Sunday, March 22, 2020

Points to Remember, from our Rov, Rav Lesches

Dear Anash of Monsey שיחיו,

I would like to begin with a Brocho for all to keep strong and healthy, and all who are unfortunately unwell to have a speedy Refuah Shleimah.

1. There is no need to be Mashlim last week’s Parsha.

This past Shabbos, we missed Krias Hatorah. There is discussion amongst the Poskim whether to catch this up the following Shabbos – if Krias Hatorah is possible. The Magen Avrohom (Orach Chaim Siman 135) states that a double Parsha is not caught up the following week, and neither do we complete a Parsha from one Sefer of Chumash to the next. Thus, there are two reasons why we will not read Vayakhel-Pekudei together with Parshas Vayikra this coming Shabbos. Although Siman 135 is not extant in the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Oruch, we know that the Alter Rebbe generally paskens like the Magen Avrohom. Furthermore, the Ketzos Hashulchan (84:11) paskens accordingly.

2. Our compromise last Shabbos is itself the way to keep Shabbos.

Many members of Anash may feel like their previous Shabbos was lacking. We must remember the precept “it is best to profane one Shabbos for Pikuach Nefesh in order to observe Shabbos many times in the future.” In explaining this, the Rebbe (Likutei Sichos Volume 27 page 138) invokes the Ohr HaChaim who explains that taking action on Shabbos for the sake of Pikuach Nefesh does not constitute breaking Shabbos, but to the contrary, it is itself considered observing Shabbos.

3. Keep healthy and eat well; do not fast.

With Erev Rosh Chodesh Nissan coming, many people may feel that it is an appropriate time to fast. However, this is not so in a time of a pandemic. For example, 100 years ago during a worldwide epidemic, there were disputes regarding whether to fast, with many of the opinion that it was prohibited to do so. Similarly, the Rebbe’s approach in general was to minimize fasting. Also applicable here is the well-known saying of Reb Chaim Brisker regarding an ill person eating on Yom Kippur: “I am not being lenient with regards to the fast on Yom Kippur. Rather, I am strict with regards to Pikuach Nefesh.” There are many other commendable Mitzvos that can be done on Erev Rosh Chodesh instead, such as giving more Tzedakah.

4. Don’t practice Pesach Chumros if they defeat the purpose.

With Pesach coming, there are many who may feel that they should be Machmir with their Pesach preparations. Some may be so inspired out of the belief that acts of Mesiras Nefesh will help us overcome the situation we find ourselves in. However, the Gemoro in Pesachim speaks about the danger of overly zealous groups of people eating the Korbon Pesach, for they might end up disqualifying the Korbon Pesach out of the scrupulousness.

Others may perhaps feel inspired to strictness based on the Alter Rebbe’s exhortation in Tanya (30b) to serve Hashem so strenuously, to the point of “Lhafkir… Brius Gufoi – to forfeit one’s health” in order to fulfil Torah and Mitzvos. However, when it comes to Chassidishe conduct, we follow in the footsteps of the great Chassidim who focussed on being “Mesaken Haguf – repairing the body” in order to serve Hashem. For example, it is a known fact that whenever one of Reb Chonye Morozov’s children became unwell, he would completely drop all of his other activities in order to nurse his child to health.

In conclusion, it is absolutely imperative for all to follow the advice of the Rabbinic and local medical authorities.

With much blessing,
Rabbi Boruch Dov Lesches
Monsey, New York 

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