Parshas Matos Masei 5778
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July 13, 2018
Volume 14 Issue 21
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Dvar Torah

Location Location Location
By Rabbi Yosef Prupas 
            
One of the more puzzling aspects of this week's Parsha, is referenced in a Gemarah in Makkos (daf 9b). Rashi notes that the number of "Cities of Refuge" on the other side of the Jordan is disproportionate to those in the Land of Israel. There are three cities on each side of the Jordan to accommodate eight and a half Sheva m in the Land of Israel and only two and a half Sheva m on the other side of the Jordan!?
To resolve this apparent inconsistency, the Gemarah explains that the people of Gilead, a city east of the Jordan, were murderers. The source for this is a verse in Hoshea (6:8), "Gilead is a city of evil filled with those who lay in wait for blood. The Gemarah asks, what does it mean "who lay in wait for blood?" The Gemarah answers that the verse refers to those who lay in ambush to murder. The Ramban points out that this sad condition in that city existed already in the lifetime of Moshe, hence his decision to establish the cities in this manner.
There are two questions to be asked. First, it seems from the above verse that the inhabitants of Gilead were intentional murderers. Aren't the "Cities of Refuge" intended only for those who kill inadvertently? Second, from the Ramban it appears that there is something inherent about the nature of Gilead that breeds murderers, without regard to the nationality of its inhabitants. How could this be?
To answer, the Maharal in Gur Aryeh (his commentary on Rashi in Chumash) tells us a fundamental concept. Just as Hashem created men prone to certain inclinations, so too, He created places prone to certain possibilities. One example of this is the case of the "rebellious sage" who issues a verdict contrary to one issued by the Sanhedrin. He is only executed if the Sanhedrin's verdict was issued from the "Chamber of Hewn Stone" in the Temple. If the verdict originated elsewhere, the rebellious sage is not executed. The Gemarah (Sanhedrin 14b) comments that we learn from this law "Shehamakom Gorem", that the "Place is the Cause". It is the locale of the Sanhedrin's ruling that makes the wayward sage's ruling a capital offense.
Another example of this is Yakov Avinu's startled realization upon awakening from his dream of the angels going up and down the ladder. As the verse states (Vayetzei 28:16) "Surely Hashem is in this place and I did not know." The Maharal goes on to explain that this is the reason why there are more accidental killings in Gilead than anywhere else. Unfortunately, there was a disproportionate amount of murders that took place in Gilead. This in turn was reflected in the greater number of accidental murders, given the overall lack of appreciation for human life. If one is truly concerned about his fellow human beings, mistakes are less likely to occur. Why was Gilead prone to such an attitude?
The answer can be found in the Kuzari. The Kuzari writes that it is not only our social environment that affects our thought processes. G-d created the world in such a way that even our physical environment can play role in who we are and the decisions we make. The land we live in can affect the way we act and think. In one place or time, one can find himself more likely to be successful - spiritual or physically. While in some other place or time, one seems to be in a never ending pattern of failure. This was the case with Gilead.
From the above, seemingly negative situation, we learn something positive that can affect out personal life. Rather than feel despondent when success seems to elude an individual, one should not take it personally. Either with time or by moving on to somewhere else, one will feel more capable in dealing with the tests that comes one's way. May we merit to reside permanently in Land of Israel, in the era of Mashiach. In a time and place that most definitely will spur us in the right direction, closer to G-d.
 



 
Dvar Halacha
CHALAV AKUM: Changing Landscape
Part 4

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

Last week we learned about R' Moshe Feinstein's heter (leniency) regarding milk that was not supervised by a Jew at the time of the milking. R' Moshe said that the mirsas (fear) created by the threat of government inspections will deter anyone from mixing non-kosher milk with the kosher milk. Since we are certain that no non-kosher milk was mixed in, it is regarded as if a Jew watched the milking.
 
R' Moshe's teshuvah actually consists of three separate teshuvos that were written over the course of a few months. Why three? The reason is because the person who wrote to R' Moshe did further research each time and then came back with more questions. After the first teshuvah, the man returned and said that in reality, the fine imposed by the government for a violation is relatively small. R' Moshe wrote that it was still enough. If the reputation loss the company would experience as a result of a government inspection would hurt them, this is probably enough of a mirsas.
 
After the second teshuvah, the man brought R' Moshe another difficulty. It is fine and well that the government inspects the dairies. The problem is that the dairies, where the milk is processed and bottled, also obtain some of their milk from the farms around them. The government inspection does not take place at these farms, so this seemingly undermines the basis of R' Moshe's heter? R' Moshe replied that only a minority of the milk comes from these surrounding farms, and for a minority we do not have to be concerned. In addition, R' Moshe learned that the gezeirah (decree) was only put in place at the time when the milk is 'bo l'yad yisroel" (comes into a Jew's possession). When the milk is actually transferred from the non-Jew to the Jew, we need to "freeze the camera" and see what the status of the milk is at that time. Since at the dairy we have the government inspection, this is sufficient, since the next step is for the milk to be delivered to the stores where the Jews will buy it.
 
R' Moshe's teshuvos were written in the early 50's, more than 60 years ago. Do the assumptions on which his heter is based still apply today? The OU researched the issue about 10 years ago and made some interesting discoveries. Nowadays, the majority of the milk delivered to dairies comes from the surrounding farms, so we can no longer rely on the leniency of there being a minority. The federal government continues to inspect the dairies. However, these inspections are focussed on testing the milk for bacteria and antibiotics, not to verify that it is cow's milk. The would seemingly weaken the basis of the heter. On the other hand, the various state governments conduct inspections that take place 2 to 6 times a year on the farms where the actual milking takes place. The purpose of these inspections is indeed to check that the milk is cow's milk. The inspectors have the authority to take action against farms that do not comply with the law. The inspectors in contact with the OU also related that they have never had cases of livestock besides cows being present on the farms.
 
We see that the underlying assumptions that R' Moshe's heter is based on are not entirely what they were originally. However, some say that the situation is actually better today, because inspections are now on the farms themselves, where the actual milking is happening.
 
When R' Belsky was presented with the all the information above (and more) on the current status of dairy regulation in America, he said that people who up to now have been relying on the heter of R' Moshe, may continue doing so going forward.






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