Revivim, rabbi Eliezer Melamed

The Meaning of Belief in the Oneness of God

An important letter sent to me by a divorced mother following last week’s article * Those wishing to rely on the lenient opinion and cook broiled liver after having sat for three days – may do so * The belief in the oneness of God has moral significances that need to be applied in practical life * The verse “Baruch Shem kavod, Malchuto le’olam va’ed” completes Kriyat Shema, but since it is not explicitly written, we say it in a whisper

Following my article last week about the mitzvah and chesed (kindness) of marrying a widow with children, I received an important and moving response:

“Rabbi, I will first begin by writing that I really enjoy reading your halachic rulings every week in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper. In addition, I study with my children every Shabbat the halachot of Shabbat and Shmita from the books “Peninei Halakha” for children … we really enjoy the joint study every Shabbat. Last week, Rabbi, you wrote about the mitzvah to marry a widow, and that anyone who raises orphaned children fulfills the verse “Happy are they who keep justice, who perform charity at all times.” Without question, the Torah elaborates on the need to care for orphans and widows, and rightly so, but my question is: why the rabbis fail to speak about divorced women?

I am a divorced woman. My husband ran into difficulties and debts and fled the country, leaving me alone with four children and numerous debts. I miraculously managed to receive a get (Jewish divorce) from him, and since then I have been raising our children alone, without his support. His dear parents maintain a good relationship with us, and also support us financially. I take care of all the children’s needs, help them academically (I even study Talmud Schottenstein with them for exams in Gemara). I can do everything except one thing – sit with my sons in the men’s section during prayers.

There are quite a few women I know who got divorced because they really had no other choice … I understand that rabbis do not want to write about divorce so as not to encourage it, similar to not talking about suicides so as not to encourage them (and believe me, I am the last one who would encourage divorce!). However, there are times when a woman has no choice but to get divorced. True, there is no special mitzvah in the Torah to take care of a divorced woman and her children like the mitzvah to take care of widows and orphans, nevertheless, I think the rabbis should deal with them as well, and mention them in their halachic rulings.

One of my sons, who currently learns in a yeshiva high school, suffers from a learning disability. When he was in sixth grade, he tried to get accepted to various schools, but was turned down because of his grades. At the same time, the son of my widowed friend who had a similar problem was admitted. Why? (Incidentally, thanks to a tzadik school inspector in the end they accepted him, and he is now studying beautifully). Why is my son, who has not seen his father, or received a telephone call from him for over five years, is also not called an orphan in this matter? Why does society not help us, the brave women, who in many cases, in addition to all the difficulties, also went through many hardships until they received a get?

Just yesterday, on Motzei Shabbat, a divorced friend told me she went to prayers in the synagogue with her ten-year-old son, and he wanted to sit next to her. A woman they did not know approached them and commented to her son about not sitting in the men’s section. I would love it if men in the community could keep an eye out and see if a boy has no one to sit with in prayer on Shabbat. Maybe they could contact the mother, or the son himself, to see if he is interested in sitting next to someone familiar in prayer, and arrange for them to go to synagogue together, so that the young child would not have to deal with entering and praying in the Beit Knesset alone.

Shouldn’t it also be written that someone who marries one of the brave women who run their home and raise magnificent children alone, also fulfills the verse ‘Happy are they who keep justice, who perform charity at all times’?”

This was the letter I received, slightly modified to hide the author’s identity. Because it merits recognition, I saw value in publishing the letter as written.

Cooking Liver after Broiling

Q: Is cooking liver after broiling permitted?

Brief answer: If the liver did not sit in the refrigerator for three days without tzliyah (broiling), even though it has been kept frozen for many days, after it has been kashered by broiling, it may be cooked. If it was in the refrigerator for three days, the poskim differ as to whether it is permissible le-chatchila to cook it after broiling, and one who wishes to be lenient is permitted. If it has already been cooked, all agree it may be eaten.

In depth: It is possible to kasher meat from the blood consumed in it by melicha (salting), however, the Geonim instructed that melicha is beneficial provided the meat does not sit for more than three days (72 hours) from the time of shechita (ritual slaughtering). However, if three days have passed, there is concern the blood in the flesh has dried up, to the point where salting does not have the power to remove it. Only by broiling, which has more power to remove salt, can it be kashered. After broiling, le-chatchila it should not be cooked, lest there is blood in it that the broiling could not remove, and will be excreted during cooking. Be’di-avad (after the fact), if it was cooked after broiling – it is kosher (SA, YD 69:12).

As for liver, since it is full of blood, it is impossible to kasher it by salting, rather, only by broiling. Some poskim say that liver has the same law as meat, i.e., if it sits for three days, there is concern the blood in it has dried, and broiling is not able to remove it all, and consequently, it should not be cooked, lest the remaining blood be excreted (Tzemach Tzedek 121; Pri Chadash 73:9). Other poskim say the law of liver is different from that of meat, since, although it is full of blood, the Torah permitted it; hence, broiling kashers it completely, and therefore, even if broiled after three days, it may be cooked afterwards (Mateh Yehonatan, Chachmat Adam 34:13; Aruch HaShulchan 69:70).

