Sunday, November 06, 2011

Nuggets from a Shabbat Meal

A few nuggets I remember from last Friday night's Shabbat meal, when a minyan of bochurim graced us as guests.

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The Rebbe wrote a letter responding to someone who wanted an explanation of the Midrash that says, that from the verse "And Avraham told Sarah 'tell them you're my sister' (אמרי נא אחותי את)" our sages learn out that for a sick person one is allowed to shecht [slaughter] on Shabbat to feed him ( מכאן - ששוחטים לחולה בשבת). He asked the Rebbe, what does Avraham's statement to Sarah have anything to do with shechting and feeding sick people on Shabbat?

The Rebbe answered saying that although the Egyptians were sinners, they knew of the 7 Noahide laws and took these into consideration nonetheless. The Egyptians, he explained, wanted to transgress regarding Sarah, so they considered two options in the matter, and the severity of their consequences. One option was to rape Sarah and then suffer the punishment for "Aishet Ish" (A married woman - אשת איש), which constitutes many sins as a cumulative punishment for every moment of the ongoing transgression; Or, they could kill Avraham, suffer from only one punishment, for murder, and then suffer no punishment thereafter for indulging with the now-unmarried woman, no longer with the status of "Aishet Ish". Avraham knew they would choose the latter therefore.

(Avraham was confident nothing would happen to Sarah, because her righteousness would protect her; And indeed it did. But he behaved as was naturally expected of him in asking her to say she was his sister so that they need not kill him.)

From THIS episode - from Avraham's requesting Sarah that she call herself his sister - our sages learn that shechting for the sick is better than feeding him traife; For every bite into traife is a sin, whereas shechting on Shabbat is a sin - but only one, afterwhich the sick person can eat the kosher food!

If not for the Rebbe's explanation, who would ever make sense of this midrash?

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Story: A young Chabad bochur walked to a shul on Sukkot and asked the Rabbi if he can address the congregation to give over a dvar Torah. The Rabbi said okay, but some elder congregants complained, questioning why so youthful a person should be allowed to address them.

The young man went up to the podium and asked his audience, "Can someone tell me why, in order to purify some vessel, you need only a slight amount (כל שהוא) of water (enough to wet it from all sides) if its source is from a "mayim chayim" [wellspring - מים חיים], whereas if the water is a mikveh (מקוה) you need a minimum of 40 se'ah (סאה)? When nobody answered he explained that a wellspring derived directly from G-d's doing and therefore even the slightest amount is good enough to purify, whereas a mikveh, because it is man-made, requires at least 40 se'ah.

Similarly, said he, although he himself is young and slight, but because he is directly connected to the wellspring that is the Rebbe, by being his chassid, he can deliver his Torah words and need not be of usual age to qualify. Then he went on with his speech.

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A man wanted a shidduch badly so he made the effort to visit the Rebbe one Sunday during the distribution of dollars and wait in line to ask the Rebbe for a blessing. When he asked for his bracha, he got a dollar from the Rebbe, who then said to him, quoting the Torah, "For this is very much near you" (כי קרוב עליך הדבר מאד). The fellow went away from the event thrilled that soon he will find his long-awaited match. But time went by and his expectations dissipated. Six years after this encounter, he finally married.

One day the husband wanted to get a picture of himself, back when was by the Rebbe. He knew pictures were available for every person who got a dollar from the Rebbe. He found out he could locate this picture online by going to "jemstore.com", there search for "My Moment with the Rebbe" and download the picture for a small price. There they filmstrips, with each frame available for inspection.

When he entered the date and time of his encounter with the Rebbe to search for his picture, he noticed that in the very next frame after his the person to get a dollar from the Rebbe was - none other than his wife! (That is, he was the last "feed" in the men's line before it halted, for right after him the woman's line began to "feed" forward and his wife was the first in that line to meet the Rebbe).

All these years he figured "For this is very much near you" meant in terms of TIME; Now he realized the Rebbe had something else in mind - not "near" in time as much as he meant - near in PLACE!

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