[Don’t forget to see the Halacha
The Power of Surrounding
During this week's parsha, Yaakov and Esav are introduced. From
the very beginning we see the good tendencies in Yaakov. Each
time Rivka would pass a beis medrash he would get excited. In
contrast, Esav would get excited when Rivka would pass a “beis
avodah zara.” Immediately upon reading these verses,
one must wonder what is going on here. In particular,
Esav is the most troubling as his desire to do evil is so innate
that we see it before he is even born! It almost seems
that Esav does not have free will. What is the Torah
trying to teach us in this troubling passage?
Even though Esav had such a strong desire to do evil, he could
have chosen a righteous path. One of our most fundamental
beliefs is in one's ability to choose between doing right or
wrong. Immediately when Esav was given his name (25:25)
the Baal HaTurim points out that Esav is the gematria of Shalom
(376). Not only is the Baal HaTurim pointing out that
Esav could have been good, but he could have even been “shalom,” the
exact opposite of what he became.
If Esav could have been the epitome of “shalom,” then what
happened? The Torah gives us an answer a few verses later
when it tells us that when Esav grew up, he became a man “who
knows trapping (25:27).” Rashi points out that this means
he knew how to trick his father Yitzchak. Essentially,
Esav got involved in hunting, which polluted his mind and led
him down the wrong path. As we said earlier, Esav could
have been shalom but instead, became an expert hunter. When
one takes the gematria of Esav's (376) name and adds it to
his bad influence (“Yodea Tzaed”=1941), the resulting
gematria is exactly equal to the gematria of the word “rasha” (570).
The Torah is telling us loud and clear to be careful what
we involve ourselves in. If we make good choices we can
become Tzaddikim. And if we make bad choices, G-d forbid
the opposite could occur. This lesson is a universal
concept that appears in many places. One just needs to
open Pirkei Avos and see how one is supposed to surround himself
with good neighbors, a Rav, and all other sorts of good influences. May
we all be zoche to surround ourselves with only positive influences
and to see the coming of the moshiach speedily in our days.
who now lives in New York was a frequent attendee of the
Chicago Community Kollel.
Rabbi Avi Weinrib
In this week's Parsha we are introduced to the first set
of twins recorded in the Torah. We are told that aside from
their differences in physical appearance, the way they spent
their time was another obvious difference. Yaakov is described
as a man of the tent where he spent his time in Torah learning
and prayer. Eisav is described as a man of the field where
he spent his time hunting animals and similar activities1.
In this week's Halacha Encounters we will discuss how Halacha
views the sport of hunting as well as discuss some of the halachos
pertaining to the trapping of animals on Shabbos.
The issue of hunting animals is discussed at length by many
of the earlier commentaries. The consensus of the poskim is
that for one to hunt just for “sport” or fun is forbidden.
There are many reasons given for this. Among them are “Tzaar
Balei Chayim” - unnecessarily paining animals2, “Bal
Tashchis” – to destroy an item without any real purpose3,
and “Moshav Leitzim,”4 among others. One of the
more famous Teshuvos [Responsa] on the issue was written by
the Noda Biyehuda5. He contends that there is no
issue of Bal Tashchis being that one uses the skin in addition
to the fact that it is not being done in a destructive manner.
Furthermore, there is no issue of Tzar Balei Chayim as that
issur only applies when wounding or inflicting pain on an animal.
However, when killing an animal there is no issue of Tzar Balei
Chayim. He does say however that hunting is an act of cruelty
and the ones we find who were involved in such activity were
Eisav and Nimrod, who are not exactly classic role models.
Furthermore, hunting involves going into the forests. Being
that the woods are full of wild animals, it is forbidden for
one to enter a place which is clearly defined as dangerous.
He does permit hunting when one is doing so for commercial
purposes and not just for sport.
Fishing for sport with no intention to keep the fish would
be forbidden because of Tzar Balei Chayim6. Fishing
for eating or commercial purposes would be permissible.
on Shabbos – Setting Traps
One of the thirty-nine prohibitions which are forbidden on
Shabbos is the trapping of animals. The question of permissibility
often arises where one merely wishes to set up a trap. If the
animal would enter the trap while one is setting up the trap
it would be a violation of an issur Deoraysa. To set up a trap
on Shabbos even when the animal does not enter then would be
forbidden Miderabonon7. Therefore one cannot set
up a mouse trap on Shabbos. However one can set up traps on Friday even
if they will very likely end up trapping an animal on Shabbos8.
The issur of trapping only applies to the trapping of animals.
However, freeing a trapped animal on Shabbos is permissible9.
a Birdcage Door
To close the door of a birdcage on Shabbos is included in
the issur of trapping. Therefore, to open and then shut the
door of the cage would be forbidden. Since if the door would
remain open the bird would fly out, closing it is considered
an act of trapping. A simple solution would be that as one
opens the door, he should place his hand or any other object
in front of the door so that at no point is there a possibility
for the bird to fly free. Then one can close the door, as the
bird was never considered free10.
Animals which are totally domesticated are not included in
the melacha of trapping11. Therefore with such animals
one would be allowed to close them up in room if such a need
would arise. However one must be aware the animals are muktzeh
and are forbidden to move. Therefore while one may lead an
animal one may not pick up the animal in any way12.
1 Bereishis 25-27
2 Pachad Yitzchak
3 Shu”t Shemesh U'tzidoko
4 See Or Zarua Shabbos
83-17 and Shulchan Aruch O.H. 316-2
5 Tinyana Y.D. 10
6 Shalos Uteshuvos
Mishna Halachos 12-432
7 Mishna Berura 316-18
8 See Shabbos 17b
9 M.B. 316-25
10 Meleches Shabbos
11 Rema 316-12 M.B.
59 This would seemingly only apply to the owner or anyone the
animal is familiar with. See Sefer Mileches Shabbos pg. 233
Sefer Lamed Tes Milochos [R' Ribiat] page 868 and Shmiras Shabas
Kihilchoso 27-footnote 117
12 M.B. 25
Rabbi Weinrib learns full time in the Kollel
and is a frequent contributor to Halacha Encounters.
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