Parshas Vayeitzei 5779
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November 16, 2018
Volume 15 Issue 5
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Dvar Torah

The Right Type
By Rabbi Yosef Prupas
There are verses in the Torah where a slight nuance in the wording can be explained in a way that would work with the simple understanding of the verse. Or, one can take the approach that any variance in a verse's wording alludes to something beneath the surface, waiting to be revealed. This week's parsha, Parshas Vayetzei, is one such example. We are told of how Yaakov, upon arriving at Har Hamoria, prepared for sleep by placing stones in a semi circle around his head to protect him from wild animals. Rashi points out that when Yaakov wakes up, the verse states that he took "the stone," and not "the stones," from under his head. Rashi explains that it is written in singular form to allude to a dispute between the stones that occurred that night. Each stone desired the merit of having the righteous Yaakov rest his head upon it. The end result of their argument was that they all merged into one. The Maharal laments, that unfortunately, since such an event is hard to believe, there are those who prefer to explain the use of the singular form in a way that wouldn't conflict with the simple understanding of the verse. Therefore, since one cannot ignore the words of the Medrash, how is this phenomenon to be explained? After all, it is well known that stones aren't capable of speech, nor can they transform into one entity.
One may prefer to avoid the hidden and mysterious elements of the Torah, but because it is all truth one must attempt to extrapolate that which can be understood and apply appropriately. The Maharal reveals that the soul of Yaakov was a lofty one. Yaakov had worked upon himself until he eventually rose to a high level of holiness and was by definition removed from all that was physical. The spiritual plane that Yakov was on demanded that all that related to him be in a unified form. While in the physical world there is diversity, in the spiritual world there is only unity. We find the children of Yaakov, in responding to his concern of the possibility of sin amongst them, saying, "just as in your heart there is only 'one' so too in our heart there is only one." (Pesachim 56a) There are other additional to this concept.
With this in mind we can now understand how stones can argue. They don't argue verbally, rather there was conflict that arose as a result of the need to unify in their connection with Yaakov. Because Yaakov's spiritual nature demanded that the stones somehow combine, the stones therefore morphed into one entity. It is for this reason all Jews are unified under one name - Klal "Yisrael," the name of Yaakov. "Yisrael" signifies the spiritual accomplishment of Yaakov. We are only "Klal Yisrael" when we are "K'ish echad b'lev echad," one body and one heart.
We can now understand why the holiday of Succos represents Yaakov. The Sukah is referred to as "Sukas Shalom," the Sukah of Peace. R' Eliyahu Dessler explains this is because the transitory nature of the Sukah reminds us that all in life is temporary. If one contemplates and internalizes this lesson, one will learn to focus on what is truly important in life: Torah and service of Hashem. If we live that way there will be no reason to fight, because our priorities and goals will be the same. As a result there will only be peace and unity, which is the attribute of Yaakov. May we merit true unity through the guidance of Torah, thereby meriting the coming of Moshiach speedily in our day.  

Dvar Halacha
Part 5

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

Last week we learned that coffee would likely not fall under the gezeirah of sheichar akum. However, there is much debate as to whether or not it falls under the gezeirah of bishul akum?
The Pri Chadash tries to prove from Tosfos in Avodah Zara (35b) that just as beer (which is made from cooked barley) does not fall under bishul akum because the brocha on beer is shehakol and not borei minei mezonos and thus we see that water is the main ingredient, so too with coffee, where we say shehakol and not borei pri haeitz.
The Panim Meiros argues with the Pri Chadash. He brings the Bach who has a difficulty with Tosfos. The Bach says that you cannot bring a proof from hilchos brochos to hilchos bishul akum. In the case of barley, since you crushed it up, it has lost its original form, and that is why you change the brocha to shehakol. But at the end of the day, the same barley, regardless of its form, was still cooked up by a non-Jew. So too, argues the Panim Meiros, the Pri Chadash cannot bring a proof for coffee from the fact that its brocha is shehakol.
The Chasam Sofer concedes that the Bach is bringing a strong argument against Tosfos. But he defends the Pri Chadash by distinguishing between the cases of beer and coffee. With the beer, the Bach has a point, because the barley disintegrates and then gets absorbed into the water, so all of the barley is there and therefore falls under bishul akum. However, with coffee, the grounds are not dissolved into the water. Rather the water simply absorbs the taste from the coffee. So here the reasoning of Tosfos could apply. The brocha of shehakol is a proof that the main component of coffee is the water, to which bishul akum does not apply.
The Pri Chadash has a second argument that coffee is exempt from bishul akum, because it is not made to enhance or accompany bread in a meal. The Panim Meiros dismisses this argument because this position on bishul akum is the Pri Chadash's unique position, which is not agreed upon by others. The language of the Shulchan Aruch in Siman 112 clearly implies that even something secondary to a meal, such as an appetizer or dessert, falls under bishul akum as well.
Besides the Pri Chadash, there are three other lines of reasoning to argue that bishul akum doesn't apply to coffee, put forth by the Maharsham. The first is it could be that the gezeirah of bishul akum was only made on food and not on drinks. A second argument is that bishul akum only applies on things that a person would invite his friend over to eat. In the Maharsham's time this probably applied to coffee because in his time coffee was drunk solely for its caffeine, not as a social drink. In our age coffee is very much a social drink, so applying this line of reasoning is difficult. A third argument is that most people need to add milk as well as some sort of sweetener to the coffee. When the non-Jewish barista at Starbucks makes you the basic black coffee, it is not yet at the stage where it is considered to be drinkable by most people. Bishul akum only applies once the food item is edible to a degree.
In practice the minhag is to be lenient with non-Jewish-made coffee, but someone who chooses to be strict and doesn't drink the coffee provided on a plane or at a Starbucks for instance, has a reasonable basis for this.
Next week IY"H we will look at stam yeinam (non-Jewish wine).

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