Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tough it out, it's a long life

Rabbi Schapiro, it appears, is now running scared. Does this mean I'll never hear anything good from him again? I'd certainly hope not, because that would make writing this blog much more of a pain than it already is.
In Siman 95 it says that if you cook an egg in a fleishik pot then you can eat that very same egg with milchik, and vice-versa. The Shach comments that you can even boil a peeled egg and do this, as long as the pot was clean. It appear that I was the only person who asked the obvious question: how the heck do you boil a peeled egg? I asked Rabbi Chaim Schapiro, hero to millions and guy being paid the big bucks to answer these kinds of questions, this very question. He told me that the answer was obvious. You take off the peel but leave the membrane. Now, anyone who is as bored as I sometimes am can attest that this is no easy feat. I told the rabbi that in point of fact this was a very difficult thing to accomplish. He said, "So what? That's what the Halacha is!" About thirty seconds later he added, "You think life is easy? Life is hard!"
Now, this is a beautiful story in and of itself, but it becomes much more important when you consider that it is the most important thing I had to write tonight. Yes, there are a couple stories in the docket, but they're inconsequential as you'll soon see. Tonight's Farbrengen, while quite impressive in its drink allocation, was sorely lacking in bloggable shtuff. Rabbi Melech Zweibel talking in a language I barely understand, though he's perfectly capable of lucid English expression, was hardly the only reason. Most of the farbie was the kind of inspirational thing that either demands attendance to be inspiring or requires a greater writer than I. So I suppose I'll instead elucidate Rabbi Schapiro's answer.

That's life, huh? It's hard. You've got to work. There's no way to avoid it. It's funny, I just realized that I wrote about this very topic last night. I guess it's just one of those things that you can't plug too many times.
Oh, was that all there was to write? I mean, it's such a simple lesson. As the old saying goes, "How do you ruin a liberal's day? Work hard and smile." You've just got to do it. For example, there's this thing called Tanya which all of us here in Lubavitch are expected to learn daily. Now, as everyone who has ever opened up a Tanya can tell you, it's not an easy sefer to learn. Does that mean that you shouldn't learn it? Of course not. It just means you have to learn a little harder.
Rabbi Gancz told a story tonight about an Amshinover Chossid who, when a bochur, learned Tanya. Now, he was a serious guy, and when he saw that every Jew is capable of becoming a beinoni he decided to become a beinoni. So the next morning he wakes up, goes to mikveh, Davens, learns, and manages to stay a beinoni for six hours. Then he slips up. "Fine," he reasons, "it's only the first day. Tomorrow I'll do it properly." So the next day, again he wakes, does everything he has to, but what happens? He's out of it after five hours! The same thing repeats itself until he isn't a beinoni for even a little bit of the day. He realized that being a beinoni is a lot more difficult than it looks, and decided to go to the Amshinover Rebbe for advice and a brocha. The Rebbe heard his problem, put his arms on the bochur's shoulders, and said, "You know, the Tanya was written 200 years ago. You do what you always did until now; these days, it's not really possible to become a beinoni."
We look at this story and think, "Wow, that Rebbe is crazy! He should be stoned!" And that's the right attitude too. What do you mean, the Tanya doesn't apply to us now? It says in the holy books that anyone who learns Tanya is having a yechidus with the Alter Rebbe. Every word applies for all time!
The truth is though, are we really any different? After all, who among us ever tried to be a beinoni? Who even learns Tanya properly? We act as though the Alter Rebbe's words don't apply to us; after all, back in the day, things were much easier. They didn't have facebook or blenders or cars or indoor plumbing. Do we really believe that the Alter Rebbe was taking to us, that what he wrote applies to us as well, or do we just pretend to? Yes, it's very hard work to be a beinoni, in fact it seems to be impossible, but that doesn't excuse us from trying. In fact, that's all G-d really wants anyway. If he had wanted perfect creations, he would've just stuck a bunch of angels down here. But he didn't want perfect creatures, and he didn't get them either. He wanted us to work as hard as we possibly could. The rest is up to him.

Meanwhile, right before Rabbi Schapiro left, he told a story about R' Avraham Maayor. He was supposed to farbreng in his hometown in Russia, but he came two hours late to the Farbie. When he finally arrived the assembled chassidim, or what was left of them, asked him what had kept them waiting? He answered that he was on the way to the farbrengen when he saw a harassed mother, at her wit's end, with a bunch of screaming children, and no father in sight. He knew he was supposed to farbreng, but he decided that he couldn't leave this poor family, so he stayed and helped for a couple hours. All the chassidim were very impressed, and as they expressed this he said in an undertone, "Does it matter that it was my wife and kids?"

This reminds me of the famous story from Rabbi Manis Friedman, who was once asked by a feminist at a speech, "What does your wife do all day?" She was of course expecting to hear some horrible female-confining job or somesuch thing, and her mind was blown when she got her answer, "She runs a home for fourteen unwanted children." The questioner was of course very impressed, and she said so in as many words, and probably more. The Rabbi, who hadn't finished speaking, continued, "Yes, she went around asking if anyone wanted our fourteen kids, and no one did, so she kept them." History has not recorded the profanity-laden tirade which surely followed, though from experience I can assure you of its being quite the entertaining thing.

23 comments:

Crawling Axe said...

Maybe it referred to a poached egg? http://whatscookingamerica.net/Eggs/PoachEgg.htm

I think if you look at the world alone, it is easier to be beinonim now than it was earlier. Life is much easier; yiddishkeit is much easier. It’s just that earlier there were chassidim, and we are beheimos — so, it’s harder for us. This is what A"R predicted when he supported Alexander over Napoleon.

