Timely Dvar Torah on Noach

(Hat tip BA)


Protecting Ourselves from the Destruction and Confusion of Our Times

Shiur on Parashas Noach by Adina Becker (based on the Nesivos Shalom) 

During the last week, I was in the vicinity of two terrorist attacks, and experienced first-hand the gut-wrenching fear for my life, for my future, for my family. The fear of physical danger was accompanied by a feeling of confusion, as if the purpose of the world suddenly became cloudy and almost impeded my ability to function. I read the statements of the gedolim in Israel, exhorting us to increase Torah study and acts of chesed, and to take Shabbos in earlier. Nevertheless the feeling of confusion remained.

When preparing a shiur on Parshas Noach, I came across the Rashi that interprets the word mabul (flood) as either flood, destruction or confusion (bilbul).” Most of us in Israel have been living in a cauldron of destruction and confusion, and of course our friends and relatives overseas feel it as well.

Hashem saw fit to include the Noach and the Mabul narrative in great detail in the Torah, particularly regarding the building of the teivah (ark). This inclusion is not arbitrary. According to the Nesivos Sholom, the teivah was both a means of surviving the deluge and a tikkun (rectification) of the cause of the destruction, which would stop it spreading and enable future rebuilding. The concept of teivas Noach is more relevant than ever, particularly in these times.

The Nesivos Sholom (Rav Sholom Noach Berezowsky, zt”l, the previous Slonimer Rebbe) elucidates three aspects of teivas Noach as applied both to the individual and the world.

  1. Noach = Shabbos

According to the Zohar, Noach parallels or hints at the Shabbos. How are we to understand this? Firstly there is a clear connection between the name Noach, and the fundamental concept of “menuchah – resting” from productive work on Shabbos (Vayanach bayom hashevii).

Further, Noach’s essential nature parallels the idea of Shabbos. Chazal compares Noach’s tzidkus with that of Avraham Avinu. While Noach didn’t exhibit the drive to exceed his potential like Avraham Avinu and influence positively those around him, Noach stood firm whilst living in three highly corrupted generations and did not become sullied.

In fact the Midrash on Tehillim interprets the first few pesukim in Sefer Tehillim as referring to Noach.

“Ashrei ha’ish asher lo halach be’atzat reshaim -happy is the man who has not walked in the ways of the wicked)” – this refers to Noach not being negatively influenced by dor Enosh (idolatrous generation of Enosh).

“Ubederech chataim lo amad – nor stood in the ways of the sinners” – this refers to Noach not being negatively influenced by the dor hamabul (generation of the flood).

“Ubemoshav leitzim lo yashav – nor sat in the seat of the scornful” – this refers to Noach not being negatively influenced by the dor haflagah (generation of the dispersed builders of the tower of Bavel).

Noach represents stability, standing firm, not being corrupted by outside influences. He was a constant. The Zohar parallels Noach with Shabbos that is a constant in the world, a gift of kedushah fixed in time that comes every week and is incorruptible and accessible no matter what is going on around it.

Shabbos, according to the Nesivos Sholom, can be understood as a “teivah” that Hashem put into the world to both protect us from danger and reconnect us to Hashem in times of great spiritual confusion.

How does Shabbos protect and reconnect? As Chazal tell us (Gemara Shabbos daf 118), “Whoever keeps Shabbos properly, even if he worshipped idols like in Enosh’s generation, he will be forgiven.” This is astounding! The power of Shabbos is so great that it protects Jews even in the worst of times. As we sing in the Shabbos zemiros, “Ki eshmera Shabbos kel yishmeraini – since I keep (preserve) the Shabbos Hashem will watch over (preserve) me.” Or to paraphrase: more than the Jews have kept Shabbos, Shabbos has kept the Jews!

How does Shabbos reconnect us? According to Chazal, the root of the degenerate behavior of dor hamabul (that ultimately led to their destruction) which is also the root of all aveiros is bilbul hadaas – confused/scattered/upside down thinking. Since their thinking, and subsequently their actions was so upside down and inside out, the midah keneged midah consequence was that the whole world was turned upside down. If bilbul hadaas is the root of all aveiros, then the tikkun to stop destruction, reconnect to Hashem and rebuild the world is the opposite: yishuv hadaas – clarity of thinking and peace of mind.

How can one find yishuv hadaas while terrorist attacks and pernicious spiritual influences abound? If we think about the words we use to mekadesh the Shabbos on Friday night, we will have a glimpse of the answer. “Vayechulu Hashamayim vehaaretz vechol tzeva’am – and the Heavens and the earth were completed and all of their host.” According to the Midrash Rabba, while Hashem was still in the midst of creating, there was still the concept of tohu vavohu (pre-creation chaos and emptiness), and only after everything was completed and tohu vavohu erased, could the world actually be defined as “Shamayim veHaaretz”.

In other words, the point in time where the purpose of creation and its Creator became clear was on Shabbos. Shabbos, according to the Nesivos Sholom, is the root of the ultimate yishuv hadaas where we disconnect from all the outside influences and worries that cause bilbul hadaas and we can reconnect to the Creator and see clearly the purpose of Creation. To understand the power of this yishuv hadaas, ask any Jewish mother the difference in her composure two minutes before candlelighting and one minute after! Shabbos has arrived, and the stressful mundane matters of a moment ago are now irrelevant.

Teivas Noach had three levels: the upper level for people, the middle level for animals and the bottom level for waste matter. In Teivas Hashabbos, this is represented by three spiritual floors that we can gain access to, depending on our level of emunah. The bottom level is represented by keeping a halachic Shabbos or refraining from doing melachos.

