A there is a story of a great man named Yavaitz who begged from Hashem for Torah, loyal students, friends, good children etc. and he ended off his prayer, "If not I am not going to manage and be dejected". Further the Gemora says Hashem right away came and granted his request. This seems very perplexing. Why would Hashem immediately respond? Yavitz seemed a little brazen and insolent. Says R' Pincus that since in Yavaitz's mind these wishes were not merely desirable qualities, but rather a matter of life or death, Hashem responded favorably .
I have a friend whose 3-year-old child developed serious pains in his stomach. His child also constantly complained about leg pain. His local pediatrician was at a loss, so they went for further testing. A specialist in Manhattan advised emergency surgery. They rushed him to NYU and the surgery was successful. After the surgery the specialist recommended recovery time at CHOP where the best doctors could oversee his progress. His son checked in 3 weeks before Purim. As Purim neared they were told he would be released 2 days before Purim. On the day of release the boy contracted a high fever. The doctor decided he should remain hospitalized. On Tannis Esther the doctor came into their room and delivered worrying news. Their son would have to remain for another few weeks for monitoring. This ordeal had been going on for 5 months and the financial difficulties as well were becoming very frustrating and upsetting. Hopelessly my friend turned to his wife and started tearing up. He said out loud, "Hashem, I know this is a nisayon, but I don't know how much more I can handle. Please if not for my sake than at least for my pure son. Help us". The next morning, Purim morning, a new nurse walked in named Esther. He was floored. What are the chances of an Chinese/American - girl with that name? He took it as sign that Hashem was with him. From that day on they only saw improvement. Three weeks later they were released. This happened last year. When I spoke to my friend recently he told me," I am convinced that the genuine tefilla, at the moment I heard the terrible news is the reason why, Baruch Hashem, the saga ended well".
A tefilla such as this, with powerful feeling behind it, has much more potential for success. We should never underestimate the power of real earnest tefilla. May we all be zocheh that our tefillos should be real and authentic.

Dvar Halacha
Laws of Bishul Akum 
part 2
Based on the  Sunday Morning Halacha Shiur given 
by Rabbi Y. Biberfeld, Rosh Kollel

Written by: Ovadia Gowar

Few experiences are as satisfying as digging into a bag of potato chips. But since potato chips are made via deep frying (which halacha regards the same as cooking), maybe potato chips should be subject to the laws of bishul akum? Let's look at the different sides of the argument:
The most obvious starting point is that bishul akum is only applicable when the food item is oileh al shulchan melachim. The Pri Chadash holds that this means bishul akum is only applicable to food that comes as the main dish. Foods that are appetizers, desserts or snacks are exempt. Most people would regard potato chips as snacks. So based on this, potato chips should be exempt from bishul akum.
R' Moshe Feinstein was once asked about potato chips. He said that since there were various halachic arguments to be meikel with food made in factories, one doesn't need to protest those who are meikel with potato chips. R' Moshe's s'vora is based on the fact that there is very little likelihood of chasnus when food is made in a factory, and chasnus is the very basis of bishul akum.
We mentioned previously that potato chips are made via deep frying. Another position taken in halacha is that deep frying is not a method of preparing potatoes for a banquet at all, and it is so distinct from traditional cooking that potato chips would be exempt.
There is a well-known disagreement in halacha: When deciding if bishul akum applies to a particular food item or not, do we go after the min (i.e. the food type, such as meat) or do we go after the particular way it is prepared (e.g. a steak vs a burger). The Shulchan Aruch says something interesting that seems to address this question. In YD 113: 9, he says that if a non-Jew cooked some food until it is ma'achal ben drusai (i.e. edible under difficulty), and a Jew finished the process, it is assur because of bishul akum. The Rema argues and says that the Jew's cooking can "fix" the food. Anyway, the main point is that food that is ma'achal ben drusai is definitely not fit for a king's table, yet both the Shulchan Aruch and the Rema agree that the non-Jew's cooking causes the barely edible food to become bishul akum. This is a proof that we go after the min rather than the specific dish. Based on this, we would have to be strict with potato chips.
Another proof that leans to the side to be strict comes from the Issur v'Heter, which is brought down by both the Shach and the Darchei Moshe. The Issue v'Heter writes that even though those who eat the intestines, stomachs, etc of animals are "not from this world", those items are still forbidden because of bishul akum. Why? These items are definitely not oileh al shulchan melachim!? The Pri Chadash says they are forbidden because of lo plug (i.e. when Chazal made the gezeirah of bishul akum, they made it apply to all food dishes of a min that is oileh al shulchan melachim (e.g. meat) regardless of quality or method of preparation. Since potatoes can be served in a form that is oileh al shulchan melachim (e.g. mashed potatoes), the issur would extend to potato chips.
The consensus of most kashrus organizations is that potato chips are not a problem of bishul akum. However, those individual's who choose to be machmir do have a legitimate basis for it.

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