Parshas Vayeishev 5779
Candle Lighting Time: 4:18 pm
November 30, 2018
Volume 15 Issue 7
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Dvar Torah

My Father, My Rebbe
By Rabbi Yosef Prupas
In Ma'amar 4, Pachad Yitzchak on Chanukah, Rav Yitzchak Hutner asks two thought provoking questions. There is a well known discussion in the gemara as to is the basis for the wording of the blessing "asher kedishanu...V'tzivanu." It is a mitzvah of Rabbinic origin. How can we say that we were "commanded" to do the mitzvah since it is not stated in the Torah? The context of this discussion is regarding the mitzvah of lighting the Menorah. Why was Chanukah selected from all the Rabbinic mitzvohs, even those that preceded Chanukah, to clarify this issue?
An additional question Rabbi Hutner poses in this essay is the conflicting status of Greece and its relationship with Judaism. On one hand, halacha gives the Greek language the unique status of being the only other language, aside from Lashon HaKodesh (the Holy Language), that a Sefer Torah can be written in (Megillah 9:). On the other hand, our sages recognize the choshech (darkness) of Yavan (Greece). Its culture and philosophy negatively affect us even today!?
To clarify the above, Rabbi Hutner focuses on why Greece has greater potential to cause serious damage to the Jewish People. He sources this from a Medrash in Bereishis (2:4) that states the following "v'choshech" "and darkness" - this is [a reference to] the exile of Greece, who darkened the eyes of Israel with their decrees. As it said to them, "Write on the horn of a bull that you have no share in the, Elokei Yisrael, G-d of Yisrael." What exactly was the Greek's attack on the Jewish People? The answer can be understood with the following fundamental idea.
Hashem's creating of the world with the "ten utterances" put in place the Laws of Nature - the way the world has to be. The raison d'etre of the world, was not revealed until the giving of the Torah through the Ten Commandments. While the language in creating of the world was imperative (e.g. "Yehi ohr"), the language used in giving the Torah left the choice to us whether to follow its laws or not. Our sages refer to the wisdom/will of Hashem expressed through the laws of nature as "Chachma Chitzonis," "External Wisdom." The wisdom/will of Hashem as expressed through Torah is called "Chochma Penimius," "Internal Wisdom," that which reveals deeper reasons for everything.
The Greeks can only connect with the Chochma Chitzonis, for that is all that is available to them. The Jewish People can study and connect with both Chochma Penimis and Chitzonis.The two together give us the greatest revelation of Hashem's will in this world. The Greek culture and philosophy was able to cause the greatest damage to the fabric of the Jewish people because we validate the existence and study of Chochma Chitzonis. However, the Greeks stressed Chochma Chitzonis to the point of exclusion of Chochma Penimis/Torah. Like the destructive nature of an argument between those who are close to one another, the fact that there was common ground between the Greeks and the Jewish People made it possible for the Greeks to inflict greater harm.
This gives us greater clarity in the previously quoted Medrash which stated that the Greeks claimed that "You have no share in the, Elokei Yisrael, G-d of Yisrael." Our connection to Hashem is only expressed through our forefathers, "Elokei Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov." We will not find e.g. "Elokei Moshe." On the other hand, Torah only begins with Moshe, Toras Moshe Avdi, Torah of My servant Moshe. Even though we had Bris Milah and the prohibition of Gid Hanasheh prior to Sinai, the Rambam tells us that our commandment to preform them comes from Sinai. This is comparable to a star student of a Rabbi. His natural abilities comes from his parents, the Torah from his Rabbi. The right combination is only demonstrated by the student/son's ability to take skills learned from his Rabbi, along with the proper cultivation from his parents, to come up with Torah insights on his own. The same principle applies on a national level. The Jewish People's natural abilities cultivated by our forefathers, combined with the Torah of Moshe Rabbeinu, is expressed through the expounding of Torah shel Ba'al Peh and the Rabbinic Ordinances of our Rabbis. The Greeks wanted to stop the connection, trying to sever what was ingrained into our being from our forefathers - the Chosen People with a higher calling. They attempted to ruin the vessel that would learn and expound upon the Torah of Moshe. Therefore the discussion concerning the validity of "v'tzivanu" regarding a Rabbinic decree has greater meaning with regard to Ner Chanukah, which expresses the rejection of the Greek culture and philosophy.
These concepts find greater appreciation in this week's Parsha. Yosef HaTzaddik was only able to overcome the natural desires and temptations from the wife of Potiphar by having a vision of his father's face. "Yafeh sichasam shel avdei avos yoser miTorasam shel banim", "The conversations of our forefathers have greater relevance than the Torah of the children. Yaakov cultivated and taught a Yosef Hatzaddik, for Yaakov was both his father and Rebbe. May those lessons ingrained in our DNA also find expression in us, the children.

