You spoke about the greatness of training ourselves to be prushim by making fences around the Torah laws; by adding on to the Torah and forbidding upon ourselves things that are actually permitted. But didn’t we learn that Chava was mistaken in telling the nachash that she was told not to touch the tree when really the command was only that they couldn’t eat from it?
You must know as follows – there’s prishus and there is emes; there’s such a thing as abstaining from the permitted but there’s also a thing called truth. For instance, everybody knows that you cannot handle a pencil on Shabbos. It’s a fence that was made around the Torah. But if somebody says that handling a pencil is an issur chamur d’oraisah, that it’s a severe Torah law, so we tell him, “You’re a liar.” Of course it’s an issur chamur, a severe transgression,to handle muktzah, but you have to be a lamdan of Torah. We must learn what’s d’oraisah and what’s d’rabonon.
And so when a reform rabbi will get up and he’ll say, “What’s important in Torah? It’s important to hold memorial services. Memorial services are a fundamental of Judaism,” so we’ll say to him, “Memorial services – very nice. Jews say yizkor – that’s true. But it’s not part of the Torah. It’s not even part of the gemara. It’s only a minhag that the people started doing late in their history. It’s not an obligation of the gemara at all.”
That’s why we see the gemara puts a lot of effort in delineating what is min haTorah, what’s d’rabonon and what’s entirely permitted – it’s stam middas chassidus. And therefore, Chava made a mistake when she started out with a sheker; it was a sheker in Torah when she said that Hakodosh Boruch Hu said you shouldn’t touch the tree; and that sheker caused her undoing because the snake gave her a push and she touched it and he said, “See! Did anything happen to you? Nothing happened to you!” It’s an important lesson – it’s good to make fences but you have to know what’s what.
And so people must know that although it’s important to aspire to the ideal of prishus, nevertheless even though you’re a porush, if you see somebody else who’s not a porush, don’t condemn him. And even if he transgressed on a minhag and you want to criticize him, you shouldn’t condemn him as you would one who transgresses a takanas chachamim and surely not one who transgresses an issue d’oraisah. Everything has its limitations, its gedarim, and therefore it’s important to know Torah.
TAPE # 501