Friday, June 29, 2012

Great Rabbinic Wisdom

I don't know anything about Rabbi Shmuel Shapira of Kochav Ya'ir, but I like his response to a question in YNet's "Ask-the-Rabbi" column:

Q. What is the significance of a Shabbat candle that went out three times? - Revital, Petach-Tikva

A. Shalom Revital. Generally, the explanation is that the candle is deficient, or that there is a wind in the place where you light. Therefore, you should change either the candle or the place where you light.

Meanwhile, Rabbi Professor Jeffrey Woolf has a terrific post with a story about the Kovner Rav and a story about Rav Gedalyah Felder. Read them at this link.


  1. Wait so it's not a demon causing trouble. Who knew.
    Sorry couldn't resist.
    On another note I used to read ynet but stopped I found their left leaning slant very annoying so I stopped.

  2. Indeed, love the answer!Pragmatic and to the point.

    And I do get the feeling he knew the asker wanted something mystical in return, but chose to ignore that.

  3. R' Aviner frequently has similar responses in his SMS sh"ut
    Joel Rich

  4. I'm reminded of the chassidic (or perhaps misnagdic) story of the chassid who asked his rebbe why he trimmed his toenails after using the mikvah. The rebbe replied, "because they're soft."

  5. This is not about whether someone should have a rationalist or mystical approach to life. It's about following halacha!

    R' Yitzchak Zilberstein deals with this issue the 2nd volume of his והערב נא. I don't have the sefer at hand, but he cites someone who deals with why R' Akiva didn't simply relight the candle when it went out. Attributing some significance to a common event, and refraining from action would run into the איסור of ניחוש. The answer given is that what he had was in fact a windproof lantern, and the event of the flame going out must have been extremely exceptional and indicative of divine intervention. Note also that Akiva's reaction was directly related to the event at hand.

    Today, we have myriads of books (and websites) written in accessible language instruction us in halacha, haskafa, ethics, etc.. We have local rabbis, poskim and others at arms length- via phone, email and even SMS. There's no need to engage in superstitious divination to find out what Hashem wants from us.
    One who does attribute significance to a mundane event (and changes behavior base on it) runs the risks of violation of
    דרכי האמורי, לא תנחשו
    and תמים תהיה. Better stay in the dark then violate three mitzvot for the sake of some imagined enlightenment.


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