Monday, August 8, 2011

The Pregnant Spoon

"You must not add to the word that I command you, nor subtract from it, so as to safeguard the commandments of Hashem" [Va'etchanan 4:2]

The Dubno Maggid explained this verse by way of a parable:

An individual went to his neighbor and asked to borrow a spoon. The next day, he returned the spoon he had borrowed together with another small spoon.

"Why are you giving me two spoons?" asked his neighbor. "I only loaned you one."

"That is correct" responded his friend. "But you see, the spoon which you had loaned me was pregnant - and it gave birth."

The neighbor realized that his friend's mind had become unstable, but he nonetheless accepted the two spoons without comment.

Several days later, the friend returned and asked to borrow a cup. The neighbor lent him the cup and, surely enough, the friend gave back not one but two cups, claiming that the cup had given birth to a smaller version. The neighbor silently accepted the two cups.

Several days passed, and the neighbor was once again approached by his friend. The time, he requested to borrow a pair of silver candlesticks. The fool, thought the neighbor, will surely give me back four candlesticks. I will happily loan them to him.

Several days later, when the neighbor saw that his candlesticks had not been returned, he complained to his friend "Where are my silver candlesticks? Why have you not returned them?"

"I am sorry" responded the friend, "but your candlesticks have passed away."

"Passed away?" yelled the neighbor, "who has ever heard of candlesticks passing away?"

"My dear sir" responded the friend, "who has ever heard of a spoon or a cup that gave birth? Yet when I gave you two spoons, you took them without saying a word. Now if a spoon can give birth, then a candlestick can most certainly pass away."

With this, we can understand the aforementioned verse, concluded the Dubno Maggid. An individual must perform Hashem's mitzvos with utmost precision, for if he begins to add to the mitzvos, he will eventually come to subtract from them.

Source: Rabbi Yisrael Bronstein


Anonymous said...

Excellent parable!! The humorus story helps to drive this most vital message home.

in the vanguard said...

The Dubno Maggid sure was a smart man! You can't help but marvel at the frequency of Jewish caliber.

DrM said...

On a side note:

with likely over 95% of world Jewry not connected to torah and mitvoth, can we observant Jews and our leaders of Torah Judiasm really say that this system we carry as "Orthodox Jews", with all its additional safegaurss creates by rabbanim, granted with good intention, really succeeded? I would claim that most of these fences (and i argue post-talmudic) have done the opposite of protecting the torah, and instead alienated vast majority of Jews not to keep it.

We have failed miserably. Despite the many stories of Baal teshuvot, there are equal or more Jews who feel over burdened by the many chumrot and scared tactics of "Jewish philosophy" (majority under the words of my ashkenazi brethren).

Not until we have true leaders to step up and reform orthodox judaism to its roots. halacha of torah that stays true to our tannaim and ammorraim, while still respecting the higher level observances of our rishonim and acharonim, can we bring jews to observe our holy Torah.

any thoughts?

Menachem said...

Our mission in this life is to serve Hashem, not to impress others. Since the system is mida kenegad mida (measure for measure), we have the free will to answer any mitzvah in a machmir (stringent) or maykel (lenient) way. Since my love for Hashem can never come close to the love He has for me, I could never do enough. When it comes time for Olam Habah, Hashem will say measure for measure this is what you have proven to Me that you deserve. Do I want the best eternity for me and my family or is something much less good enough? Your life is the deciding factor here in Olam Hazeh. I choose life and to do as much as I can to show my love to Hashem. I also impress upon any Jew that I come in contact with to do the same. My love for my fellow Jew requires it. My life has been so wonderful that I wish such joy and success for every Jew I meet. How about you?

Anonymous said...

Jewish education, true to the Torah interpretation is the most important building block that is required to ensure the continuance of Torah faithful Jews. Growing up Orthodox does not guarantee that a person will remain Orthodox and the opposite is also true. Young adults must be inspired to seek and see the truth of the Torah for themselves, through study.Following and practicing mitzvot through rote doesn't bring one genuinely close to Hashem and this is where the danger lies in so many r"l, falling away from their roots.
Unfortunately today, the temptations right at one's finger tips and in the world around us are so powerful that only effective Torah education in schools, ongoing deeper, Torah study and self introspection will bring about further understanding and appreciation of Hashem's Holy Ways and His love for His children. This will help us emulate Hashem's ways and will help raise our comprehension of Hashem's blueprint for the world..the Torah, bringing about our deep love and cleavage to Hashem and to all our bretheren.

Our Rabbis, leaders and parents have a very difficult task in today's world. Certainly, Hashem knows the challenge we all face. May Hashem give us all the strength and the insights we need to become once again the Holy Nation of Israel,and to merit the coming of Moshaiach speedily in our days.

Anonymous said...

"..while still respecting the higher level observances of our rishonim and acharonim, can we bring jews to observe our holy Torah."

Millions of American Jews do not adhere to any observances, halachic or otherwise because they want to do it their way - not because they disagree with the rabbis. This was what the haskala was about. They wanted to be like the goy they lived among and assimilate. Don't blame the rabbi's for the choices Jews make in falling away from the derech. You remove the responsibility from them. There already is a "reformed" branch of Judaism. They do what they want. Hashem requires sacrifice from us. He never said it would be easy.

DrM said...

@menchem, I cannot disagree with you regarding answering each mitzvah any way you like. personally you have the right to observe the strictist chumra from the zohar, BUT what a rav teaches a community or another person, should start with the bibilical law, and explain each additional rabbinic law (which should be explained as a fence, and obviously the importance of am israel keeping such fences), and each additional post talmudic fences created by variety of communities and rabbis (whether it was out of OCD, good intention, or out of their imagination, is a different story)

regarding our mission is to serve hashem and not impress others, do you think Rav yehuda hanassi was serving hashem? because if you saw the way he kept torah, most "orthodox" would give him a label and not eat in his house (if you saw him mixing up some chicken dairy caserol, I'm pretty sure you would also freak out)

our Rabbis of the past generations, had a difficult task, but in many cases, this system has failed. piling up the chumrot has dont nothing but create OCD jews.

@anonymous 2
they wanted to do away with it, because of the strong push of european jewry to fanaticize judaism. the current orthodox system is not the judaism of the talmud. it is mostly a mix of customs of slums of european jewry compiled, mixed in with customs and costumes of european goys. reform judaism started in europ because of the fanatics in european jewry. i understand many jews will always want to assimilate, thats a given. but 95%? oh please. lets stop blaming our brothers and sisters leaving our tradition on the guys. we have a responsibility to teach the truth of torah and separete it from customs and fences that were originally created to protect the torah.

i understand your feeling that i am some lone wolf here chirping about this b/c of some personal vendetta. but unfortunetly i am repeating the sentiment of my sephardic rabbis who say these things and more, with a small voice, fear of what the haredi establishment will do to their jobs and families and kids if they hear.

Anonymous said...


Who can make sense of it? And who has the will to do it?

DrM said...

i dont get your first question, but i get your second. please explain

Anonymous said...

Who is going to determine what is going to be kept and what practices will be discarded? Also can you give me a few examples of a few that should be discarded..Thank you I have a lot of respect for Sephardic Jews.. I lean that way more than any other. I don't like the discrimination they receive. They are very holy.