The middle floor is for those for whom the Shabbos permeates their speech – “Let your speech on Shabbos be different to your speech during the week” (Gemara Shabbos 113). This could be manifest by not talking lashon hara, mundane matters or politics on Shabbos at the Shabbos table, or by being careful to compliment and not criticize those around us. In previous generations in the Diaspora, many families maintained the custom of only conversing in lashon hakodesh or Yiddish on Shabbos and not the language of the country in which they resided.

The upper level of Teivas Hashabbos is for those for whom Shabbos permeates their thoughts, which will lead to a true feeling of the pleasantness and sweetness of Shabbos. According to the Nesivos Sholom, the more we have clarity of emunah, the more accessible this level becomes to us. The three levels of Shabbos are also manifest in the three levels of the soul, the nefesh, ruach and neshamah. As we sing in Rav Aharon of Karlin’s Kah Echsof, “Hashabbos noam haneshamos vehashvii oneg haruchos veden hanefashos.”

  1. Torah = Teivas Noach

Like the Shabbos, the Torah also functions as a teivas Noach. Chazal tell us “barasi yetzer hara barasi torah tavlin – I created the yetzer hara and I created the Torah as the antidote for it” (Gemara Kiddushin daf 30). This means that the merit of learning and keeping the Torah protects from descending to the level of the dor hamabul. The Nesivos Sholom parallels the three floors in the teivah to three stages in a person’s life: youth, middle age and old age. Each stage has different nisyonos, distractions and obligations that require continuous mental adjustment. The Torah is a constant, a slice of kedushah and taharah that is incorruptible. When a person sets a fixed time for learning Torah, he is actually creating a safe place for kedushah to enter and ensure he doesn’t fall prey to impure influences. The only advice for surviving the different stages in life is to ensure one has a connection to Torah.

According to Chazal, Hashem set a condition for creating the world, that the Jewish people would keep the Torah. If not, He would return it to the state of tohu vavohu. Thus Torah also represents the power of maintaining the clarity of purpose of the world, the yishuv hadaas, and the tikkun for the tohu vavohu-like bilbul hadaas that causes physical destruction and spiritual confusion.

  1. Chesed = Teivas Noach

There was no shortage of options for the means of saving Noach, his family and the animals from the flood. Chazal tell us that Eretz Yisrael wasn’t destroyed in the flood. Hashem could have sent the Noach family and the animals to create the first biblical zoo in Yerushalayim and wait out the deluge in comfort. Instead he threw together the people and the animals in an enclosed space for a year. Noach’s family even had to share the upper floor with the birds. Just as there was no private space, there was also no private time. The family spent the entire time feeding and looking after the animals.

Why was keeping out of harm’s way not enough? As aforementioned, the teivah functioned as a tikkun to stop the spread of destruction and enable rebuilding. While the dor hamabul were idolatrous, adulterous and murderous, the point of no return occurred when the earth was full of robbery. In most criminal systems, robbery would not require a life sentence or a maximum security prison. Yet we learn out from Parshas Noach that if everyone is a thief, society cannot continue. A thieving society is no longer a society as the worldview of that society is totally self-centered. Each person is only for themselves, their needs, their desires. There is no room for others. Ultimately this leads to chaos and destruction.

Noach’s family needed to rebuild the world on different lines, a world of giving. Thus they were encapsulated in a crucible of achdus and chesed for 12 months, where they had to share space, accept everyone and live with them with all their foibles and give to others constantly. Avraham Avinu once asked Shem the son of Noach how they merited to survive the flood. The very question implies that even Noach’s tzidkus did not guarantee survival. In times of great destruction and hester panim, as we all know, the righteous are destroyed along with the wicked.

Shem answers Avraham Avinu: “We were worthy to survive by merit of constantly being involved in chesed!” Thus chesed not only protects from great destruction, it is also the ultimate tikkun to rebuild the world.

Through increasing Torah study, acts of chesed and shemiras Shabbos, we are building our own teivos to protect us from danger and confusion, and hopefully enable the ultimate tikkun of Moshiach to come. Bimheira beyameinu Amen.

Shabbos clean up

I saw this cute story on Rav Aviner’s web post:

There was once a young couple who was very close to the Bostoner Rebbe and Rebbetzin. The couple was also close to Ha-Rav Yosef Solovietchik, who was Rav in Boston, along with teaching at Yeshivat Rabbenu Yitzchak Elchanan. The couple was once invited to Rav Soloveitchik’s home for a Shabbat meal. The Bostoner Rebbetzin asked the young woman: What did you see there? She answered: It was quite similar to what you do but there was one difference: They use disposable utensils. The reason is that Rav Soloveitchik’s wife wants to participate in her husband’s Motzaei Shabbat class, and if she needed to wash dishes, she wouldn’t be able to do so. The Bostoner Rebbetzin went to her husband and told him this practice of Rav and Rebbetzin Solovietchik and asked: I am willing to eat on China every meal, but we have 30-40 guests every Shabbat and I wash dishes until Tuesday. Why can’t I use disposable dishes? The Bostoner Rebbe said: You can use disposable dishes. The Bostoner Rebbetzin said that she is so grateful to this young woman who told her what she saw at the house of Rav and Rebbetzin Soloveitchik (The Bostoner Rebbetzin Remembers pp. 165-166).

Undoubtedly this was before the days of dishwashers, but even so, there is plenty to do Motzei Shabbos, and the salient lesson was that Rav Soloveitchik’s wife Rebbetzin Tonya, has more of a תשוקה, a strong desire to hear her husband’s shiur, than washing up dishes. The Rav, however, had a duty to give his superlative shiurim.

