Parshas Chukas 5778
Candle Lighting Time: 8:15 pm
June 22, 2018
Volume 14 Issue 18
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Dvar Torah

A Practical Experience
By Rabbi Yosef Prupas 
The common perception of death is fear, dark, and doom. Life ends and what is beyond is an abyss of the unknown. In Judaism, however, the idea of "passing on" has a whole different meaning. The righteous are unfazed with the prospect of moving into another world. This world is only a corridor leading to the main room of the palace. The work of this world is rewarded in the next.
This attitude resonates in the seemingly unfortunate occurrences in this week's Parsha. When the venomous serpents attack, Hashem commands Moshe to erect a pole with a replica of a snake on top. Moshe is informed that when the victims direct their attention to the top of the pole they will be healed. The Gemarah asks the following question, "Do you think it is the snake that kills or gives life? Rather, when the Jewish People looked up they would make themselves subservient to their Father in Heaven and be healed. If not, the venom would have its effect." This is difficult to understand. What was the need for a copper snake on top of a pole? Why didn't Hashem just command them to look up at the heavens and they would be healed? The Maharal tells us that placing the source of affliction in their direct line of vision would cause them to pray with greater intensity.
A similar concept is derived from the juxtaposition of the story of the death of Miriam with the laws of the para aduma (red heifer). Our sages tell us that we learn from this that just as the para aduma brings purity to the impure, so too the death of the righteous brings forgiveness to the Jewish People. This explanation is puzzling, since the concept of human sacrifice runs contrary to the basic tenets of Judaism! The Meshech Chochma explains, it is not the death that brings forgiveness, rather it is the effect of the death that brings repentance. Shock from the death of a special person brings on a sense of remorse. People repent after being shaken from their complacency and their sense of guilt over having not taken heed to the words of the righteous one. They regret not having taken the opportunity to learn more and grow from the teachings from the tzaddik that was in their midst. These feelings serve as a catalyst for greater introspection and to seek atonement for their sins.
Suffering, pain, and death are not the result Hashem desires for His people. Rather, only when the subtle hints remain unnoticed, does Hashem employ physical aids to prompt us and set us on the path of repentance. The death of the tzaddik is of no consequence to him. The world he enters is far better than the one he left. The symbolic snake, created solely by the command of Hashem, served to bring those who sinned to greater remorse.
External stimuli are not new to Judaism. Hashem gave us positive symbols as well, such as teffilin, mezuzos, and tzitzis, to serve as constant reminders of our service and subservience to the One Above. May the positive reminders be sufficient to maintain our path of growth. And may we merit the day when death, pain, and suffering will be forever abolished from our lives.           

Dvar Halacha
CHALAV AKUM - Dairy Detective
Part 1

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

The Shulchan Aruch in Yoreh Deah 115:1 deals with the kashrus of various non-Jewish dairy products. The three main products discussed are gevinah (cheese), chemah (butter) and cholov (milk). The general rule is that gevinah is the most strict, chemah is the most lenient and cholov falls somewhere in the middle.
In the first paragraph of YD 115, the Shulchan Aruch writes: "Cholov that was milked by a non-Jew and a Jew did not see the milking, is forbidden, perhaps he mixed in cholov tamei (non-kosher milk)".
What kind of milk is non-kosher? The Mishnah in Bechoros teaches us that anything that comes out of a non-kosher creature is non-kosher as well. So therefore milk from animals such as camels and horses is forbidden on a Torah level for us to drink, since those animals themselves are non-kosher.
Just like the gezeiros (decrees) of pas akum and bishul akum that we've learnt about before, the gezeirah of cholov akum is another gezeirah where Chazal saw the need to make a protective fence for the Jewish people. However, in the case of pas akum and bishul akum, Chazal were focused on preventing chasnus (intermarriage). Therefore even if you could prove that these items were 100% kosher, they would still be forbidden because of the concern of chasnus. With cholov though, the concern is purely about kashrus, i.e. is the milk kosher or not?
What is the source in the Gemara for the gezeirah of Cholov akum? It is mentioned in Avodah Zara 35b, where the Gemara lists a number of items that Chazal forbade. Among these are "Cholov she'chol'va ovdei kochavim v'ein Yisroel roeihu" (milk that a non-Jew milked and a Jew did not witness the milking). The Gemara tries to clarify the specific case that we are concerned could happen. If we are worried that the non-Jew switched the cow's milk with non-kosher milk, we would recognize this immediately. The Gemara explains that milk from kosher animals is white, while milk from non-kosher animals has a yellowish color.
Then the Gemara suggests that perhaps we are concerned that some non-kosher milk was mixed in with a majority of kosher milk. We wouldn't be able to use the color test because the mixture would still be white. The Gemara says that you could test it by making it into cheese. Only kosher milk can be made into cheese, non-kosher milk cannot.
The Gemara says that if your original plan was to make cheese, then obviously this test would help. But what if you didn't want to turn the milk into cheese? The Gemara says that you could take a sample of the milk and try to make the sample into cheese. If the sample doesn't become cheese, then you know that non-kosher milk has been added. However, the Gemara then concedes that even with 100% kosher milk, not all the milk turns into cheese. In the cheese-making process, a liquid called whey gets separated from the rest of the milk and sits above the cheese. So if there was non-kosher milk present, it would just get mixed in with the whey and you would have no way of knowing if it was present or not. So without supervision, we have no way of knowing the status of the milk and this is the reason Chazal saw it necessary to make the gezeirah.

In the coming issues we will look at the different ways in which the Rishonim and Acharonim understood the exact nature of the gezeirah of cholov akum. We will also look at the famous heter of R' Moshe Feinstein and how this heter applies to us today.

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