Parshas Tetzaveh/Zachor 5778
Candle Lighting Time: 5:28 pm
February 23, 2018
Volume 14 Issue 8
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Dvar Torah

The Eternal Jew
By Rabbi Sruli Schwartz  
Mark Twain once wrote a short essay called "Concerning the Jews" (The Herald, 1898), questioning the eternal existence of the Jews. He wrote:

To conclude.--If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one per cent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of star-dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly the Jew ought hardly to be heard of; but he is heard of, has always been heard of...He has made a marvellous fi ght in this world, in all the ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him. The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, fi lled the planet with sound and splendour, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone... The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infi rmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal to the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?

The answer to this great phenomenon lies in the medrash at the beginning of this week's parsha. The medrash states that Klal Yisroel is compared to the olive, "Hashem had called your name a leafy olive tree" (Yirmiyahu 11:16). It is only when an olive is hammered, pressed, and crushed that it produces oil. Similarly, when other nations have persecuted us, broken our bones, and pierced our skin, we have repented and cried out to Hashem. The medrash correlates Bnei Yisroel to an olive. Just as the olive must be pressed and crushed in order to produce its oil, so Bnei Yisroel must endure a similar process of oppression in order to become closest to Hashem.

Purim illustrates this concept. The persecution caused by Haman and Achashveirosh initiated the Jews to repent. Klal Yisroel was so sincere that they reached levels that they had never reached before. The Talmud tells us that originally, at Har Sinai, Bnei Yisroel accepted the Torah only out of fear, but now, on the day of Purim, they were able to accept it out of love. Haman wanted to break us, but in turn, he made us.

Body and Soul
"And you shall make an altar for burning the incense" (SHEMOS 30:1).
In the Mishkan and Beis Hamikdash there were two mizbaychos, the mizbayach hanechoshes and the mizbayach hazohov. The mizbayach hanechoshes, the copper altar, was located outside of the actual sanctuary in the courtyard of the Mishkan and was used for sacrifi cial services. The mizbayach hazohov, the golden altar, located inside the Mishkan, was used for burning the incense. Why was it necessary to build two altars? Why couldn't they use one altar for both services?

The Kli Yakar explains that there are two diff erent parts of a person, the physical part and the spiritual part. The physical entity of a person entices the individual to commit a sin and fulfi ll the desires of the guf, the body. The neshoma is the spiritual dimension of person and was created in the image of G-d. Our spiritual side therefore constantly strives to attain closeness with Hashem. When a person commits a sin, both his body and neshoma are involved and both require atonement. The copper altar was used to atone for the physical part of a person by sacrifi cing physical materials such as animals and birds. However, our souls were also damaged through the sin and require a kaporah as well. The off ering of the incense on the golden altar served this purpose. The incense represents our neshoma. Just like the incense, when used as a korban, forms a cloud and travels upward, our neshoma strives to be elevated and will ultimately return to the Creator when it fulfi lls its purpose.

Dvar Halacha
Microwave Ovens
Laws of Bishul Akum 
part 7
Based on the  Sunday Morning Halacha Shiur given 
by Rabbi Y. Biberfeld, Rosh Kollel

Written by: Ovadia Gowar

My non-Jewish housekeeper cooked some potatoes for my children to eat for dinner. Potatoes are not eaten raw and they are certainly served at fancy banquets, so does that mean my children ate bishul akum!?

There are two halachos towards the end of Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 113 that deal with food preparation methods other than cooking:
Seif (Paragraph) 12: Small fish that were salted, whether by a Jew or a non-Jew, are regarded as partially cooked. If a non-Jew cooked them afterwards, they are mutar (permissible)...

Seif 13: A fish that was salted by a non-Jew, or fruits that were smoked, to the point of being edible, are permissible. This is because salting was not included in the gezeirah (decree) of bishul akum and smoking is not regarded as cooking. The Rema adds: Pickling is also not regarded as cooking...

Why are the above two cases not a problem of bishul akum? The Taz says that if a non-Jew did the salting at the beginning, there is no bishul akum, because Chazal only made the gezeirah on bishul al yedei aish (cooking through fire). (Why the gezeirah was only on fire is not known. Perhaps it was because this was by far the most common way of preparing food.) Salting the food gets it to a point where it is edible. Since the food is not cooked, but is edible, it now becomes a davar ha'ne'echal kmoi shehu chai (something that is eaten uncooked). This takes it out of the scope of bishul akum (as we mentioned in the first shiur).

Another question naturally flows out of these halachos: What is the status of other forms of preparing food besides salting, smoking or pickling? In particular, what is the status of more modern ways of food preparation, such as microwaving?
We saw from the Taz that the gezeirah was only on bishul al yedei aish. Thus, at first glance it would seem that microwaving is permissible. Microwaving does not make use of fire (the microwaves excite the water particles inside the food, thereby generating heat, in a process known as dielectric heating). The Chelkas Binyamin permits microwaving on this basis.

Some commentators say that the reason why smoking is not a problem of bishul akum is because it was only developed after the time of Chazal. Thus it was never part of the original gezeirah. The same argument could apply to microwaving.
However, others argue that cooking through fire just means a normal mode of cooking food. R' Moshe Feinstein was asked about the permissibility of using a microwave oven on Shabbos (barring of course the rabbinic issue of electricity; the question was dealing with the issur Torah of bishul). The Gemara says that bishul b'chama (cooking using the sun's direct rays) is permissible because it is an unusual way of cooking. Perhaps using a microwave oven should be mutar on the same basis. However, it seems that R' Moshe's assumption was that microwaving was going to eventually become the standard way of cooking. On that basis he forbade using it on Shabbos. If microwaving became a standard way of cooking, perhaps it would also cause a problem of bishul akum.

Nowadays though, we see that microwaves are generally used only for reheating things and for defrosting. Microwaving is still an unconventional way of cooking. Rav Heineman from Star-K rules this way and says that microwaving does not a cause a problem of bishul akum.

That concludes our series on the laws of bishul akum. Next week we begin the laws of pas akum (bread baked by a non-Jew).

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