Parshas Va'eira 5779
Candle Lighting Time: 4:30 pm
December 4, 2019
Volume 15 Issue 11
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Dvar Torah

Gratitude at its Best
By Rabbi Aharon Sperka
 
Hashem sent Moshe to bring the Makkos upon the Egyptians. However, for the first three Makkos, Aharon actually brought them. Rashi quotes the Midrash to explain: When Moshe was born, his mother placed him in the Nile to protect him from the Egyptians. Later, when Moshe killed the Egyptian overseer and buried him, the sand protected Moshe by hiding the body. Out of gratitude, Moshe could not hit the Nile or the sand. The first three plagues, which affected the Nile and the sand, had to be brought about by Aharon.
From here we learn an important lesson. Gratitude is owed even to inanimate objects-certainly to people as well.
But why is it important to show gratitude to inanimate objects? The sand would never know it had been hit. The water doesn't know it did Moshe a favor. Objects don't care if we are ungrateful, and the favors done through them are obviously unintentional.
To explain this, we must have a deeper understanding of gratitude. Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler offers us an insight.
Let's begin by explaining what gratitude is not. When a person receives a favor from someone and does not have gratitude, there may be several reasons. Perhaps he doesn't recognize that anything was given to him, or he feels entitled to it. Perhaps he feels that he is doing a favor to the giver by accepting, in which case why should he thank him? Only if the receiver understands that what was given to him was a sacrifice by another person, one that he isn't entitled to, will he express gratitude. And he is also motivated by the desire to continue to receive favors.
This gratitude is not real; it is rooted in selfishness. True gratitude is selfless. A person who only wants to be a giver is grateful for anything he receives. If someone does him a favor, he wants to give back irrespective of why the giver gave to him. As long as he received, he feels appreciation. This is why we need to show gratitude in a way that even goes beyond what we received.
But we still need to explain why gratitude must be shown to inanimate objects, which neither feel nor care if we are grateful.
Rabbi Dessler explains that our character traits are powered by sensitivity. If a person becomes desensitized in one aspect of a particular trait, his personality as a whole can be affected. If Moshe showed ingratitude to the Nile and to the sand, it would affect his gratitude to people, as well as to Hashem. The obligation of gratitude is not necessarily between man and his fellow; it is also between man and Hashem. It affects the person himself, not just the person to whom the gratitude is owed.
Taking this a step further, the first step of gratitude is realizing that a favor was done. This, in fact, is the literal meaning of the phrase "hakaras hatov"-recognizing the good.
Realizing that we have received a gift is a prerequisite to gratitude. It takes a keen and sensitive eye to recognize all of the good things that happen to us, especially small things that occur regularly and without the intention of the giver.
For an arrogant person who feels that he deserves everything, this is impossible. But Moshe was a very humble man. He didn't feel entitled to anything, so everything was seen as a favor. And he was grateful.
Often, we don't even realize that a favor is being done. But a person who is selfless and humble can easily recognize a gift, no matter how small it is.


 
Dvar Halacha
Sechorah B'Devarim Assurim: 
Four Exceptions

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

The Shulchan Aruch in YD 117:1 says: "Anything that is forbidden from the Torah...if it is something that is designated for food, it is forbidden to do business with it." So, for example, one would not be allowed to open a non-kosher fish store and sell calamari.
 
There are four categories of exceptions to this general rule though, which we will look at now.
 
Exception #1: "Nizdamnu lo". This exception is already introduced in the Gemara Pesachim 23a). It means that you acquired the non-kosher food item, not on purpose, but rather by chance. An example brought in the commentaries is where someone slaughters his own chickens and then realizes he didn't do it properly. Rather than having to throw them away, he is allowed to sell them to a non-Jew. Or a person went fishing with a net and besides the kosher fish that he caught, there were also some non-kosher ones. He can sell these non-kosher fish.
 
Why can someone do this, didn't we learn last week that most Rishonim hold that this is an issur d'oraisa, why should there be exceptions?! The answer is that from the same pasuk that brings this prohibition, we also learn from the inclusive word "lachem" ("for you") that there are exceptions where we can indeed do commerce with non-kosher food items. This is one of them.
 
A modern example of this would be where you own a kosher food store. You order seven crates of kosher product X from a wholesaler, but when they deliver it, the product in one of the crates has no hechsher. Do you need to discard it and take a loss? No, you can sell it off to a non-Jewish store, because it falls into the category of "nizdamnu lo."
 
Exception #2: Cheilev. Certain types of fats in kosher animals (the ones typically designated for going onto the mizbeiach in the Beis HaMikdash) are classified by the Torah as "Cheilev." It is forbidden from the Torah to eat them. However, there is a pasuk in Vayikra 7:24 that says "yei'aseh l'chol melachah" ("They may be put to any use") from which we learn that one can do business with cheilev.
 
Exception #3: Animals that could technically be eaten, but are not made to be eaten, are allowed to be used for commerce. The examples that the Shach brings are horses, donkeys and camels. So based on this, one could open a pet shop that sells things such as gerbils, hamsters, snakes and the like, because these animals are not typically used as food.
 
Exception #4: Food that is only assur me'derabbanan. Food items such as pas akum, bishul akum, gevinas akum and chalav akum can all be sold by a Jew commercially, because they are only forbidden on a rabbinic level. However, it would not be permitted to buy something such as a McDonald's franchise. Even though the basar b'chalav issue in such an establishment is only m'derabbanan because the meat and cheese are not actually cooked together, nonetheless, the meat they use is non-kosher and is therefore assur m'de'oraisa.
 
So we see that there are a number of exceptions to the general rule of doing business with non-kosher food items. These scenarios could occur in both commercial and personal settings, so one should always check with one's rov if a particular exception applies to them.
 
The prohibition only applies against buying and selling food items. But what if I want to use a food item for a non-food purpose (e.g. making footballs out of pig hides)? Is this allowed? We will look at this next week.
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