Sunday, January 01, 2006

DAILY MITZVAH (Maimonides): Monday, January 2, 2006


Tevet 2, 5766 * January 2, 2006

D A I L Y M I T Z V A H (M A I M O N I D E S )

Today's Mitzvot (Day 122 of 339):

Negative Mitzvah 42; Positive Mitzvah 120; Negative Mitzvah 210

Negative Mitzvah 42: You shall not wear "Sha'atnez"

-Deuteronomy 22:11 "You shall not wear a garment of Sha'atnez,
of wool and linen together"

Shelly had an allergic rash on her skin that itched badly.

Shelly's mother took her to see the doctor and after the doctor
examined her, he prescribed a cream to ease the itching.

As they were driving home, Shelly asked her mother:
"Are you sure that the medicine works?"
"Well," her mother replied, "I trust the doctor. After all,
he should know what he's doing!"

Usually, we like to understand the reasons for doing things or
how things work, but often, we are content to rely on professional

Can you imagine demanding an explanation every time you receive
a doctor's prescription?

Or a passenger demanding a complete lesson on how a plane flies,
before he is prepared to get on the plane?

We rely on people who are experts in their chosen fields.

If we devoted the time and effort in order to learn about other
areas that interest us, we would probably be able to understand
many things that now seem mysterious to us.

However, until we do so, we must rely on others.

Therefore, a doctor knows the proper medicine to prescribe for
a disease. However, he may not be able to tell you how to fix
a computer because he is not an expert in computers.

Only HaShem, the Creator of the Universe, knows the reason for
everything. He created and assigned to each particle in nature
its own unique function.

We, were given the Torah and its Mitzvot in order to enable us to
fulfill the will of HaShem. We rely on the Torah and that HaShem
knows what is best for His creations.

We can understand the reasons for many Mitzvot.

However, there are other Mitzvot for which we have no

These Mitzvot are called "Chukim".

We must keep them, nonetheless, because the Torah tells us to
do so.

One such "Chok", or "unexplained law" - is this Negative Mitzvah
of "Sha'atnez."

We are not allowed to wear a garment that has wool and linen
woven together in it.

There are special Sha'atnez laboratories that will check any
garment for this forbidden mixture.

Often, the threads can be removed and then the garment may be
worn. The people who work in these laboratories are highly-skilled
in their job.

It is very important to check the manufacturer's label on clothing
in order to find out what material it is made of.

If Sha'atnez is found, the laboratory may be able to remove the
problematic material. In this way we are able to fulfill the
Mitzvot that HaShem commanded us to keep, even though we do not
understand the reasons for such Mitzvot.


Introduction to Positive Mitzvot 120 - 124:

Giving Tzedakah from our Fields

When your father makes a deposit in the bank, he hands the money
to the teller who in turn, credits it to his account.

Everyone knows that he is not giving the money to the teller as
a gift!

The bank saves and manages the money and gives it back to your
father when he asks for it.

Every person has different needs and HaShem provides for everyone.

He organized a system in which He gives people a "deposit" - money
or possessions - for them to manage properly.

They must distribute some to the poor, and provide others from the
"account" which HaShem has blessed them with.

In this way, everyone is taken care of, while those who are able
to give to the poor are fulfilling the will of HaShem.

When HaShem gave our people Eretz Yisrael, we were commanded to
be generous with the crops that grow in the fields.

A farmer must realize that his field is given to him as a deposit
and he must manage it wisely, giving others a chance to benefit
from it as well.

The following Mitzvot describe gifts which we must give from our
fields in Eretz Yisrael.


Introduction to Negative Mitzvot 210-214:

Giving Tzedakah from Crops

One morning, the principal brought a new girl into Tammy's class.

"This is Nadia," she said as she introduced the new pupil who
nodded shyly. "Nadia just came from Russia. She's very happy to
be able to go to a Jewish school. I'm sure you'll help her and
she'll catch up to the class quickly."

Tammy's class burst into song "Hayveinu Shalom Aleichem."

They wanted to make Nadia feel welcome. She seemed like
a very nice girl, but her long braids tied with bows and
her old fashioned outfit made her look a bit different.

During recess, all the girls gathered around Nadia, talking
excitedly and inviting her to play jump-rope with them.

After school, Tammy offered to study with Nadia every day and
help her do homework. They soon became good friends.

One day, during recess, when all the girls ran outside to play,
Tammy stayed in the classroom, pretending to organize her
school bag. She actually wanted to talk to her teacher privately.

"Morah," she approached the teacher when the pupils had all
gone out, "I'd like to speak to you about Nadia."

"Yes, Tammy," her teacher said with a smile.

"I want to compliment you for spending so much time with her!
It's a very big Mitzvah, you know."

"I like to be with her," answered Tammy. "But I have a problem and
I want your advice about what I should do.

You see, every day when we come to school, I notice her looking
enviously at all the girls' school-bags. They're all so colorful
and Nadia carries her books in a plastic bag."

Tammy's teacher thought for a moment and then said, "Nadia's
family just came from Russia and her parents must be concerned
with getting settled here. They probably can't afford to buy her
a better bag to carry her books right now."

"Morah," Tammy said slowly, "I just got a new bag for Chanukah,
but I like the one I'm already using. It's wider and has more
compartments and pockets. Maybe I could give Nadia the new bag."

"Tammy, that's very kind of you, but think for a moment. Nadia
may be ashamed to receive such a gift."

"That's just the thing I wanted to speak to you about" said Tammy.
"How can I give it to her without embarrassing her?"

"Well," replied her teacher, after a moment of thought. "I think
I have an idea. Did you notice anything Nadia is very good at?"

"Oh sure!" exclaimed Tammy. "She's very artistic. She often begins
to doodle on her notebook and before you know it, she sketches
a beautiful drawing."

"That's it! We'll have a drawing contest for Tu-B'Shvat and the
winner will get a brand new school bag as first prize," the
teacher said, while winking at Tammy.

"That's a great idea because then the winner will feel that she
earned the prize and it won't be just a gift. I bet I know who's
going to be the winner!"

HaShem wants us to share what we have with people who are needy.

This is the great Mitzvah of Tzedakah. There are many ways of
keeping this Mitzvah.

If a person owns a field, he is commanded to share his harvest
with needy people. But this sharing must be done in a modest
and respectful manner.

If the farmer just gave a poor man a basket of food, the poor
person might feel hurt and be to embarrassed to take it.

The Torah teaches us how we can provide for others by allowing
them to come and collect from the fields themselves.

This makes the needy person feel better because he is taking the
trouble to work in the field and, thereby, "earn" his portion.

The following Mitzvot describe different ways of giving Tzedakah
from our fields.


Negative Mitzvah 210: It is forbidden to reap the entire harvest

-Leviticus 23:22 "You shall not reap the corners of your field
when you reap the harvest"

The owner of the land is commanded not to reap the harvest of the
entire field. He must leave one corner - the "Pe'ah" - where any
needy person may come and reap the crops for himself.


Chanukah is here!

Our extensive Chanukah website has how-to’s, stories, lessons, games and even recipes! It's sure to make your holiday more meaningful and insightful! All this at:

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Wishing you and your family a Happy Chanukah!


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