Since the prohibition, even for those poskim who forbid, is from Divrei Chachamim (rabbinical), or more precisely, from the chumrah of the Geonim, those who wish to rely on the lenient poskim may do so. Kal ve’chomer (all-the-more-so) when it comes to bishul kal (light cooking), for example, liver placed on mashed potatoes.

In any case, if one relied on the lenient poskim and cooked liver after broiling it, even the machmirim (strict) are permitted to eat it, as is the psak concerning meat.

The Importance of the Belief in the Oneness of God

Our Sages said (Pesachim 56a) that before the death of Yaakov Avinu, all his sons gathered around him. He wanted to reveal the End of Days to them, but the Shechinah (Divine Presence) withdrew from him. He said to his sons ‘Perhaps the Divine Presence has abandoned me because, Heaven forfend, one of my descendants is unfit, as was the case with my grandfather Abraham, from whom Ishmael emerged, and like my father Isaac, from whom Esau emerged’. His sons said to him: ‘Shema Yisrael, Hashem Elokeinu, Hashem echad’ (‘Hear Israel, our father, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One’). They said ‘Just as there is only one God in your heart, so too, there is only one in our hearts’. At that moment Yaacov Avinu said in praise: ‘Baruch Shem kavod Malchuto le’olam va’ed’ (‘Blessed be the name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever’).”

From this, we see clearly that Emunat Ha’Yichud (belief in the Oneness of God) is of utmost importantance. Yaacov Avinu was concerned about its inheritance, and when he heard that his sons were faithful to him, he was consoled. Our Sages also said that all the 613 mitzvot stand on one mitzvah, which is the mitzvah of emunah (faith) [Makot 24a].

The Meaning of Emunat HaYichud

The meaning of the verse “Shema Yisrael, Hashem Elokeinu, Hashem Echad” is that Hashem, who created all the forces in the world, is one. In other words, Hashem is the one and only source for the entire universe and the dimension of time. He is one, unique, and special, i.e., He is one, and there is no second, and is of absolute unity. He is infinite, and consequently, has no figure and cannot be defined by any title or definition, and all the names and titles ascribed to him in the Torah are but for his revelation to us, pursuant to the limitations of human consciousness, and not in relation to Himself.

The Moral Significance in Emunat HaYichud

Since emunah is the foundation of life, the deeper we delve into it, and refine it from every trace of idolatry and materialization, the more purely we can cling to Hashem Elokeinu, and this devotion will elevate us, and inspire us to walk in the paths of righteousness and goodness. Thus, I will briefly explain the meaning of Emunat HaYichud.

From the fact that Hashem created the world, and placed in it Man, created in His image, we learn that man’s task is to preserve creation and work to develop and improve it, as the Torah says: “God took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden to work it, and guard it” (Genesis 2:15).

From the fact that Hashem is infinite, stems the infinite desire of man created in His image, to elevate, perfect, and improve his life in all areas, and continually refine them.

From the fact that Hashem is One, we learn that all separate creatures are fundamentally united, and therefore it is proper for human beings to live amiably with one another, and proper for human beings to reveal the harmony of creation, that all creatures should help one another.

From the fact that Hashem has no definition and He created everything, we learn that He is revealed in all the defined created beings without exception, in heaven above and on earth below. Consequently, everything has importance, because it has a unique Divine spark that breathes life into it, and Man, created in the image of God, should reveal it, in all its glory.

From the fact that Hashem created time, we learn that divinity is revealed at all times, each time according to its special character.

The Supernal and Lower Yichud in Kriyat Shema

Since the sons of Jacob said after “Shema Yisrael” “Baruch Shem kavod Malchuto le’olam va’ed“, our Sages enacted for us to say it, but since its utterance is not written in the Torah in parshat “Shema“, they instructed we say it in a whisper, and it completes the Emunat HaYichud.

The first verse, “Shema Yisrael,” expresses the supreme, absolute, and unifying emunah, and is therefore called the Yichud Elyon (Supernal Yichud). The second verse is called Yichud Tachton (Lower Yichud) in which we accept the yoke of the kingdom of heaven, according to the emunah revealed in this world, where all creatures and diversities have their own actual place, and Hashem Yitbarach gives life to them all, and rules over them according to their deeds, and thus his name and kingdom are revealed in the world.

This level is very endearing before Hashem, because the purpose of the creation of the world is for emunah to be revealed within the physical world, in all its beauty and splendor, colors and sounds, passions and inclinations. However, as long as the tikun (rectification) of the world is not complete, it cannot be said out loud, because together with the virtues of revealing the Divine in this world, there are also evil instincts liable to attract man to transgression. Only on Yom Kippur, when we are purified, are we able to say it out loud (Peninei Halakha: Days of Awe 7:12).

This article appears in the ‘Besheva’ newspaper and was translated from Hebrew.

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