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December 18, 2014 / 26 Kislev, 5775
 
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Q & A: Elul – The Gateway To The Days Of Awe (Part II)

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Now if, as we noted last week, G-d gives a mortal the possibility of being just like Him and acting in His stead, then anyone who is cognizant of the high standing in which He holds us should naturally wish to emulate all His ways. Thus, acting lifnim mishurat ha’din – going beyond the letter of the law – should be no different than breathing the air that keeps us alive.

Lifnim mishurat ha’din can refer to laws regarding intrapersonal human relationships as well as laws that only apply between man and G-d (bein adam laMakom). Concerning the Ten Days of Repentance between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Mechaber (Orach Chayim 603:1) writes that someone who is not scrupulous to avoid pat akum (bread baked by a gentile, which our Sages prohibited), should be careful to do so during this time period. Pat akum is a law that has obviously been neglected over time due to great difficulties, but we are enjoined during this special period of the Jewish calendar to go act lifnim mishurat ha’din and make every effort to abstain from pat akum.

Going above and beyond the letter of the law is obviously indicative of our relationship with G-d at this unique time when we beseech Him to treat us in such a manner as well (forgiving and awarding us beyond what strict justice might call for). Let us hope and pray, especially in these trying times for our people, that just as we act lifnim mishurat ha’din both in relation to Hashem and to our fellow man, He too will look with great favor and mercy upon our repentance and good deeds and inscribe us for a happy, healthy, and peaceful New Year.

About the Author: Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.


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Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.
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Question: My young daughter was recently diagnosed with autism. She does not function well socially and is extremely introverted, but we have noticed that she reacts very well to small animals. We reported this to her therapist who suggested that we get a dog or cat as a pet. We know that most religious people frown upon having pets, but we hate to see our daughter suffer and want to do anything that would make her happy. Would it be okay to own a pet in the circumstances we described?

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