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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 3/14/08

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More Sparks . . . Reactions To Incredulous In Lakewood (Chronicles 2-15)

Dear Rachel,

You have finally addressed a major problem that is widespread in Jewish communities everywhere. Several years ago I recall a close friend of mine marrying a bochur with a sterling reputation as a mensch and talmid chochom, considered by everyone who knew him to have a brilliant mind.

I can clearly recall my friend confiding in me that as smart and learned as her husband was (he was sitting and learning at the time), she was dumbfounded by his lack of erudition in basic Halacha.

Today this is known to be a commonplace manifestation. I heard of one rebbe teaching in a girls’ school who advises his students to make sure to seek in a shidduch, not only one who is kovea itim (makes time for learning), but to make certain that he has one shiur in Gemara and another in Halacha. Now there’s one smart man! (Maybe he should be teaching the boys…)

Brooklyn, too, has its share

Dear Brooklyn,

While everyone should have a Rav whom to consult when confronted with a complicated halachic issue, how can anyone argue against preparedness for life’s common eventualities? (The Shulchan Aruch has long been our indispensable halachic guide, dealing extensively with situations typical of our daily lives.)

Dear Rachel,

Regarding the fire on the stove that went out and the gas that was being emitted − this letter allowed for a lively discussion around our Shabbos table and a pointed halachic discussion with my family. After a wonderful discussion back and forth I referred the resolution to the Shemirath Shabbos Kehilchasa. I add this as a benefit to your readers and hope that this could be a start to an in-depth review for everyone in the practical application of Hilchos Shabbos.

In Chapter 1 Paragraph 28, Rav Yehoshua Nuewirth writes that one may turn off the tap of a gas burner that has gone out, so as to stop the gas from escaping. He further writes that where possible, this should be done with a variation from the usual manner, for instance by turning off the tap with the back of the hand or with the elbow (See Feldheim English edition).

As a point of reference, this last comment is based on the Gemara in Shabbos 128b discussing assisting a woman in childbirth and comments that when she needs something, it should be done with a variation. This idea is to differentiate Shabbos from the rest of the week.

In Note 76 in the Hebrew edition, Rav Neuwirth addresses the issue of muktza and states that in a situation where one could be hurt, muktza does not exist. (There is further discussion of this.)

As a final thought, this action should be done by a responsible adult and not by a small child, since there is no melacha involved.

Regarding the comment about yeshivos and training minds, it should be noted that every yeshiva has time set aside each day for practical halacha. It is the responsibility of the member of the yeshiva to take advantage of this time and learn the responsible halachos and their applicability seriously.

May I wish you continued success as you continue to approach and discuss matters that arise in our community.

Hatzlacha,

Rabbi C.K.

Dear Rabbi,

Your thoughtfulness in conveying a vital lesson in Hilchos Shabbos to our wide readership is much appreciated.

While I confess my ignorance of yeshiva customs and learning procedures, I take it that when you say “it is the responsibility of the member of the yeshiva to take advantage of this time and learn the responsible halachos…” you refer to grown men and responsible adults, such as our husbands and sons who are learning in kollel. Why wouldn’t such study be made part of mandatory yeshiva education, as it generally is in girls’ high school curriculums?

It is especially suited to this time (Shabbos Zachor) to be reminded that the proper study of Torah will go a long way toward our goal of permanently stamping out every vestige of Amalek. Thanks to all who have taken the trouble to communicate their views on this subject.

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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