Monday, October 10, 2016

chatzi shiur and a fishy Midrash

First a quick halachic point and then an amazing Chasam Sofer on a Midrash:

1) The 618:8 the Biur Halacha sneaks in a chiddush. Let’s say a person is c"v so sick on Y”K that he is allowed to eat even a full shiur, meaning a k’koseves within a k’dei achilas pras. He sits down with a full plate of food and starts to eat, and feels a little better. Now, says the M”B, he has to be careful. If he becomes well enough that he can space his eating out and get away with eating only a chatzi shiur, and he then continues and eats a full shiur, he would be chayav kareis. 

In other words: if a person ate a chatzi shiur b’heter (he is still sick and allowed that) and a chatzi shiur b’issur (the amount in excess of the chatzi shiur that he had no right to eat), he is chayav kareis.

Why should that be true? Why not say that since the person ate only a chatzi shiur b’issur, there should be no kareis?

Shu”T Binyan Shlomo 41 raises this as a safeik. It’s an interesting chiddush that there are a few ways to explain, so you can ponder it over the next two days : )

2) The Midrash (Braishis 11:4, quoted in Tos Kesubos 5a and by the Tur in Hil Y”K) tells the story of a tailor who erev Y”K went to the fish market to buy a nice fish to eat (who says the seudah ha’mafsekes has to be chicken?) l’kavod yom tov. At the same time, one of the servants of the local nobleman also came shopping for fish for his master. Unfortunately, there was only one fish left. A bidding war ensued, until finally the servant gave up and balked at paying an inflated price for a single fish. He returned to his master empty handed.  The master was angry and demanded to know who this was who was willing to spend such a fortune to get that fish. Forced to appear before the nobleman and explain himself, the tailor related that the day of Yom Kippur was coming and all our sins are forgiven; therefore, it was only appropriate for him to do his best to honor the day with that fish.  The tailor was allowed to go home in peace.  When he cut open the fish, he found in it a precious stone as a reward from Hashem.

What difference does it make if it was a tailor, a baker, or a candlestick maker who this story happened to? And what’s the big deal about having a fish? Couldn’t the tailor have had something else to eat?

Explains the Chasam Sofer (p. 70 in the Derashos): You look around Klal Yisrael and there are communities torn apart; there are families torn apart; there are people torn apart. We need “tailors” to sew the pieces together and make us whole.  That's who the Midrash is speaking about.

A fish never closes its eyes.  It is the symbol of Hashem's "eina pikcha" looking down and watching out for us.  The way to merit that is by creating peace and harmony, by looking at each other favorably, lovingly, in a caring way.  If we do that, Hashem in turn will look down at us in the same manner.  The fish the "tailor" was after for Yom Kippur was that "eina pikcha" of Hashem's loving gaze, brought about by the love between Jews.  

The gemara (Sanhedrin 98) writes that before Mashiach comes there will be a time when a sick person will need a little fish to be cured and none will be found.  There will come a time when the "eina pikcha" of Hashem is needed so desperately to make us better, but because of the way we look at each other, that fish is going to be really hard to find. 

“Eyn Hashem el yrei’av.”  The pshat is that the pasuk is speaking about how Hashem looks at us, but the Chasam Sofer explains it as follows: We, the yirei Hashem (at least I hope we are), should be blessed with the "eyn Hashem," with G-d's eyes, kavyachol.  We should see only the good in others.  We should see their needs and troubles so that we can help.  We should look beyond superficial nonsense that creates differences and see what really matters.

That's the way a "tailor" sees things.  If we learn to see things that way we too will merit a wonderful "fish" for our Yom Kippur.

Gmar chasima tovah!

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