I have to admit, I was brought up in a very old-fashioned way. I don’t ever recall my father ע’’ה doing these sorts of things. He worked extremely hard, going to work at the crack of dawn and coming home in the evening when it was dark, including a good half day on a Sunday. I am an only son, and inherited this tendency, although I have improved in minuscule ways, and never worked as hard as my father. In reality, there really is no excuse to help unless you have the means to hire some home help.

I plead guilty as charged.

Rehabilitation Scooter on Shabbos

I know this all sounds self-indulgent, but that’s not the purpose. As I’ve always said, I post what happens to be “invading my head space”. One can see Chassidishe Rebbes, especially the rotund ones, or the graceful Ruzhiner types, walking with a fancy walking stick, which may have gold or silver on the handle. Looking back at old footage, there was a preponderance of people using plain old walking sticks. They were far more in use than today.

I believe the major reason was that a common injury, such as a medial meniscal tear, which isn’t operated on, will allow you to walk, but with a limp. There was also lots more Tragers (carriers) who bore loads which would breach our Occupational, Health and Safety Regulations.

If someone broke an ankle, as I did, I would imagine the resultant pain and arthritis would be life-long, and, again, the ubiquitous walking stick would make it’s entry.

What happens on Shabbos? One can’t carry of course. Is using a walking stick considered carrying? It’s certainly not a “garment”. This is an old question which Acharonim have discussed variously. My feeling is that the consensus is that it is permitted. The reason being that, if the person needed the stick to get around inside the house, it becomes part and parcel of that person’s being, and is permitted also outside the house.

I can well remember my late Zeyda Yidel Balbin ע’ה

I believe this picture was at the setting of the stone for Katanga
I believe this picture was at the setting of the stone for Katanga. My Zelda is in the front on the right, with Rabbi Chaim Gutnick looking into his Tehillim

and his reluctance to use the stick, even though he needed to. I could feel the “guilt” he seemed to exude, even as a little boy.

This now brings me to my situation. I no longer have a cast; I’m in that moon boot contraption. I’m not allowed to put weight on the foot (and boy did I break those rules at a recent Simcha and feel it after) and indeed putting weight on the foot, actually hurts. It makes no difference whether I am inside or outside. The situation is the same.

I also have fractured ribs, which B”H are improving, but this, and my general clumsiness meant that crutches were not an option for me. Enter the rehab scooter

Rehab ScooterThe idea is that I place my damaged leg horizontally on the “seat” and use the other leg to push me to my destination. There is a brake.

As well as I recollect, it is forbidden to ride a bike on Shabbos, Miderabonnon, because there is a concern the chain may come off, and various maintenance activities may be necessary.

I started to wonder whether this scooter, was included (perhaps it is not included because it wasn’t originally and the chances of any maintenenance being needed are close to zero) or whether it had the same Din as a stick. My feeling was that on Shabbos, even in a Reshus HoRabbim D’Orayso, it would be permitted, but I wasn’t about to pasken for myself, despite my self-assuredness.

Mori V’Rabbi, Rav Hershel Schachter paskened I could use the contraption (his words).

Please note: I did not ask, nor did he comment about the use of scooters in a place which has an Eruv. That may involve עובדין דחול as well, and people need to ask their Moreh HoRo’oh.

More on fridges with LED lights

Mori V’Rabbi Rav Shachter who is currrently in Eretez Hakodesh, answered my question question in respect what I did in Miami בשעת הדחק. To be accurate he didn’t describe my situation as שעת הדחק but that is my inference from the context of the question.

ּBasically there are two halachos that he paskened.

  1. Using LED’s is an issue D’Rabbonon (so I was right on that)
  2. In a great need (which is what I thought I had). In covering the led lights I was demonstrating that it was a פסיק רישא דלא ניחא ליא

Accordingly, it was a בדיעבד which was okay. He said there was one view I could rely on but didn’t say which view this was. I’d expect it was a Rishon. At any rate we haveולמעשה כתב במ”ב שכא, נז, ושעה”צ סח, עפ”י הבית מאיר, שבמקום הצורך אפשר להקל

It seems it’s common with modern fridges to have LED lights and the way to get around it is to  attach two small but powerful magnets which stop the LED’s from coming on.

So those of you with modern fridges I recommend playing around with powerful magnets until you see the lights don’t come on. Google it. as always as your local orthodox rabbi.

Opening a Fridge door which operates an LED light

Picture the scene. It was during our holiday in Miami, and we were invited out for one meal on Shabbos, but my wife had bought things for the other meal, and many of these had to be in the fridge.

Just before Shabbos, my wife reminded me to “remove the light bulb” from the fridge, or tape up the switch. These are those small bar fridges in Motels. I opened up the fridge and noticed that it was nothing I had seen before. There were 4 tiny LED lights which had all manner of wiring to them which seemed inaccessible to me (without breaking anything) and I didn’t have time to try and see how the mechanism worked etc.

What do you do. It was one of those cases where I had to “pasken” on the spot.

Firstly I reasoned that the prohibition was not a Torah prohibition because LED lights cannot be considered a flame, so they must be a DeRabbonon (I knew that in Minchas Asher Chelek 1, he felt that LED lights were forbidden because of Makeh B’Patish. This was a big Chiddush which he acknowledged, and I didn’t understand the reasoning behind it. At the time I had just received the Minchas Asher and skimmed the Tshuva. Now I can look it up and study it in some depth. Something tells me that others won’t agree with that reasoning because מכה בפטיש is essentially the act of completing a vessel of sorts and I can’t see how the vessel (LED) is not complete. To me, it is complete, it is just not activated.)