I once heard Reb Mendel Futerfas’s recipe of how to be a beinoni. It’s like keeping guard in a Gulag at a freezing temperature. The only thing you want to do is to fall asleep, to feel warm. And you tell yourself two things: 1) the warmth you feel when you’re falling asleep is deception; 2) you tell yourself that you can stay awake for five minutes. Just five minutes. Then, after you’ve stayed awake for five minutes, you say: five minutes more...

Crawling Axe said...

(On the other hand, maybe poached egg — without membrane — would be in fact fleishic.)

Nemo said...

I can't believe that I, a secular baal habos, one of the amcha, is going to state the obvious answer to the query that the Tzurba D'Rabanan can't figure out:

Not six or seven simanim earlier, the shulchan oruch and all of its faithful glosses query about when an egg in its formation stages becomes pareve. In other words, when you slaughter a hen and find eggs being formed in her body, can those eggs be eaten with dairy.

The opinions differ on whether its required to have a formed egg white (chelbon) to be pareve. But they are all in consonance that an egg that has formed its outer membrane is pareve.

Thus, you rabbis need not stress yourself out thinking about this. Your earlier colleagues have done the thinking for you.

(Tzorich iyun why it is called an "un-peeled egg")

The Real Shliach said...

Crawling Axe: yeah, I don't think it's talking about poached eggs.
And it's easier to be a beinoni now? Are you kidding me? Have you tried it recently?

Nemo: your grubbe baalabatisher mind has got the best of you again. What exactly are you referring to? Crawling Axe's query? Why do you bring in the previous sugya?

Nemo said...

You don't remember the whole Chelmon/Chelbon issue at the beginning of Y"D 87 (it's like four pages into the siman)?

The Real Shliach said...

Of course I remember it, I haven't gotten tested yet! But still, I fail to see the connection. I don't recall all the details over there, but the way we pasken, it's pretty clear that these are two different cases. .

Crawling Axe said...

I didn’t say it’s easier. I said the world makes it easier (easier to get all you need to do mitzvos, less worries from the goyim, amazing opportunities to learn Torah, amazing new chiddushim in Torah that help us be better Jews). It’s we that are the problem. If your regular rasha from A"R’s time would be transported to our time, he would be a tzaddik, with all that the world has to provide.

Btw, didn’t the Rebbe say that you don’t have to be born (or raised) a tzaddik anymore — you can also become one now?

Nemo said...

You asked a factual question (how do you get a raw egg in the membrane) and I gave you a factual answer (you remove it from a slaughtered hen's body). What difference does it make how we pasken?

Nemo said...

I wish you rabbinical "princes" would be taught how to use your imaginations instead of just reading the plain text.

The Real Shliach said...

You know, I've been trying to post a response here for the last fifteen minutes here on blogger, but it's just not going through. Maybe G-d doesn't like the increasingly strong leshonos I've been using. Regardless, you are wrong. In the case of the harvested eggs, when they're in the state described by the Shach here, they're assur to eat with milk. Obviously then, that can't be what he's talking about.
I wish you students of the law would ascertain the facts before letting go with your flights of fancy.

fab gal said...

BS"D
Your farbrengen posts are the best. Makes me want to go to Yeshiva... just for the Farbrengens. B"H for your blog :)

The Real Shliach said...

Fab Girl: and people wonder why I want to stay in a yeshiva for the rest of my life. Incidentally, yeshiva with only farbrengens is no yeshiva at all. There's a natural desire among people to always be inspired, to constantly be in a state of rotzoh, but without shuv, without maaseh b'poel, it's all worthless. I know plenty of bochurim who are frum by farbrengens, who can sing and dance and drink in G-dliness with the best of 'em, but when it comes to the next morning? No changes are apparent. Without change, what's the point?

Crawling Axe: It's impossible to compare generations. We have our avodah, they had theirs, and never the twain shall meet. At the same time however, their is the concept of yeridas hadoros, especially us, ikvasa d'meshicha. You hear that phrase so much, you forget that it's calling us the heels. Because that's what we are.

Nemo said...

I can't properly have this argument without the disproportion in available Hebraic resources between us.

e said...

Crawling Axe,

People who love Judaism as much as you do get on my nerves. But don't mind me. I'm just the obnoxious old timer who always harasses the newcomers.

Nemo,

You remind me of the joke of the two Jews driving together. They see a sign outside a church, which says, "convert: $20." Seeing an opportunity to make an easy buck, one of the Jews hops off the convert. He comes back five minutes later, and they keep on driving. After ten minutes of driving in silence, the dude asks his friend, "Nu, Yankel, did you get the money?"

Says the Christen, "Money! Is that all you Jews think about?"

So Mister Hot-shot Nemo is criticizing the "rabbinical 'princes' [who should] be taught how to use [their] imaginations instead of just reading the plain text."

Harumph.

Elisheva said...

E: Do you know the story about the Rabbi standing outside a church with a sign collecting donations?

Nemo said...

Number 36.

Nemo said...

E: I criticized the same thing back in my pseudo-rabbinical days.

Cheerio said...

e - i'm shocked. Christen? is the old timer's standards slacking?

The Real Shliach said...

Cheerio: I'm shocked, your standards are slipping, that should have been "are", not "is".

Nemo said...

"Shgiyos mi yavin" ... let us stop ganging up on typos and stick to more substantive grammatical and punctuation errors, which actually indicate people's lack of intelligence and sophistication.

Basically Cheerio, if you want to trash E., trash him because the word "christened" isn't supposed to be capitalized.

The Real Shliach said...

Oh please Nemo, eliezer's made a living out of criticizing other people's spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Let him suffer a little now.

Nemo said...

You can get paid for this?

The Real Shliach said...

It's an emotional thing.