Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Power over the Evil Inclination

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Three people were not ruled by the Evil Inclination at all. They are: Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov. This is evident as the verse states regarding them: With everything, From everything, and everything. Some say this even applies to David, regarding whom the verse states: And my heart is empty inside (referring to his lack of evil inclination). The other opinion (that does not include David) understands that in this verse he was expressing his pain (not lack of Evil Inclination).

Tosfos explains that this does not mean that their Evil Inclination was always powerless over them, for if so, they would not be entitled to receive any reward for their good deeds. Rather, it means similar to that which is stated in the Gemora Yoma (38b): When the majority of a man’s years have passed without sin, he will no more sin. So too here, since the Holy One, Blessed be he, sees that a person has fought fiercely against his Evil inclination and has distanced himself from sinning, He assists him in his older years by protecting him from its tricks.

The Brisker Maggid writes in Machazeh Einayim that there can be people who are immune from the wiles of the Evil Inclination even without Hashem’s assistance. This, says the Eitz Yosef, can only be accomplished after years of dominating over the Yetzer Hara.

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Monday, September 07, 2009

Se'udas Havra'ah

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Meoros HaDaf HaYomi

Our Gemora recounts that Yaakov Avinu prepared the stew, with which he bought his brother’s firstborn rights, for Yitzchak to comfort him after Avraham’s demise.

The commentaries (see Rashi, Bereshis 25:30) explain that he brought the lentils as a se’udas havra’ah (recuperation meal) given to a mourner coming from burying his relative and the poskim learnt important halachos about this meal from our Gemora.

The Gemora in Moed Katan (27b) decides that a mourner must eat the “bread” of others at this first meal, not his own, and Shulchan ‘Aruch rules accordingly (Y.D. 378:1).

Does “bread” mean any food or is the term restricted to actual bread alone? Chochmas Shlomo and ‘Aroch HaShulchan (Y.D. 378) hold that a mourner may eat his own food aside from bread but Shevet Yehudah (378) and the Chida (Yafeh LaLev, VIII, 378) assert that he must eat nothing of his own and Kitzur Shulchan Aruch maintains that he must not even drink his own coffee.

Why is a mourner forbidden to eat his own food at the se’udas havra’ah?

According to Divrei Soferim (25:23), the above difference of opinions depends on the reason for the Talmudic regulation that a mourner must not eat his own food for his first meal. The Rosh, cited in Beis Yosef (Y.D., ibid), holds that a mourner is so despondent that he neglects to care for himself. Chazal therefore decreed that he must not prepare his first meal, causing others to bring him food and comfort him (Responsa Igros Moshe, Y.D. II, 168).

Shevet Yehudah, though, maintains that Chazal wanted to prevent a mourner from eating a full meal and neglect his mourning and therefore limited him to eating what others bring, assuming their contributions would not be excessive. Hence, Shevet Yehudah forbade a mourner to eat anything of his own, avoiding any possibility of his eating a full meal.

The Acharonim (Divrei Soferim, ibid, 27) emphasize the Tur, who quotes our sugya that the meal is intended to “comfort the mourner” – i.e., to hearten him but not to prevent his overeating.

The Rosh (Moed Katan, Ch. 3, §84) adds that a husband must not serve his wife a se’udas havra’ah for two reasons. Being that he must support her as her husband, she acquires the food he serves her and it is not regarded as another’s. Moreover, they always eat together and the food would not appear as if brought by others.

May a son supported by his father bring him a se’udas havra’ah from his own (the son’s) food? According to the first reason he may do so as the food does not belong to his father. Worrying about appearances (maris ‘ayin), though, the son must not, as anyone who knows that his father supports him and sees him serving is sure the food is his fathers.

The Acharonim prove, once again from our sugya, that the first reason of the Rosh forbidding a husband to serve se’udas havra’ah is halachically valid: Yaakov was supported by Yitzchak yet he brought him the stew which, as mentioned, was a se’udas havra’ah (Ruach Chayim by HaGaon Rav Chayim Falaji, 378).

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