Then I ran downstairs and got some pieces of cardboard (promotional cards for tours etc) and stuck them together with tape and completely covered the LED light. In my mind, I was thereby indicating that this was a Psik Reishe D’Lo Ichpas Lei, a direct action that I didn’t care about. That is generally worse than a Psik Reishe D’Lo Nicha Lei in the sense that it is generally forbidden, but there are opinions that for a Miderabbonon it is okay. See for example קג, א; עה, א, ‘הצד חלזון’  מאירי מסכת שבת. Clearly, by covering this LED light up, I was indicating it was something I didn’t need or want to derive benefit from (we had another light on all shabbos so we could easily see what was in the fridge).

Finally, it was for a צורך גדול a great need, given that it was our food source.

Putting these three together, that’s what we did, and opened and shut the fridge door.

Yes, one could close it with an elbow, or have two people closing it, but I’m not sure the two people further Hetter would work here because it’s something that can be done easily by one person.

I haven’t asked Rav Schachter if I did the right thing or whether my reasoning was sound B’Dieved. I will bank it up with other questions as they arise, and then ask them as a group because I don’t like to bother such a busy man.

Interestingly, a frum fellow, a Chabadnik, turned up the Shabbos after, and asked my wife what we were doing about the fridge. My wife told him what I had done the week before and he said he could not see how that helped. I sought him out on the first floor (we were on the second floor) and explained my reasoning, and he insisted I was wrong because the LED light was forbidden by Torah Law as a Tolda of fire. I explained there was no heat or filament, but he was insistent that I didn’t know what I was talking about, and told me that he was a Talmid Muvhak of the famous Rav Hirshprung. I persisted that I thought he was not up to date with his knowledge of electricity on Shabbos, and that this was really like turning on a fan on Shabbos (a Rabbinic prohibition unless one follows the view of the Chazon Ish).

On Shabbos, I ended up in the same Shule as him “the shule” in Miami led by Rabbi Lipskier, and he approached me and said “you were right. I spoke to him” (and he pointed to a youngish person who apparently came from a family of Talmidei Chachomim) and he affirmed that it was D’Rabbonon as you claimed. I responded that maybe both of us should review Shmiras Shabbos Kehilchoso and electricity when we got home.

I’m still not sure if what I did was permitted in the particular circumstance. Happy to hear your views.

What score did your Shule achieve for the Shabbos Project

I was thinking today about the reason(s) the Chief Rabbi of South Africa chose Parshas Noach as the week that Jews consider uniting in keeping Shabbos together. It’s a great concept and I together with many are fully behind it.

No doubt there is a “real reason” and someone from South Africa may be able to advise me. I heard a Rav today suggest that immediately after Bereishis, its is logical to go into action. We’ve just finished The Yomim Noroim, God has created the world, society made errors, and this is a logical Shabbos to commence Shabbos observance.

My mind, however, wandered to Noah’s ark itself. I felt the words, “Go out of the ark” the command to Noach to rebuild a humane society. This was a time of post-destruction, a time of building, a new beginning, and what better way than to observe the idea that we don’t work 7 days a week. We devote one day to the spiritual, to the level above the rat race of the week, and try to share that with others.

To be sure, there are some who have never left the ark nor do they want to. Hungarian ultra orthodox types no doubt are still in the ark. They don’t interact with the Jewish world unless they can make a buck. Accordingly, I wouldn’t have expected much emanating from the likes of some Haredi places. I heard the tired refrain that they didn’t want someone to drive to their house for a meal, but I’d like to suggest that almost all of them who work for a living and interact with such people know some within walking distance whom they could invite. But, they have the problem of not wanting their kids to see “sinful” people, so I imagine (correct me if I’m wrong) they couldn’t take part meaningfully in this exercise (except come and see what this Havdala ceremony was all about at the Park, although they usually keep Rabeinu Tam’s Tzeis Shabbos time. South Africa is void of Hungarian extremists and is Litvak/Chabad focussed so there is no problem of interaction potentially. That’s why they have comparative unity and almost no reform or conservative or conservadox (Shira Chadasha) movements, unlike Melbourne, where I hold Orthodoxy responsible for the existence of these aberrations.

Then there  are  the Shules who in my opinion should re-examine carefully their outreach or general Rabbis and boards if they didn’t take part. I know of one Shule that did zero out of the ordinary. They had their usual kiddies pre-shabbos function, which is nothing out of the ordinary. The Rabbi didn’t even mention the concept in his drosha, not that there was a single person new in attendance at the Shule. There was a “lunch/cholent” in a back room which actually had less people than the usual paltry few (I guess there were better functions at other Shules). What they might have done is find every Jewish person in the area (and there are plenty) and invite them to a free shabbos lunch (even in a marquee at the park if there were many), find a dynamic speaker or three, sing songs, use some ingenuity etc. You don’t have to be Einstein. But, if you are a comparatively disconnected internet Rabbi, many would argue that your days are numbered. Perhaps, get another job and get off the gravy train.

Kudos to the organisers, but next year the men might become more involved as they don’t generally bake challah 🙂

I regret that personally we didn’t invite a few of our neighbours, but my mind has been somewhat not where it should be.

Next year, God willing, hopefully in Yerusholayim Ir HaKodesh.

Which Melocho?

[Hat tip BA]


How would it be possible, someone does this Melocho on Yom Tov he is Chayav Malkos. If he does the exact same Melocho on Shabbos , not only is he not Chayav, he may go ahead and do it Lekatechila?

לז”נ האשה צארטל בת ר’ אליעזר הלוי הי”ד


                                                             יום השנה ח”י מנחם                                                                    

1)There are two fruits, one is attached to a tree in a Reshus Hayachid the other one is not attached to a tree but is in a Reshus Harabim

2)There is a Choleh  (in the Reshus Hayachid) who needs to eat the fruit.

