Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Body and Soul of Halachah

The Toldos Yaakov Yosef teaches a very inspiring lesson from a statement on today’s daf. “The language the gemara uses for the obligation to learn the laws of Pesach before Pesach, 'שואלין ודורשין', is strangely doubled. This is because every halachah is composed of two different layers which must be studied and applied.
“For example, the mitzvah of prayer has an outer shell and an inner dimension. Saying the words of the prayer is compared to the body of the mitzvah, while the kavanah is its soul. And the same is true regarding all other mitzvos.
“It follows that the halachos of destroying chometz has two dimensions: the physical acts involved in eradicating chometz and their deeper meaning. Destroying chometz hints that we must destroy the evil inclination. When we burn the chometz we focus on incinerating the evil within. And the same is true regarding when we kasher food implements for Pesach. Our sages famously teach, כבולעו כך פולטו—‘removal of whatever has been absorbed is through the exact same process with which it was absorbed.’ If it was absorbed through boiling we must boil the vessel to kasher it, and the same is true regarding other ways that chometz may have been absorbed in the vessel.
“The inner meaning of this is we must concentrate on doing a balanced teshuvah for what we have done, just as the absorbed chometz only comes out if we apply the same heat through which it was absorbed. If we did something apathetically, it is relatively easy to repent this. If a forbidden action was done with enthusiasm it is that much harder to remove its impression.
“The language 'שואלין', teaches that we must ask and delve into the actual halachos of what to do. The word, 'דורשין' implies that we search for the deep mussar these acts teach us. The Torah scholar’s job is to educate people in both the body and soul of these halachos!”

1 comment:

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