Parshas Va'eira 5778
Candle Lighting Time: 4:39 pm
January 12, 2018
Volume 14 Issue 2
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Dvar Torah

Healthy Exile
By Rabbi Yosef Prupas 
The Nesivos Shalom asks - when Avraham was informed of the future exiles of his descendants at the "Bris Bein Habesarim," why did he not pray to prevent these exiles from ever occurring? Avraham had pleaded on behalf of Sodom. He surely could, and perhaps should, have done the same for his own children!? Additionally, why would Hashem reveal to Avraham exiles that came as punishment for the Nation's sins prior to them ever sinning? And finally, where does the Egyptian exile fit in the big picture? Seventy righteous people descended to Egypt, not sinners!?
The answer can be found in the reasoning behind the ten plagues. The Talmud tells us, as we read in the Haggada, that Rabbi Yehuda placed the plagues into three groups, representing: 1. beneath the earth, 2. above the earth, and 3. the heavens, reflecting Hashem's sovereignty over them all. This was because the goal of the ten plagues was to imbue the people with deep belief in their Creator. This is why we find at the beginning of each group expressions of "knowledge of Hashem," for the plagues which spanned all of the physical earth and the heavens imprinted the Jewish nation with true "emunah," belief, in Hashem.
This focus on emunah began with the onset of Egyptian exile. The Medrash tells us that in the beginning of creation there are hints to future exiles, teaching us that exile is part of nature itself! The explanation for this is found in the reasoning behind the purpose of creation. The Mesilas Yesharim famously teaches us that ultimate joy is found in our getting closer to Hashem. In order for the Jewish People to strive, appreciate, and earn that closeness, G-d created the natural reality of exile. As the gemara in tractate Chagiga states: "Rav Bardela bar Tavyomi said in the name of Rav: 'Anyone who is not subject to hester panim concealment of the Face of Hashem, is not one of the Children of Israel.'" Like the four seasons, expressions of the hidden "face" of Hashem are a expected seasonal part of the Jewish Nation's existence. These are the opportunities to forge a close relationship with Him.
However a pressing difficulty remains. How is it possible that Hashem placed His people into a situation where they would clearly be compelled to sin? Was it not a given that the Jews in Egypt would descend to the lowest levels of impurity?
The answer that the Nesivos Shalom gives, based on various sources, is surprising but revealing. The ultimate purpose of exile is not to bring repentance for our sins. Rather, it is there to cleanse our soul and shape it into a proper receptacle for a closer relationship with Hashem. It is our desire to remain close with Him even in the most trying of situations that is the deciding factor, between redemption or not, as was the case in Egypt. The mitzvos direct and cultivate our relationship under normal circumstances. But another normal is a creation called "exile" with its seemingly unfortunate trials and tribulation. Exile tests the Jewish nation's very existence, yet serves to bring us closer despite the "sin" price tag. In the Egyptian exile, those who clung to their belief in Hashem were redeemed. The prophet, Chavakuk tells us that "Tzaddik b'emunaso yichye," the righteous will merit life through their belief in Hashem, and that will be the deciding factor for the ultimate redemption. With this clearer understanding of exile, we can understand why Avraham did not pray that Hashem not test the B'nei Yisrael with exile. Avraham understood that exile was not punishment, rather the means to achieve that great spiritual "wealth," closeness to G-d, when leaving Egypt. And those opportunities were destined to repeat itself through each one of the exiles.
May we internalize this timeless lesson, and keep our belief strong despite these trying times, to merit the redemption speedily in our day.

Dvar Halacha
Laws of Bishul Akum 
part 1
Based on the  Sunday Morning Halacha Shiur given 
by Rabbi Y. Biberfeld, Rosh Kollel

Written by: Ovadia Gower

The Shulchan Aruch (113:1) says that certain food items that are cooked by a non-Jew are forbidden to be eaten, even if the food is totally kosher. This prohibition is rabbinic and is known as the issur of bishul akum. There is a disagreement about why the prohibition of bishul akum was instituted. The main reason that is accepted by the poskim is that of chasnus, i.e. Chazal feared that sharing significant meals with non-Jews may eventually lead to intermarriage. Rashi in the Gemara mentions an additional reason that bishul akum is forbidden because "shema yoichal davar tamei" (that eventually something non-kosher will end up in the food and the Jew will eat it).

Not all food items are included in the prohibition. Only foods that fulfill the following two conditions are affected: (1) The food is not eaten raw (aino ne'echal kmoi shehu chai), and (2) is fit to go on a king's table (oileh al shulchan melachim). So, for example, if a non-Jew made an apple strudel using only kosher ingredients, one could eat this because apples can and are eaten raw.

The prohibition applies even if the non-Jew used the keilim (utensils) of the Jew. It also applies even if the non-Jew made the food in the Jew's house (We will have to see later how the halacha deals with food cooked by non-Jewish helpers in a Jewish household).

What kind of food dishes does the issur apply to? The Shulchan Aruch's exact words are foods that are "oileh al shulchan melachim lelafes bo es hapas" (foods that are fit for a king's banquet to accompany the bread). We interpret the Shulchan Aruch to mean "afilu lelafes bo es hapas" (even to accompany the bread). This means that foods that are eaten on their own e.g. chicken, beef, are forbidden. Not only that, but even foods that are eaten only together with bread (such as certain types of salty fish) are also forbidden. We might have thought that since they are secondary to the bread, they are not important enough to be forbidden.

The Shulchan Aruch also says that a "parperes" is also included in the prohibition of bishul akum. We interpret parperes as either an appetizer or a dessert. The Gemara makes no explicit mention of this when dealing with the laws of bishul akum, and for this reason the Pri Chodosh disagrees. However, the Rambam mentions it and the Shulchan Aruch paskens like him. The meforshim believe that the Rambam got this halacha from the Gemara in Avodah Zara (38a) which tells the story of a non-Jew that set a field on fire. After the fire was over, they found some grasshoppers that had been roasted by it (the Torah says that certain species of grasshoppers are kosher). The Gemara goes into the question whether these grasshoppers are forbidden because of bishul akum. Grasshoppers were normally a parperes, not a main dish, so the Rambam likely got his halacha from this Gemara.

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