Friday, April 19, 2013

SHABBAT: Carrying an object outdoors

 Last Friday we began our overview of the melakha (=an activity which is forbidden to perform on Shabbat) named "hotza-a", i.e., carrying, transferring an object from one domain to another domain.   The Rabbis distinguished between four different domains. 1. reshut ha-yahid a private domain , 2. reshut ha-rabbim, a public domain, 3. karmelit , the semipublic domain, and  4. meqom petor,  the exempted domain They specified case by case, in detail and at length all the different situations and laws pertaining to each category. 

There is one particular case on which we will focus our attention first, because in our days and our urban reality, this is probably the most practical case: carrying an object within a public domain, which is also considered part of this melakha (MT Shabbat,  12:8).   
But why would carrying an object in the public domain be considered as transferring it from one domain to another domain? Although this is classified as a legal axiom (Halakha leMoshe miSinai), the reasoning behind it is the following:  according to Jewish law a person standing in the public domain is deemed to create around himself a sort of a personal private domain in the area around his body. It is an abstract  perimeter of authority and liability. Jewish Law defines the area of this domain as a square of approximately six feet by six feet, each side (visually, and to be more precise,  it is the length of the person when he lays down on the floor with his arms extended. Thus, this square is slightly different in size from person to person).  Now, if for example two people, Mr A and Mr B, see a lost object in the street and both claim possession on that object, if the object happens to be within six feet of Mr A, he has the legal right to keep this object.  

So, the six feet perimeter around me is an abstract reshut hayahid, i.e., my private domain within the public domain.  Now, this area is re-created anew every time the person rests on another spot of the public domain.  Therefore, if I carry an object from my present perimeter (Area 1) into an area more than  six feet away (Area 2) it is like transferring an object from one domain to another domain.  Consequently, for example, I am permitted to transport an object in the street within my own six feet: if I take my glasses off, I can carry them within my six feet but not beyond six feet.    

(to be continued...)

Shabbat Shalom. 
Candle lighting in NYC:  7.19 pm

Shabbat Ends in NYC:  8.20 pm

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pirqe Abot, 2:8: Rabbi Magriso on overeating

He [Hillel] used to say  "the more meat [i.e., food] the more maggots".
In this Mishna we are taught that excess in the satisfaction of our basic needs is not necessarily good. On the contrary, it hurts us.  Anticipating the modern medical view on the destructive consequences of overeating Rabbi Ytzhaq Magriso (18th Century Turkey) writes: "Hillel explains that all wordily things are meaningless, fleeting and impermanent. One may expect pleasure from these vices, but the effect is often the opposite. The first vice [mentioned by Hillel] is overeating...  one feels good and strong after a large meal, and feels that he can go in this manner forever. But the net result is often obesity... Overindulgence in eating and drinking can bring about many sicknesses, an much human illness is the result of not keeping one's mouth closed.  If one eats too much, he ends up shortening his life span." 
Judaism does not preach to suppress our basic needs. But when we indulge in excesses, these needs turn into vices or what we call today addictions. Overeating; the insatiable craving for wealth; excessive laziness; excessive attention to sex. etc. are all self destructive     
Rabbi Magriso concludes:
"Thus, the more a person indulges in worldly vices believing that this will lead to a good life, the more the opposite becomes true.  A man should get along with the minimum required to live a respectable life, and not seek more. The opposite of the vice of overindulgence in eating and drinking which shortens one's life, is the increase in the study of Torah. As the master says, 'The more Torah the more life' ." 
The Tora we learn "is not merely an external gain, but it becomes an integral part of a person. It is thus something that one carries with him even after death. In this respect it is the exact opposite of worldly vices, which are entirely external. Nothing of these [food, material wealth, etc] can be taken along when one dies.  No matter how much one gains of the worldly, everything is left behind". 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Yom ha'Atzmaut 2013

The Tora (Deut. 30), predicted the exile of the Jewish people to all four corners of the planet and also predicted that they will come back home.   Yeshayahu (Chapter 60) elaborated with prophetic and poetic words on how this prophecy will be carried out. Addressing the Land of Israel he said: (60:4) "Your sons will come from afar, and your daughters, carried on their shoulders...".  At that time, he also said: "there will be those who will fly [to Israel] like clouds, and those who will fly [to Israel] like pigeons to their nests".

Rabbi Simcha Kook, chief Rabbi of Rehovot, once explained to me why the Prophet used the motif of clouds and pigeons. Clouds and pigeons represent two opposite extremes in terms of motion. Clouds do not control their movements. They are moved by winds. On the other hand, pigeons (homing pigeons), out of all birds, have an extraordinary sense, an organic GPS,  which enables them to return home from any location in the world, even from thousands of miles away. They would not rest until they arrive home, even if they have to fly against the winds.

The prophet Yeshayahu was saying that there will be Jews who, like clouds, will return to the land of Israel moved "by winds": There are political winds, financial winds, winds of persecution, etc., divine winds which will bring these Jews back to their homeland. And there will be other Jews who, like homing pigeons, will come from far away, and struggle against winds, driven by their instincts, to return home, back to their nest.

Eventually, all Jews will return to our homeland. If not us, then our children or grandchildren. We will all be reunited back in the land of Israel. To fulfill the greatest prophecy and to rebuild the most beautiful home for Jewish people, Medinat Israel. 

It is our choice, still, if we want to come as clouds or pigeons. 

Yom ha'Atzmaut Sameach!!!!


Monday, April 15, 2013

Yom haZikaron 2013

 Israel Independence Day--YOM HAATZMAUT--which will begin tonight, celebrates the anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel. 
Today, YOM HAZIKARON, the day preceding this celebration, is devoted to honor the memory of those who sacrificed their lives for the achievement of Israel Independence and its continued existence.
They are our heroes, and as Nathan Alterman called them: "The silver platter on which the State of Israel was given to us" (read here). 

In Israel tens of thousands of people attend the local cemeteries to mourn their children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, and friends. 23.085 soldiers and victims of terrorism soldiers who fell on the wars of Israel from the Independence war in 1948 until today. 

In the morning, at 11.00 AM, a siren sounds across the country. Everyone and everything stops for two minutes: people, cars, businesses, public transportation, etc. honoring the memory of the fallen heroes. Many Israelis would spend the day at home watching on the Israeli TV the short clips prepared especially for the occasion, in which they show the lives, the bravery and the heroism, particularly of the 92 soldiers who were killed this year.



Please, light a candle in their memory. 
May the Almighty treasure their souls in the Gan Eden.

May HaShem protect our soldiers and shield them from the hands of our enemies.   

May HaShem bring peace, everlasting peace, to Medinat Israel. AMEN.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

SPECIAL EDITION: Yom HaZikaron, 2013

An intense and moving testimony of a Israeli mother, Miriam Peretz, who lost her TWO sons in the war. This is a solemn and deserved tribute to the fallen soldiers, z'l, and to the courage and unbreakable spirit of AM ISRAEL HAYOSHEB BEZION .