3)On Shabbos there is no difference which fruit the Choleh is given and one is allowed to be Mechallel Shabbos Lekatechila

4)On Yom Tov one must take from the unattached fruit in Reshus Harabim (no Chilul Y.T.) and may not take from the attached fruit in the Reshus Hayachid. On Shabbos you may remove the fruit from the tree Lekatechila

On Yom Tov you may not  remove the fruit from the tree, because you can bring the cut fruit from the Reshus Harabim (no Chilul Yom Tov) If he removed the fruit from the tree, he is Chayav Malkos.

Do you see light or darkness?

I saw this page on Matzav. There is a nice video there that is worth watching.

Soldiers in Israel’s Navy who set sail last week on a mission to stop an alleged Iranian weapons shipment from reaching Gaza terrorists celebrated Shabbos together by singing Shalom Aleichem and then making Kiddush and having a seudah.

“As Shabbat began last week, these soldiers had already set sail to stop Iran’s weapons shipment from reaching Gaza terrorists. In the middle of the sea, they all sang ‘Shalom Aleichem’ – a Shabbat song meaning ‘peace be upon you,’” the IDF said. “Days later, their successful mission brought peace upon the entire nation of Israel.”

The members of elite naval commando unit Shayetet 13 gathered below deck to sing together. The soldiers, who mostly wore yarmulkas, put their arms around each other’s shoulders and swayed back and forth as they prayed. After the song was over, one soldier stepped forward and made Kiddush.

Days later, the unit successfully intercepted the arms shipment in the Red Sea. The boat, named KLOSC, was headed to Sudan, 1,500 miles from Israel.

One of the weapons captured, the M-302 missile, is made in Syria and is based on Iranian technology, Israel’s Walla reported. IDF Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Benny Gantz, oversaw the operation and gave the order to Major General Ram Rothberg, head of the Israeli Navy, to seize the KLOSC, the IDF said earlier this week.

What upset me were the comments section. The various commentators bemoaned the possibility that the video was taken on Shabbos, the last comment though captured how I felt. I didn’t even remotely think for one minute that it was taken on Shabbos. It looked pretty light to me, and it was entirely possible one person hadn’t been mekabel shabbos and took the video because he was so proud of the scene.

While these guys put their lives on the line, the bobbins who aren’t allowed to read the internet can only see darkness and sin. Their eyes are dim, they cannot see let alone imagine light. If they think that for one minute these guys are working on the basis of

כוחי ועוצם ידי עשה לי את החיל הזה

then this video is an Open Psak that they are wrong, wronger, and wrongest, but all they feel is that they are wronged. Even הכרת הטוב doesn’t enter their vernacular.

1. Comment from Shabbos?
Time March 9, 2014 at 11:45 AM

Wasn’t this video likely taken by a Yid on Shabbos?

2. Comment from anonymous
Time March 9, 2014 at 12:51 PM

who took the picture on shabbos???? nice

3. Comment from shayla
Time March 9, 2014 at 1:04 PM

They videoed on Shabbos?!
Are you allowed to watch something that came through Chillul Shabbos?!

4. Comment from shvigger
Time March 9, 2014 at 1:06 PM

This video makes me so sad.

5. Comment from Shomer Sha-bbos
Time March 9, 2014 at 1:09 PM

Why do you publicize a video made with chilul Shabb-os?

6. Comment from Radzhiner Chassid
Time March 9, 2014 at 1:28 PM

A video created on Shabboss is Maaseh Shabbos & shouldn’t be shown on a Frum Site! Also am I seeing things? Is the MeKadesh Hashabbos really NOT wearing a yarmulke?

7. Comment from mussar mensch
Time March 9, 2014 at 1:34 PM

What a kavod L’shamayim!

8. Comment from WOW
Time March 9, 2014 at 1:35 PM

I agree with all above (going on shabbos for pikuach nefesh etc), except for the guy doing the videoing!

9. Comment from niceguy
Time March 9, 2014 at 2:06 PM

was chilul Shabbos involved in taking this video?

10. Comment from omg
Time March 9, 2014 at 2:22 PM

Interesting…and heartwarming. Not too often do you get to see Shabbos videos!

11. Comment from Really!!
Time March 9, 2014 at 3:31 PM

Just a bit puzzled!
Who took the footage?
Are we enjoying something that came about through chilul shabbos?

12. Comment from joe
Time March 9, 2014 at 3:39 PM

beautiful. Who took the video?

13. Comment from Pintala yid
Time March 9, 2014 at 3:53 PM

We are an amazing people!

14. Comment from ChaimA
Time March 9, 2014 at 4:00 PM

The story is beautiful.
The video, however, may represent chillul Shabbos. Why would I want to watch it?

15. Comment from Observer
Time March 9, 2014 at 4:07 PM

Takeh, very nice. The Shaile is, who took the video on Shabbos?

16. Comment from Anonymous
Time March 9, 2014 at 4:28 PM

I’d like to point out this video was taken on Shabbos!

17. Comment from Mama
Time March 9, 2014 at 4:37 PM

I’m glad they sang Shalom Aleichem, but did they have to be michalel Shabbos by filming it?

18. Comment from Yakov
Time March 9, 2014 at 5:48 PM

so beautiful

19. Comment from mig
Time March 9, 2014 at 7:10 PM

to commenters 1 to 4:

Even though they filmed it, they are still considered tinokim venishba and their effort to recognize Shabbos gave Hashem tremendous nochas. In addition, no matter what anyone thinks about the IDF, they are holy people because they are putting their lives on the line to keep EY safe from our enemies with G-d’s help.

