Parsha Encounters



Parshas Bo:

Body and Mind

Rabbi Moshe Katz

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

These words shall be a sign on your arm and an ornament between your eyes. (Shmos, 13: 16)

The Mitzvah of Tefillin. Four Parshios of the Torah are tied on the arm and on the head.

What is the symbolism of Tefillin?

It is often assumed that Tefillin Shel Yad, on the arm, pointed towards the heart, represents dedicating our emotions and desires to the service of Hashem. The Tefillin Shel Rosh, on the head, dedicate our intellect or our neshama. (See Shulchan Aruch, siman 25)

With this understanding of Tefillin, it would seem that there is no essential message in the fact that they are tied on the arm. It is just the way we symbolize dedicating our heart.

This is a difficult assumption given the drasha of Chazal on this posuk. The unusual spelling of yadcha is understood to teach us that the Tefillin should be tied on our weaker arm, typically the left. A left-handed person places the Tefillin on his right arm. This halacha seems to indicate that an integral part of the Mitzvah of Tefillin is that they should be tied on the arm, specifically on the weaker arm.

Rav Hirsch suggests that the Tefillin Shel Yad symbolizes dedicating our actions to the service of Hashem. The Shel Rosh, tied on the head, symbolizes dedicating our intellect to Hashem's service, or striving to understand Hashem and His mitzvos.

The halacha requires that we put the Tefillin Shel Yad on before the Shel Rosh. While an understanding of the meaning of the mitzvos definitely enhances our avodas Hashem, we must first dedicate our actions. We must commit ourselves to shmiras hamitzvos whether we ultimately understand them or not.

In fact, Rav Hirsch suggests, the mitvah of Tefillin is a daily expression of na'ase v'nishma. The declaration made by Klall Yisroel that "we will do and we will hear." The Jewish People committed themselves to observance of the Torah before knowing what the Mitzvos were and what their meaning would be.

Perhaps we can now understand why the Shel Yad is placed on our weaker hand. Most of us can do only simple tasks with our weaker hand. Significant things must be done with our stronger hand. Thus, we dedicate not only our major activities to the service of Hashem, but our simple ones as well.

This idea is reflected in the minhag, brought in the name of the Shelah, that even the way we remove our Tefillin can be significant. We should take them off with our left hand, expressing that we remove them with reluctance.

It has been said that an "adam gadol," a great person, is someone to whom there are no "small things." Everything becomes great when used to serve Hashem.

May we be zocheh to elevate all aspects of our life through avodas Hashem.

Rabbi Katz, an alumnus of the Kollel is the co-founder and co-director of the Chicago Torah Network and learns daily in the Kollel.

Halacha Encounters

How to Make Salad on Shabbos

Rabbi Yisroel Langer

Peeling the Vegetables

When preparing a salad on Shabbos, there are many melachos that one needs to be careful to avoid. One such melacha is the melacha of "Borer." The melacha of borer is the act of perfecting a desirable matter through the selection and removal of the unwanted matter with which it was mixed. It is permitted to select an item from a mixture only if all of the following conditions are met:

•  One must select the desirable matter from the unwanted matter, and not vice-versa.

•  The selection must be done only by hand, not with an instrument.

•  The selection must be done immediately prior to the use of the selected matter.

A peel of a fruit or vegetable is considered a "mixture" with the fruit because they are attached together. This being so, how is it permitted for one to peel a fruit on Shabbos, since he is removing unwanted matter (the peel) from the desirable matter? The Poskim 1 address this issue and explain that being that there is no other way to get to the fruit without removing the outer peel, it is not considered an act of borer but rather a normal way of eating. (This explanation only deals with the first condition, while the second and third condition must still be met.)

Based on the above, one may remove the peel of a cucumber or carrot when making his salad provided that the peeling be done immediately prior to the meal. 2 However if one plans on going for a walk or to shul after he finishes his preparations of the meal, this would be considered an interruption and one would not be allowed to peel his vegetables beforehand. 3 If one is having a large meal and it will take a long time to prepare, some Poskim 4 permit peeling (and sorting of cutlery) even a while before the meal as long as the preparations last until immediately before the meal. 5

Cutting the Vegetables

When one cuts something into small pieces, he has violated the melacha of Tochein, or grinding. This can pose a problem when we cut up our vegetables into a salad. Some Rishonim hold 6 that the melacha of grinding is only applicable when the food is not ordinarily eaten in its present state. However, other Rishonim argue 7 that the melacha of grinding applies to all food (that grows from the ground) even if it is eaten in its precut state. The Shulchan Aruch is strict in accordance with this latter view. The Rema 8 (quoting the Rashba) says that just like with borer, if one cuts up his food immediately before eating it is considered an act of eating and not grinding. Therefore, according to the Rema one would be allowed to cut up his vegetables on Shabbos immediately before his meal, provided that he does not use a specialized grinding instrument (ex. grater). However, not everybody agrees with the Rema. They 9 hold that this heter of doing a melacha immediately before eating is limited to borer, and does not extend to the melacha of Tochein/grinding. Therefore the Poskim 10 say that when one cuts up his vegetables he should 1) cut them up immediately before his meal and preferably also 2) cut them into larger pieces than they are cut up into under normal circumstances. If the second condition was not met, one may certainly eat the food bidieved. If, however, the first condition was not met and the food was cut up a significant amount of time prior to the beginning of the meal, one should ask a shailoh regarding whether or not the vegetables may be eaten on Shabbos. 11


1 Pri Migadim quoted by M.B. simon 321 (Shaar Hatzion 99). See Biur Halacha in 319:4 that quotes another reason given by the Maharshal.

2 The Poskim permit one to peel with a knife, since the knife is not facilitating in the selection process. Regarding the use of a peeler, many Poskim forbid it [see Machzeh Eliyahu 51, Orchas Shabbos Ch. 3, 87] as it is facilitating in the selection process. However it is said that HaGaon Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l permitted its use, explaining that it is no different than peeling with a knife. For a final ruling, one should consult their Rav.

3 Orchas Shabbos Ch. 3 Footnote 48, see there that dressing a child is not considered and interruption.

4 Shemiras Shabbos K'Hilchasa Ch.3:63; Orchas Shabbos Ch.3:50 see footnote 51 that the Chazon Ish (quoted by Nachlas Yaakov) did not permit more than a half-hour before the meal.

5 If one is unsure when their meal will begin - see Orchas Shabbos Ch.3:52

6 Tosfos and Rosh Shabbos 74b, see also opinion of Rambam.

7 Rashba, Smag

8 O.C. 321:12

9 Shiltei Giborim quoted by Magen Avraham 321:15

10 M.B. 321 s.k. 45

11 See M.B. ibid. who indicates that they are prohibited. See, however, Kitzos Hashulchan 129 Badei Hashulchan 5.


Rabbi Langer is a full time member of the Kollel and a frequent contributor to Halacha Encounters.

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