Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Vayishlach
To dedicate this lesson
Vayishlach 5779

At The Shabbat Table


Rabbi Daniel Kirsch

Kislev 14 5779
הַנִּזְהָר שֶׁלֹּא יְסוֹבֵב צַעַר מֵחֲמָתוֹ לַזּוּלַת יְסַיְּעוּהוּ מִן הַשָּׂמִים שֶׁרְצוֹנוֹ יְקֻיַּם כְּמוֹ שֶׁמָּצִינוּ בְּיַעֲקֹב אֲבִינוֹ: 'וַיֵּצֶר לוֹ' – שֶׁהִצְטַעֵר"
"...שֶׁלֹּא יַזִּיק אֲחֵרִים, זָכָה שֶׁלֹּא בָּאָה תַּקָּלָה עַל יָדוֹ
(סֵפֶר תּוֹכַחַת חַיִּים לַגה"ק רַבִּי חַיִּים פָלָאגִ'י זצ"ל)

Open Door Policy

In Yeshivat Aish Kodesh, the students have off for an hour in the afternoon. Many of the students take the opportunity to catch up on sleep. One day, one student, Yaakov, returned to his dorm room, after lunch, and lay down on his bed. He closed his eyes, when he suddenly remembered that he had forgotten something in the storage room, upstairs. He ran upstairs, retrieved his forgotten object, and hurried to leave the storage room, in order to capitalize on what remained of his break. He was about to leave the storage room, when the door swung shut on its own.

Yaakov pulled at the handle, to no avail. Somehow, the door had become locked. Yaakov attempted again to open the door. He pushed. He pulled. He searched furtively for something which might help him open the door, but found nothing. Left with no other option, Yaakov began banging on the door.

After a minute or so, Yaakov heard voices on the other side of the door. He explained his predicament, and one boy, Menachem, assured Yaakov that he would find someone to open the door. Menachem raced to find the dorm counselor, while the boys who remained next to the storage room continued speaking to Yaakov, assuring him that help was on the way.

Menachem headed down the hallway, in the direction of the dorm counselor’s room. He peeked through the doorway, only to find Shaul, the dorm counselor, fast asleep on his bed. Menachem hesitated. On the one hand, he hated to disturb Shaul’s nap. On the other hand, Yaakov was locked in the storage room, and only Shaul had the key! Left with no option, Menachem swiftly approached Shaul, and shook him awake.

"Whaa?!" Shaul called out. "What are you doing?"

"Yaakov is locked in the storage room" Menachem explained. "Come quickly with the key."

Shaul dragged himself out of his bed, washed his hands, and took out his key ring. Menachem took Shaul by the hand, and pulled him down the hallway, in the direction of the storage room. Shaul took the key ring out of his pocket, and unceremoniously freed the trapped student. As Yaakov walked into the hallway, squinting in the bright light, Shaul turned Menachem.

"I’m just letting you know, what you did was completely inappropriate" Shaul hissed. "My nap is crucial. I really can’t function without it. You committed gezel shaina (theft of sleep). Why couldn’t you wait for me to wake up!? Would it be so bad for Yaakov to wait a little?"
With that, Shaul stormed off to his room, leaving Menachem in a quandary. Did Menachem act correctly, in waking up Shaul, or did he, in fact, commit gezel shaina?

Answer: Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, shlita:

First of all, there is no such thing as ‘gezel shaina.’ The concept of ‘theft’ only applies to possessions. Of course, it is forbidden to needlessly awaken someone. However, this is not because of the prohibition against theft. Rather, it is forbidden to disturb a sleeping person because of the mitzva of ‘v’ahavta l’reiacha kamocha’ (love your friend as you love yourself). Our sages explain that this verse means that "what is hated by you, you should not do to your friend." Therefore, just as no person wishes to be woken from his sleep, so too, one is forbidden from waking someone else.

However, in our case, Shaul was obligated to wake up from his nap, in order to perform the act of kindness of rescuing Yaakov from being stuck in the storage room. Therefore, Menachem acted correctly, in waking Shaul from his nap.
(Rabbi Kanievsky went on to explain that, despite the fact that the Baalei Mussar (our great teachers of self-improvement) utilize the expression gezel shaina, their intention is not that waking someone is a transgression of literal theft. Rather, they are referring to the above-mentioned transgression of the commandment to love another as oneself.)

"…Dena the daughter of Leah…" (Bereishit 34:1)
Rashi:" …regarding this, they formulated a proverb "like mother, like daughter"

Filling Words of Torah

Rabbi Yissachar Teichtal zt"l, author of Eim Habanim Semeicha, related:
When I was a young child, my dear mother would rise early on Fridays, and prepare delicious cakes, in honor of Shabbat. Because I was the only boy in the family, my mother took care to prepare a special little cake just for me, in order to engender feelings of love for Torah learning. She would serve this cake to me, immediately after morning prayers.
One Friday morning, when I was about eight years old, I returned home from the synagogue, only to find that the cakes were still in the oven, and not yet ready to be eaten. I looked up at my mother and said "Mommy, I’m hungry."
My mother contemplated my words, and, with great love and wisdom, responded "go review the pages of Gemara which you have learned this week. Torah satisfies a person’s hunger, even more than cake or bread."
I listened to my mother’s idea, and believed her words with all my heart. I sat down to learn, and quickly became engrossed in the holy words of the Torah. The sweetness of the Gemara learning began to fill me, and, amazingly, I forgot my hunger. I was so absorbed in the learning that I didn’t even notice that the cakes had finished baking, until my mother came and urged me to eat. I ate the cake which my mother had prepared, and quickly returned to the Gemara.
Rabbi Teichtal, Hy"d, concluded: This was how my mother continuously tried to encourage my love of Torah. Because of this, I succeeded in remaining steadfast, and overcoming the many challenges which I have encountered, throughout the course of my life.

(from the introduction to Rabbi Teichtal’s collection of responsa, entitled Mishneh Sachir.)

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