Parshas Shoftim 5778
Candle Lighting Time: 7:36 pm
August 17, 2018
Volume 14 Issue 22
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Dvar Torah

It Is The Thought That Counts
By Rabbi Yosef Prupas 
In this week's parsha we are taught a halacha that seems to defy common logic - the halacha of "eidim zomimin." Eidim Zomimin are witnesses who testify, for example, that they witnessed a murder. If prior to carrying out the supposed murderer's death sentence two other witnesses testify that the original two witnesses were at a different location at the time of the murder, the original two receive the intended punishment of their victim. However, if the death sentence has already been meted out, there is no retribution to the original two false witnesses. The Torah expresses this unique halacha with the words "Ka'asher zamam la'asos," which the Talmud explains to mean that it is only as they "intended" to do, but not if it was already done. This halacha has led to much discussion among the commentators as to the reason behind this seeming paradox.
The Maharal explains that its understanding lies at the end of the verse - "u'viarta harah mikirbecha," "and you shall destroy the evil from your midst." The source of evil in this case is the intent to harm the individual the witnesses falsely testify against. It is only a thought, there is no tangible action on their part that brings about the murder. A thought exists as long as it is there. Once it stops it no longer exists. Therefore, in the case of eidim zomimin, the Torah is telling us to get rid of the evil as long as it has a presence. Once the sentence is carried out - their evil intent ceases, and the commandment to remove the evil is no longer pertinent. The technicalities of the halacha reveal a much deeper reality of the power of thought. The Maharal explains:
"The real reason for this law is something wondrous. One must understand the words "k'asher zamam" itself. The intention to do something to someone else turns back on himself. When the person was already killed, there is no thought to turn back on the original person." The Maharal goes on to say that according to the Torah, a misplaced intention to harm another will always turn back on its origin. We find this explicitly by the evil Haman. The verse in Megilas Esther (9:25) states "But when she (Esther) appeared before the king, the evil thought intended for the Jews returned on his (Haman's) head..." Similarly the Talmud tell us in tractate Shabbos (97a) that one who suspects others of a misdeed (incorrectly) will be stricken himself. The Maharal explains with a parable of two boats, one trying to sink the other. If the second boat is stronger than the boat trying to ram it and bring it down, the result will be that the first one will sink. A misplaced thought, will turn on its originator.
At this time of year, the above brings to mind the statement of our sages in tractate Yoma (29a) "Hihurei aveira kashu mei'aveira," "Thoughts of sin are worse than sin itself." A thought can be worse than the act. Some commentaries explain that thought originates from the essence of a person, from the holiest within him, and it is defiled by that bad thought. Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner tell us that although the process of repentance requires regret for the action of sin and acceptance not to repeat it in the future, it is praiseworthy for one to uproot the source of what brought about the possibility of sin itself. We learn this from the fact that Rosh Hashana is on the day, according to one opinion "man" came into being, or first day of creation of world whose purpose was to serve mankind. And from the fact that the attribute of Teshuva/repentance is rooted in the Name of G-d- the Name that speaks to the creation of the world (as opposed to other attributes of G-d, e.g. kindness, truth, etc.) This teaches us the core of Teshuva, as the Rambam explains in the Laws of Teshuva, lies in the fact that a person must reinvent himself a result. It is not only his actions that matter, but his thought process itself. We can now understand the power and far-reaching consequences of the going-ons in one's mind. For this reason we call out to G-d "mima'makim," from the depths of our being for forgiveness, realizing that we must change from inside out. May we understand our thought process and direct them in a positive direction for ourselves and towards our people.

Dvar Halacha
CHALAV AKUM: Cholov Stam - Final Touches
Part 5

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

In the last two issues we've learned about R' Moshe's heter (leniency) regarding milk that is under government inspection but was not supervised by a Jew during the time of milking. Due to the government inspection, the farmer experiences mirsas (fear) and our certainty in the assumption that he won't mix in non-kosher milk makes it as if a Jew supervised the milking. This milk is known by most as "cholov stam" ("ordinary" milk).
There is an interesting question regarding the situation prior to R' Moshe's heter. The person who originally sent R' Moshe the shaila noted that in his community many people, including well-respected rabbonim, were buying cholov stam from the grocery stores. Clearly it was already common practice to do so. Without R' Moshe's heter, what were all these people relying on to buy this unsupervised milk?
The answer is that starting in the early 1900's, in the New York area, a number of Jews started kosher dairy farms to supply cholov yisroel milk to their communities. Some time later it seems that the cholov yisroel industry became monopolized which then resulted in higher prices. Eventually some of the rabbonim said that since the monopoly was trying take advantage of the situation by charging these unreasonably high prices, they told their constituents that they could rely on the Pri Chadash. We mentioned before that the Pri Chadash held that if there weren't any non-kosher animals present on the farm at the time of the milking, then the gezeirah of cholov akum did not apply the milk was permissible, even though no Jew had watched the milking. This was a special leniency for these communities though, because most Acharonim argue on the Pri Chadash. This prompted the person in question to send his shaila to R' Moshe.
R' Moshe held like most Acharonim and didn't hold of the leniency of the Pri Chadash. He conceded though, that you can't say that these people were doing wrong by relying on the Pri Chadash. However, he wanted to bring his own line of reasoning, independent of the Pri Chadash, for why people could buy the unsupervised milk. The details are discussed in a previous issue.
There is another issue in the last few decades that is quite different to all those we've discussed so far concerning cholov stam. This is the issue of the "displaced abomasum". The abomasum is the final of the four stomachs that food passes through in a cow's digestive process. Sometimes the abomasum (which lies on the floor of the cow's abdomen) gets filled with gas and rises towards the top of the abdomen. It is linked to calving and to modern bovine diets. Prevalence can be up to 5% on some farms. The condition can cause the cows discomfort and even death in a minority of cases. So when it happens, a vet comes in and performs surgery. The vet makes an incision in the side of the cow, releases the gas, puts the stomach back in its correct place and then closes up the incision. The problem is that many poskim are concerned that this surgery might cause the cow to become a treifah. The milk of a treifah is forbidden just like the treifah itself. Strictly cholov yisroel milk will not allow these types of cows to be milked.
It is said that when this shaila was brought to R' Belsky, he said the shailah had already been brought to R' Moshe 20 years earlier and he was matir (was lenient with) it. It is not clear what the basis was though.
That finishes up our discussion of cholov stam. Next week we will continue with further halachos from the Shulchan Aruch concerning cholov akum.

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