Dvar Halacha
Part 7

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

One of the enjoyments of Shabbos is to have a l'chaim with friends. But most whiskeys don't carry a hechsher, so what are people relying on to drink them? We need to bring some halachos from the Shulchan Aruch to answer this question.
The Shulchan Aruch writes in YD 114:4: "All the above drinks (i.e. date, fig, barley, grain and honey beer) ...are forbidden to be purchased from a non-Jewish merchant if they are more expensive than wine (which was common during those times). We are concerned that he mixed in some wine (to reduce his costs)." So we see that when there is a financial incentive for a non-kosher product to be used, we are concerned for this.
However, the Shulchan Aruch in 114:5 qualifies the above halacha, where he writes: "Pomegranate wine, which they sell for medicinal purposes, is permissible to be bought from the store...even if it is more expensive than wine, because since they are selling it for medicinal reasons, lo marei nafshei." Lo marei nafshei either means they will not risk making their product defective or they are concerned for the reputational risk if they are discovered. Either way, they have an incentive not to mix anything into the product.
The Rema says in 114:4: "Even though the non-Jewish merchants have the practice of smearing their vats and utensils with pig fat, you don't have to be concerned for this". The Rema gives two reasons. (1) Because it is nosein taam lifgam, meaning that it does not give the product a desirable taste (non-kosher characteristics are only transferred if the taste is good). (2) It is nullified in 1 to 60 parts.
The Rema continues and says: "You also don't have to be concerned if they put their beer into wine utensils." There are two reasons for this: (1) The wine doesn't impart a good taste to the beer. (2) Even if the imparted taste is good, stam keilim einam bnei yoman, we assume that the utensils have not been used within the last 24 hours, which causes any non-kosher taste to go bad and therefore become nosein taam lifgam.
Now we can come back to the subject of whiskey. Our original difficulty was that many don't have a hechsher. The assumption is that the whiskey is made only from the most basic ingredients (some kind of grain, water and hops) and nothing else. But aren't we concerned that other ingredients were added? For this we apply the reasoning of the Shulchan Aruch from 114:5, that lo marei nafshei, the whiskey manufacturers don't want to risk their reputation by adding anything else.
Regarding sherry casks, on the one hand we have the reasoning from the Rema that stam keilim einam bnei yoman, and so the taste of the sherry in the wood should not affect the kashrus of the whiskey. On the other hand, it is well known that producers use sherry casks for the purpose of enhancing the taste of the whiskey. One needs to clarify with one's rov concerning how to regard this issue.
Another side issue that people need to be aware of relates to Pesach. Some whiskey manufacturers are Jewish-owned. In addition, even if the original producer is non-Jewish, he might sell the product to a distributor who is Jewish. If this whiskey was owned by a Jew over Pesach, it then receives the status of chometz she'ovar alav ha'Pesach, which would then cause it to become forbidden. A strategy to avoid this issue is to delay purchasing any whiskey after Pesach until enough time has elapsed that any such whiskey has left the supply chain.
Next week we will examine how the halachos in this siman apply to our usage of medicine.


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