Parshas Vayigash 5779
Candle Lighting Time: 4:18 pm
December 14, 2018
Volume 15 Issue 8
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Dvar Torah

All for the Boss
By Rabbi Sruli Schwartz
            
"He [Yosef] appeared before him [Yaakov], and fell on his neck and he wept excessively" (BEREISHIS 46:29).

Rashi asks why there is no mention of Yaakov, and answers by citing a medrash that states that he was reciting shema. Why was Yaakov reciting Shema and not Yosef? If it was the appropriate time to recite shema, Yosef should have also fulfilled this mitzvah.
Rav Yehoshua Leib Diskin answers that at that time Yaakov had an overwhelming love for his son. Being reunited with his son after being deprived of him for twenty-two years brought Yaakov's affection to heightened levels. Now that Yaakov's emotions reached the nth degree, he felt it was an opportune time to channel these feelings toward Hashem. Yaakov then recited shema, which includes the posuk "And you shall love Hashem...," reiterating to himself that the reason we have feelings and emotions is in order to direct them towards Hashem. To relate to the infinite G-d is impossible. However, the way we interact with family and friends is a sound starting point for relating to the Almighty.

Tears of Joy

A recurring theme in the recent parshiyos is crying. Yosef cries when he hears his brothers confess to themselves, he cries when he reveals himself to his brothers, and he cries when he finally reunites with his father after twenty-two years. Most of these are joyous events, so why was Yosef choked up? Many of us would dismiss this as a natural phenomenon called tears of joy, but there is a deeper meaning to this emotional experience. The Maharal cites a gemorah in Chagigah (5a) that states that G-d cries for three people: one who has the ability to study Torah and does not, one who is not able to study Torah and nonetheless studies Torah, and a leader who acts arrogantly towards the community. (Explaining how we can attribute crying to the Almighty goes beyond the scope of this essay.) The Maharal explains that tears resemble the absence of something dear and intimate. There is nothing dearer to G-d than the Torah. Therefore, the Torah's absence could cause Hashem to cry. One who has the ability to learn Torah and yet does not, is void of Torah. He has the ability to fill this void, yet he keeps it empty, making the hole more significant and noticeable. Such emptiness causes Hashem to cry. Someone who cannot learn Torah should be empty from Torah. However, this void is not recognized until one begins to fill it. When this fellow learns Torah and starts filling this void, the depth of what he was lacking becomes apparent. This realization is what causes Hashem to cry. Similarly, realizing the extent of some type or form of emptiness causes our emotions to erupt. This explains Yosef's actions. Yosef was away from his beloved father and family for twenty-two years. Now, when the family reunites, that void was filled. Once that that empty part of his life was filled, he realized the depth of the loss. This realization caused Yosef's emotions to surface and caused him to cry. People experience tears on various occasions, some on happy occasions, and some on sad, some when reading encouraging stories, and some when feeling for another's experience. All are from our depths and we should cherish every experience.
 
Dvar Halacha
SHEICHAR AKUM: Medicine
Part 8

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

Last week we saw that if there was some kind of financial incentive to secretly add a non-kosher ingredient into a product, then we require verification that only kosher ingredients were used. What if these incentives don't exist, can we trust the seller?
 
The Shulchan Aruch says in YD 114:5: "Pomegranate wine which they sell for refuah, medicinal purposes, is permissible to buy it from the store...even if its value is more 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.
 
Using the halacha above, one could speculate that you don't need a hechsher on anything nowadays, since so many companies have specialized in their respective products and would presumably be concerned about reputational risk. A single scandal could severely damage a company. So perhaps one could just look at the ingredients on the packaging and use this to decide whether the product is kosher or not?
 
There are two main problems with this approach: (1) If certain ingredients make up less that 2% of the product by weight, then Federal ingredient disclosures begin to be more lenient. As a result, you might not know specifically what ingredients are in a product or how prevalent they are. (2) Even if you know for certain that only kosher ingredients were used, you still don't know what equipment was used. The absorbed tastes in the factory equipment from the previous runs have the potential to render the food on the current run non-kosher.
 
What if non-kosher ingredients are indeed present in the product? Are there any circumstances which might still permit them to be consumed?
 
The Shulchan Aruch says in 114:12: "The Rashba was careful about consuming karkom (a type of spice, possibly saffron), because in the country where he lived...they would mix in small strings of dry meat (to act as a preservative)."
 
The Shach says that in his day virtually everyone was lenient with karkom, even though it contains these non-kosher ingredients. He gives two reasons. The first is that it is clear that the vast majority of it is just karkom, therefore even if there is a small quantity of these strings of meat, it is nullified and you are allowed to use it even lechatchilah because there is certainly a 1-to-60 ratio. Usually we say that if something in a mixture is distinct, then it can't become nullified and you must remove it. But in this case, it must've been that the pieces of meat were so minute that they were indistinguishable.
 
Another reason brought by the Shach is that the strings of meat in the spice are so dried out that they have lost their taste and are considered like wood.
 
This second answer of the Shach has practical implications for modern kashrus because there are so many binders and fillers that are used in medications today that come from non-kosher products. These substances have been processed to the point that they have lost their taste. This could be a basis to be lenient with medicines made with non-kosher ingredients under certain circumstances.
 
The Shach's answer also has implications for the debate regarding the use of bovine gelatin in food and medicine products. For example, gelatin is used to clear the fogginess from apple juice. It is also used in medicine to make capsules. Those who are lenient say that the gelatin is like wood, neither having a taste for shevach (making the taste better) or lifgam (making the taste worse). They use this characteristic to argue that non-kosher gelatin can be consumed.
 
Next week we will explore how to regard food items being sold that were pre-cut with a non-kosher knife

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