Halacha for Friday 25 Tammuz 5780 July 17 2020

Parshiyot Mattot-Masei - [The Importance of Remaining Loyal to Hashem]

From HaGaon Rav Zevadia HaCohen, The Head of the Batei Din in Tel Aviv
(translated by our dear friend Rav Daniel Levy, Leeds UK)

During this period known as Bein HaMetzarim (the Three Weeks) we read in the Haphtara, Yirmiyahu the Prophet’s rebuke: “Shall a nation [attempt to] swap their G-d and not have a G-d! And [yet] my people swapped His Honour to no effect!” (Yirmiyahu 2:11).

The Dubno Maggid z”l (1741-1804) gives a beautiful parable to explain the prophet’s words.

A newlywed chatan was supported by his father-in-law, after some years his father-in-law said to him that the time has come for him to work and support himself. He gave him a decent sum of money and sent him off to the [famous] Leipzig Trade Fare [this Trade Fare dates back almost a thousand years and still functions today], so that he should buy some competitively priced merchandise and return to his city and turn a profit.

The young chatan was a bit of a waster with bad luck. He travelled to the fare and returned with wagon loads of toothpicks! When he presented his father-in-law with the merchandise, he screamed at him “You fool! This merchandise won’t sell in years! Who will purchase so many toothpicks?!” Left with no choice, he reverted to supporting his ill-fated son-in-law and stored away the merchandise.

Some years passed and the father-in-law said to himself again, what will be my son-in-law’s end? Shall he be supported by me forever? He called him and again gave him a substantial sum of money and sent him to the Trade Fare. This time, cautioning him not to buy merchandise that nobody wants.

Heeding his advice the son-in-law returned to the Trade Fare. It was the High Holiday period so he decided to buy a large consignment of shofarot, thinking that these are essential items for these days and he will turn a handsome profit.

When he presented the merchandise to his father-in-law, he was beside himself with anger. “You waster! These shofarot will suffice until Mashiach comes! Who needs so many shofarot?”

Left again with no choice he reverted to supporting his son-in-law. Whilst storing away the huge consignment of shofarot next to the toothpicks.

As time went by the father-in-law thought what will happened to the two consignments? He immediately sent for a talented middleman and tasked him with selling the toothpicks, desperate to just have them removed from storage.

He turned to another middleman and presented him with the challenge of selling the shofarot or to swap them with other [more profitable] merchandise. He just wanted shot of them.

Not long passed until he received two messages from the two middlemen. The first joyously told him that he managed to barter the toothpicks swapping them for…shofarot, whilst the second one joyously informed him that he managed to swap the shofarot for…toothpicks.

Seeing as this was now the third time that he was unsuccessful with this merchandise, he decided to turn his attention to the rest of his daily affairs.

This time, however, his son-in-law accompanied him and asked him quite poignantly, “Surely my father-in-law is a well-seasoned tradesman yet has been unsuccessful in this venture, [moreover] why when I bought this merchandise did you get angry with me and called me a waster?! [Yet you did not get annoyed with the middlemen or even yourself]?”

His father-in-law replied, “I had two consignments that were simply unsellable so I had no choice [but to try and salvage at least something], but you were presented with cash and you wasted that opportunity, buying useless merchandise!”

Likewise argues the Prophet Yirmiyahu to the Jewish People, “Shall a nation [attempt to] swap their G-d and not have a G-d!” When the other nations swap their gods with other gods, it is futile, they swap nothing with nothing, valueless merchandise with other valueless merchandise. But “…and [yet] my people swapped His Honour to no effect!” The Jewish People do have a G-d, the G-d of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov and [yet] they [attempted] to swap Him for gods of gold and silver, wood and stone, this is comparable to swapping cash for worthless merchandise, such behaviour is worthy of the Prophet Yirmiyahu’s rebuke.

A wise man shall take heed and contemplate further, let us consider and understand that Hashem, the source of blessing, created us for his honour and separated us from those that stray, giving us a true Torah whilst planting in us eternal life.

Shabbat Shalom and be blessed!

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

The “Ha’Gomel” Blessing for One Who Has Recovered from the Coronavirus

Question: If one was sick with the Coronavirus but was not in any life-threatening danger and the illness merely caused one to be bedridden, must one recite the “Ha’Gomel” blessing? Answer: In the previous Halacha we explained that there are four types of people that must recite......

Read Halacha

A Negligent COVID-19 Patient

Question: If one becomes ill with the Coronavirus due to one’s own negligence to the extent that one becomes bedridden, must this individual recite the “Ha’Gomel” blessing upon recovering? Answer: In the previous Halacha we have explained that one who becomes ill to the po......

Read Halacha

Laws Pertaining to Tisha Be’av

There are five categories of abstinence which must be observed on Tisha Be’av: Eating and drinking, washing one’s self, rubbing one’s body with oils or lotions, wearing leather shoes, and marital relations. Our Sages also prohibited learning Torah on Tisha Be’av, for the word......

Read Halacha

The Laws of the “Ha’Gomel” Blessing

Our Sages enacted that one who has experienced an event in which there was some danger involved must thank Hashem for the goodness which He has bestowed upon him in front of ten men, as we shall soon explain. The Gemara in Masechet Berachot (54a) states: “Rav Yehuda said in the name of Rav:......

Read Halacha


Eating Meat Following Rosh Chodesh Av

The Mishnah in Masechet Ta’anit (26b) tells us that on Erev Tisha Be’av during the last meal one eats before the fast, one may not eat meat, drink wine, or eat two cooked foods, such as rice and an egg. Although the letter of the law dictates that the prohibition to eat meat only applies......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Motza’ei Tisha Be’av and the Tenth of Av

----------------------------- By Popular Request: According to the Sephardic custom, it is permissible to shave, take a haircut, and do laundry immediately at the conclusion of the fast tonight. Ashkenazim customarily rule leniently in this regard. However, this year (5780), when the Tenth of Av fa......

Read Halacha

Eating a Meal on Erev Shabbat

Question: Is one permitted to eat a bread meal after halachic midday on Erev Shabbat (Friday afternoon)? Answer: The Gemara (Gittin 38b) states that there were two wealthy and important families in Jerusalem and both of them sinned to the extent that they were eventually uprooted from the world. ......

Read Halacha

Some Detailed Laws Regarding the Mitzvah of Making a Railing

Approximately two years ago, we have discussed the general parameters of the verse, “And you shall make a railing for your roof and you shall not place blood in your home.” This refers to building a gate or fence around the roof of one’s home so that one does not fall off of it. Th......

Read Halacha