Parshas Vayeilech 5779
Candle Lighting Time: 6:53 pm
September 14, 2018
Volume 14 Issue 26
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Dvar Torah

It's Inside 
By Rabbi Yosef Prupas
            
            Learning about Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur brings us conflicting messages. On one hand we learn of the awesomeness of the Day of Judgment, with the entire world passing in front of G-d. Even the angels tremble at the sound of the shofar that heralds the moment of judgment. On the other hand we are told to dress in our holiday finest and to celebrate the day with festive meals. With expressions of joy found both in Kiddush and the Rosh Hashana prayers, we welcome in this holiday!? Nothing exemplifies our confusion more than the famous passage in Nechemia (9-12): "Then Nechemia... and Ezra the priest... and the Leviim who caused the people to understand, said to all the people, 'This day is holy to the Lord your God; neither mourn nor weep,' for all the people were weeping when they heard the words of the Law. And he said to them, 'Go, eat fat foods and drink sweet drinks and send portions to whoever has nothing prepared, for the day is holy to our Lord, and do not be sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.' And the Leviim quieted all the people, saying, 'Hush, for the day is holy, and do not be sad.' Then all the people went to eat and to drink and to send portions and to rejoice greatly, for they understood the words that they informed them of."
 
            In a lengthy essay on this topic, the Nesivos Shalom explains that there is a basic misconception as to the function of the High Holidays. The people assumed that Rosh Hashana was a Day of Judgment on the past, and they mourned and wept upon hearing a book of laws they had not fulfilled. Nechemia, Ezra, and the Leviim calmed them by explaining that what is important about Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is not the past, but the future. The process of repentance is to regret the past and to accept a new future.
 
            The Nesivos Shalom explains further that Rosh Hashana takes place on the day of the creation of the world. On that day G-d reassess if all of creation, both those with free choice and those without, are accomplishing the goals of creation. Acceptance of
G-d as our King and declaration of our desire to get closer to Him, gives reason for our continued existence. The climax of this is Yom Kippur where we shed, as much as possible, our physicality in demonstration of our sincere desire to be "attached" to Him. The Maharal tells us, that this act alone cleanses us of our sins, for next to G-d there is no possibility of sin. This is the explanation of Rabbi Akiva's statement "Just as the Mikva purifies the impure, so too does Hakadosh Baruch Hu purify the Jewish People." This reality is a cause for joy. We are celebrating the possibility of our loyalty and unity with G-d. The "Ten Days of Repentance" when we recreate ourselves are commensurate with the "Ten Utterances" that brought the world into being. Both are acts of creation.
 
            Unfortunately what we have learned above remains an abstract concept for many. The idea of getting close to G-d seems too grandiose and obscure to be true. Our full understanding of our low physical state makes this unity seem distant. How can we correct this perception?
 
            The answer is found in this last week's Parsha. It begins with the words "Atem netzavim hayom," "You are standing today." "Today," the commentators explain, refers to Rosh Hashana, the first day of creation. The message for that day is "For the commandment which I give you today is neither hidden nor far off... For the matter is close to you. It is in your own mouth and your own heart to do it." Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler explains that Moshe was encouraging the Jewish People by telling them that no matter how much their inclination tries to lead them away from the truth, deep in their hearts they will know the real truth. And they have the ability to grasp it, internalize it and change themselves on the basis of that truth. We can possibly add that with our recreation on this awesome day, we are reminded of the original creation of man when he was implanted with "with a portion of G-d." "For the matter is very close to you," can also be referring to that divine spark contained with in each one of us, giving us the ability to overcome any perceived obstacle in our quest to actualize that real truth contained within. This is enabled by study of Torah "that is neither in the sky... nor across the ocean." The possibility of growth, change, and closeness to G-d is a reality. May we truly celebrate the coronation of our King with true understanding of how we can get closer to Him.
 
 
 


 
 
Dvar Halacha
CHEMAS AKUM: BUTTER


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

In previous issues, we have discussed the laws of cholov akum (milk from a non-Jew) and gevinas akum (cheese from a non-Jew). The third and final milk product dealt with in Shulchan Aruch Siman 115 is "chemas akum" (butter from a non-Jew).
 
The Shulchan Aruch says in 115:3: "Butter of a non-Jew, we don't protest against those who have the minhag to eat it. But if the minhag in a certain place is not to eat it, one should not deviate from this. In a place where there is no specific minhag, if the butter was cooked up until all the drops of milk have been absorbed, then it is permissible." The Rema is even more lenient than the Shulchan Aruch and says that you can even cook the butter up lechatchilah (a priori) to remove the remaining milk droplets.
 
Most places in the US do not have a fixed minhag regarding chemas akum and therefore there is not a great deal of awareness of its halachos, or that there is any issue with chemas akum in the first place.
 
Just like cheese, butter cannot be made from non-kosher milk. So why should non-Jewish butter be assur? Butter is not actually mentioned in the Gemara, only milk and cheese. However, the Rishonim do talk about it. The Rambam differs and says that it was the Geonim (who preceded the Rishonim) who forbade butter. The reason is based on the Gemara where it discusses the basis for the gezeirah against eating gevinas akum. One of the six reasons proposed was that perhaps some droplets of non-kosher milk remained in the cheese. The same concern might exist with butter. Since the droplets would not have been absorbed into the butter, they are not batel (nullified) and remain assur.
 
Given the language of the Shulchan Aruch and the Rema, butter is clearly the most lenient out of the three dairy products. However, even with this the Shulchan Aruch uses the expression "we shouldn't protest against," meaning that it is certainly better to avoid it and only to use Jewish-made butter.
 
All these halachos are referring to the making of butter in the times of the Gemara, the Rishonim and the Shulchan Aruch, when only the bare minimum of ingredients were used. Nowadays though, the kashrus organizations have done their own research into the process under which butter is produced. They have found that there are other ingredients that are added in, even though the packaging might say 100% butter. There are two main things that are added. One is milk. This is no issue if you already rely on cholov stam. The second is whey, which is a milky by-product of the cheese-making process. What is the halachic status of whey? Was it included in the gezeirah of cholov akum? It is the subject of a dispute. R' Moshe addresses it in a teshuvah and seems to come out that it is mutar. Many argue and say that since whey is a by-product of milk, it goes into the gezeirah of cholov akum and is assur. Again though, if you already rely on cholov stam, then this is kosher anyway and is not an issue.
 
Because the metzius (reality) has changed, we cannot rely on the halachos as presented at first glance in the Shulchan Aruch. In the end, it turns out that butter, which was the most meikel of the three in the times of the Shulchan Aruch, is more chamur today (for those who keep cholov yisroel), while cheese, which was originally the most chamur of the three, now has some leniencies (e.g. soft cheese, discussed last week).
 
That completes our halachic discussion of milk products. Next week we will move onto the halachos of non-Jewish-made beverages such as beer, whiskey and coffee.



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