Bereishis: Learning Halacha!

I hope everybody had a good Sukkos.  An old friend of mine and his family flew in and spent the week with our family.  Given that we are rather similar, our wives say ‘identical’, in our personalities, needless to say, we all had a vacation full of non-stop laughter.  He was nice enough to sponsor a driver for the day for both families, where I planned an eight-hour tour of northern Israel.  And I think his Simchas Torah (which was not even Yom Tov for us in Israel) was more enjoyable than our Simchas Torah.  In fact, he did his own hakafos and gave all of his family members at least one aliyah… his wife and daughter had the honour of rolling the “Sefer Torah” and putting it back (only after his daughter complained that she received only one aliyah).  It was a very enjoyable week that unfortunately, had to come to an end.

Oh well.

On to Torah!

When conversing with Mr. Snake, Chava (aka Eve), told him, “It is only about fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said: ‘You shall not eat of it or touch it, lest you die’” (Bereishis 3:3).

As many have previously pointed out, the actual commandment was not to eat it, however she was allowed to touch it.  And when Mr. Snake pushed her into the tree and she did not in fact die, that gave him the opening he needed to push her further into trouble.

After seeing this, I could not help to think about the importance of not only learning Jewish law, but learning it properly, knowing what is the correct halacha, where one can be lenient, and where one can be stringent.  When learning halacha incorrectly, a person can put themselves at serious risk and can damage themselves and others.

Shortly after we were married, my wife saw me doing something on Shabbos.  She was a bit shocked and told me that it was completely forbidden.  I replied that she was referring only to a stringent opinion and showed her my “source.” Unfortunately for her, when she learned it originally, she was only taught one opinion and that opinion was the end-all-be-all opinion.

On the other hand, I’ve spoken to a few people here who are completely ignorant concerning certain important halachos.  They do not lead their lives based on learning something and deciding what to do, but rather based on not knowing anything and not wanting to be bothered to learn anything at all.  So now, out of laziness, they are doing things that are completely forbidden!

So, we see that mistakes can be made by not learning halacha properly or simply by not learning them at all.  Therefore, we have a basic obligation to know what to do, what is considered lenient, what is considered stringent, when can one “lean” on those opinions, and even know what has no basis in halacha.  Armed with this, a person will have a hard time going wrong.

Have a great Shabbos!