Parsha Encounters



Parshas Beshalach:

Share the Burden

Rabbi Mordechai Eisenbach

[Don't forget to see the Halacha Encounters below!]

"V'yidei Moshe kiveidim vayikchu even vayasimu tachtav vayashav aleyha."

"And Moshe's hands grew heavy, so they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it."

Rashi explains that Moshe sat on a stone rather than on pillows, because he did not wish to sit in comfort while Klal Yisroel was in danger and suffering.

This incident exemplifies the lifestyle of Moshe Rabbeinu. As we see in the beginning of Parshas Shemos, the Torah relates two stories from the early years of his life. The first story reads, "It happened in those days that Moshe grew up and went out to his brothers and observed their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian man striking a Jew; he turned this way and that, and saw that there was no man so he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand." [Shemos 2:11]

The second story reads, "He went out the next day and behold two Jews were fighting.  He said to the wicked one, "why would you strike your fellow?"  [Shemos 2:12]  Why does the Torah pick these two stories? To teach us that the attribute which Moshe had that made him "the leader" was just that - nosei b'olo shel chaveiro, sharing the burden of a friend.

There is a story told about the Hornisteipel Rav, zt"l, where he was having trouble with his heart.  He went to the doctor to see what could be done to help his condition.  In those days, they did not have the technology of today, which can set the heart pumping normally.  Instead of paddles to shock the heart, they took a hot piece of metal and placed it on the spine to shock the person.  When The Rav went to see the doctor, the doctor placed the hot metal on his back and he didn't move.  He tried it again and again and the Rav still didn't move. The doctor asked him, "I do this every day and I never saw anyone not react.  What makes you different?"

The Hornisteipel Rav answered, "I am a Rav every day. I hear the tzaros, the suffering, of Klal Yisroel both on the national level and on the personal level. I live their tza'ar. The tza'ar of this one piece of hot metal does not come close to the tza'ar of Klal Yisroel."

Every person needs to act like a leader to some extent.  Klal Yisroel is suffering. If we work on this attribute of sharing the burden of Klal Yisroel, both on the general level and on the personal level, perhaps HaShem will listen to, and answer our heartfelt tefillos.

Rabbi Eisenbach learns nightly in the Kollel and is the head of the Zichron Aharon Mechanchim Kollel.

Halacha Encounters

Sheva Brochos

Rabbi Ephraim Friedman

It is common practice during the week following a wedding, for family and friends to assemble at festive seudos (meals) held in honor of the new couple, culminating in the recital of sheva brochos.  In this edition of Halacha Encounters I would like to briefly discuss some of the basic halachos governing these seudos and the conditions under which the sheva brochos may be recited.

Which couples are entitled to sheva brochos?

A couple will qualify for seven days of sheva brochos following their marriage, when either the chosson or kallah is marrying for the first time.  If, however, both individuals were previously married, regardless of whether their respective marriages ended in divorce or in the death of a spouse, sheva brochos are recited only on the wedding day or, according to some authorities, at the first meal following the marriage, even if the wedding day has passed. (If the chosson was previously married, and the kallah-although never married-is not a virgin, sheva brochos are likewise recited on the wedding day or at the first meal only.)

Computing the seven days

The day on which the wedding occurs is considered day one of seven, even if the wedding is held in the late afternoon.  For example, if a couple gets married on a Sunday anytime before sundown, Shabbos will be the last day to recite sheva brochos.  If the wedding is held Sunday night after dark, since in halacha it is already Yom Sheini ("Monday"), sheva brochos may be recited through the following Sunday.

Even when the chupah (ceremony) alone was held before sundown but the wedding meal did not take place till after dark, the opinion of most Poskim is that the day of the chupah is counted as the first day.  If the chupah was held bein hashmashos (between sunset and nightfall) a Rav should be consulted as to which day the sheva brochos conclude.

      On the seventh day, sheva brochos can only be recited until sunset.  If a seudah held on that day is not completed with sufficient time to bentch and recite the brochos before sundown, the brochos should be omitted.  One might opt to shorten the seudah, bentch and recite sheva brochos before sunset, and after a twenty or thirty minute break resume the meal.  Anyone who bentched and wishes to resume eating will at that time need to wash again and recite hamotzi, or else recite the appropriate brocha rishona over whatever (non-bread) items they choose to eat.  Of course, sheva brochos will not be recited at the conclusion of this portion of the meal.

      Even when the seventh day is Shabbos, sheva brochos may not be recited after sunset.

Who must be present for sheva brochos to be recited?

Sheva brochos may be recited only if:

a)     the chosson and kallah both attend the seudah,

b)     the chosson and kallah both eat bread, and

c)      there are at least ten males (age 13 and above) at the meal, including the chosson.  Of the ten, at least seven must eat bread (i.e. the chosson and six others) and the other three must partake of the meal in some manner.

It is not necessary for all ten men to be present during the entire meal.  Individuals who arrive towards the end can be counted in as long as they partake of the seudah as outlined above and remain for bentching.  In fact, this is true of the chosson and kallah as well.

Often, the chosson and kallah or the host will honor various participants at the seudah with the privilege of reciting one of the sheva brochos.  It is preferable that this honor be reserved for individuals who have partaken of the meal, although there is basis when necessary for allowing one who did not eat to recite a brocha.

The Ponim Chadoshos Requirement

Reciting sheva brochos at any given seudah also requires the presence of at least one "Ponim Chadoshos".  Ponim chadoshos refers to an individual who did not attend the wedding or any previous seudah held in honor of this chosson and kallah.  One who attended the chupah (wedding ceremony) but left beofore the meal will qualify as ponim chadoshos at a subsequent seudah, according to many authorities.

      The ponim chadoshos should be an individual who adds a new dimension to the simcha.  He should be a friend or relative of the chosson or kallah or their parents, or else a distinguished individual whose presence is of particular significance.  According to the majority of Poskim, the ponim chadoshos must be a male.

      If for some reason the ponim chadoshos is present but unable to partake of the meal, sheva brochos are still recited.  However, there is a strong preference they he participate by eating bread, or at least, some other food.

      On Shabbos, the requirement of ponim chadoshos does not apply at the first two seudos, and sheva brochos are recited regardless.  At the third Shabbos meal (shalosh seudos) if no ponim chadoshos is present, sheva brochos may be recited only if the chosson (preferably) or another participant delivers a Torah discourse.

Aside from Rabbi Friedman's learning full time in the Kollel, he is alo the Moreh Hora'ah for Beis HaMedrash Mekor HaChaim.  Rabbi Friedman is currently giving a series of "Shovevim Shiurim" on Taharas Hamishpacha, Sunday nights at 8:45 at the Kollel (through January 27th).

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