Devar Torah - Shemini

Thursday, 12 April, 2018 - 8:30 pm

This week is Parshas Shemini. The parsha discusses the laws of Kashrus. The laws of kashrus discuss which animals, fish and birds are kosher. Kashrus in general has various categories and many subjects. Although it is not technological, it is quite technical.

The Rebbe once said that after Pesach we should continue with aspects of Pesach throughout the year. So too, with regard to kashrus, we should carry over a Pesach perspective towards kashrus in that it should be kept with greater care.

Before Pesach, I spoke to a young man about growing up in Los Angeles. He responded by saying; “There wasn’t even one pizza shop or bakery? How could you live?” Somehow we survived without a pizza shop (I’m not sure if we could consider that a miracle). We need to remember that restaurants and stores that have a hechsher are according to the standards of the Rav HaMachshir or the Hashgacha. Even if it has the best Mashgiach we need to know that the Mashgiach goes according to the hechsher. This is true for catering as well. One may have a very high standard in their home. Taking a lesson from the customs of Pesach in that many are extremely careful about anything that comes from outside their home, so too, we need to be very aware of the differences between our standard at home and the establishments that we frequent.

When buying products for Pesach, even at stores with a hechsher, we know to check each and every label to be sure that it didn’t get moved or mixed up with the non-Pesach products. The products can often look similar. We can take a lesson for the rest of the year to have a similar care to be certain that the products are labeled as pas Yisroel and cholov Yisroel. This is because the store may be allowed to carry products that are not pas or cholov Yisroel.

On Pesach, we are very careful not to let a non-Jew cook without our being present. So too, throughout the year we need to be careful that people who come to clean should not cook for themselves in our kitchens. Updated appliances today usually do not have pilots, rather, they have automated ignition. This presents a problem with regard to bishul akum. If we are not careful, we may get into a situation that requires our entire kitchen be re-kashered. Especially if we are leaving the home for hours, there would be no way to know or stop them from using our kitchen. Some say; “I know my Maria, she would never do that.” You should know that Maria is the same as everyone else. When you leave the house there is a question if your house is kosher. The only option is to have a neighbor make unannounced visits, or to pop in and out throughout the day. If you are going away on vacation and you gave a key to your cleaning help to clean your house, then it is even more important. These halachos apply across the board to everyone, no matter what the reason that we leave the home. There is no difference with regard to halacha.

The Rebbe spoke in a sicha that when the calendar is the same as this year then Parshas Shmini is special. This is because we read Parshas Shmini eight times in Shul (between Mincha on Shabbos, Mondays, Thursdays and Shabbos). They saying goes; “shmini shmona shmeina”, which means, ‘when Parshas Shmini is read eight times it is abundant with blessing.’ It should be an abundant year filled with blessings in physical and spiritual for everyone. Most importantly, we should be zocheh to the most abundant blessing, the arrival of Moshiach, with the harp of Moshiach made up of eight strings.

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