20. Comment from The Glass is Half Full
Time March 9, 2014 at 7:32 PM

Yasher Koach to Commentors no 1 & 5 who see the beauty in other Jews and ignoring the chisronos; 2-4 have what to work on; we all have warts and pimples!!!.. . I daven for the day that the Jewish world will be filled with more people like 1 & 5..

21. Comment from Ezra
Time March 9, 2014 at 7:47 PM

Maybe it was a Druze soldier who took video.

22. Comment from michali
Time March 9, 2014 at 10:26 PM

To all you cynics, take a chill pill. Instead of knocking them, see the good in their actions. Try to emulate the Berditchever Rebbe who saw only the good in each Jewish neshoma.

May the IDF continue to watch over Eretz HaKodesh with strength.

CPAP Machines on Shabbos/Yom Tov

Medical research into sleep apnea and what it can be responsible for is established and continuing to develop. Sleep apnea can cause:

  • Heart arrhythmias
  • Heart failure
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Depression
  • Hyperactivity

The use of CPAP (or these days APAP machines) is now widespread and the relief that the devices provide is real, including:

  • Restoration of normal sleep patterns.
  • Greater alertness and less daytime sleepiness.
  • Less anxiety and depression and better mood.
  • Improvements in work productivity.
  • Better concentration and memory.
  • Patients’ bed partners also report improvement in their own sleep when their mates use CPAP, even though objective sleep tests showed no real difference in the partners’ sleep quality.

Current machines are turned on by pressing a button and then “wait” for you to start breathing. Once you breathe, air is pumped into you (at a pre-set measured level depending on whether you are moderately or severely impaired) and this keeps a flap open so that the air you breathe during the night is unobstructed. The obstruction is also one cause of snoring. The machines are relatively quiet.  Some machines build up to the required pressure gradually. There is an LCD or LED style readout on the machine that is activated once it is turned on. There is no “visible” fire/filament. Some patients also use a humidifier which is attached to the machine. This warms and wets the pumped air in patients who are unable to breathe through their nose, and whose mouths become dry and irritated as a result.

Can these machines be used on Shabbos/Yom Tov? Let’s note first that the accepted opinion is that of R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ז’ל that Electricity is forbidden מדרבנן unless there is flame involved (or filament, as opposed to incandescence). The Chazon Ish isn’t disregarded, but his opinion that all electricity is forbidden דאורייתא is not followed when it comes to medical issues.

What about the status of the patient? Is he (most patients are men 40+) a חולה at the time he is using the machine? What type of חולה is he? Is he a חולה שיש בו סכנה or שאין בו סכנה?   Is he considered “sick all over”, that is חולה של כל הגוף? Perhaps he is a ספק סכנה? The answer to these questions will probably depend on the severity of the apnea. For example, it might be questionable if the patient was only “mild” as opposed to moderate or severe. On such matters, one needs to consult with experts, that is, Doctors. Preferably, one should see a Sleep Physician.

Using a shabbos clock doesn’t really help. It can’t turn on the machine. Furthermore, many machines turn off automatically anyway if left on.

I am pretty sure that if you asked a Brisker Posek, they would tell you that there was no שאלה and to go ahead and use it. There is a tradition from R’ Chaim Volozhiner through to R’ Chaim Brisker, the Griz and the Rav, that the Brisker way is to be מחמיר when it comes to looking after health and avoiding illness. There are many stories told in this regard. One that comes to mind was R’ Chaim making his eldest son R’ Moshe Soloveitchik (the father of the Rav) absolutely swear that he would never ever be מחמיר on issues of סכנת נפשות or ספק סכנת נפשות. Only after R’ Moshe did that, was he given permission from his father to take up his first Rabbonus.

There have been a few articles written on this topic. R’ Moshe Heineman (who was close to R’ Moshe Feinstein) from the Star K, is lenient, see here. See the opinion of R’ Halperin and R’ Prof. Abraham over here and here who are also lenient.

One is required to turn on the machine with a שינוי (change) to minimise any infraction. [I also think one could consider getting two people to turn it on together].

I rang R’ Hershel Schachter to ask his opinion. He stated that if there is no choice but to use such a machine, then what can one do. He quoted the שולחן ערוך of the Baal HaTanya  who is lenient in Dinim of a חולה and said that this opinion is defended by the אגלי טל from Sochatchow (the Kotzker Rebbe’s son-in-law). He also suggested turning it on with a Shinui.

Some might argue that “what is one night” although this year we know it can be three nights as it is this evening. It seems that the Poskim are wary about interrupting medical treatment and consider such interruptions as contributing cumulatively to the danger (סכנה).

I haven’t considered the issue of the humidifier and whether it boils the water to יד סולדת and if there are ramifications thereby.

Does anyone out there know of other Psakim?

Disclaimer: The above is not L’Halacha and not L’Maaseh. Ask your own Rabbi for advice if you have an issue.

Plunger Coffee on Shabbos

Disclaimer: I am not a Rabbi and my pitputim on Halachic matters should always be viewed as such: not להלכה and not למעשה. In all instances, I recommend investigating the issue yourself (if possible) and then approaching your local orthodox Rabbi.

Are you permitted to make plunger coffee on shabbos? I was asked this question a while back. The term “plunger coffee” isn’t universally known. The device is more commonly known as a French Press.

