Parshas Beshalach 5779
Candle Lighting Time: 4:45 pm
January 18, 2019
Volume 15 Issue 12
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Dvar Torah

The Four Kings
By Rabbi Yakov Langer
 
This week's parsha details the story of the Exodus from Egypt. Hashem performed many great miracles during this time. Perhaps the most remarkable miracle was Krias Yam Suf, the Splitting of the Red Sea. The Jews walked through on dry land while the Egyptians following them were drowned by the waters returning to their normal flow. When the Jews were safely out of the sea the reality sunk in that their oppressors were no longer around, Moshe led them in Az Yashir, the poetic song praising and extolling Hashem for this great miracle. One of the phrases in Az Yashir is "Hashem ish milchama", G-d is Master of War. Hashem determines the outcome of every battle and carries out His decision. The Gemora Gittin (57) tells of a warrior, Bar Droma, whose army seemed powerful enough to rout the Roman army and he requested of Hashem not to intervene in his battle. Ultimately, Hashem brought about his defeat.
There is an intriguing Midrash that contrasts four kings and their approaches to waging war. Firstly there is David who told Hashem "I will chase my enemies and overtake them." Secondly there is Asa who said "I will pursue and You, Hashem, will fight for me." Then there is Yehoshafat who said to Hashem "I will sing Your praises and You will take care of the rest". Finally there is Chizkiya who declared "I will sleep in bed while Hashem fights my battle." At first glance, it seems like these kings are listed in ascending order of bitachon, trust in Hashem. David felt that the battle was totally in control while each subsequent king depended more on Hashem, culminating with Chizkiya who relied one hundred percent on Hashem. This explanation, however, is a bit troubling. David Hamelech authored Sefer Tehilim, the Book of Psalms, which is full of verses expressing pure trust and faith in Hashem. In fact, Sefer Tehilim has always been an oasis of consolation for harrowing times. Could it be that David was not on a near perfect level in bitachon?
There is an alternate understanding of this Midrash with which this issue can be alleviated. David meant to say that he had perfected his bitachon to the extent that he could chase down his enemies and defeat them while maintaining complete faith that his own actions were superficial and Hashem had achieved his victories. Asa felt that his bitachon was slightly less than perfect and if he was to complete his battle, he would feel ever so slightly that his actions had brought about the results while in truth Hashem was fully in control. Yehoshafat's bitachon was a degree less and he felt that if he would even attempt to pursue his enemies, he would take credit for himself and it would infringe on his beliefs. Lastly there was Chizkiya who felt that his bitachon was so delicate that if he would even lifted a finger, he would begin to feel that his actions had accomplished. All the kings requested that their battles be won on a manner that would leave them confident that Hashem was the master of war. With this explanation, clearly David is the one with highest degree of bitachon.
It is very easy for us to attribute some of our success to our skills and prowess, but it is important to remind ourselves that Hashem is the One calling the shots. This parsha is an opportunity to reflect on this idea and internalize Hashem ish milchama, all our challenges and struggles are orchestrated from Above.


 
Dvar Halacha
Sechorah B'Devarim Assurim: 
Pet Shrimp

Based on the Sunday morning Halacha Shiur 
given by Rabbi Y. Biberfeld, Rosh Kollel
Written by: Ovadia Gowar

We've learned before that there is a prohibition against doing business with non-kosher food items. Conversely, there is no prohibition against doing business with non-food items. One can buy and sell animals such as donkeys, horses or camels because these are not typically used as food.
 
But what if you wanted to use something that is typically used as food, but you want to use it for a non-food purpose? Examples brought in the commentaries are using animal fat for smoothing hides and making candles. Modern examples would be to manufacture a dye using shrimp, or opening a zoo showcasing animals such as the octopus. This type of case falls in between the two cases above. What can one do?
 
It turns out that this very question is a point of contention between the Rashba and Tosfos. In an earlier lesson we learned that there is a disagreement as to if the prohibition of doing business with non-kosher food items is from the Torah, but Chazal were given the authority to decide the details (such as Chol HaMoed), or if the prohibition is merely d'rabbanan and the pasuk that was used as a basis for it was only an asmachta (a "hint" from the Torah). The Rashba holds like the former, that it is d'oraisa, while Tosfos holds that it is d'rabbanan. According to the Rashba, once Chazal decided that the Torah prohibition applied to food, it then applies to all food, regardless of the intention. Tosfos, however, understand that the underlying reason that Chazal prohibited the buying and selling of food was because of the concern that if a person deals with non-kosher food on a regular basis, he may come to eat it. But if he is using it for a non-food purpose, that concern goes away and there is no need to restrict him, so the gezeirah doesn't apply.
 
So according to the Rashba, one would not be allowed to use shrimp to make dye, while according to Tosfos, it would be permissible.
 
How does the Shulchan Aruch pasken (rule)? His language in 117:1 is "davar ham'yuchad l'maachal" ("something that is dedicated/meant/set aside for food)". His choice of words imply that he is ruling like the Rashba, that we only care about how the item is regularly used and not what the particular use is right now. However, the Shach paskens like Tosfos.
 
So we have a disagreement as to how we pasken. This creates room to be lenient under certain conditions.
 
The Shevet HaLevi (Rav Shmuel Wosner, zt"l) was once asked by a businessman who was raising rabbits for their fur (for use in hats and other clothing). They would slaughter the rabbits, take their fur and then throw out the carcasses, not using the meat for anything. The Shevet HaLevi ruled leniently, based on a combination of (1) the Shach's opinion and (2) the fact that the meat was being disposed of.
 
There is one exception where commerce is prohibited according to everyone, no matter what your intention is. There is an account in the Gemara (Bava Kama 82b) that there was a siege of Yerushalayim during the time of Bayis Sheni, due to a dispute between the Chashmonaim. The besiegers, in exchange for money, would send up a lamb everyday over the walls for the korban tamid, the twice-daily sacrificial offering. One day, as the situation deteriorated, they sent up a pig. It dug its claws into the walls of Yerushalayim and the land shook. Chazal subsequently made a gezeirah that no Jew should be involved in rearing pigs for any purpose whatsoever.
 
May HaKodosh Baruch Hu help us keep our commerce clean and may we be zocheh to once more offer up the lambs of the twice-daily tamid offerings.
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