Parshas Shemini/Para 5779
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March 29, 2019
Volume 15 Issue 19
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Dvar Torah

Music to the Ears 
By Rabbi Yosef Prupas
            Para Aduma, the red heifer, is the paradigm of the inexplicable in the Torah. Yet, there are two medrashim that question its well-known status, both quoted by Rashi. The first medrash compares the mitzvah of parah aduma to the son of the maidservant who sullied the king's palace. The king demanded that the mother of the culprit take responsibility and clean up her son's mess. So too, let the "mother cow," the para aduma, take responsibility for her child, the Golden Calf and clean up that infamous sin. The medrash seems to imply that there is an explanation for para aduma! A second medrash, which explains how every aspect of the procedure in preparing the para aduma corresponds to the Golden Calf, compounds the question.
            Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Salant, z"l author of Be'er Yosef, offers an explanation. It seems that although there is a possible way to comprehend the concept of para aduma, there remains one aspect of its procedure that remains unexplainable, namely that it brings impurity to the pure [those involved in its preparation], and purity to the impure. Referring to this King Solomon, the wisest of all men, commented, "I requested wisdom, yet it is distant from me." This being the case, one can posit that Hashem desired that we be exposed on a regular basis to the most bizarre of rituals. Since people regularly become impure when they come in contact with the dead, they therefore are routinely involved with a procedure that is unexplainable. The result is coming to understand that some of Hashem ways are just unexplainable. Knowing this can strengthen one during harder times when things for reasons unknown to us are just not working out, for it is already ingrained in us that a person cannot understand everything.
            Rabbi Salant concludes by saying that with the above we can now understand King David's mysterious words, "Your chukim (statutes) were like music to me at the time of my sojourn." The sages explain that King David was referring to the time he was fleeing from King Shaul and hiding in caves. Although already anointed by Hashem to fill the position of king, David was still fleeing for his life. What can be more frustrating than that? Yet David was able to draw comfort from the "chukim," those mitzvos that are not understandable, to the point that they were like music in his ears. It was through these commandments that he knew one basic rule: We don't understand everything. He therefore had faith in Hashem that there was a reason for all that was happening to him, and he was happy. We know this because all of Psalms were written through prophecy, and in order to receive prophecy one must be in a state of joy.
            May we merit speedily in our day the time when the mitzvah of para aduma will be explained to us, for there will no longer be a need to keep the explanation of some mitzvos hidden. In that era we will no longer experience moments of doubt and frustration and therefore will not need to turn to the "chukim" for comfort.

Dvar Halacha
Part 2

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

The Shulchan Aruch in Yoreh Deah 118:1 says: "Wine, meat and chatichas dag (a piece of fish)...that were deposited or sent with a non-Jew, need two chosamos (seals)"
Last week we learned that the Gemara mentions certain items that require two seals when transported with a non-Jew, to prove that the food was not tampered with. The items were "chatichas dag," "basar" (meat), "yayin" (wine), and "techeiles" (the blueish dye used on tzitzis).
There is also a second category of items not mentioned in this particular halacha that only require one seal when being transported. This includes bread and cheese.
Why does the Shulchan Aruch say "chatichas dag," a piece of fish, rather than just saying dag, a whole fish? The answer is simple. With a whole fish, you can easily verify that it is kosher by checking that it has fins and scales. The case in the Gemara and Shulchan Aruch is where it has neither, so you need to rely on something else to verify that it is kosher. The kosher seals serve that purpose.
What happens if there was a problem and the food was not transported with the required seals? The basic halacha, as stated in the Shulchan Aruch, is that if food is sent with a non-Jew and it did not have the required chosam when one was needed, or it only had one chosam when two were needed, then it is forbidden to be eaten.
The Shulchan Aruch only refers to food being transported by non-Jews. What about a Jew who is non-religious? Does the halacha change? The Shulchan Aruch doesn't appear to deal with it, however, the Rema addresses the issue. He says that there are some opinions in the Rishonim who say that two chosamos are only required for a Jew who is chashud (suspected of eating non-kosher), but with a non-Jew, one chosam is enough for everything (even meat, fish and wine). What is the reasoning behind this? It is because the non-Jew knows that as soon as the food is delivered, somebody is going to be checking it to ensure that it was not tampered with. This fear will add some deterrence to his interfering with the food and so only one chosam is necessary. But the Jew who is chashud will feel more secure to switch the food because he assumes that the person receiving the food will trust him that it was not tampered with.
The Rema agrees with the Shulchan Aruch that lechatchilah (a priori), we need two chosamos when sending the more strict food type. However, the Rema is more lenient than the Shulchan Aruch because he says that b'dieved (post facto), if it was sent with a non-Jew with only one siman when it actually required two, you can rely on those opinions in the Rishonim that two chosamos is only for sending with a Jew who is chashud.
The Shach clarifies one last point. The expression used by the Shulchan Aruch is in the past tense ("deposited, or sent with a non-Jew"), as if it already happened. Usually we infer from this type of expression that the halacha is only b'dieved. So perhaps one should always try to send food using only a Jew? The Shach tells us that as long as we are sealing the food with the correct number of seals, then we can send the food with a non-Jew even lechatchilah.
Next week we will explore whether one needs to seal food when leaving it alone with non-Jews, such as in an office fridge, or at home with the housekeeper.

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