French Press with screen filter on stem

The method employed to make plunger coffee is

  1. Obtain ground coffee (not instant)
  2. Insert ground coffee into an empty french press
  3. Pour in boiled water
  4. Place the lid with stem/screen onto the top of the press
  5. Allow to sit for some time
  6. Slowly plunge the stem down to the bottom of the press
  7. Pour out the resultant coffee into a coffee cup

The stem and mesh screen assembly can move up and down while the lid remains in place. The first halachic issue is that of cooking on shabbos, that is, cooking the roasted ground beans. This aspect isn’t a problem on Yom Tov. More accurately, in this instance, the coffee has already undergone one form of ‘cooking’ which we can call אפיה (roasting/baking). There is a dispute whether there is indeed halachic cooking after a prior process of some form of cooking (roasting or baking, for example). The practical ashkenazi consensus is that we are concerned about the possible infraction of halachic cooking after a prior cooking. To mitigate this possibility, halachic cooking is not considered to be germane if the boiled water is not directly from an primary source כלי ראשון but is derived from a ternary source כלי שלישי. This leniency is not universally held, but is far and away the most common position (approved by the משנה ברורה and שמירת שבת כהלכתה) and is utilised by many if not most Shabbos observers, in general. In practical terms:

  1. The shabbos urn is the primary source כלי ראשון
  2. After pouring the water from the urn into a dry cup, the cup is considered a secondary source כלי שני
  3. Water poured from the כלי שני is considered ערוי מכלי שני and some define the resultant boiled water as not being halachically capable of cooking, but we will assume a further step
  4. Water poured from the כלי שני into a second dry cup is considered a כלי שלישי a ternary source, and such water is not considered halachically capable of cooking, as mentioned above. This water can, it would seem, be poured onto roasted ground coffee at the bottom of the plunger.

There is another consideration in respect of the ground coffee. Halacha defines a concept called קלי הבישול these are food items that are eminently susceptible to cooking. The הלכה of קלי הבישול is a גזרה Rabbinic decree. The Gemara lists foods that are not susceptible: meat (as opposed to chicken), salt, spices, water and oil. According to some ראשונים (notably the יראים) anything which the Gemorah does not list is considered as קלי הבישול. This is also the opinion of the משנה ברורה. Some opinions, such as the חזון איש, contend that any food that our eye sees is cooked very quickly should pose a halachic concern. In other words, the issue of קלי הבישול is one of מציאות according to the חזון איש and others.

What sets קלי הבישול apart is that they are deemed to become halachically cooked even in a secondary source כלי שני. Notwithstanding this, it could be argued that since coffee beans have been roasted (and thereby undergone a halachic process of cooking prior to Shabbos) they are not considered קלי הבישול. Some Poskim allow קלי הבישול in a כלי שלישי while others do not. As an aside, an interesting question pertains to spearmint or peppermint tea leaves which are generally considered קלי הבישול as they are unprocessed from a cooking perspective and are either susceptible to easy cooking or not listed in the גמרא. There are authorities who allow קלי הבישול in a ternary source, a כלי שלישי. Others, such as the חזון איש and חיי אדם disagree. The point of disagreement relates to how we view the process of halachic cooking. If we look at it as a מציאות a quasi-scientific observation, then there ought to be no difference between a כלי שני and a כלי שלישי. On the other hand, if we look at it as a pure דין in בישול then there is a difference between the כלי שני and כלי שלישי perhaps on account of the latter being removed from the a halachic definition/concern of cooking. The Rav was of the opinion that the הלכה of כלי שלישי is derived from דין and is a pure halachic determination as opposed to an observational phenomenon מציאות that might otherwise lend itself to scientific conjecture.

The next issue that needs to be considered is the one known as בורר selecting. The laws of בורר are very complex and also apply to non-food stuff. On both Shabbos and Yom Tov (although the latter has some leniencies close to a meal/consumption) the הלכה permits the removal of the desirable from the undesirable. If someone removes the undesirable from the desirable, however, then the הלכה considers this to be forbidden as an אב מלאכה a primary shabbos Torah prohibition.

An example close to the one we are looking at. Consider an old-fashioned tea-pot which is sitting on the shabbos blech or a covered source of fire. The pot contains tea leaves and water. Over time, the tea leaves tend towards the bottom of the pot. As the water boils the tea essence seeps into the liquid. The tea leaves themselves are undesirables; people do not eat them. Assume this pot was placed on the blech on Erev Shabbos on a low heat with the intention of drinking freshly brewed tea at the end of the friday night סעודת שבת meal. Nobody wants to find bits of undesirable tea leaves in their cup. Is there a permitted way to serve the tea without the leaves. This question was particularly burning (sic) before the advent of tea bags.

Based on the above, one is forbidden to remove the undesirable tea leaves from the desirable tea essence/brew. This is בורר. So, if there was a thought of inserting a big spoon to removing only the tea remnants and subsequently placing the pot on the table so that people can be served, this is not allowed. On the other hand, if the desired liquid/essence/brew is removed from the pot, and the tea leaves remain in the pot, then one is separating the good from the bad, and separating the good from the bad is permitted and not בורר. To enable separation of the good liquid from the bad tea leaf remnants, some pots have a spout which contains a wire mesh. As one pours, the wire mesh prevents any tea leaves that have risen from leaving the pot and thereby facilitates a permitted form of separation. This is the opinion of the חזון איש in הלכות שבת סימן נ’ג towards the end . The חזון איש if I have understood him correctly, feels that since there remains a mixture of some liquid with tea leaves (at the bottom of the pot) effectively, the liquid that emerges through the spout is a separate entity and only if the leaves were floating all about and hadn’t settled would this technically be forbidden as בורר. On the other hand, the Sefardic posek, the בן איש חי (parshas Beshalach 18) prohibits this methodology. The reason for the בן איש חי is that the actual tea-pot contraption which includes the mesh, is considered a specific vessel for the purpose of separation, כלי המיוחד לבורר. Sefardim generally follow the בן איש חי although Rav Ovadya sometimes disagrees with him and has the broad shoulders to do so.

