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Saturday, 23 August 2014

Your Judaism is making me uncomfortable

Daf Yomi Moed Katan 11

When we first arrived in Edmonton, we had to have our chalav yisrael (rabbinically-supervised) milk shipped in frozen from Montreal.  At the time, there were just a couple of families in town who kept chalav yisrael.  Over the years, more and more families adopted the practice despite Rabbi Feinstein’s heter (allowance) for drinking regular American milk where chalav yisrael is hard to come by.  Today, thank G-d, there are three supermarkets in Edmonton that stock chalav yisrael milk, cheese and yogurt!

Recently, Blake and Miranda came to see me.  She’s moving a little faster than him in her spiritual quest and wants to convert their kitchen to all-chalav yisrael.  He’s not a happy camper – after all, it’s Edmonton and kosher availability generally is slim pickings, let alone chalav yisrael!   

“Rabbi, please tell Blake that this is the right thing to do!”

Marion the son of Ravin and Mar the son of Rabbi Acha (Rava’s son) shared a yoke of two oxen.  Mar had a death in the family and removed his ox from the yoke, so that he wouldn’t be working during shivah (the seven-day period of mourning when all work is forbidden).

Rabbi Ashi exclaimed, “How could a learned man like Mar the son of Rabbi Acha act like that?  Granted, he was not concerned about his own loss, but what about the loss of others?   We have learned: If one’s animals were hired out to others before one began mourning, they may continue to do their work!” 

In this case, by removing his ox from the yoke, he was making it impossible for Marion’s ox to plough, thereby causing him a loss.  Marion was not sitting shivah so Mar should have been considerate of his loss when he detached his ox.

If you’ve got something to do for G-d, just make sure that you’re not unnecessarily imposing upon anyone else in the process.  Yes, Mar had to abstain from work during shivah, but not at Marion’s expense.  He wasn’t sitting shivah!

Likewise, if Miranda wants to keep chalav yisrael, then she needs to figure out how to do it without imposing her religious zealousness on the rest of her family.  Your Judaism isn’t meant to cause machlokes (arguments) between you and your spouse.  Taking on an extra religious commitment should increase your shalom bayis (peace at home), not impede it.  If you’re serious about chalav yisrael or whatever the extra commitment is, then you’ll figure out how to do without causing discomfort to anyone else.

The Almighty wants you to constantly find ways to improve your relationship with him.   And challenging yourself should take you out of your comfort zone.  But if you find yourself making others uncomfortable in the process, then you’re doing something wrong.  Reassess and figure out whether this is the path that He truly wants you to take!

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