Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Vital Tree

Rav Naftali of Ropshitz, zt”l, once found that the Chozeh of Lublin, zt”l, was troubled by something and asked him what it was. The Chozeh answered, “The verse states, 'השמר לך פן תשכח את ה' אלקיך'—‘Guard yourself lest you forget Hashem your G-d.’ Our sages teach in Zevachim 106 that anywhere the verse uses the words 'השמר', 'פן' or 'אל' this teaches that what is being discussed is a negative commandment. It comes out that one who forgets Hashem even for an instant violates a negative commandment. How is it that so many Jews forget Hashem throughout the day? Must we say that they violate a negative commandment every time they forget?”
The Ropshitzer replied that thankfully there was a way around this harsh judgment. “Regarding Peah the Mishnah teaches that a special olive which tends to drip oil but only does so in some years is special and therefore not in the category of שכחה. Chazal explain that Peah only applies to an ordinary tree which one tends to forget. But regarding a tree which one is sure to remember eventually, שכחה does not apply. This tree is important and the owners will surely come back for it. And the same is true regarding one who forgets Hashem, chalilah. If it is important in the eyes of the one who forgot and he plans to get back to it as soon as he is able this is not considered halachic שכחה and is not a violation of the לא תעשה.”

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