The Mishnah in :שבת קלט discusses devices that can be used to effect separation/straining/בורר it discusses this in the context of משמר. Specifically, the removal of grape dregs from wine. We mentioned that separating desirable from undesirable is one requirement for a permissive ruling for בורר. The other two requirements are that it be done

  1. close to consumption
  2. by hand

In the case of a coffee plunger, we are confident that the coffee will be consumed almost immediately after being poured from the plunger. The more vexing question is whether the device per se can be considered by hand. Chazal proscribed the use of an implement כלי המיוחד לבורר. Use of a specific device falls under the rubric of עובדין דחול and is a Rabbinic prohibition as opposed to the act of separation בורר which is a Torah prohibition. At first and second glance it would seem that clearly the handle of the plunger, with its attached mesh screen, is a classical כלי המיוחד לבורר device for separation and should be prohibited, at least Rabbinically. This is the opinion of R’ Moshe Heinemann, the Posek of Star K, based on my communication on this issue. Tangentially, R’ Moshe Heinemann is also the long-term Posek consulted by Melbourne’s Lakewood Rosh Kollel for non-standard questions. A respected Posek, Rabbi Heinemann was the author of the controversially lenient Psak regarding Shabbos Ovens (for Yom Tov use) which was the target of Rabbinic protest.

I have some questions on R’ Heinemann’s view regarding the French Press. For the stem to be considered a prohibited בורר device it would seem to me that one has to first ascertain that the stem is being used for בורר. If the stem is being used for something that is permitted, then in my limited understanding the device doesn’t fall under the category of עובדין דחול.

Consider two distinct stages in the birth of the final coffee product. The first is when the stem is pushed down into the glass press, thereby forcing the ground coffee to the bottom of the glass. What act is being performed during this stage. In my opinion, this is an act of סילוק diversion/casting aside. The coffee is moved down to the bottom, but at no time does has it become separated from the coffee liquid above. For there to be an act of בורר, I understand that the undesirable needs to be removed from the desirable. I would argue that it has not been removed, but has been forced into a new section of the glass environment. I have mentioned my סברה to some local Rabbis and haven’t yet received a rejoinder.

The next act involves the pouring out of the liquid into the coffee cup. This is certainly involving the desirable leaving the environment of the undesirable through the act of pouring whilst aided and abetted by the static barrier of the screen. I am working on the assumption that the plunger is pushed down in a way that there is always some liquid remaining together with the lower section of ground coffee even after the top most liquid has been poured into the coffee cup.

Following my logic סברה, we are perhaps now in the same situation as that described by the חזון איש in respect of the tea-pot with the mesh screen at the spout which the חזון איש permits on Shabbos. In discussion, I learned (I haven’t seen this inside) that the ארחות שבת testifies that many have difficulty understanding the permissible ruling of the חזון איש (which as I said above is not the view of the Sephardic בן איש חי. I saw the בן איש חי quoted in ילקוט יוסף when I was in the Sephardic Singapore Shule a few months back—ילקוט יוסף is an amazing sefer). The ארחות שבת goes onto quote R’ Shmuel Auerbach (one of the sons of the late and great R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ז’ל) to the effect that R’ Shmuel cannot understand the lenient opinion of the חזון איש and feels that since we are dealing with a ספק דאורייתא Torah doubt, we should be מחמיר and forbid the tea-pot/strainer device.

For reference, Rav Aviner does permit a coffee plunger on Shabbos and agreed with my reasoning (I didn’t send all my thoughts at that stage). Rav Heinemann doesn’t permit it, as described above. Rabbi Michael Broyde in a series of communications to me, contends that there is a problem of בישול even in a כלי שלישי because following the roasting of beans, they are not edible. I’ve been back and forth with him on this, but I’m not sure I fully understand Rabbi Broyde’s reasoning. The famed Eretz Chemda sent me the following (at that stage, I hadn’t sent them my fuller analysis including the חזון איש).

1. Regarding the use of a French press on Shabbat

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 319: 10) writes that it is permissible to filter on Shabbat something that must people do not bother filtering. This applies even to one who would not drink without filtering. Some say that use of the French press is comparable to this citation in the Shulchan Aruch and therefore may be used on Shabbat. Nevertheless, this is on condition that one waits the duration of time in which the majority of coffee grounds will become submerged in the water and only a few coffee grounds will remain. However, some Rabbis say that the cited halakha applies only to drinks that most people don’t mind drinking what is being filtered. But in the case of coffee, many drink without filtering, but none drink the actual grains, and therefore the use of the French press is prohibited on Shabbat.

The reasons that you mentioned are good reasons. However, they’re insufficient. First of all, the Issur that we’re dealing with is Meshamer , not Borer, that applies regardless of what is being removed. Secondly, pressing the grains down is considered removing the waste material. The fact that a bit of the waste remains isn’t enough, since the removal is what rendered it drinkable.

2. Regarding roasted items

One can be lenient and place them into a third-degree vessel. Despite the Ramah’s stringency stating that there is cooking after baking and roasting lechatchilah in a secondary vessel, the Mishnah Berurah (sif katan 47) writes that everyone agrees that it is permissible in a third-degree vessel. There is no practical difference between coffee grounds and a large item.

I’m not sure I still understand what Eretz Chemda are saying vis-a-vis משמר versus בורר because the act occurs inside the vessel with everything still joined. That is likely to be my lack of understanding. If any of you have asked this question before and/or have some contributions to make to the topic, I’d love to hear from you. I will ask Rav Schachter soon. I’m not expecting that he will permit it.

Disclaimer: I am not a Rabbi and my pitputim on Halachic matters should always be viewed as such: not להלכה and not למעשה. In all instances, I recommend investigating the issue yourself (if possible) and then approaching your local orthodox Rabbi.

%d bloggers like this: