Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Removing Fish Bones on Shabbos - A Lenient Ruling

NOTE FOR ASHKENAZIM: THIS IS NOT TO BE RELIED UPON PRATICALLY SPEAKING. ASK YOUR RAV FOR A PSAK. I AM POSTING THIS FOR ACADEMIC PURPOSES ONLY. 


Halacha Yomit


In the previous Halachot we have discussed some issues regarding the forbidden work of selecting on Shabbat. We have also mentioned that selecting is only permissible on Shabbat when three conditions are met: One must select by hand and not do so with the use of a utensil (such as a strainer), one must select the food from the waste and not the opposite, and one must select only with the intention of eating the food immediately (and not to leave it for a later time).


We have also established that the prohibition of selecting does not apply to something which is done in the normal manner of eating for instance, peeling an onion or an egg which is permissible on Shabbat since this is the normal way they are eaten. Nevertheless, one may only act leniently and do so when it is immediately before one intends to eat; however, it is prohibited to peel them in order to eat them in more than a half-hour’s time, since this is no longer considered an “eating manner” and is instead considered a “selecting manner”.


We shall now discuss the matter of separating fish bones on Shabbat. At first glance, it would seem that removing fish bones would constitute “selecting waste from food,” which is forbidden on Shabbat. However, based on several rationales we have already discussed, it would seem that one may indeed act leniently regarding this matter, especially since this is what is normally done, i.e. to remove the bones first and only then to eat the fish.


Maran zt”l deals lengthily with this matter in one of his responses that were published over forty years ago in the periodical entitled, “Kol Sinai”; he proceeds to quote several reasons for leniency in this matter.


His first reasoning is because the bones are attached and stuck to the fish and selecting does not apply to something which is attached, as we have previously established regarding apples which are permitted to be peeled on Shabbat even with the use of a special peeler designated for this purpose since this is not considered “selecting”; rather, it is considered as though one is slicing the fruit in half. If so, it would seem that the same would apply to fish bones that since they are attached to the fish, their removal does not constitute forbidden selecting on Shabbat.


Maran zt”l quotes another reason for leniency which is that according to the opinion of Hagaon Rabbeinu Yaakov Abulafia, any selecting one performs at the time one is actually eating is not considered selecting since this is the way one usually eats; anything which is included in the usual manner one eats is not prohibited on Shabbat. Although many disagree with the opinion of Rabbeinu Yaakov Abulafia, it can nevertheless be included as an additional reason for leniency.


Another reason which can be included to permit this is the opinion of many Poskim who maintain that the forbidden work of selecting on Shabbat only applies to things which grow from the ground, such as fruits, vegetables, and grain; however, selecting does not apply to fish which do not grow from the ground. This opinion can also be included in order to rule leniently in our situation.


Thus, halachically speaking, the spine and all of the bones can be removed from a fish on Shabbat and only then to eat the fish. However, once the fish bones have already been removed from the fish and now lay in one’s plate along with the pieces of fish, one may not completely remove them from his plate, for by doing so, one is selecting actual waste from food. Since the bones are no longer attached to the fish, the primary reason we have quoted to act leniently regarding this matter no longer applies. Rather, one should leave them on the side of the plate and continue eating as usual.

Live What You Speak!

As you probably know - I have a computer:-). 

So I was listening to this WONDERFUL, entertaining lecture about G-d and science by a very eloquent gentile man [well dressed and nice looking may I add]. He refers to the "ancient Hebrews" and how they already knew what modern science just found out a few years ago and many other lovely arguments in favor of the overwhelming, incontrovertible evidence that there is an Almighty G-d. And of course how necessary religion is for morality etc. etc..

I was curious who he is so I went to his wiki page. 

Ahhhh - he was married to one woman but then was seen checking into a hotel with another and leaving with her the next morning [they did a mishmar and learned all the Ramban's on that weeks parsha, perhaps??]. He explained that he was engaged to her. But he was married at the time. To someone else. So was this woman. Then he got divorced, split up with the mistress too and married a third woman.   

So holy.

That is what I have been writing about recently: Emunah means ne'emanus. To have faith means to be faithful. To Hashem and to fellow man [and woman]. So let us not suffice with our proclamation of faith but actually LIVE what we believe. That means not wasting time which is a great gift, becoming as great in Torah as we can, giving as much tzedaka as we are able, being as kind to others as we possibly can, guarding our eyes and ears from seeing and hearing evil etc. etc.  


Pictures And Abstractions

לזכות אבי מורי ואמי מורתי שיחיו!

Regarding this post about how everything today has to go with a picture. 

In the Aseres Hadibros we read לא תעשה לך פסל וכל תמונה אשר בשמים ממעל ואשר בארץ מתחת- we are not allowed to make a statue or any picture of what is in the heavens and earth. Simply speaking, this refers to making statues for Avoda Zara purposes. 

But there is also another lesson here. Why should it matter if we serve an idol? Let us say that one believes that Hashem is in the idol. He believes that Hashem enclothed Himself in this idol and he bows down to it?? What is so bad?

The answer is that Hashem is not physical and it is forbidden to attribute any physical characteristics to Hashem. Hashem is [כביכול] abstract, without any physical form. If one wants any connection with spirituality, then he has to understand this. 

When everything needs a picture, we lose the perception of what is abstract. Abstractions are not only important for perceiving Hashem but really everything that is really important in life.

Take a marriage partner. What is going to make a man happy is a woman's spiritual and emotional qualities. You can't take a picture of "compassion", "love", "emotional stability", "generosity" etc. etc. Yet, what does a boy look at before he is willing to date a girl? Her picture. 

Ahhhhhhh. 

So I hear people saying - "Should we marry girls we think are ugly??" 

No. But this excessive focus on external, on things a camera [today called "smartphone"] can capture, distracts us from what REALLY matters in the long term. 

If anyone has any doubts, look at all of the famous movie stars and models [actually - don't look] and see how all of their personal lives and love lives are in disarray. There is actually research that shows that exceptionally beautiful women have the most trouble maintaining stable relationships. 

Another example: We eat food that looks good and tastes good but is poison. We can't "see" or "taste" nutrition so we aren't as interested. 

Last example: Eternal reward. People are generally faaaaar more interested in things that money can buy [and money itself] that they are in eternal pleasures. Why? Because eternity, olam haba, is an abstraction. A vacation in the Bahamas is real. Look - you can even take pictures of it!!:-)

This notion of needing to satisfy the five senses and losing focus on what is internal and abstract has many ramifications in our lives. 

ישמע חכם ויוסף לקח!   

Monday, August 21, 2017

Be Loyal

לזכות אבי מורי ואמי מורתי שיחיו!


As we discussed recently based on the Maharal, Emunah is less about theology and more of a MIDDA IN A PERSON'S NEFESH!! The midda is loyalty. To believe means to be loyal to what you believe in. A guy cheats on his wife and is asked if he believes that he is married. He replies that of course he believes he is married. His belief of course means zilch-o. If he doesn't demonstrate loyalty and faithfulness to his wife then his belief that they are married means nothing. 

One of the six questions that we will be asked after our contract here expires is whether נשאת ונתת באמונה - Did we do business faithfully? Why is that so important??

The answer is that we are going to be asked if we possessed the midda of faithfulness and loyalty, because THAT is what life is all about. 

Rav Dessler - please: 



מהי נאמנות? כח של חוזק ותוקף פנימי ואמיצות הדעת, כמו מי שנכנס לברית עם חברו ולא יזוז מהתחייבותו בכל מחיר. זוהי אמת פנימית ואחריות במצפון, כאז"ל "ונאמן בבריתו". הנאמן יעמוד עד קצה אפשרותו נגד כל אונס וכל רצון ותאוה הסותרים למסירותו למשימה שנטל על עצמו. וכן הנאמן לא יגע במה שהופקד אצלו ולא יקח לעצמו אפילו כמלא נימא.

