Caleb’s Gift

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6 Responses

  1. YGB says:

    Now, Reb Avi et al, let’s continue doing the right things and get the JO back into business!!!

  2. Joe Hill says:

    Rabbi Shafran — Beautiful article and very well stated indeed.

    Calev made a massive Kiddush Hashem simply by putting on his tefilin in public. Even if nothing else would have transpired. And the fact that this made international news made Calev’s Kiddush Hashem that much greater — now the whole world knows a Jew is proud to wear his tefilin, as G-d wishes him to, even amongst people who may find it quaint. He is not embarrassed of his religious duties.

  3. joel rich says:

    Does anyone have a timeline for that day -what time was dawn, sunrise, check in, boarding….
    Joel Rich

  4. Yochanan Sender says:

    Shavua tov from Israel.

    Thank you, that was well done. It would also be highly appropriate to mention where the young high-school student studies and who his rebbeim are, as likely would have been done for other schools. I leave it to the author to correct that.

  5. Raymond says:

    I do not think that most people in this forum who read what I am about to say, will like its contents. I would not send this in, though, if I did not think I have a legitimate point to make.

    There are positive commandments and negative commandments. Using the language of philosophy, I would say that the negative commandments are the more necessary ones, but are not necessarily sufficient. I say they are more necessary, in a way similar to how medical students being trained to be doctors, are given as their first principal to do no harm. The three commandments in the Torah that are literally considered worth more than our lives, are the prohibitions against murder, idolatry, and certain sexual practices such as adultery. Notice how all of those three are negative commandments. In plain language, it is better for a person to neither hurt nor help people, than it is to both hurt and help people.

    The negative commandments are the meat and potatoes of following G-d’s will, while the positive commandments are like icing on the cake, like a special bonus, an opportunity to come closer to G-d. One cannot get closer to G-d and in fact one gets further and further removed from G-d, if one violates the negative commandments. One can, however, refrain from doing the wrong things, even if one does not do much in the way of positive commandments.

    Well, prayer is one such positive commandment. If one fails to pray at a certain time, that does not make him a bad person, it just means that he missed an opportunity to come closer to G-d. It therefore seems to me that given the tense situation we have with airplanes and islamofascist terrorism, that praying on an airplane is a behavior that can be easily misinterpreted as a threat, and should therefore be avoided. One can pray at home or wherever else one is staying, before and after the plane trip. Perhaps one can take a kind of middle ground, limiting his prayers to the Shema and waiting until later to put on tefillin.

    I really think it is a mistake for us Jews to make a spectacle of ourselves. It is not that I am ashamed of being a Jew, but there are far better ways of publicizing our special nature as a people than to wear things that look strange to the general public. One such example of a true sanctification of G-d’s Name, was the recent one in Haiti, where Israel was actually quicker than the United States in helping Haitian refugees, and the whole world knew it. When I heard the news, I beamed with pride at being a member of the most remarkable people who has ever walked the face of the Earth.

  6. Shira says:

    Raymond, thanks for posting your thoughts, it’s definitely food for the brain.

    I wonder to what extent someone could take your argument and say, until someone does a more complete job of the negative commandments, he shouldn’t partake in the positive – albeit spiritually inspiring – ones?

    Rather than a binary (black-and-white) approach to tefilin on the plane, others have suggested to first approach the attendant – after all the tefilin did pass security inspection to get on the plane. I think many of us who grew up in a more binary (computer) age forget that human communication is a great tool to prevent misunderstandings.

    Is wearing tefilin outside of home or synagogue, “making a spectacle”? To someone who never saw it before, it certainly looks weird. But I’m not sure how poskim respond to the idea that someone should forgo a mitzvah to avoid looking weird.

    There is a discussion regarding whether in the Diaspora one should wear his talit in full view when walking to synagogue on Shabbat. But that case has acceptable alternatives – carry it, wear it under your suit jacket, leave it in shul. Regarding tefilin, the question is whether to take a step down in observance of a mitzvah, or whether continuing but as modestly as possible.

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