Parshas Ki Sisa 5776
Candle Lighting Time: 5:30 pm
February 26, 2016
Volume 12 Issue 17
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Dvar Torah


The Order of Disorder

  By Rabbi Yosef Prupas

In the world of Kiruv there are two well known factors that stand unique in their ability to draw Jews back to Judaism - Torah and Shabbos. Experiencing a Shabbos or learning a seemingly irrelevant area of Talmud somehow compels the newly exposed to further explore their Judaism. What is it about Shabbos and Torah that is has this "magical" effect? Before we answer the above question we will ask two more.

The recent parshiyos have focused on the building of the Mishkan and the vessels within. The Talmud tells us that the commandment to build the Mishkan was given so that it should to serve to rectify the sin of the Golden Calf. Although we are told that there is the reality that certain parshiyos were not written in order - when there is a change, there is an explanation for it. Therefore, we need to understand why is the story of the Golden Calf situated in middle of the parshiyos dealing with the building of the Mishkan? Should it have not preceded it?

A parallel question is applicable with regard to the Sin of Adam. The Talmud tells us that the sin occurred on the first Friday of Creation, and yet it is not mentioned until after the Torah writes about Shabbos. Why?

The latter two questions have one response, and with it we can address the first. Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner explains that the reason why the events of the Sin of Adam and the Golden Calf are listed in the Torah out of order, is Hashem's way of telling us that He loves us. Hashem created for us literally "sanctuaries" from sin. There is no one who hasn't sinned, and therefore there is no mitzvah that we perform whose sanctity is not affected by the imperfections of the person performing it. Except for two mitzvohs, Shabbos and Mishkan. By the Torah listing these mitzvohs prior to the sin, Hashem is letting us know that these mitzvohs remain unaffected by sin. G-d has set aside sanctuaries within physical creation of the universe and the physical creation of time that allows the mitzvah being preformed to remain untainted by our sins. The medrash tells us that Shabbos is called a mattanah tovah, a "good present", hidden away from the effects of the world by Hashem, and given to us.

We can possibly infer from the above, that the same concept applies to Torah. Torah preceded the Creation of the world, before the possibility of sin even existed. This being the case, one can say that Torah as well, created in the vacuum of sin, remains above the effects of sin.

We can now address our original question. It is no wonder that Torah and Shabbos has this "magical effect." Being exposed to and fulfilling mitzvohs that forever retain the highest levels of sanctity has the direct effect of pealing away the layers of sin the dull the Jewish soul. The one hosting or teaching can in no way compromise on the holiness of the Torah or Shabbos he is giving over because they remain above the effects of his personal deficiencies. It is specifically these mitzvohs that can accomplish what no amount of seminars trying to convey the logic of being religious can accopmplish. These mitzvohs have the special power to reignite the Jewish soul and bring him closer to his Father in Heaven. May we all be affected by the blessings of Shabbos and Torah.

Dvar Halacha
Laws of Tzeddaka   
Part 6
  By  Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi
The Mishnah [Nedarim 18b] rules: if a situation arises that a person is in doubt regarding accepting a vow, he is required to be stringent.  It is essential to realize that the concept of taking vows is binding to the extent that even if a person dreamt about taking a vow, there is an opinion he is obligated to honor it (Shulchan Aruch YD 210:2)!  Practically, if one knows he committed to give tzedakah, however he was unsure how much he pledged, he should give up to the maximum amount of what he usually donates (Shulchan Aruch YD 258:3).  The same idea is true if one remembers he pledged a certain amount to tzedakah, yet does not remember to which person or institution he had in mind, he should give the amount to every person or institution that he thinks it may have been. Although he should really give to all potential recipients he may have had in mind, we cannot force him to give to the full amount to each, and if he chooses he may give the total amount by dividing equally amongst the potential institutions (Pischei Teshuva YD 258:5).  For example, if someone knows that he pledged $18 to tzedakah, but does not remember whether it was to institution "A" or "B", he should give each of them $18.  If he gave both of them $9 each, he has nevertheless fulfilled his obligation.
The above halachos only apply when a person took upon himself a real vow.  However, in a situation where a person makes a neder b'taos (vow in error, based on wrong information), he is not required to honor his vow (Aruch Hashulchan YD 258:21).
Chazal advised that as a general rule it is better not to make a neder at all, including for tzedakah (Shulchan Aruch YD 203:1-4), than to take one and not honor the pledge (Gemara Nedarim 9a).  However, there are a few exceptions where it is indeed recommended for one to take a vow, for example in a time of danger (Aruch Hashulchan YD 203:7-8) .  Additionally, if a person's intention is in order to inspire others to give as well [for when they observe him giving, this will inspire them to join as well (Birckei Yosef YD 203).  Similarly, if he wants to motivate himself to improve in his personal service to G-d (Rambam Hil' Nedarim 13:23 & Shulchan Aruch YD 203:6-7).  For example, if a person struggles with a certain aveirah or commits to give a certain amount of charity each time he comes late to davening (Laws of Tzedakahand Maaser pg. 90).
One who pledges to give tzedakah as a merit that a sick person should get better, is obligated to honor his pledge, regardless of whether or not the person was healed.  Chazal teach that a person who makes such a commitment is a tzaddik gamor (completely righteous individual) (Gemara Rosh Hashanah 4a).  Tosfos [Pesachim 8b s.v. she'yizku] explains the reason is, for even if his condition is not met [e.g. the person died], the giver does not regret giving the tzedakah.  If, however, when pledging to give the tzedakah he specified "I am giving only on condition that this person lives," in this case if the person does not live, he is not obligated to give the tzedakah (Rama YD 220:15).
While discussing different situations where one gives as a source of merit, it is worthwhile to mention, there is a custom for someone who is in a pressing situation, to give money to tzedakah of Rebbe Meir Baal Haneis.  The source for this is rooted in the Gemara [Avoda Zara 18a].  One should make sure that the tzedakah helps the poor people of Eretz Yisroel because that was Rebbe Meir's will (Shu"T Chasam Sofer 6: likutim 27:s.v. hain zeh).  Similarly, Midrash Talpiyos [1:aveida u'metziyah] teaches: if one loses an object and  immediately pledges to give tzedakah to the tzedakah of Rebbe Meir Baal Haneis, he will find his lost object.

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