וזהו הגדר של "אמונה", כי השגת הבורא ב"ה ברורה לכל מי שלא יתן לעקם את שכלו. ואמרו ז"ל "לא עבדו ישראל ע"ז אלא כדי להתיר להם עריות בפרהסיא" (סנהדרין ס"ג), היינו שלא האמינו בע"ז חס ושלום, אבל מי שמתיר לעצמו ללכת נגד הכרתו הברורה מפני שתאוותו מעקמת את שכלו הריהו אינו נאמן. כל הרוצה לטעות - טועה. ואיך יעמוד בישרותו נגד הרצונות והתאוות? אך ורק על ידי שיפתח בעצמו מדת הנאמנות.

"בא חבקוק והעמידן על אחת - וצדיק באמונתו יחיה" (מכות כ"ד), וכתב בעל ספר המנהיג בהקדמה שה"אמונה" כאן היא האמונה שעליה נשאל ראשונה כל אדם לאחר מותו, "נשאת ונתת באמונה" (שבת ל"א), והיינו כנ"ל האמונה שהיא הנאמנות בין אדם לחברו היא היסוד לאמונה בה' ולכל התורה כולה.

אין גבול לנאמנות, כי אפילו פגם בכחוט השערה כבר הוא חסרון אמונה.

אברהם אבינו ע"ה ראש המאמינים וכתוב עליו "והאמין בה'", וגם "ומצאת את לבבו נאמן לפניך", ומכל מקום כשחשב מי יודע אם יהיו די זכיות לישראל שיתקיימו בארץ, ושאל "במה אדע", נקודה דקה מן הדקה זו נחשבת על פי משפטו ית' כאילו התערבה בה מעין פגם בנאמנות... (חלק ה עמוד שמ, וראה שם עוד)


The Intellect And The Senses

When one learns, the goal is to satiate and nourish the intellect and the soul. What has become ubiquitous is that when you click on an article about any topic on the computer, Torah or otherwise, there is gong a to be picture of something. 

Why does it have to be this way?

First of all it gets on my nerves [as if anybody asked me:-)]. I want to read the words that my intellect is interested in and instead I am unwillingly met with a picture which is somehow supposed to satisfy me sense of sight's desire to enjoy looking at things and to entertain me. Sometimes the pictures are so inane. Like, if the article is about a kashrus question, there will be a picture of religious Jews eating. Have I never seen religious Jews eating? How does this contribute to my understanding of the issues at hand? It doesn't. It just delays my understanding.  If the article is about a Torah if Rebbe Nachman then there might be a picture of Breslovers dancing on a Tel Aviv street or in an airport in the Ukraine. Why do I need to see that?? What does that contribute??

Here is the answer: People enjoy it. Otherwise, every website wouldn't do it. But I think that it lowers the level of almost anything when something is being shown that will appeal even to a five year old. I love sefarim when there are no pictures, no fancy graphics, none of the trappings of the modern media, both print and social. Just WORDS that expand knowledge, insight and understanding.  

I put pictures on the blog on occasion because I think it is important to see pictures of tzadkim in order to connect to them or if I think that the image will help bring home a point. But the way of the modern media is that there HAS to be an image. Words are no longer enough.

חיים אנו בדור שטחי שבשטחי והרדידות חוגגת בכל פינה והדרך היחידה להילחם נגד התופעה היא לחדור לפנימיות החיים, לחפש את העומק בכל מצב ולהגביר את השכל על הדמיון.  

Do you want to join me?  


