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by Joel Rich

Chatam Sofer’s Position Below : Prescriptive (i.e. CS would say cheridim in Israel today are on the wrong track) or descriptive (i.e. CS would find another explanation given current reality)?


Bein Adam Le-chavero: Ethics of Interpersonal Conduct

By Rav Binyamin Zimmerman (Me-product of West Orange,NJ)

The first avenue is the knowledge that physical building is a fulfillment of the mitzva of settling the Land of Israel, and therefore actually a spiritual pursuit (as explained in Shiur #15). This idea is vividly expressed by the Chatam Sofer, whose writings evince great love of the Land, even though he was not a political Zionist.

In discussing the absence of secular studies from the European Jewish educational curriculum, he is bothered by a dispute cited by the Gemara (Berakhot 35a) regarding whether one ideally should spend all his time studying Torah and rely on external sources of sustenance, as is the opinion of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, or should also be involved in planting and gathering crops, as Rabbi Yishma’el argues. The Gemara’s conclusion appears to be in accordance with the view of Rabbi Yishma’el. The Chatam Sofer, then, wonders why the chadarim of his day did not provide their students with occupational training. His answer is fascinating:

It seems to me that even Rabbi Yishma’el stated his opinion that one should “gather one’s grain” only with regard to the Land of Israel, when a majority of Jews are settled there, as then the work of the field is a mitzva in its own right, viz. that of settling the Land of Israel and bringing forth its holy fruit. It is regarding this that the Torah said, “You shall gather your grain” … [and] it would be comparable to saying, “I will not wear tefillin because I am involved in other mitzvot,” if one were to say, “I will not gather my grain because I am studying Torah.” It is possible that the same holds true for any other occupation that has a role in settling the Land of Israel, as any such thing is included in the mitzva … (Chatam Sofer on Sukka 36a, s.v. domeh)

The Chatam Sofer concludes that the chadarim focus only on teaching their students Torah because one’s work in Europe has no spiritual aspect
Interesting – I wonder how this plays out for Jews in Northern climates

Skiing on Shabbat
Q: Is it permissible to ski on Shabbat?
A: It is forbidden on account of various problems: 1. The ski lift, even if it is activated by non-Jews for Jews. 2. According to some opinions, making slits in the snow violates the prohibition of plowing. 3. Leaving the Techum Shabbat. 4. Carry the skis on one’s feet from a snowy area to a non-snowy area. 5. Carrying the ski poles. 6. It is a weekday activity (Ha-Rav Chaim Kanieski was asked this same question, and responded: I do not know what it [skiing] is. They showed him pictures of people skiing, and he said that it is the same as the prohibition of sailing on Shabbat. In general, Rav Kanievski holds that the Halachah regards snow in a manner similar to water. The book “Ha-Noten Sheleg” p. 333).


Please direct any informal comments to [email protected].

About Joel Rich

Joel Rich is a frequent wannabee cyberspace lecturer on various Torah topics. A Yerushalmi formerly temporarily living in West Orange, NJ, his former employer and the Social Security administration support his Torah listening habits. He is a recovering consulting actuary.

One comment

  1. MiMedinat HaYam

    there was no concept of “political zionism” vs other forms of zionism in the chatam sofer’s day.

    as for vocational education, he instituted such a program for students in pressburg.

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