Parshas Chayei Sarah 5779
Candle Lighting Time: 5:39 pm
November 2, 2018
Volume 15 Issue 3
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Dvar Torah

My Rebbe
By Rabbi Aron Sperka
            
In this week's parsha the Torah teaches us in great length the story of Eliezer's search for a match for Yitzchok. It tells of Eliezer's travels to Aram Nahara'im and how he found Rivka in a miraculous way. After being invited into Rivka's home, Eliezer relates his whole saga to Rivka's family. Once again, the Torah goes into great detail, repeating the entire episode in Eliezer's narrative.
The Torah could have simply stated that Eliezer told them everything that had transpired. Why the need to repeat? Rashi answers this question by citing a medrash: "The conversations of the servants of the patriarchs are more pleasing before Hashem than the Torah of their descendants." In contrast, for example, many important halachos, such as the 39 melachos of Shabbos, are just hinted to in the Torah.
The Chasam Sofer expounds on this idea as follows. There are two reasons why Hashem is brief in the Torah. One is because of His humility, i.e. he wrote the Torah in a succinct fashion, so as not to burden us with more. A second reason, says the Chasam Sofer, is that Hashem wanted us to toil in the study of the Torah so that He could rejoice in our effort to understand even the hints and nuances therein. This is to our benefit, since He gives us greater reward for our work. On the other hand, the conversations of the slaves of the patriarchs, and certainly the conversations of their descendants, are deliberately recounted at length. This is because of the delight Hashem has in saying over His children's accomplishments. Similarly, the Yalkut Me'am Loez explains, that by detailing the conversations of the slaves of the patriarchs, it shows how precious the patriarchs were to Hashem.
An additional explanation is given that the reason the Torah expanded the stories of our forefathers, is for the deep lessons that we learn out of them.
On this reasoning The Nesivos Shalom asks: What can we learn from the words of Eliezer, who seemed to be just a servant? If the Torah repeats his whole conversation, his words must have much importance. But how can it be that Eliezer's words carry the same importance as the words of the Avos?  
The Nesivos Shalom answers, this itself teaches us a very important lesson. The halacha is "Kol hamechubar l'tahor-tahor," Everything attached to the ritually pure, is [itself] pure." This halacha can be applied conceptually as well. Anyone who attaches himself to a person who is holy and pure, becomes holy and pure himself. Eliezer was totally subservient to Avraham. His whole essence was to do Avraham's will, with no sense of self. In the parasha he is referred to only as "the servant." That is also how he introduces himself to Rivka's family. His attachment to Avraham put him, in some way, on the same level as Avraham. Therefore, his words and actions also became holy and pure, and that is why we can learn great lessons from him, just like we learn from the words of our forefathers.
This is a lesson for us all. If we attach ourselves to a Rav or a Rebbi, form a relationship with them and are mevatel da'as to them, that connection will elevate us, and since they are greatly connected to Hashem, we too get connected to Hashem.


 
Dvar Halacha
SHEICHAR AKUM: Which Types
Part 3

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

Last week we learned about a number of leniencies that the gezeirah of sheichar akum has over other gezeiros such as pas akum and bishul akum. But does sheichar akum apply to every type of beverage, or only to a subset?
 
The Rambam (Ma'achalos Assuros 17:10) writes: "...and we don't drink their beer that is made out of dates and figs or their like. But it is only forbidden in the place where they are sold." Making beer out of dates and figs may sound strange to us, but that was the main type of recreational beverage that people consumed during the times of Chazal. Later the Rambam writes (17:11): "Apple or pomegranate cider and their like are permissible to drink in any place because Chazal were not goizer on something that is not common". The Rambam's usage in both statements of the expression "and their like" creates room for debate about how Chazal treated beverages that were not as common as date beer, but not as uncommon as apple cider.
 
When Tosfos discuss this in the Gemara in Avodah Zara, they write: "What is included in sheichar? Whether it is made of dates, or grains, it is called sheichar." So we see that Tosfos explicitly mention that grain beer (something much more relevant in our day) is also included in sheichar akum.
 
How does the Shulchan Aruch rule? He writes in 114:1: "All types of non-Jewish beer are forbidden, whether made from dates, figs, barley, grain or honey, because of chasnus." So instead of ruling like only one of the Rishonim, as he does in the vast majority of halacha, here he actually combines the rulings of Tosfos and the Rambam to be strict.
 
The Rema has a very interesting opinion. He writes: "There are those who permit the drinking of honey beer and grain beer, and indeed this is the minhag in our communities." The Rema actually says that grain beer (our type of beer) was not included in the gezeirah at all. Why should that be? The GR"A explains that the Rema is ruling like a lone Rishon that only date and fig beer went into the gezeirah, because these were the most common beverages during the time of Chazal. Grain beer and other types of less commonly-consumed beverages were not included.
 
So it comes out that according to the Rema, you are allowed to go into a bar and order a beer, and even drink it there, even if the sole purpose is simply to enjoy a drink and even if you do this regularly. However, even the Rema agrees that it is only permissible if you are just doing your own thing. He would still hold that drinking in the context of something like a non-Jewish party would be forbidden.
 
However, the GR"A and other Acharonim argue with the Rema's leniency on grain beer because most Rishonim hold that most types of beverages were included in the gezeirah, not just the most popular ones.
 
The Pri Chadash brings a proof against the Rema from the interesting story with Rav Papa that we saw last week. Why did Rav Papa go buy beer from a non-Jewish store when he himself made date beer for a living? You must say that he was buying something other than date beer. The fact that he needed to go out to the entrance of the store in order to drink is proof that other types of beverages were also included in the gezierah.
 
Next week we will begin to explore how the gezeiros of Chazal apply to the iconic drink of our time, coffee.


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