Pure Faith

לע"נ אסתר בת שמואל 


There are at least two issues that a believer and serious Ben and Bas Torah have with studying secular wisdom. One is the CONTENT of what is studied that often contains ideas that are antithetical to our belief system. The other is the very APPROACH. When one studies Torah it must be done with humility, a sense of awe, a willingness to subordinate one's own ideas to those greater than him and to tradition. The belief that as time progresses we in many ways become more distant from the truth and the source. When one studies secular wisdom the intellect is the final arbiter of truth. If it makes sense to me then it is correct. If not - not. As time progresses we become wiser and get closer and closer to the truth. A person who studies secular wisdoms often loses his purity and simple faith. You see it clearly. 

I believe [and maybe I am wrong] is that secular wisdom is too valuable to completely ignore. It enhances Torah knowledge in many ways and enables one to appreciate and function effectively in this world. But to the impressionable young mind it is fraught with danger. So the system should be that in one's youth he studies almost exclusively Torah subjects and then when he gets older and is already imbibed with a broad deep, knowledge of Torah and has a strong basis in Emunah then he can dabble in secular wisdoms if he is so inclined. 

Rav Kook ztz"l felt this way and I the small worm that I am can't help but agree. But not every gadol felt this way. 

Of course this may sound weird to the reader because we were all raised to study secular subjects from the youngest age. But just because we are used to a certain way doesn't make it true. We weren't raised that way because anyone went to gedolei Torah to ask what they ruled on the matter. 

I see very clearly that the more secular education one has in his youth, the weaker the faith and lower the level of observance [in many cases]. There are other factors as well such as that such people are also much more likely to have unlimited internet access [which as I have written many times is unbelievable - the internet is full of filth, pornography, vulgarity and every evil human thought and character trait and yet parents give their kids full, unmonitored access] and other reasons but the secular education is part of it. Before I ever learned anything deep about our Emunah, I learned that we were descended from monkeys. That is not a way to raise pure Jewish children.

Here are Rav Dessler's thoughts:



ובאמת, הבדל יסודי זה בעבודת ה' בין התמים והשכלי רואים אנו בחיי יום יום בהבדל שבין אלו שנתחנכו על ברכי התורה ויראת שמים בלבד מקטנותם, שאמונתן היא פנימית ונובעת מנפש טהורה השרויה כל ימיה בתורת ה', ובין אלו שחונכו על יסוד חכמות חיצוניות, או שחינוכם כלל גם חכמות אלו. אלה, אפילו אם הם מאמינים אמונתם נובעת מהכרת שכלם ולא "מעצמם", כמש"כ מהר"ל, ותמיד מתלבטים הם בקושיות וספקות ובירורים שכליים בעניני אמונה. לתמימות בעבודת ה' אינם זוכים. והסבה לזה היא שהחכמות החיצוניות בדרך כלל משרישות באדם גישה שכלית לכל דבר, ומלמדות לאדם שלא לקבל שום דבר עד שמבינו בשכלו. וזהו בניגוד לדרך התורה, כי למי שהולך בדרך התורה ברור בלי שום ספק שמה שנתברר למשה רבינו ולרבי עקיבא ולכל גדולי הדורות בעניני אלוקות וחיובי האדם יש לו ערך רב יותר ללא שיעור וללא דמיון ממה שנתברר לי הקטן בשכלי הפעוט והנגוע.

ומזה יצא לנו דרך איך לגשת אל סולם התמימות. מי שמשקיע את עצמו בתורה מנעוריו, כמש"כ אצל יעקב "יושב אהלים, אהלו של שם ואהלו של עבר" (רש"י), ומדבק את נפשו לדרך התורה ומתקרב אל ה' בעבודתו, עבודת הלב, יתכן שבזמן מן הזמנים יזכה לסייעתא דשמיא להגיע את תחתית סולם התמימות. וכיון שרוח התורה היא המדריכה את נפשו אפשר שימשיך לעלות מעלה מעלה. (מכתב מאליהו חלק ה עמוד קיד)

A Holy Tantz

rav hutner and rav moshe