Monthly Archives: February 2016

“Violate One Shabbat”

“Ve-shameru Benei Yisrael et ha-Shabbat, la-asot et ha-Shabbat le-dorotam berit olam – And the Children of Israel shall guard the Sabbath, to make the Sabbath for all their generations an eternal covenant.” (Shemot 31:16)

The Talmud (Yoma 85b) offers this verse as one of the sources for the rule that if necessary, one can violate Shabbat to save a life. “Violate one Shabbat so that he can keep many Shabbatot.” Whether this is derived from word “ha-Shabbat” (that it is more important to maintain Shabbat the entity than ensure a single Shabbat is kept at the cost of human life), or the desire for the Shabbat to last “for all their generations” (Or HaChaim), the import is the same. At least when it comes to Shabbat, we are instructed to not only look at our actions narrowly, but to take the bigger picture into account. It is better from the perspective of Shabbat for a single Shabbat to be desecrated than lose the valuable life of a Jew who will guard the message of Shabbat for a lifetime.  Continue reading “Violate One Shabbat”

The Kapara of the Bigdei Kehuna

The Gemara in several places (Zevachim 88b, Arachin 16a) claims that the special garments of the Kohanim help the Jewish people achieve atonement.  The Chatam Sofer has two insights that add meaning both to the meaning of this Gemara in general, as well as to one of the begadim in specific.

In general, one wonders whether the garments really achieve atonement “magically” as it were.  My preference, whenever possible, is to say that they help achieve atonement by encouraging people to repent and do the correct thing.  The Chatam Sofer argues that this is the case, at least for some of the begadim.   Continue reading The Kapara of the Bigdei Kehuna