Sunday, April 15, 2007

Jewish Interaction with Non-Jews Part 2

In my post here I spoke about an experience I had where I work with the interaction I had with one of my non-Jewish co-workers. In my last two posts as well the issue was discussed about giving tzedaka to non-Jews. As best as I can, I want to summarize some of the things the Rav of my minyan said in his drasha over shabbos which related to these issues that I have been posting about.

This past Shabbos, we read the Torah portion of Shmini. One of the things that this parsha concentrates is the laws of Kashrut and which animals we can and cannot eat. Of the animals we can and cannot eat the Torah is clear on how we can differentiate on what is kosher and not kosher. As an example, a fish which is kosher needs to have scales and fins and one that does not is not kosher and an animal must have split hooves and chew its own cud and those that do not are not kosher. The one exception to the list of these animals is the bird. There is not a clear distinction between the birds that are kosher and not kosher. With this in mind there is a bird mentioned called the Chasidah bird. The name Chasidah has the same root as Chesed and Chasidus. The reason (I believe it was Rashi who was quoted) why the bird is called this is because it does chessed within its own group by sharing food. Even though it shares within its own group the bird does not share with those outside its group. The Rabbi then went further to explain this by quoting the Ishbitzer and saying how we should learn from this bird. The Jewish people are a small group and always helping each other. A persons natural instincts is to be comfortable and want to do Chesed within there group because it what they are comfortable with and what they will get the most pleasure out of. The Ishbitzer says that we have go beyond our comfort zone and help all those around us even though they are not is our comfort zone. This is what the chasidah bird failed to do which is why we need to learn from the Torah we need to go beyond and help all. The Rabbi concluded with an example of a story of Rav Aron Solovechik ZT'L. While walking home from shul on the Lower East Side, Rav Aron saw a drunk man passed out lying in the street. Being that this is New York the typical reaction would be to walk by and ignore this person because of fear and because of the rushing everywhere mentality. Rav Aron went over to this person and asked him where he lived. This drunk replied he did not know. Rather than leaving him there, Rav Aron picked him up and took him to every apartment building in the area until he found someone who recognized this man and was able to get him home. The Rabbi used this story to conclude that we should always go the extra step beyond to help whoever needs it no matter who they are since everyone is Hashem's creation no matter what.

There are some things that were said in addition during the drasha but I only put a few of these things into the post as they related to my previous posts.


socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Interesting, gosh u posted a lot not easy to comment everywhere sheesh.

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